To borrow a catchphrase, there's already a virtual village of mentors who are helping to develop and instill quality and professionalism among the new crop of MCPs.

Lending a Hand

To borrow a catchphrase, there's already a virtual village of mentors who are helping to develop and instill quality and professionalism among the new crop of MCPs.

This is our annual technical tips and tricks issue, a compendium of information and advice from readers, writers for the magazine, and technical experts. Our goal with this issue each year is to help make your job just a bit easier, your certification trek smoother, your career path less hilly—with the help of advice from others.

As we were pulling together the content, I was struck by the number of you who are constantly willing to help others by sharing your ideas and experiences. Over the course of a month or so, we asked you via our Web site for tips and advice on a variety of topics. Over 300 of you took the time to fill out a form, telling us your name and email address and certifications and leaving some morsel of information intended to help others. Sure, you wanted to win those ball caps and study materials, but I think there was more to it than that.

We didn’t have room for anywhere near all the tips you submitted, but it was an impressive outpouring. It got me thinking about what a people-helping-others kind of community IS is—or is it part of belonging to that club called Microsoft Certified Professionals? Does the title alone engender a sense of community that makes you so willing to come to the rescue of your peers?

Our online discussion forums are a wonderful example of that. We set them up as largely unmoderated, free discussion areas for you to share your experiences and ask for help from others. And that’s exactly what they’ve grown into. Many thousands of MCPs and MCP-wanna-be’s visit the forums every month at to post questions, help others, or just lurk and see what’s being discussed. Experienced working professionals like the self-styled ForumGuys, though often vocally critical of the magazine and its staff, nevertheless spend countless hours in the forums answering questions about certification and technology. Why? I think in part because they care deeply about certification, its future, and their chosen profession. (To find out more, go to our Web site's home page at and click on "Discussion Forums.")

Our monthly live chats are another example. Writers and editors for the magazine regularly agree to give up part of an evening to meet with all comers in a sometimes-free-for-all and sometimes-moderated style to answer questions about their area of expertise. (If you haven’t attended a chat, visit our Web site at for information about how to join in.)

As if you didn’t have enough to do already, perhaps “mentoring newcomers” should be high on the to-do list of experienced MCSEs. If your firm hires someone fresh out of school, perhaps with an MCP certification in hand, can you help that novice rise to the challenge of becoming a true technical professional? You know that it’s much more than book learning or technical knowledge, but does he or she? You know that experience also means understanding business models, and how to listen to users, and how different operating systems work together, and where to go for help when you’re completely stumped. So pass it on.

Do you see mentoring as part of your job? Has someone helped you get to where you are today? Send me your experiences at [email protected].

About the Author

Linda Briggs is the founding editor of MCP Magazine and the former senior editorial director of 101communications. In between world travels, she's a freelance technology writer based in San Diego, Calif.