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Week one comes to an end

I am making this post now because I don’t think I will have time to write one tomorrow. I last left off when I told you about my first day as a network engineer. A few days have gone by and I truly am enjoying my job. Yes their are some downsides to it. Since I am the new guy and the youngest in the entire department I often am given the petty work that the other engineers do not want to do. Honestly I expected this because I only have a year of experience and I still have to prove myself. I did however already get access to the switches/routers and I even fixed two networking problems!!! One was a port I was trying to build a machine on had a speed and duplex mismatch so I had to log in to the switch and set it too 100/full. The other issue I had fixed was a port-security issue. All that needed to be done was take out the port-security commands and reapply them with the sticky command appended. I have also used the toner probe quite a but and damn is this thing fun to use! You would not believe how detailed the information this thing gives you.

I also have been getting up to speed on Cisco UCS and Nexus systems. We have a few in our data center sitting on pallets because we are having a data center makeover coming this year. My supervisor gave me a pretty detailed lesson on how the transition will work and I did get a better understanding. However I must admit I feel overwhelmed at times. I also spend a decent amount of time looking at network diagrams to familiarize myself with the infrastructure. Again though I feel overwhelmed since I have never done something like this before. I feel like a lot of the technology just goes right over my head.

One downfall that I have seen to the job is that I do have some small desktop support work that I am responsible for such as creating packages for imaging machines. To be honest with you though I feel that its best for me to start slow and build my way up. If they just threw me in and told me go configure that Nexus for blah blah blah I would crap myself. So  I mean overall I am happy because these past few days I feel that I have learned a ton already and I am very excited on what is yet to come.

My first day as a network engineer

Ill start off by saying that my first day went by extremely fast! Everyone in the IT department seemed very nice and I am looking to forward to working with them all. Unfortunately I am horrible with names so it will definitely take some time for me to get everyone’s name down. The whole IT department is roughly 70 people and the networking team consists of 5 guys (including me). The fellow engineers I currently work with are very knowledgeable so I am very excited to learn from them. I must admit though that I felt very overwhelmed today. I realized that I really don’t actually know anything when it comes to real-world production networking. A lot of the concepts felt like they went right over my head but the engineers assured me that they don’t expect me to understand it all. I am very glad that they are understanding and are willing to work with me to bring me up to speed.

My day today really did fly by, however when I look back right now I feel like I really didn’t do much. Most of my day consisted of getting introduced to everyone and talking to various kinds of people. I also spend an hour and a half in an annual IT department meeting. I did get to use something today that I have only read about in the books; a Fluke Networks network tester. I remember in one of Jeremy Ciora’s CCNA cbtnugget videos him mentioning this exact model and that it costs over $1,000. I used it to trace a bad cable run which was something that I have never done before.

I’m sure I will have more eventful posts then this one in the future!

Network Engineer job starts tomorrow

So the day has finally come! It is the first day of my network engineering career! I am very excited and I can’t wait to see how much I  will learn. As I said before I am trying not to set my expectations too high but I just can’t help it! This has been what  I have been working towards for the past year and a half. I don’t expect anything eventful to happen in the first couple of days but I will keep the blog updated on my daily tasks. My main goal here is to help/show people how to break into the networking field and also to show what life is like in a network engineers shoes.

Sorry for keeping this short but I just wanted to give a quick update before I start tomorrow morning.

Expectations for first networking job

So I am going to be honest here and say that I really think that I am setting my expectations way to high for my first networking job.  My first day is this Monday and I am actually super excited and not nervous at all, I just wanna get in their and learn as much as I can.  However I think I need to take a step back and learn my place. I will be the low man on the totem pole and will most likely not get any real work until I prove myself. In my mind I just want to start logging in and configuring anything that they may need me too, but like I said that is most likely not going to happen for awhile. So really I am just going to try and take each day one step at a time and really try and show the other engineers that I want to learn and that I will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

From reading articles on various networking forums I feel that this is a common problem  new network engineers face when they enter the networking field. They feel that since they just passed their CCNA/CCNP that the company that just hired them will just give them all the usernames/passwords so they can start configuring. Which obviously that is not the case. Yes certifications are important but they only lay a foundation for you to enter the networking field more easily. Someone with Cisco certifications will grasp the networking concepts in real world experiences much faster than someone who has not taken any certifications. I know this from experience because at my last job I surpassed the knowledge of the junior network engineer within a year of full time experience as a desktop engineer. I do cut him so slack though since he does have a family and many more responsibilities then I do.

Once I start work I hope to keep this blog updated with the various tasks that I complete on  a daily basis.

CCNP Route Study Update – 4/21/13

Today I finished up on the CCNP 101 OSPF Labs. As expected they were a lot more advanced then the Cisco SLM labs. Like I said before it is nice to get the additional challenge in the 101 CCNP labs because it forces me to stay on my toes on all the different CCNP topics. For instance, in one of the OSPF labs today I had to implement an EIGRP adjacency in case the primary OSPF link fails. Obviously this is not exactly ideal for real world, but is is nice to see how all these technologies can actually work together. I also liked how the 101 CCNP labs incorporated tunneling for fail over purposes as well. Additionally the 101 Labs almost always included some sort of route policing that needed to be implemented. Which again is great because that for me is a topic that I know will be tough.

So that is it for OSPF for now. I start on the BGP videos from The Bryant Advantage tomorrow morning. I have this whole week off from work until I start my new job as a network engineer next Monday! So I hope I can get a good amount of work done this week.

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.

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. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to