Posted on November 1, 2013
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.
Posted on October 31, 2013
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!
Posted on October 23, 2013
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!
Posted on August 22, 2013
So in light of me wanting to expand my knowledge of data center technologies I have decided to go ahead and purchase a book published by Cisco Press titled “Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals: Understanding Techniques and Designs for Highly Efficient Data Centers with Cisco Nexus, UCS, MDS, and Beyond”. Quite the long book title if I do say so myself. The title alone stood out to me because it mentions 3 technologies that I have been immersed in since starting my new job. Nexus, UCS, and MDS are advanced technologies that I hardly even knew anything about 3 months ago and now I am expected to bring myself up to speed ASAP. Well I don’t have to bring myself up to speed, I can just sit back and enjoy the ride however I am not that kind of person. I want to understand what I am working with as well as be able to explain it to someone else. So basically I looked through the books chapters and I saw that it would be very helpful so I went ahead and placed an order for it. What made it more appealing for me is that it is a recommended reading for CCNA/CCNP/CCIE Data Center candidates. As we know there aren’t many published training materials for that certification track yet.
I did buy a book about two months ago published by Sybex titled “CCNA Data Center Introducing Cisco Data Center Networking 640-911″. I skimmed through this book rather quickly however it did not go nearly as in-depth as I needed it too. I could probably even pass the first part of the CCNA:DC at anytime. Seemed like a lot of review of CCNA topics with some Nexus stuff thrown in.
Technologies that I am currently learning for our new data center include Nexus 7010, 5548UP; UCS Blade Servers as well as 6248UP Fabric Interconnects; MDS 9513. Hopefully this book will give me a much greater understanding of all the above.
Posted on August 22, 2013
So I came across a forum post this morning and I just have to write about it. Basically there is this man who has been working at the same job for almost 20 years and is upset because he is not making the money that he wants too. It is evident through his posts that he lacks confidence in himself and blames other people for his short-comings. Saying things like “the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer”. These kind of statements make me sick to my stomach! These are the kind of people I don’t want in my life because they literally try and drain the motivation out of you. They have completely submerged themselves in this mentality that there is nothing they can do to succeed in life so they mine as well feel bad for themselves. Well guess what? I am here to tell you this is 100% false. I can say this in confidence because I am living proof that if you work your ass off everyday and never lose sight of your goals you will be successful. There is going to be hard times, a ton of them in fact, that you will need to overcome. However these are merely testing your will and motivation because once you get past those hardships your goal will be in arms reach.
There are a ton of these people in the working world and I am sure many of us work with one on a daily basis. The people that complain about their pay or that they will never be able to afford a certain thing. Isn’t it funny that these people don’t try and change their situation? Really…they sit at work all day and complain…then they go come and complain some more to their family. It makes no damn sense and it actually makes me laugh. Nothing is free in this world and you will only be paid as much as your worth. So logically we should try and make ourselves more valuable right? Exactly! Go out there and make your employer value your work. Get certifications, go for your masters, lead a big project, do whatever you can to make yourself more valuable in your employers eyes. If after all that work and your employer still looks at you the same way then it is time to jump ship and move on.
“Don’t sell yourself short, decide what you are worth and go and get it”
So as many of you probably have already heard Cisco announced at Cisco Live that they will be releasing their own routing simulator called VIRL – Virtual Internet Routing Lab. Basically it is similar to GNS3 simulator, but offers a lot more flexibility in terms of what sorts of IOS you can run on it. The Cisco Virtual Platforms that will be supported are IOS, NX-OS, IOS XR, and IOS XE. You can imagine my excitement about this product because of my interest in data center and having Nexus equipment in my home is not very feasible. I was unable to find out if VIRL is going to support switching but I would assume that it would. At least I really really hope it does.
I do not want to speak to soon since VIRL has not been released yet but I think this may actually replace my home lab. This is hard to say since I have spent so much time and money on my home lab already, but it’s true. There really will not be a need for me to have expensive physical gear running in my home in order to get in some good lab sessions. I must say though I would still recommend new CCNA candidates to have a home lab. Getting just that little it of hands-on experience can go a long way. It sure helped me out a lot in my early days of studying. Plus its kind of nice to have a rack in your home. However now that I am getting deeper and deeper into my studies I came to the realization that I really will not need a home lab if VIRL lives up to its expectations. Release date I’ve heard is around January 2014.
