Monthly Archives: November 2013

My CCNP Tshoot Approach

So many people have told me that I should not wait very long to take the Tshoot exam. Personally my plan isn’t to take “long”, I just want to brush up on all the Route material since I haven’t looked at it in much lately.  I have begun reading the Tshoot FLG and am already feeling bored of it. The book itself is great, its just the content is repetitive and I feel that I know most of it already. So what I have been doing is just going through the summaries of each chapter along with watching the corresponding CBTnugget. If I am confused about anything then I just look it up in the FLG book. I think at this pace I should be taking the Tshoot exam within a few weeks.

CCNP Switch Passed!

I took the test this past Saturday 11/23 and passed with about a 900. Give or take a few points. Sorry I wasn’t able to update my blog sooner but I have been really busy getting things together for my new job. I start the new gig this Monday so I am kinda nervous. The environment is a lot bigger and I will be working with a lot more engineers. So I really don’t know what to expect. As for the Tshoot exam I plan to take it in about a month or two. I really want to brush up on the Route topics as well as go over some of the Tshoot study material I have. I know some people say you should just sit the exam right away, but honestly I really don’t feel comfortable doing that. I have all this training material for Tshoot including CBTnuggets, INE, and The Bryant Advantage I really would hate to not skim through it all. I began studying on Sunday and so far it all seems pretty easy but we will see as I get farther into it. I don’t expect this exam to be too difficult.

New GNS3 1.0 Early Release

If you havn’t heard by now you should probably crawl out from under the rock you’re hiding. GNS3 1.0 is coming! And today marks their kickoff crowdhoster campaign. Basically GNS3 is offering package deals to get an early release to their software. For as low $5 you can have access to the new GNS3 software a year early! Personally I went with the Premium Package since GNS3 has provided me so much help ever since I began studying Cisco. So check out the link below and contribute to the software that we all know and love! GNS3 FIGHTING!!!

https://gns3.crowdhoster.com/become-an-early-release-member

 

I got the job!

After a grueling 4 week interview process I finally received my offer. I was very happy to accept it and cannot wait to start! I’ll be working with a much larger networking team supporting 15 data centers across the world. The engineers seemed very knowledgeable, so I can’t wait to have the chance to pick their brains and learn as much as I can. However with every new job comes more responsibilities. My hours will become longer and my study schedule may not always be as organized as it is now. This is a positive though when  I think about, all this training I do everyday will now be reinforced constantly in the real world. I think this new work environment will also be a great starting point for my CCIE studies since I will be working with MPLS, Multicast, and QoS very often. These are topics that I do not know much about but I know are covered in depth on the CCIE exam.

I am slightly sad about leaving my current employer though. They have been nothing but good to me ever since  I started here. I have learned so much that I can’t even put it into words. Getting a chance to design and implement a full Nexus solution is something I never expected to have a chance to do at my age. However I know this move is for the best. I am sure it will be a huge learning curve but the experience I will gain on a day to day basis is sure to launch my career vertically.

I am very excited to start my SECOND networking job in the coming weeks. And as always I will post about my daily networking experiences.

Interview Process is Finally Over

and oh man was it a long one! Two phone interviews and a 4.5 hour on-site interview. Initially the first two phone screens were rather relaxed; I had a bunch of technical questions thrown at me but nothing too difficult. The real challenge came yesterday when it was time for me to go on site. It was actually a really convenient day for me to have my interview since I had off from my current job for Veterans Day. I woke up extra early so I could go over some things and also get my portfolio together. I always tend to leave really early as well because I am paranoid about hitting traffic. So as expected I arrived 45 minutes early so I just went to the closest Starbucks to gather my thoughts.

Eventually I made my way into their offices and met firstly with two HR people to go over some things. After that was completed three engineers came in and asked me a bunch of questions as well as diagram my current network. I feel like I made some stupid mistakes which I am beating myself up over now. I was drilled for a little over an hour by these three engineers until we said our goodbyes. Next two different engineers came in and gave me a scenario for a new building deployment and asked me to diagram it out to be fully redundant. Again I think I did well but I know I made some mistakes because of my nerves. Another hour goes by and the second part comes to an end.

