In 2015 I attended a Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP) information session, and, while the presenter was speaking, I thought to myself, “This is like getting a mini PhD!” I was already in training and development and I facilitated training classes on a regular basis, so I didn’t think I needed a certification to validate what I was already doing. Also, I am not great at taking standardized tests, so this was not for me.
However, I love to learn, and I believe in the value of getting certified in a field you love, so I signed up to start my CPLP journey. I wanted to challenge myself for two reasons: I love the training and development field, and I was determined not to allow a test to limit my career options or growth in a field I am deeply passionate about.
I attended the study groups and online courses, and things were going great, or so I thought. Then life happened, and I had to stop pursuing my CPLP to take care of personal issues.
Let’s fast-forward to December 2016. I started my studies for a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology. Around the same time ATD introduced the Associate Professional in Talent Development (APTD). I thought to myself, “This is amazing. It can’t be as detailed as the CPLP; therefore, this will be a walk in the park.”
I was wrong.
As I stated earlier, I am not a test-taking guru, so the thought of taking another test plagued my mind. Despite being in the middle of psychology courses for my PhD, I signed up to take the APTD.
“APTD here I come,” I thought. I purchased the APTD Learning System, I joined the LinkedIn group, and I printed—yes, I printed—the entire study guide. I felt I was ready to dive right in and blow this test out of the water. However, having a paper due every week for school, working a nine-to-five job, running a business, writing a career book, and attending to personal needs left me with less than the 80 hours ATD recommends for studying.
I studied when I could, but I did not feel comfortable when the exam day came. I took the test, and I failed. I missed passing the test by 60 points! As you can imagine, I was devastated. So, after an “in your face” talk with my manager, I got my emotions together and paid to retake the test.
A Second ChanceThe second time around I was invited to attend an in-person class at the ATD headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. In March 2018 I jumped at the opportunity, and the class was a success. Based on some of the tips I received from class, I created flash cards and wrote out a study plan as if I was going to teach the material. I was ready, or so I thought.
As I entered the testing site in June 2018, I felt 70 percent positive I was going to pass. I still had some doubts in my mind. Unfortunately, I didn’t pass. I missed passing the test by 10 points. Once again, I felt devastated. I told myself, “This is it. I am not doing this again.”
Keep GoingI received an email from the ATD Certification department notifying me that I had one more chance to take the test during that cycle. I replied, “No, I am going to give up; my brain hurts.” They emailed me back and advised me to take some time to think about it because my score was so close.
After a long, hard talk with myself, I signed up to take the test a third time. I adjusted my study plan and devoted 10 hours a week to study. I revised my flash cards and studied in my car on my lunch breaks. I was determined. Then life happened again.
I was hospitalized, unexpectedly, for a few days at the end of August. As you can imagine, I didn’t have much energy to study after I got out of the hospital. However, I was able to study a few hours a week.
September 12 came, and I felt 90 percent positive this time. And I passed!
I went out to my car and wept because I had never given up on myself, my passion, and my ability to pass this test. You shouldn’t either. I feel that I can tackle the CPLP next. Why not? Life is short. I am a trainer and trainers are unstoppable. Believe in yourself!
Learn more about becoming an APTD.