How to look for your next job

Looking for a job can be very intimidating especially if you have never dealt with job posting websites before.  However going to these websites and getting your resume on them is very important so recruiters/employers can see if you are a good fit for their company.  Also these websites will allow you to search through thousands of different job openings and apply to whichever ones interest you most.  Keep this in mind though, most job posting list requirements that often times far exceed your skill set. This does not mean you shouldn’t apply. Remember these requirements are for an “ideal” candidate. Companies will oftentimes take a risk on someone who doesn’t have the “ideal” skill set and mold them to their liking.  However this does mean that you will most likely get paid less than what the job posting originally said.  This may be worth it because the experience you gain will pay itself off in 1-2 years time.

Personally I like putting my resume on as many job posting sites as I can.  I like being able to go to each site and browse through the different job postings and apply to ones that catch my eye.  Keep in mind that these websites don’t always have the same job postings across the board.  So if you really want employers to notice you, you should post your resume on at least 3-4 sites. Also as side note, you WILL be contacted by a lot of recruiters and I think it is in your best interest to give them some of your time and chat with them.  Recruiters have a very big network and they can often get your foot in the door of a job you have been wanting.

So here are the resources I use when I am on the hunt for my next job.

  • Monster.com
  • Dice.com
  • Careerbuilder.com
  • Glassdoor.com
  • Indeed/com
  • Craigslist.com (I usually would only browse around)
  • LinkedIn.com

 

 

A bitter farewell

Well the day has finally come, it is my last day at my current employer :( I never thought this moment would happen so quickly, but I know I am making the right decision for my career. This was my first job since graduating school and I am very thankful that I was lucky enough to have been given a job in my field of study upon graduation.  I met a lot of great people here and I really do hope to stay in touch with some of them. I’ve learned that building a network is very important, especially in IT. I feel that I have learned a ton during my employment, both personally and professionally.

I am really excited about my new job as a network engineer. Oddly enough I am not nervous one bit, I just want to start already :) I really hope I do well in my new position and that I exceed even my own expectations. This is the position I have been working so hard for this past year, now its time to show what I’ve learned in the books/lab and apply it to the real world. Wish me luck! Here goes nothing!

Certifications vs College Degree

Oh the age old question…is it better to obtain a degree or stick to certifications? Really this question can not be answered for you. Obviously a degree will take about 4 years of your life and will cost a lot of money. Certifications on the other hand can get you a job rather quickly. Recent college graduates really do have a tough time breaking into the IT field because honestly college degree don’t hold that much weight. Often times a college degree is just a check box for most employers. So in that case yes a college degree is important to have, especially if you want a government job. If you ask me I think the whole situation is rather corrupt, why does someone need to have a college degree if they posses a skill set that far surpasses any college graduate? Obviously their is nothing we can do about how the system is run, so we are left to adapt to it.

If I were to go back 5 years when I was first pursuing my CSIT degree I would have told myself this. “Pursue certifications throughout your 4 years in university because upon graduation your resume will stand out above all others”. Unfortunately at the time I did not really know about certifications so I just slacked off and lived the college life my first 3 years. Upon entering my senior year I learned about IT certifications and instantly started pursuing my A+ and then my Network+. I passed both upon graduation. Even though these are both entry level certifications, it still made my resume stand out compared to my classmates.

So as a final thought, yes a college degree is important, and yes certifications are important. If possible I recommend you pursue both, if money is an issue for you I would then highly suggest you start on your certification path.

Sharing in other’s success

When someone tells you that they recently passed a tough certification or have gotten a new job they have always wanted, what is your first reaction? Say congratulations? Ask questions? Or give a smirk and brush off whatever the person just told you? Until recently I never realized how many people in this world would actually choose the last option I listed. I don’t understand why it is hard for some people to be genuinely happy for someone who is advancing in their career. The only way I can explain it is maybe that person is jealous because they never have achieved those kind of things in their own lives. I’m sure if you work in IT then you have run into these kinds of people, typically they are the people that says certifications are a waste of time.

Co-workers at my current employer, upon hearing that I was going to be working as a network engineer, instantly started coming up to me and asking me questions. Of course their were some people that were very happy for me and even said that this is a great move for me. However others would try and bring me down saying that “I don’t know what I am getting myself into” or that “I am too young”. I honestly don’t think some of my co-workers understand, even after I explain, that I am trying to expedite my career in the direction I want and not waste my time doing desktop support.

No one at my current job understands how hard I work everyday after work, oddly enough the one guy that was happy for me also pursues certifications. I guess you can say like minded people understand the struggles that certification testing brings so they are more likely to be happy for you when you achieve something. So please never let people bring you down, they only do it because they can’t do something themselves.

Set your Networking Career Path

I have been told by a few individuals over the years that you can not plan out your career, and that things will always come up that you never expect throughout your entire career. I do agree with this to an extent however I think having a 3 or 5 year plan is crucial to your success. Of course their will be occurrences that you never expect to happen; some will be good and some will be bad. What matters is that you are able to deal with them and continue with your 5 year plan.

Since starting full-time in IT I made myself a 5-year plan and have achieved so far every goal I had initially set for myself. This included passing my A+/Network+/CCENT/CCNA and also getting into the networking field within my first year of working full-time. This is not a coincidence or luck. I am living proof that if you set your mind to something and you want it more than anything else you will achieve it. Some other goals of mine in my 5 year plan include passing CCNP/CCDA/CCDP, become a mid-senior engineer, become a network consultant, and finally passing CCIE. Passing CCIE may not happen in my 5 year plan but I feel that if I stay at the pace I am currently keeping I should be able to pass it by the time I am 26-27.

