My WGU Journey
In September 2016, I was in the process of switching schools from University of Phoenix to Western Governors University. Then in mid October, just before I started my first term, I got news from work that my call center was closing. I had worked there for over 10 years, mostly as a rep taking phone calls, but had become an operations consultant earlier in the year where I worked on projects to improve center performance. I had gone through a reorganization the year prior shortly after getting into operations as an analyst, so this was the second major blow to my career in a short period of time.
I lived, and still live, in California and could have applied to another position within the company, but moving was not an option for my family at the time. Because of WGU’s model, I knew I could accelerate my program, and the news from work only motivated me to do just that. Initially after the announcement, it seemed as though my job in operations was mostly irrelevant to the closure, so I was planning on tackling most, if not all, of the classes in one term. Due to some changes in leadership to see the closure through, I had more work on my plate then before and was only able to squeeze out three classes between November and the last week of January when I became unemployed. This set my initial plans back a bit, but I was determined to finish within two terms. I needed to. I couldn’t go back to a call center job after finding my passion in life with software and web development.
I knew I wanted to get a solid degree from an online university. I had gone to UoP several years prior because my company offered tuition assistance, and it was all that I knew of at the time. Once I learned of the controversy surrounding their for-profit status and issues with accreditation, I knew I needed a new outlet. I found WGU after some serious research and was pleasantly surprised to hear that I needed a certification to even apply for the Software program. It was encouraging to know that they weren’t enrolling just anyone, which meant that they cared about students’ success. I got my A+ Certification in late September 2016, and my start date was set for 11/1/2016. I transferred a total of 31 Competency Units into the program of 122 and felt really good about my plans to accelerate my education.
This is my journey: I was not your typical student.
- Get connected where you can
- Connect as much as possible with current and former students.
- If there is a Slack Community, sign up for it. The IT programs have one at wguit.slack.com. A request for access can be made here.
- The SchoolsApp app for Android/iOS was a great motivator, as people would constantly post things and keep others inspired.
- Talk to current students/alumni about what resources were helpful for particular courses. You may not need to do everything and this can save you valuable time.
- Be prepared
- Have an aggressive plan to complete your courses. You can do them as quickly as you want, and the faster you do them, the more you get for your money.
- If you have General Ed classes get a solid plan in place to be able to complete them as quickly as possible.
- Push yourself
- This is a self paced program. You can go as fast or slow as you want. Life can get hectic, but being persistent with your education is is always a win.
- Don’t let anyone slow you down, not even your Student Mentor.
- These are good for getting supplementary material and webinars that can make accelerating easier.
- Study Guides
- If the class has a study guide for the objective assessment, use it. This made a couple classes go by really fast.
- Course Tips
- These tips have been pretty helpful. They have great resources for those who want to accelerate, and are also just good if you’re stuck.
- Do all the quizzes and pre/post assessments if available (on OA courses). This will help solidify the information.
- Course Mentors
- They really are great to help look over the dev PA projects. When stuck, a fresh pair of eyes is crucial.
- This is good for almost any class. These are flashcards created by others to help study for tests. They are good reinforcement.
- Some classes use this as a resource, but not all. I love it because they put out quality videos on almost any core subject you encounter.
- A great diagramming tool. I used this for my database diagrams and it was a life saver.
- It is your best friend on the dev PA’s.
- Java/Android Documentation
- These were beyond valuable on the dev PA’s. It really helps to understand the API’s.
Term 1 – 11/1/2016 – 4/30/2017
C172 – Network and Security Foundations
Dates: 11/04 – 11/19 – Days to complete (16)
This class was not bad. I powered through the uCertify material and found that doing the Flashcards, Quizzes and Exercises were helpful to solidify the material in my head (mainly the extremely specific content). Several students recommended Quizlet as well, and it was pretty helpful to study with up to the last minute before the Objective Assessment.
I completed this class fairly quickly. I could have done it faster if I had more time at work but we had a new Director brought in that was not impacted by our center closing, so my progress slowed.
Overall this course wasn’t crazy. It was very well structured and I learned a lot. The general concepts are easy to grasp. If you struggle with memorizing things then work on the fine details (i.e. fiber-connection types, OSI model specifics, etc.).
