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Where to start learning Sitecore - An interview with Sitecore MVP Anna Gevel

As a software development company, we at Byteminds truly believe that learning and sharing knowledge is one of the best ways of growing technical expertise.

Anna Gevel

Sitecore MVP

Do you think of becoming a Sitecore specialist, but unsure where to start? Well, we've got you covered! In this interview, we chat with our own Sitecore Most Valuable Professional (MVP)Anna Gevel, to explore the journey of mastering Sitecore. Let's dive in and discover what it takes to start development in this area, become a Sitecore certified specialist and even obtain the MVP status.

Do I need to possess some prior development experience before embarking on Sitecore development? If so, what kind of experience and in what capacity?

You can certainly begin from a clean slate, but it all boils down to your ability to learn and your readiness to tackle new challenges and engage with a new system. In general, having preceding experience with other CMS and DXP solutions, such as Umbraco, Kentico, or Optimizely, will be a significant advantage and can expedite your progress. In particular, having an understanding of how content management systems operate can give you a head start, as many foundational principles will already be recognizable, and there's no need to go through this learning curve again. But fear not, even without prior experience, you can achieve Sitecore proficiency with dedication and time.

How easy is it to learn Sitecore?

Ideally, I would recommend enrolling in the official learning courses offered by Sitecore. Sitecore Partner Program provides access to some of the training courses and if you work for a Sitecore partner agency, take the opportunity to study using official Sitecore resources. They offer a solid foundation, covering the basics and fundamental principles, as well as product specifics and technical nuances. Upon completing foundational courses, should there be a requirement to deepen the knowledge of specific Sitecore tools, such as headless services or marketing tools, there are usually dedicated Sitecore training modules available.  

But if you're the adventurous type, you can explore blogs and articles for guidance. Just be prepared for a challenging journey if you choose the self-study route. Technically it is possible to self-educate without resorting to official courses, but there is a risk of overlooking some essential principles and guidelines. From what we've seen, it's rare to find a self-taught Sitecore specialist who can match the same level of expertise as gained through official courses or practical experience working on multiple Sitecore projects.

Who are Sitecore MVPs, and why are they necessary?

Sitecore MVPs are individuals who receive recognition for their active engagement within the Sitecore community. They share knowledge speak at conferences and user groups, write blog posts, develop open-source projects and, in doing so, contribute to the growth of both the community and Sitecore itself.  

There are multiple MVP categories, including Strategy MVPs, who focus on the marketing and strategic aspect Technology MVPs, who immerse themselves into programming and architecture and Ambassador MVPs who share knowledge about the latest Sitecore offering and the value of Sitecore products. In essence, a Sitecore MVP is not merely someone well-versed in a specific facet of Sitecore but also someone who disseminates this expertise within the Sitecore community and beyond, thereby enhancing Sitecore's recognition. Becoming an MVP isn't about how many years you've spent working with the platform or how many exams you've passed, but about your dedication to sharing knowledge and engaging with the community.

How rapidly can one progress in mastering Sitecore to attain MVP status?

To be honest, the journey is all about your personal drive and enthusiasm. For some, simply immersing themselves in Sitecore, grasping its core principles, and exploring its latest features are enough to ignite a passion for sharing knowledge. For instance, you don't need to accumulate 10 years of experience before trying to apply for this program. The primary factor here is your commitment to sharing knowledge and adding value to the community. As one of the long-standing MVPs who inspired me once put it, aspiring MVPs should be motivated not just by the title itself but by a sincere passion for sharing their knowledge and actively participating in the Sitecore community. So, it's not about how fast you can get there, but about the impact you make along the way.

Are there any perks to being an MVP, and what are they?

Certainly, MVP status comes with several benefits. Apart from being recognized as global Sitecore experts and community leaders, MVPs get exclusive access to early product releases, ability to participate in kick-off webinars and share feedback directly with Sitecore product teams. They are also invited to MVP chat, workshops, regional MVP meetings and the annual MVP summit.  

MVPs also enjoy complimentary access to training resources on the Learning portal, receive vouchers to pass Sitecore certification exams and get discounts for Sitecore events such as SUGCON and Sitecore Symposium. While Sitecore certification exams are not mandatory, they are highly regarded, especially by partner agencies. These agencies often prefer to have certified Sitecore developers to enhance their reputation.  

Additionally, MVPs receive the award itself and nice swag that is different every year.

Extension of MVP status

To keep your MVP status, you can reapply every November. You'll need to complete a form detailing your activities over the past year. This could include articles, conference and user group presentations, open source code contributions, or other forms of active participation: answering questions on the Sitecore StackExchange website, offering feedback to Sitecore on testing new features, products, trainings, and exams just to name a few. All these efforts will be taken into consideration when evaluating your eligibility for MVP status.  

By the way, MVP applications are currently open so if you contributed to the Sitecore community this year, do not hesitate to go to the website https://mvp.sitecore.com/ and share your achievements. The deadline is November 30th so there is just over a month left to submit the application!

How popular is the Sitecore platform, and will specialists in this field have job prospects in the future?

The Sitecore community is large and active, but there is always room for professionals and people who want to be a part of the community.

Sitecore is actively evolving which makes it a hot topic for companies in various industries. In the traditional DXP, Sitecore offers an extensive set of features, and it is expanding into the composable technology stack with its SaaS products that are not only of interest to developers but also align with current market demands.

Conclusion

In summary, Sitecore is a versatile system with its own advantages and disadvantages, similar to any other platform. However, there's no need to be daunted; all you need to do is to start learning. Through training, you will gain insights into the most effective approaches for different scenarios and requirements.  

The journey might be challenging, but with the right resources and a dash of determination, you'll soon be on your way to getting experienced in Sitecore and potentially becoming one of the MVPs.

It's easy to start working with us. Just fill the brief or call us.

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