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”
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.
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.
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.
So two days ago I decided I was going to start the Chris Bryant CCNP Route series a few days early. The reason for this is because I really wanted to start getting back into my home lab and personally I enjoy following along with Chris Bryant as he configures throughout his lectures. Basically my plan is to do 3 lectures a day and lab along with them (1-2 hours). After that I will work through the 101 CCNP Labs workbook (1-2 hours per day). This book is a beast. I printed it out and it was over 1700 pages!! I have to take a picture of this monster and show you guys, and yes I did print double sided.
At this point I have gone through about 6 lectures and have been enjoying them a lot. Chris Bryant is very knowledgable and I really like his teaching style. However, I do wish the eBooks were included with the purchase of the course. So far I have gone through a review of routing fundamentals and EIGRP fundamentals. Both sections were a nice review of the basics. I hope to move into Advanced Eigrp lectures tomorrow since tonight I will be going out with a friend.
Lastly I do recommend the Chris Bryant CCNP series for anyone considering going for their CCNP. You will not be disappointed, I promise.
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.
(My CCNP home lab)
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.
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.
Just wanted to make a quick update on where I am at in my CCNP Route studies. Yesterday night I finished up with IPv6. For the rest of the week I am going to be reading Chapter 1 and 7 from the CiscoPress FLG Route guide. The following week is where I will begin Phase 2 of my study plan (I have a post with my study plan attached). Phase 2 will consist of me going through Chris Bryant’s CCNP Route video series along with labing each day for about two hours. This should take a little more than a month to complete. I will continue update the blog periodically.
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.