- Do everything
- Quizlet – this
C164 – Introduction to Physics
Dates: 11/21 – 12/22 – Days to complete (23)
This class fell during Thanksgiving week and I had some vacation days planned where I did not do any class work. When you take out those days it only took 23 days to complete.
I found this class to be a little more than I was expecting. I needed a better plan to complete this class faster. There are a lot of videos to watch which were helpful to get a visual of the concepts and the chapters covered the same material, but reading it was a key piece. Being able to dedicate the time to watch the videos in order and in between readings is a must. A solid plan there will make this go by much quicker. If I had kept the pace I had towards the end then I could have finished this in 1-1.5 weeks.
The first 2 sections “Nature and Process of Science” and “Classical Physics” feel larger than the rest with the amount of content per section. It was a little deceptive.
It is a good idea to start deciding what you want to do for your two tasks in the Performance Assessment early on and start gathering information/materials since you do need to conduct an experiment for one of the tasks. A good idea is to run ideas by your CM and SM to make sure you are on the right track. Really use the rubric on these ones. They can help you craft your tasks much easier, and you will be more concise.
The PA’s were what took the longest because of the time to review. I had to resubmit for minor tweaks, so that took about a week to complete just the review and revisions. I did start closer to the end of the month so it is a good idea to have these set to submit earlier in the month (probably 4-5 days in).
C169 – Scripting and Programming – Applications
Dates: 12/23/16 – 2/10/2017 – Days to Complete (42)
This class took a while to complete. Work was a bit crazier for me as we were working towards the closure of our call center. I got through the material in about 3 weeks, but completing the PA and OA took about 3 weeks as well. I underestimated this course by a long shot and had some time off around Christmas and the week after my work closure, so realistically it took about 4 weeks.
My biggest take-aways were to focus on one learning resource at a time between Udacity and the textbook. Use one to take in the knowledge and the other to reinforce it. Bouncing between them threw me off. The exercises were helpful, but Udacity’s IDE/compile is not always the most helpful with some of the more complex concepts. The concepts didn’t solidify for me until I started the PA. Once I had to create my project from scratch, I really got it. The OA was not overly difficult. I used quizlet to study and prepare.
I highly recommend keeping in touch with your CM. Mine offered to look over my code and make sure it looked pretty solid. I don’t know if all CM’s will do this, but it was very helpful.
- Textbook (Don’t rely just on this, do the videos as well)
- Udacity Videos (They are rough, but very helpful for the test and learning how things fit together for PA)
C255 – Introduction to Geography
Dates: 2/6/2017 – 2/9/2017 – Days to complete (4)
This class was the first one I completed after I lost my job. I was solely dedicated to the class. I contacted the CM and asked for some tips to complete the class quickly. He directed me to use the new study guide they were about to release (he sent me a copy) and to really focus in on the first two of six sections. This covered all the foundational elements of geography without going into specific regions of the world. After I read the material and filled in those sections of the study guide, I took the preassessment and easily passed with high scores. I felt comfortable I’d be good to take the OA and passed the same day.
For this class the tips about focusing in on those first 2 sections was very helpful and allowed me to complete the class in 4 days.
- Study Guide
C459 – Introduction to Probability and Statistics
Dates: 2/20/2017 – 2/24/2017 – Days to complete (5)
This class was pretty straight forward. I dealt with reporting and analytics in my work prior, so I understood the base concepts being presented. I went through the course material in order and completed within 4 days. After I took the preassessment, I used the coaching report to brush up on my areas of weakness and took the OA the next day. There really wasn’t much of a trick to this class. It was a lot of the basics and just memorizing the processes, terms, and calculations. Most of it is pretty logical so it wasn’t overly difficult to nail down.
C480 – Networks & C178 – Network and Security – Applications
Dates: 2/13/2017 – 2/17/2017 & 2/27/2017 – 3/2/2017 – Days to complete (5 & 4)
I put these two together because they were similar, but they were being scrubbed from my program next term, and I wanted the new class and certs that replaced them.
