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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.

Home Lab vs Emulator/Simulator

Oh a question that has been asked time and time again….What should I use for my Cisco certification studies? Should I buy a home lab or use packet tracer/gns3? I am going to come right out and say this. If you are NOT in the networking field and are pursuing Cisco certifications you need to get a home lab. Period. The troubleshooting experiences that you will experience through your home lab is something no emulator/simulator can teach you. I can honestly tell you this because I am speaking from experience. I am someone that started out as a desktop engineer and have worked my way up into a networking position within a year. Not only does a home lab make you a better engineer but it will also impress employers during your interviews. Again, I am saying this from my own experiences. Why would employers want to give you a shot at becoming a network engineer if you have never even touched Cisco equipment? Think about that. Would you rater hire someone that has a year of hands on experience in a home lab environment or someone that has a year experience messing around in GNS3. Having a home lab shows your potential employer that you are dedicated to your studies.  
 
I am not trying to knock GNS3 because I do use it often when I am traveling. It is a very useful tool to have in your arsenal. However it should not be your means of getting “hands-on” Cisco experience. Yes a home lab may be expensive, but truthfully the experience you will gain from it will pay itself off. Also do not go out and spend a ton of money on a home lab if you are just starting out with your CCNA. Start off with 2x switches and 2x routers. Add things to your lab as you find necessary. 

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(My CCNP home lab)

Saying goodbye to your current employer

So this morning I decided it was time to give my two weeks notice. I was extremely nervous and anxious because I have never done something like this before. As you know I am still young and have only held one IT job. I talked to a few family members and they gave me some good advice on how to approach the situation. I wanted to be as honest as I could with my employer because I knew this would be the last time that I could get things off of my chest. Obviously I would do this in a professional manner.

So when I went into my managers office and told him about the new job I have accepted he was surprisingly happy for me. He even said that he didn’t expect me to be working here very long because of how driven I was to work in the networking field. This calmed my nerves a lot and I really do hope to keep in contact with him. I really will miss the people I currently work with. Of course there are ups and downs but I do genuinely like the people and work I get. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but I know I am making the right decision to accelerate my career.

Offer Accepted – I am a Network Engineer!

So I finally got my offer letter for the position of Network Engineer. I am super excited about the position; it has been what I have been working towards for the past year. I feel very privileged to have been given this opportunity because I am still very young and also do not have much real-life IT experience. However the company that is willing to give me a chance sees the potential I have and is willing to give me a shot. I study very hard just about everyday and certification is very important to me. The company sees this passion I have and they think it will be of added value to their network team. They even told me that I can setup a lab at work so I can practice topics in my free time. Finally! A company that encourages me to go towards higher level certifications! I really hope I exceed expectations in this new position, but I know it will be a huge transition for me. I only have about two years IT experience (1 year interning, and 1 year as desktop support). I believe that as long as I continue working hard in my studies everything will work out for me and I will grow into a great Network Engineer. Wish me luck. :)

Suit Up and Show Up

So I have been coming across this question quite often lately. “Should I wear a suit to my interview?”; we are strictly talking about IT jobs here ranging from a helpdesk to director interviews. Personally, I wore a suit to both IT interviews I have had. One was for a desktop engineer position and another was for a network engineer (I got the job both times). I have read comments online saying that suits aren’t necessary for any kind of IT support role rather a suit should only be worn when going to interview for a management position. My response to this is that it is better to be over dressed than under dressed. Don’t you think an employer wants to hire someone that knows when/how to dress professionally?

I am going to be honest, I actually do really enjoy wearing a suit whenever I get the chance. I feel that it gives me added confidence during the interview. Even if the position allows the employees to “dress-down” I think the suit is still the way to go for the interview. Perfect example is Google, they allow all their employees to wear jeans and t-shirts to work, however they expect all their interviewees to be dressed professionally.

You have nothing to lose wearing a suit to an interview so I recommend you go out and buy yourself a nice tailored suit. It does not need to be super expensive or made by some famous designer. Their are plenty of alternatives including Jos A. Bank and Men’s Wearhouse. I personally recommend Jos A. Bank because they always have great deals and offers year round.

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