At this point I am given a little break to use the restroom and get some water. I was honestly feeling dehydrated at this point because of how much I have talked. After about 10 minutes I meet with one of the network managers who seems really cool and down to earth. I tell him about my experiences as well as ask a bunch of questions about the position. All in all that portion was not as hard as the previous two. I talk to the manager for about an hour as well. Next comes in another supervisor/manager that I basically discuss the sames things with. At this point I am feeling overwhelmed since I am slightly forgetting which person I said what too. Meeting so many different people in such a short amount of time confused me at points. Finally I meet the last person, again another manager, who asks me some of the craziest puzzle/logic questions ever. My brain at this point of the interview is completely fried but he was impressed by my answers. He said that it is not about getting the answer correct but how you get to your conclusion.

All in all this whole interview process has been an experience I probably won’t have often in my career. I feel confident that I did well and I know that I gave it my best shot. It was definitely the hardest interview I have ever been through and most likely the hardest I will ever face in a long time. At the same time though I am glad I made it as far as I did. I should be getting a call/email in the next few days with their decision.

GNS3 to introduce SWITCHING!

Our fantasy is finally becoming a reality! No more having to set up breakout switches or purchasing quad NICs for our PCs! We will all soon be able to run switching software inside GNs3! Not set to release till late 2014 this news is still very exciting to many Cisco certification candidates. Personally I have never relied on GNS3 for my labing since I have a home lab, but if this switching feature works well then I may have no choice but to switch over. GNS3 has been a life saver for me when I was studying for my Route exam at work. The convenience of the program can simply not be beat. Well I take that back since Cisco VIRL is also set to release soon :)

I do have plans to begin studies for my CCIE in the coming year so a feature like could save me a lot of money on home lab equipment. I have always been an advocate of having a home lab since it can teach you so much more than using an emulator. However I believe I am at a point where having physical gear really makes no difference to me. I understand the layer 1 aspects of routing/switching so there really is no other benefit to running a home lab when I could have it all virtualized.

Only time will tell though since it hasn’t been released yet. I signed up for the early release so hopefully I may get lucky and get to demo it out and make a final decision. My ultimate recommendation to new Cisco candidates going for CCNA is still to get a physical home lab. I truly believe that it teaches you things that you would otherwise miss out on.  Below is a link to the GNS3 switching announcement.

https://secure.gns3.net/switching-early-release-gns3/

 

 

CCNP Switch Study Update – 11/7/13

Rough week 16 since I went to New Orleans for most of it, but I came back strong with an INE bootcamp video week. I am still on pace to take the Switch exam in my 20th week. This week I am doing heavy labing as well as reading.

Week 16 Random Lab Completed
Monday OFF
Tuesday Read 2.25hr X
Wednesday Read 2hr X
Thursday OFF
Friday OFF
Saturday OFF
Sunday OFF
Week 17 INE Lab Completed
Monday -Campus Network Design
-L2 Switching and L3 Routing
-VLANs
-Trunking
X
Tuesday
-DTP,Trunking Allowed Lists,VTP

-Spanning Tree Protocol
-STP Optimization

X
Wednesday -Cisco PVST+ Enhancements
-RSTP & MSTP
-MST Configuration
-STP Features
30min X
Thursday
-Etherchannel
-IntervlanRouting

-High Availability
-High Availability Part 2

X
Friday OFF
Saturday -Layer 2 Security X
Sunday -Layer 2 Voice and Video
-Wireless
X

How long to stay at a job

I have been asking myself this question all week. “Have I been at my current job for too little time?”  One side of me says yes, I have learned so much at my current role, why would I want to leave already? The other side of me is saying that this new opportunity does not come around often. The past 7 months I have learned so many new and exciting things that I never thought I’d have the chance to work on so early in my career. There are downfalls in my current role though, I often am assigned tasks that should be easily handled by helpdesk/desktop support. However like any job there are both pluses and minuses, and in this case the pros definitely outweigh the cons. The people here have also been great but one thing is missing, a mentor.

A mentor is someone I can turn to at any moment to ask questions/discuss topics with. Currently I have no one like that. I usually have to rely on myself to learn new technologies, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Being an independent engineer is a good skill to have, but it would be nice to have someone to talk to about networking topics. My new potential employer offers just that, a team of engineers that will guide me through my transitional period as well as beyond. The companies  network environment is very large and on a scale that I have never seen before so it will be a huge change for me. Having a team of like minded people will allow me to bounce ideas off others and also see another engineers perspective. Having multiple perspectives allows your mind to be opened to seeing things in a more logical manner. At least that is what I believe.

So my second technical interview will be on Monday. I am not as nervous as I was before because I have a lot of questions to ask about the role. I am hoping that things go well and that their environment is a good fit for me.

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