So please do yourself a favor and literally write yourself out a career path and follow it. Don’t lose sight of your goals and don’t let other people tell you that you are taking the wrong path. Trust me you will run into tons of people that think certifications are a waste of time. Get those kind of people out of your life. I guarantee you will surpass their skill set much faster then they took to get their.

CCNP Route Study Update – 4/15/13

I had a pretty successful weekend in my studies. I was able to knockout almost all the Chris Bryant OSPF videos. I have only one more left that I will finish up tonight. After finishing up the videos I will dive right into heavy OSPF labing. First I will start with the Cisco Student Lab Manual and after I complete that I will lab from the 101 CCNP labs. This should take about 3-4 days to complete.

The reason I am doing the SLM Labs first is because I have noticed that they are somewhat easier. The 101 CCNP labs incorporate redistribution and manipulating your routing tables very early on. At least that is what I noticed from labing the EIGRP section last week. I like that they are more challenging because it will better prepare me for when I go and study that topic again. I have already read all of the CCNP Route Foundation Learning Guide and watched CBT Nuggets so I already have a decent grasp of what to expect.

I will update again after finishing up with OSPF.

What is your Motivation?

What is your motivation for your studies?  Is it for the pursuit of a bigger paycheck? Or is it because you actually love what you are studying? Or is it both? For me I would have to say it is a mixture of a lot of things. Of course I want to have bigger paychecks so I can provide for my family in the future, but also at the same time I feel that what I am studying has become a hobby. Which I think is very important in order to become successful in any particular field. My main focus for the past year and a half has been studying networking, particularly Cisco. When I first started studying Cisco I never expected it to become a hobby of mine like it has. At the time I was just trying to make myself more marketable to employers.

However as time went on I started to see that I actually really enjoyed what I was studying…I could even say I was having fun at times. Yes having fun studying! I never had this kind of feeling all four years during college which made me come to this conclusion. I do not like being told that I have to study a particular topic. I want to study the topics I want to and not have a teacher giving me deadlines. I came to this realization rather quickly after graduating school. Another thing that I learned about myself is that I much rather self-study then going to a classroom. Nothing beats sitting in the comfort of your own home and studying at your own convenience. I think I study much better on my own because I have time to gather my thoughts and think things through in my own way.

So to find your motivation you have to look deep within yourself. For me every time I walk into my lab area and see the certifications I have already achieved gives me a boost to push through and add to the wall. So remember to always follow your dreams and you will achieve your goals.

Types of Network Engineers

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with one of the network engineers at my current job. We began talking about the new position I had received and he seemed very happy for me. This engineer has always been someone that I could pick the brain of. He is very humble and also loves to teach people that are willing to  learn. He was a very valuable resource of mine during my studies. I truly will miss him and I hope that at my new place of employment I find someone similar to mentor me.

He began telling me that their are two types of network engineers. Ones that specialize in a certain niche and ones that are more generalist. By that he meant they handle the servers, voice, networking etc. At my current job the network engineers are more on the generalist side since they often need to wear different hats throughout their day. Their are pluses and minuses to being a generalist or specialist. However in my opinion I think being a generalist is good to be during the beginning of your career and then as you grow and learn you pick a specialty and make that your main focus. Of course it is always good to be “well-rounded” however I believe you can only get so far. I much rather be a master in one specific thing then being decent at everything. Reason being is that as you move into more senior roles you will be required to have very in-depth knowledge of a particular niche.

We both agreed on this, and I am very happy to say that my niche will be Cisco. My new employers network infrastructure is all Cisco gear so I know that my studies and day to day work will go hand-in-hand. I feel very fortunate to be given this opportunity and I hope that my transition will go smoothly.

How to become a Network Engineer

So I received a few messages asking me what I did to get myself into a networking position with under two years IT experience. I am going to be honest here and say that you need to be dedicated 110% all of the time and never take your eye off of your goal. So here is basically what I did.

During my senior year in college I had an internship where I worked with various IT departments at a law firm. This included desktop, network, telecom, and application services. It really did give me a good feel for various roles of a functioning IT department, but what it also showed me was what interested me the most. Out of all the groups that I worked with networking was by far my favorite. At the time I had no idea what all these switches, routers, and servers were but all I knew was that they looked cool and I needed to know more! During my internship I also learned about IT certifications, so I took it upon myself to pass my A+. The reason I decided to go for my A+ was because I figured the law firm would offer me a full time position as desktop engineer upon graduation. I definitely knew they wouldn’t bring me on board as a network engineer since all the experience I had was from interning.

So upon graduating I received a full time offer to work as a desktop engineer, as expected. However, my sights were still set on the prize, to work in networking. Immediately I began my studies for my Network+, which I passed in about 3 months after starting full time. After that I began studies for my CCNA, I decided to take the two test route since I was not working in the networking field. I figured the more knowledge I have to consume the better off I will be. It took me about 6 months total to pass both parts of my CCNA.

Upon passing my CCNA I immediately started applying for networking jobs in my area. I talked to tons of recruiters as well since they have pretty large networks. You might ask yourself “Why didn’t I ask my current employer for a promotion?” Well I did ask however the IT department is rather small so it is hard to just give out promotions unless they are absolutely needed. So I continued applying and talking to as many people as I can, and then one day I received an email from a company that was interested in me. The rest is history. I went through about 5 interviews with this company until they finally gave me an offer letter. They were extremely impressed with my dedication and determination to obtain  certifications so they are willing to give me a shot. The best part of all is that they will even allow me to set up a lab at work to help with my CCNP studies!

So what you want to remember from all this is that you have to stay focused on your studies. Every day! Give yourself one day a week off to relax if you need too, but honestly when you aren’t studying you should be thinking about it. Its should be a constant thing in your life. Make studying a hobby not a chore and I promise you that you will achieve your goals.

Networking 101 – What is OpenFlow?

(All credit goes to Cisco for making this video)

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