I still wanted the knowledge, though, so I went through them. I kind of rushed things because of how much there is in uCertify and sometimes it is pretty dry. Overall I got the concepts locked in but it is a lot of memorization. The fundamental concepts aren’t too bad but all of the acronyms for protocols, encryption types, organizations, etc. can be kind of hard to keep straight if you are not in those fields actively. I plan on taking the Net+ and Sec+ on my own afterwards as I am thinking of going for my Masters in Cybersecurity in a few years. I don’t know how well I would have done on the CompTIA cert test, but I can say that there are no shortcuts for this class. All of it needs to be done to have a firm grasp on the content.
C456 – English Composition II
Dates: 3/3/2017 – 3/8/2017 – Days to complete (4)
This class was light on content. There were two modules that I completed in about four hours (I went back over some material just to be safe and there were some videos), but the bulk of it came from researching the topic for my paper. It has been suggested by my SM that using the same topic for this and C132 makes it go by faster. I researched my topic – standards for comprehensive computer science education in primary and secondary school – the first day while getting my annotated bibliography setup. The next day and a half was spent writing the actual paper. I submitted both tasks and passed the first time.
- Course Material (Online modules)
C132 – Effective Elements of Communication
Dates: 3/9/2017 – 3/17/2017 – Days to complete (6)
I started this class as I finished up the paper for C456. I used the same topic, so the research was done. I contacted the CM to find the fastest way to complete the course as the pacing guide had an entire textbook and an online interactive course with a number of lessons as well. The CM sent me two cohorts to fast track progress for the class. I completed the OA cohort in two days and the PA cohort in two days. I took the pre-assessment on day 2 after finishing the material and passed. I took OA on day 4 after I got the approval from my SM. I spent time in parallel with the PA cohort writing out my outline for the presentation (task 1). I needed to wait to record me delivering the presentation until I had a quiet space to complete it. I finished that on the 6th day and submitted task 2. It took a couple days to get evaluated but I don’t count that.
I would have had the class done in 4 days but the delay on recording the presentation set me back on that class, but I had started work on the next class so no time was actually lost.
C175 – Data Management Foundations
Dates: 3/13/2016 – 3/21/2016 – Days to complete (7)
I started this class while finishing up the recorded presentation for C132. I just powered through the uCertify material and watched the two Lynda.com lessons on databases and SQL foundations. They were both helpful to solidify the material in my mind. Prior to taking the pre-assessment I brushed up with a couple of Quizlets. They were very helpful to reinforce some of the concepts that weren’t sticking quite as well. I took the pre-assessment on day 6 and passed. I got the approval from my SM the following morning and scheduled my test for later that day.
C170 – Data Management Applications
Dates: 3/20/2017 – 4/7/2017 – Days to complete (7)
Once I took the pre-assessment for C175 I jumped right onto this class. It was all uCertify material for the course material, with some content shared from C175. I powered through that pretty quickly and took the pre-assessment on day 4, but my SM wanted me to get the OK on my PA before I could enroll in the course. The PA took a little longer. I didn’t start that until after I completed the uCertify material on day 4. It was mostly done by day 5 and all I had to do were my DML queries. SQL Fiddle was a bit buggy to use and about an hour was wasted on day 6. I completed the PA document and sent it over to the CM to get the thumbs up. I had issues with getting a response (took over 1.5 weeks), so my SM just approved me to submit and take OA. I took the OA after completing C192 because of the delay. My PA was passed the second time. I was missing a couple small items (ER-Diagram Relationship labels, more detailed explanation of entities, and an attribute in the view query). I finished this class at the same time I was done or almost done with two other classes.
- Google for PA when stuck
C192 – Data Management for Programmers
Dates: 3/27/2017 – 4/5/2017 – Days to complete (8)
This class had a lot of material. Luckily the first part of the uCertify text is mostly reiteration from the prior two Data Management classes. I took the advice of a fellow Slack member and cut out about 7 chapters (3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16) and skimmed through a lot of the book. Some good advice he gave was to focus on what you think would be on the test (looking at the competencies and even taking the PA early on is a good idea). Things that are ultra specific (i.e. vendor specific DMBS info) can typically be skipped. Focus on the core items and the SQL concepts. Once I completed the uCertify material I took the pre-assessment on Day 7 and scheduled the OA on Day 8. There was a little delay with my SM, but I started C176 (Project+) while waiting.
