More than 30 years ago, when lap top computers were the size of suitcases, I was a finalist for an important position in our nation’s capital. I wanted the job bad. One evening, the man I would be working for called and asked whether I knew how to use computers. His question caught me off guard, because I’d never seriously used one. I was stunned.
Immediately I thought of the importance of the position, the responsibility to do a good job, and the sacred trust of government service. I did the only thing I could think of — I straight-up lied and said, “Sure. I’ve worked with them for a few years.” (So what? It was Washington, and they had been lying to the rest of us for a long time.) He then asked if I could teach him to use one. I figured, in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound, and said “Certainly. No problem.”
I got the position and was soon schlepping a 35-pound laptop around town. My boss was excited to learn to use the computer. I had no idea how or what to teach him, and told him I would give him his first lesson in the morning. My plan was to carry the computer home and try to figure it out.
Late that night, as I opened the carrying case, I found a dog-eared Word Perfect manual — even better, its contents were divided into lessons. I realized that all I had to do was stay one lesson ahead of my boss, and not let him know I had a manual. That evening I read the manual and practiced turning the computer on and off, moving the “little arrow” (cursor) on the screen, and memorized a few words like “program,” “delete,” and “word processing.”
The next morning, I sat my boss down in front of the computer and walked him through everything I had learned. It took about 20 minutes. He was pleased and, since he didn’t have a meeting scheduled, suggested we continue. I told him that it was best if we took it slow so as not to overload him with info. Fortunately, he was an important man and easily distracted with weightier matters. Over the next 45 days, I got through the manual and managed to teach it all to my boss without letting on that I was learning on the fly. He was so impressed that he began offering my services to colleagues who had also received computers.
Thinking back, it was foolish of me to mislead a potential employer about my computer skills. While I can laugh about doing so now, there could have been some serious consequences, not the least of which would have been losing my job.
Since that time, information technology training has come a long way. Today, every middle school and high school student in the U.S. is exposed to computers. Many are even earning basic certifications in hardware and software applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These kids are light-years ahead of where I was. As a result, they will enter the workforce better prepared to do their jobs.
One of most useful certs for a young person is the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) credential. An MOS helps your resume stand out from the crowd: It’s an industry-recognized certification, gives you the computer skills that employers expect in entry-level workers, and shows you can learn and are serious about doing so. If an employer knows that an applicant can learn, they know that they can be trained and taught to perform their job correctly
The best way to prepare for MOS certification is with TestOut Desktop Pro Plus. There are good reasons why Desktop Pro Plus is currently being used by more than 10,000 middle school and high school students and instructors. The easy-to-follow format covers every topic needed to pass MOS certification enables instructors to spend less time preparing for class and grading students and more time teaching. Students have an engaging experience, chock full of practice labs designed to give them plenty of hands-on experience.
Whether you’re a student, or a “seasoned” individual looking to brush up basic work and office skills. There is no better way than Desktop Pro Plus. It beats late nights furtively flipping through a manual.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin keeps a stack of Harley-Davidson service guides on his nightstand, just in case he is ever in the mood to furtively flip through a manual late at night.