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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.

A New Opportunity on the Horizon

I never thought that I would consider leaving my first networking  job in just 7 months. Here is the back story.  There has been this company in my area that I have been following for a long time and constantly checking for openings there. This company is rated in top 50 best places to work in the country as well as a huge number in employee satisfaction. I am going to leave the name of this company anonymous.

So this past Monday I received an email from glassdoor.com with my daily “15 network engineer openings in your area” and to my surprise the company I have been following for almost a year had an opening for a Junior Network Engineer. I felt like my heart skipped a beat as I quickly opened up the job description. Reading through the job details I could tell this was perfect for me. They are looking for someone with some LAN/WAN network support experience as well as a degree. Most importantly they are looking for someone that has a passion for networking and learning. I quickly updated my resume and sent it on its way.

Withing two days I received an email from HR saying that they want to schedule an initial phone interview. Ecstatic as hell that my resume was even seen by them we set up a meeting for Thursday at noon. Which is today :). Last night I did my normal research of the company so I can show that I am serious about this opportunity. While doing research on the company I also came across a post that read “Hardest Companies to Interview For” and what do you know the company that I am interviewing with is on that list! My heart sank slightly as I read through tons of potential interview questions. I began to doubt myself feeling scared about this whole entire interview. Then a quote came to mind. A quote that is perfect for my very situation. A quote that sends chills down my spine whenever I read it.

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may never exist. Fear is a choice.”

So today is the day, I sit here waiting for noon to arrive so I can take the phone call and hopefully impress the person on the other end. Working for a top company in the country is something that not many people have the opportunity to even interview for. I feel very fortunate to have even been given this chance. But I know that there is only one person that made this all happen, ME! I am the one that studies everyday! I am the one that loses countless hours of sleep! I am the one that refuses to give up and stop pushing myself to my limits! I deserve this chance and now it is once again all up to ME to make this happen!

Vision.

I’m going to Cisco Live!!!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I was told yesterday by my supervisor and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! I never expected to be going to Cisco Live so early in my career. Just thinking about all the CCIEs that I will be in the presence of makes me slightly nervous. I feel this will be a great learning experience as well as a chance for me to meet a ton of new people. The best part about this is that I will be surrounded by individuals that all share the same passion for networking that I have. Cisco Live this year will be held in San Francisco. I have been to California once before and I loved it. It’s a beautiful state with amazing weather. I have hopes to maybe even work in the area one day :)

I plan to document my trip to Cisco Live on my blog as well as give a live feed at my twitter @NetworkingLink Obviously the day is still months away but I just wanted to share the good news!

Floor switch and blade center migration

For the past two weeks me and another engineer have been coming in an hour earlier everyday to move our access layer switches to the Nexus 5548s. It was quite the tedious process but at the same time it was a great experience. This move involved migrating the access switches to 10Gb as well as utilizing Etherchannels up to the 5548s. The 5548s also had to be configured with etherchannels/vPCs down to the access layer. We did 1-2 IDF closets a day so the process did take quite some time. However this morning we finished it all up :)

This past weekend we had a maintenance window from 1am to 7am. During this time frame we had to migrate 7 blade centers to the Nexus 7010. There were also a few other tasks that we needed to do such as moving over some management cables and a few “not so important” servers. Again etherchannels and vPCs needed to be used between the Nexus and Bladecenters. All in all it was a pretty smooth transition. The last thing we need to do now is remove some left over items that are still hanging off the 6509s. After that the Nexus migration project will come to an end :(

 

CCNP Switch Study Update – 10/23/13

It’s been really hard to get back into my study groove. Things keep popping up and the late maintenance nights at work have been exhausting. Also I am heading to New Orleans this Thursday until Sunday. It is going to be a much needed vacation :)
I should be ready for the exam by week 20!
Week 14 Switch. Simp Lab Completed
Monday Chapter 8 2.5hr X
Tuesday Chapter ~9 1.5hr X
Wednesday Chapter 9 2hr X
Thursday 1.75hr X
Friday OFF
Saturday OFF
Sunday OFF
Week 15 Switch Simp. Lab Completed
Monday Chapter ~10 X
Tuesday Chapter 10 + Read other 1.5hr X
Wednesday Read 1hr X
Thursday Read up on Security 1.5hr X
Friday OFF
Saturday OFF
Sunday OFF

CCNP Switch Study Update – 10/7/13

Week 12  Video/Switch Simp. Lab Completed
Monday Lecture 40-42 X
Tuesday OFF
Wednesday Chapter 1, 2 X
Thursday Chapter 3 X
Friday OFF
Saturday Chapter 4 X
Sunday OFF
Week 13  Switch. Simp Lab Completed
Monday Chapter 5 2hr X
Tuesday Chapter 6 1.5hr X
Wednesday WORK LATE
Thursday Chapter 7 2hr X
Friday OFF
Saturday OFF
Sunday OFF
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