Side Note: There is a lot of similar information between C175, C170 and C192. Taking them back to back is highly recommended to make each class as efficient as possible. Also focus mainly on core concepts. Vendor specific information is not as pertinent as ensuring you have a solid grasp on SQL, DMBS structures, etc. It is a lot of information between the three classes. Don’t overwhelm yourself.
C176 – Business of IT – Project Management
Dates: 4/3/2017 – 4/12/2017 – Days to complete (6)
This class is the last CompTIA cert class in the new program. This was for Project+ (the other CompTIA cert is A+, which I had to attain to get into the program). This class had a lot of abstract concepts with specific terminology, which felt kind of odd. I just powered through the uCertify material. I would have completed faster, but I was finishing up the Assessments for the prior two classes due to some delays. I finished the uCertify material by day 5 and then took the practice tests in learn mode. Lastly I took the uCertify post-assessment in test mode and passed. My SM recommended I reach out to the CM since they are the experts in that course area. The CM thought I was ready to go. I got the class enrolled and test approved. I watched some of the review videos in course tips to solidify some concepts. Then I had to get the test scheduled for the next day and passed.
C484 – Organizational Behavior and Leadership
Dates: 4/10/2017 – 4/17/2017 – Days to Complete (2)
This class was very straight forward. My SM and other students call this class a “gimme.” If you have any leadership experience you can just review the key terms and take the pre-assessment. This is what I did. If you do not have experience in leadership or have not been exposed to the inner working of corporate leadership then review of the book will be good. I spent three hours between two days studying the key terms and a quizlet to prepare for the pre-assessment and then took the pre-assessment. Passed with 90%that, asked my SM to approve the OA, and passed that on day 3.
C483 – Principles of Management
Dates: 4/11/2017 – 4/19/2017 – Days to complete (2)
This was another straightforward class. My SM also said this was another “gimme” class. If you have worked in a large corporation and been exposed to leadership, then this one is also pretty easy. I watched the review videos in the course tips and used Quizlet for study. If you struggle with any of the concepts in the review videos then I would recommend reading up on those sections in the book. I spent about four hours studying for this class and took the pre-assessment the day after I started. I passed that and then took the test the following week.
C191 – Operating Systems for Programmers
Dates: 4/13/2017 – 5/9/2017 – Days to complete (8)
I technically finished this class in Term 2 (took the OA), but I completed all the material and pre-assessment in Term 1. This class was a lot of information. It was getting into the deeper realms of the OS. I spent a little more time with this class than originally intended. I was just going to review the PowerPoint presentations for each chapter and take the quizzes, but a few members in the Slack community recommended I spend some time with this one. I still reviewed the presentations first but also read the book.
This was something I wanted to have a really firm grasp on. The flow on the Wileyplus site was pretty nice. I read most everything. I took the pre and post module quizzes. I collected all the answers I got wrong in the module post-quizzes and studied those before the pre-assessment and OA. I also used Quizlet. I finished the material by day 7 and took the pre-assessment. I scheduled the OA after a little further study the week leading up to term 2 and scheduled the week after term started. I barely passed this one, but I did rush it a little bit. Some concepts I would need to spend more time on, but I was confident enough to pass the test.
C179 – Business of IT – Applications
Dates: 4/24/2017 – 5/3/2016 – Days to Complete (3)
This class was pretty straight forward. I also finished the material for this class and took the pre-assessment prior to the end of term 1 but passed the OA in term 2. If you understand MIS in general than this course is not overly complicated. I used the study guide that is provided in the learning materials. There were some quizlets that had the fill in the blanks but they were not complete. If you search the course materials for any of those sections you will be able to complete. Took my about three hours of just searching Quizlets and course materials. I also watched the cohort videos for supplemental information. After the videos I went back through the study guide a couple times to ensure I understood everything and took the pre-assessment. Had the OA scheduled the first week of term and was done.
