The PM Podcast


Project Management for Beginners and Experts

Episode 312 Part 3: PMP® Exam Coaching Experience with Cathy Vasile (Free)

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Cathy Vasile

This is a special episode of The PM PrepCast for the launch of our new PMP Exam Coaching program.

In the first two interviews about PMP Exam Coaching, we heard from a PMP Tutor about his work and how he helps students as they are prepping for their PMP exam. Now we want to switch the focus to the students. This is the first of three interviews with PMP exam students who decided to use a coach during their exam preparation.

First off we meet Cathy Vasile, PMP. She had a hard time translating her initial training into PMP exam success. So she decided to work with a PMP coach and achieved success.

We learn about her journey from start to finish, talk about how the coach personalized the training for her needs, and why she feels that this was money well spent.

Please visit www.pm-prepcast.com/coaching for more information about our PMP exam coaching program.

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Female Voice: Welcome to the Project Management PrepCast™, the key to PMP® exam success. Here's your instructor, Cornelius Fichtner.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to The Project Management PrepCast™, your number one source of PMP® exam lessons learned. I'm Cornelius Fichtner.

This is the third of our 5 interviews about PMP® exam coaching and my interview guest is Cathy Vasile.

As you will hear shortly, she participated in a PMP boot camp and then failed her exam because the boot camp just didn’t do it for her. She needed the personal attention of a coach over a longer time than the 3 to 5 days that are the usual duration of a boot camp.

But what I want to make absolutely clear here is this: Even though Cathy didn’t have a great experience with her boot camp, boot camps themselves are not necessarily bad. Many people use them and pass. But this interview is about her experience and her path and so we get to hear her not-so-positive view. But just because it wasn’t that great for her should not be taken as a generalization that boot camps are bad. It's all a question about what works for you and so your mileage may differ.

So please look at the interview as the story of Cathy's challenge and how she overcame them with a help of a coach. Learn from her struggles. See where you may have similar issues as you are preparing for your own PMP® exam.

And of course don’t forget to stop by at www.pm-prepcast.com/coaching if you are considering to use a coach for your PMP exam prep.

And with that out of the way, here's the interview.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello, Cathy! Welcome to the program!

Cathy Vasile: Thank you, Cornelius!

Cornelius Fichtner: So tell me when did you realize that it was time for you to make a change in your PMP® exam preparation studies?

Cathy Vasile: Well, I went to a boot camp that was a week long or 4 days long and then you were supposed to schedule your test for the Friday of that week. I went into the exam, taken the exam knowing I was not going to pass it because I just did not grasp anything while I am at my boot camp. It was from 7:30 in the morning to 6:30 at night and they were focusing on how to pass the exam and I need to know and understand what the context of the material is so I just wasn’t grasping it.

And I applied for my PMP and I knew the clock was ticking. So came into April and I'm like: 'I need to get my PMP. I don’t want to start this process all over again.' So I reached out to a few people in the industry and asked to get a PMP coach and I found a coach and from there, I studied with my coach. He gave the materials and I was successful in passing my PMP. Thanks to his coaching ability.

Cornelius Fichtner: Right. Let me ask you a few questions about the boot camp before you went in to the boot camp, did you do any kind of studying of the PMBOK® Guide or the exam materials?

Cathy Vasile: Yes, I went to a PMI-sponsored, the 35-hour class, the intro to PMBOK. I also was reading the PMBOK prior to going to that class. However, it was hard to keep focused reading it because the material was just…

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah, it's very dry.

Cathy Vasile: Yeah, very, very dry. It wasn’t making sense and I have to read over and over and I felt I was reading chapters over and over because I wasn’t grasping the information.

Cornelius Fichtner: Right and both before the boot camp and during the boot camp, your issue was that you needed to make it click and make it fit in to your daily work as a project manager, the theory alone wasn’t there.

Cathy Vasile: Correct!

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay, okay. Yeah I mean, we're not trying to dis boot camps here. That's what they are doing. They are teaching you to pass the PMP® exam, right? And if you want to also improve at the same time and use this in your daily life, then a boot camp is not necessarily your approach here.

So do you remember once you found your coach, what was the first thing that the coach did with you?

Cathy Vasile: The first thing he, I remember him asking me: Did you study page 61? I'm like: Page 61, that's the knowledge map.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah, that's Table 3-1. Everybody needs to know that by heart yeah.

Cathy Vasile: Well at the boot camp, they had their own, they called it a memory map. That's what I was using and he goes: "Absolutely not!" And I had that. It was a 2-page document I memorized. I could data dump that. It has formulas that had the knowledge areas. I could data dump it in less than 15 minutes.

My coach insisted I had page 61 down. He goes: "You need to know that. You need the data dump that. And then he gave me some other tools from another PMP company. There is a trifold information sheet and it helps a lot. It has formulas on there. It helped me understand the concepts.

That page 61 was critical for me to move forward. At first, I was fighting him in studying that 61 and memorizing it for about maybe a week and half, 2 weeks and I finally, finally got in my hard head and I said: "You know what? I'm paying him this money. That memory map didn’t work. I need to do it Dan's way." And I got that memory map, page 61, and once I had that Dan, data dumped that, it started clicking and I was finding success with my tutor.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay! And when you say 'data dump' it basically means you're taking an empty piece of paper and from memory without looking at the book, you would redraw basically page 61 onto that empty piece of paper.

Cathy Vasile: Yeah, page 61 plus various formulas and some other notes.

Cornelius Fichtner: Various formulas, yeah. Just on a side note here for our listeners, we're talking about PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition here. If you listened to this interview in 10, 20 years from now and the PMBOK® Guide has changed, yeah, that page number will probably not be correct anymore. But it's the table that shows the knowledge area and the process groups and how they relate to the individual processes here.

Okay, so that was the first thing that he did with you. He told you, you need to memorize this. Did he also develop a personalized study schedule with you?

Cathy Vasile: Yes, he did. Him and I met…

Cornelius Fichtner: Based on what he do that, how did he work with you to get to that personalized schedule?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

Tags: PMP, PMP Lessons Learned

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