Network Warrior Book Review
If you have not heard of the book Network Warrior I highly suggest you check it out ASAP. If you are already in the networking field I am sure you have heard of this book because it is such a great reference for all things networking. Well maybe not all things but a great deal of topics are covered. When I first passed my CCNA I picked this book up because it advertised itself as “Everything you need to know that wasn’t on the CCNA exam”. At the time I read through many of the topics however I didn’t really appreciate the use that this book could have. Yes the book was well written and yes it covered a ton of real-world topics. The problem was that I couldn’t relate very much since at the time I was still working in desktop support. Don’t get me wrong I still recommend this book if you are trying to get into the networking field.
Ever since starting my first networking job I brought this book along with me. I wasn’t sure if I would ever actually have to use it but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to keep at my desk. Network Warrior has proven to be a invaluable resource for me during the trails and tribulations of my first networking job. My favorite part about the book? The new edition covers Nexus! I take this book with me every time I go into the data center before I start configuring. Another topic that I find very useful that is covered is ASA Firewalls. The CCNA obviously does not go into any configuration of firewalls. However, firewalls are a huge part of an enterprise network that often fall under the responsibility of a network engineer. Definitely a must read topic to at least get some foundational knowledge.
I really couldn’t ask for more in a book. This is the type of book that should be at every network engineer’s desk. If you have not heard of it please go check it out. You will not be disappointed!
So I am just about 3 months into my first networking job and things are going great. I have been learning a ton and working on technologies that I never expected to have a chance to touch so early on in my career. However not all has been great. There are times where I am given work and I say to myself “How is this the responsibility of a network engineer”? I am someone who will get the work done no matter if it falls under my title or not. After all I am trying to help the company succeed, not be someone who constantly complains about the work they are getting. Also I remind myself of all the great things that I get to work on as well. One example of this “petty” work I get is escalated desktop support calls. I am not used to this because at my last job as a desktop engineer I would never escalate a ticket to a network engineer. Typically that would only be an absolute last resort.
I sometimes have to take a step back and realize that I am still very new to the IT field let alone the networking field so having these expectations is unreasonable. Everything has been going great so there is no reason for me to get annoyed or flustered. I am on the bottom of the totem pole so what did I expect? I often feel that many people that are getting into the networking field for the first time feel a lot like I do right now. So I am telling you just take a step back and look at the bright side of things. Continue your studies and show your worth in your everyday actions.
So having worked as a network engineer for little over a month now I have come to the sad sad realization that the books can not teach me everything about networking. This fact was essentially enforced when I was racking the Nexus 7010/5548s. You really do not realize how many more things go into a data center then just servers, routers, and switches. So much planning and meetings with various vendors to discuss topics ranging from cooling to electricity. It really is all just overwhelming for me at times. One thing that I also find myself somewhat lost in is fiber connectivity. There are so many different kinds of connectors and the idea of fiber patch panels somewhat confuses me as well. I am starting to get a grasp of it a little more and I am sure as I build up our new data center I will get to see how everything is interconnected. Which in turn I hope clears up any confusion I may have.
Today I also ordered Todd Lammle’s CCNA Data Center (640-911) book. The reason I bought this is because I need to get a better understanding of Cisco Nexus at a basic level asap. I am going to have the opportunity to play with the Nexus in a test environment for a few weeks so I want to take advantage of that as much as I can. I am not losing focus on my CCNP studies, that is still my number one priority. However after I pass CCNP I hope to go for my CCNA Data Center as well as CCDA.
So I thought this would be a good topic to discuss since many people have various opinions about the topic. How valuable is your certification in terms of your everyday work? Some people say that certifications are unnecessary and that real world experience is all that matters. Others, like myself, think it is good to have both. However the question comes up, how much of that knowledge that you learned through certifications will you actually use in the work place? The tons and tons of knowledge that we beat into our brains will definitely not stay in there for long unless we use it everyday. Honestly though, I don’t think it is possible to retain all that information for long even when using it on a daily basis. The little details that go with each technology is bound to leave our minds.
What I have discovered though is that a lot of the networking topics that I have learned have almost become second nature to me. What I mean by that is that I don’t even have to think about a particular topic, its already etched into my mind and I can discuss it. Even if I have not read about it in a long time. For example, I have been studying for my CCNP Route exam, which as you may know does not contain any switching topics. This is really unfortunate because in an enterprise network you are going to be working on switches much more then you work on routers. That’s not the point of this example so I digress. So I am studying for my Route exam which means I have not touched switching topics since studying for my CCNA. Which is probably about 6 months ago. However since starting my new job I was thrown right away into the switching world again and I shocked myself how much I still subconsciously knew about the switching concepts. I was able to manage port-security, vlans etc without even thinking twice. It was really cool to see how far I have come!
So in conclusion I believe that all the studying of certifications and all the technologies you do learn from them do stay in your mind. Maybe you will not be as proficient in it as you used to be but it is up there, and the next time you use that knowledge you will see how easy it comes to you.