Term 2 – 5/1/2017 – 8/30/2017
C482 – Software I
Dates: 4/25/2017 – 5/15/2017 – Days to Complete (12)
This class was a lot to take in. It seemed easier than what I heard the older version was studying for the OCA was, but the PA is tough. I had never coded a full program before and integrating in a UI with multiple tool sets was a lot to take in.
I just read through uCertify, which took about five days. When I started I got everything for the PA lined up as well so I could just start. There are great resources in the course tips for this. I personally found the checklist very helpful because it outlined the path to take which was pretty easy to understand. I did a few things out of order because they seemed to fit better where I did them but that is just preference.
They require you use Netbeans for the PA so it is good to get that setup from the get go. After powering through uCertify I went to the PA reference docs to get things started. Took about a day to get things rolling. I got stuck on switching views when clicking the respective buttons but figured it out after reviewing FXML doc references. I had the model, view, and controller classes pretty much set up but was not comfortable connecting them. I scoured the web but needed some help on this one.
I contacted the CM and they helped me out. Submitted over for review to CM at that point. Setup an appointment for the following week (day 10 in total). I felt pretty good overall, but just needed some help tying the model and view/controller end together. I started on the next course in the meantime (about 3 days overall) and it helped to take a break in between coding the app as I felt more productive overall. Once a few things clicked I steamed ahead without stopping. The main sticking points for me was tying the ArrayLists to the TableViews, and some of the error handling. Just toying around in NetBeans/Scenebuilder and Googling everything helped solidify the concepts and steps needed to complete the project. Overall my favorite class up to this point.
Overall this class took me 12 days to complete. PA was a go on the first try.
- CM – If you are stuck run your code by one of them. Getting a fresh pair of eyes is very helpful
C777 – Web Development – Applications
Dates: 5/4/2017 – 5/30/2017 – Days to Complete (6)
I had gone through a foundations class with UoP and did some of the Udacity courses on UI design, HTML, CSS, Responsive Web Design prior to my first term starting, so I was pretty familiar. I got through the material in 5 days and was ready for the cert test. I had to wait until I finished the Java I project to take it though, and then it took a while to get the voucher. I was trying the pilot for proctoring and it ended up taking over a week to get the voucher so I could schedule, and I didn’t revisit the material in that time so I could have done better if I refreshed before test but still did well. Overall a good, straight forward class.
C773 – User Interface Design
Dates: 5/18/2017 – 5/26/2017 – Days to Complete (6)
This class was one of my favorites. It elaborated on UI concepts I had a mild understanding of, and the course itself was set up so with most of the labs you were planning, designing and developing your own portfolio page. It allowed me to knock out two things at once – getting the cert and starting my own portfolio site. The uCertify material was easy to understand. This class took a little longer because I spent more time on the labs and took them extra serious since I was also planning my own website. I took the test a couple days after finishing the material.
C195 – Software II
Dates: 5/24/2017 – 7/14/2017- Days to Complete (32)
This class was a doozy. The uCertify material was definitely more advanced and I had a hard time following at first. I powered through the material, but my family got sick the day after I started so I got very little done in the first three days. I finished the book within six days which wasn’t bad. The PA was a beast though. There was not a lot of supplementary info like Software I had to help guide development. This one was meant to be more freeform and to be used as a portfolio piece. It was more like a real world software project where your creative license is yours and not specifically guided by the course itself. I spent a good amount of time planning and designing my code and interface.
The first week of coding was cut short with family outings an unexpected job interview. This threw me off a little bit but I returned was able to start anew the following week. The first week I got my planning and design mostly done and was working on getting the interface setup and ready to start coding. I had the SQL database setup and connected. The database was set up automatically. This is what I did the first couple days of week two of the PA.
The rest of it was just a lot of trial and error with piecing things together. By the end of the fourth week I had most everything complete. I just had to add select/edit functionality to the calendar view, code reports page, add reminders/alerts, and debug. This took a little bit of time but everything turned out nicely. I did a bit of refactoring to get things more efficient and require less SQL pulls.
I spoke with a CM and had them look it over with me on week 6 and submitted for evaluation. Passed the first time.
