In the previous post around my last VCDX attempt story, I talked about the amount of support which was given to me by my wife and the vCommunity. Now, let’s talk about some of the things around the defense preparations.
After submitting the docs, I took 3 days off, regrouped and started working on my slides. Taking only 3 days off is not ideal but knowing wife and I are about to go to an 8 days vacation in Switzerland mid-September, I wasn’t too worried about burning out. This vacation was in the right place at the right time after a few months of intense writing. My suggestion to you is to take some time off, chill and get back to prep with a clear mind.
On the road…
My defense day was scheduled for October 20th. If I can point to one of the mistakes I did, I would say that going to VMworld was not the best idea, let me explain why…
When you are prepping for a VCDX defense for the first time, there is a strong sense of uncertainty in the air. High pressure, brain melting and stress, all of those are bad, but it can get worse if you don’t have your day to day routine to balance you. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed VMworld very much and the sessions I had with Larus and Sam were brilliant, the problem was that after a long intense VMworld week I took a flight straight to the UK. Doing the math, that’s 10 days in total of being away from home while mentally and technically trying to prepare to the most important session of my career – not cool!
On the weekend before the defense, Sam, Gregg and myself, met at the Xtravirt offices and did some mocks. That was a very good experience and if you can do something similar to that with your study group partners, I highly recommend it.
Defense Preparations Time Management
In the end, it comes down to how do you manage your time to match your personality and mental state. We all know that the defense splits into 3 sections you need to prepare for – the actual design defense, design scenario defense and troubleshooting scenario defense. Looking back, I should have managed my prep time differently but because of the mistake I did with going to VMworld, I was time constrained. This is how my time management looked like:
And this is what ideally I think I should have done:
When failing a defense, your preparation layout is changing. You need to work on panelist’s feedback, fix some stuff in your presentation (assuming you don’t need to re-write the entire thing) and obviously improve t-skilling. On the other hand, if you don’t have to completely change your slides and you are happy with them (like I am), you have more time to invest on the other parts. This is what I think my second shot time management will look like:
In the last part for this series, I will talk about the defense experience itself and will share more tips around it. Stay tuned…