- CM – If you are stuck, run your code by one of them. Getting a fresh pair of eyes is very helpful
C188 – Software Engineering
Dates: 6/5/2017 – 7/12/2017 – Days to Complete (8)
I started this class once I started the PA for C195. I used it to break up the work or when I got stuck and was either researching the issue or waiting for a response from a CM. I mostly read at night for about an hour or two, so this class was spread out over a little more time, but I finished the material within three working days (6+ hours a day that I normally spend on courses). I used a couple of Quizlets to help get the specific points to stick and the study guide.
I understood the underlying concepts, but this class is very specific. There are some great materials in the Slack community where you can get the entire textbook as a PDF, outlines and summaries of the chapters to get more concise information. Really study the specifics with this class. The smartbook was OK but felt like it was not complete just reading the highlighted sections they had set aside for you. Also it requires Flash, which is lame. Flash is outdated and cumbersome. It also limited me to only being able to use it on my computer and not being able to read on mobile which I was not fond of.
This class took me a bit longer from start to finish because I was kind of burned out, I took some time off for my and my wife’s birthdays, and we had some family outings for the summer.
The pre-assessment wasn’t bad. Failed the OA the first time, just barely. I studied the areas I struggled in most, which the CM said is where everyone struggles. and he advised of how I could improve. I went over the course outline I filled out several times trying to drill in the details, and reviewed Quizlet flashcards several times. Repetition helps to remember specific facts. I passed the second time.
- Quizlet – this study set was very helpful
C193 – Client-Server Application Development
Dates: 7/13/2017 – 7/24/2017 – Days to Complete (8)
This class was pretty straight forward, but it’s heavy on memorization. I read the Ucertify Material straight through and then looked over a couple Quizlets to help remember the specific terms. I felt I had it in the bag the first time around, as I took the pre-assessment and passed by good margins. I studied for another two days and then retook and passed with a near perfect score, despite not looking anything up while taking the test.
I took the OA and missed it by one question the first time around. This was the first time I had such a large gap in knowledge. The CM immediately approved me, and I studied for another day on the areas I struggled with and passed the second time around.
I highly recommend using the pre-assessment as a guide for what to study, but do not use the specific terminology or phrasing as a point of reference for questions on the test. This test is heavy on memorization.
- Quizlet – this user made some good sets (search C193 in their list)
C196 – Mobile Application Development
Dates: 7/25/2017 – 8/17/2017 – Days to Complete (20)
This class was one of the most enjoyable. I am an Android user, so it was fulfilling to make something that could run on my mobile device.
I went through the two Lynda.com tutorials recommended and made the Note Taking application alongside the video. This really helped to see how things fit together. I typed everything out by hand to help solidify the process. I spent three days on the two tutorials and then jumped into the PA.
The Android Dev Documentation and Google were my best friend on this project. It took a lot to figure out how all the pieces fit together but I did it.
One of the areas I struggled with most was the notifications/alarm. I found two resources (noted below) that really helped. I used elements from both to make it work for my purposes.
The PA took 14 days to complete, and then I submitted it in for review to my CM. Got the OK and submitted it for grading. Passed on the first submission.
One thing I did that helped me on both this class and C195 was to look over the rubric when I was done and find specifically where each requirement was handled. By doing this you ensure you are not forgetting anything.
I will say my project was not structured the best and I plan to complete some major refactoring in the future. At this point I was feeling a little burnout from completing so much in the six months since being laid off, but I learned from my mistakes and ensured I completed a post mortem of the project.
- Lynda.com – Both video series from the Learning Resources
- Youtube – Derek Banas series (recommended from Slack community), compututsvideos on Alarms and Notifications
- Article on notifications/alarms
- Android Development Documentation
- CM – If you are stuck run your code by one of them. Getting a fresh pair of eyes is very helpful
C768 – Technical Communication
Dates: 8/17/2017 – 8/26/2017 – Days to Complete (5)
This class was very straight forward. You had a Ucertify course to read through and three tasks. The course of study suggests skipping over about a third of the Ucertify material. It really focuses in on what is relevant to this specific course and writing a proposal. It took me about two straight days of just reading to get through the Ucertify book which wasn’t took bad.
There are three PA tasks which grow increasingly more comprehensive. I wrote the first two in about six hours. They were an audience analysis and writing a set of instructions. I just sat down and knocked them out. I sent these first two over to the CM’s for review and they recommended some small revisions before submission. The third task took a little bit longer. This task has you write a full proposal based on a request with some background information on the company available separately. I asked the CM some clarifying questions to ensure I was heading in the right direction with my paper.
For this last task I took really careful notes. I used the Capstone proposal template as a form of reference to see how the proposal is actually structured and to ensure I was taking notes on the important details. Once I had my notes I started filling in the template from Capstone for this proposal. It helped to have the structure and format defined so I just had to focus on content.
I spent about an hour gathering my information and about six hours to write it.
I sent the proposal over to the CM for review, and he suggested some minor tweaks. After that I submitted all three tasks to TaskStream. Passed all three on the first try.
- Docs in TaskStream
- Task Examples (for structure of task 3 proposal)
C769 – IT Capstone Written Project
Dates: 8/23/2017 – 8/26/2017 – Days to Complete (4)
The Capstone Written Project – for the final project you complete with WGU, you will be documenting a project from start to finish. The Capstone team highly recommends you pull from past experience if available. To execute a new project will take a lot of time, so if you are wanting to just get the course done, it is best to either use a project you worked on in the past or make up the details of a project. The Capstone team said this is ok as long as you provide all the necessary detail in the Capstone Proposal and Capstone Report. The Capstone Staff should not be able to tell that the project details were fabricated. I felt this was OK because the point of the Capstone Written Project is to get used to the process of project management from the perspective of the documentation. Throughout the program you created tangible pieces of software so building something else was not as pertinent as understanding how to document the project from start to finish properly.
For my project I pulled from a prior project I worked on in my consulting position for VZW. I expanded on what I would have liked to have done with the skills I gained throughout my learning with WGU, and instead of just an Excel Reporting Tool, I wrote the project as if I created a new tool from scratch using Java. The situation and outcomes were real, just the method and actual deliverables were different.
The first task is the topic approval form. I completed this while I was stuck on an area of Task 3 from C768 and sent over to the CM I worked with on that class who also worked on the Capstone team. He approved it the first time around. I had to wait to submit until I got the course approved by my SM and enrolled.
The second task is the Capstone Proposal, which took me about a day and a half to complete. The CM I had was amazing. He would respond to my draft updates very quickly and give me excellent guidance on how to proceed or sections that may need revision. He provided great examples to help me form my own documentation. The Proposal ended up being 20 pages. With that much content it helps to see how others formed their details. My project was unique so there was no danger of plagiarism, just learning how to structure things.
The third task is the Capstone Report, which took me about a day and a half as well to complete. The report ended up being 24 pages. You are able to use a good deal of information from the Capstone Proposal in the Capstone Report. You do need to have data to substantiate your results and three deliverables need to be provided. These can be any number of things. I provided a pre/post performance evaluation, UML diagram of the main data model, and an instruction set for using the solution. The bridge document was a huge help. It identified what could be reused and tweaked and what was expected compared with the complementary portion of the proposal. Once I had my final draft of all three tasks, I got the course approved by my SM and submitted them to Taskstream. After that it was just the waiting game. They all passed on the first submission and a wave of relief hit me.
- CM (your best friend during this process )
- Capstone Templates
- Capstone Examples (for reference structuring document elements)
- Proposal to Report Bridge Document (provided by CM)
Graduating and Getting a Job
I was now officially done with the program and was only some formalities away from being a college graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree. I talked with my SM about the process of getting transcripts and my degree. The process took about two weeks until I had everything.
I felt really good after finishing the C769, but I had no time to rest. I had been without a job for 7 months at this point and unemployment had run out at the beginning of that month (August 2017). I needed a job and fast. I had been applying to jobs for the last month at this point but sporadically. I was now dedicating 3-4 hours a day on the jobs search and networking, ensuring no stone was left unturned. The rest of the time I was working on my portfolio site and developing my own projects. It seemed I may not get straight into a dev position so I wanted to make sure I had experience and a great portfolio if I had to settle for a different job for a while.