Posted by Aragoen Celtdra on June 17th, 2013
Well hello blog world. Yes it’s been a while since I last posted an update. I meant to update sooner but because I haven’t logged on to WordPress in such a long time I forgot my password. Then the password came to me in a dream. So here I am.
So much has changed in my professional career since I last updated. In fact my studies were interrupted for a while during all these transitions. Let me take a moment and go back in time to catch you guys up:
After working 5 years as an IT technician at my current job (nine years total in IT) I finally left the field and moved to a lower paying job. It was a dream come true.
Alright let me set that straight: I took a job as a graveyard NOC technician at large MSO (fancy name for a cable (TV) company). The salary they were offering was over 25% less than what I was currently making. Note that I was pretty much the senior technician at my old job, and I was moving to a huge company where all I was going to do was monitor the network and look for red lights –> green light is good, red is a no no. So the pay wasn’t very good. A 25% pay cut is like $250,000 less than the cool million I used to make (figure is fictitious.. only to illustrate the point.. I really made more. Just kidding).
But here’s the twist, I aced the interview so well that the interviewers were so blown away they had to have me. So they offered to match the previous salary I was making even though I would’ve been overpaid by 25% what they offer. I guess they really needed someone who can tell red light from green light and do it really well. I thought it was really nice of them. Then I found out the company made 1 billion dollars the past year.
Nevertheless I was stoked. I no longer had to deal with Windows 95, no more changing copier papers, no more Exchange 2000. I was now part of an elite task force that watched over the health of the network for the rest of Southern California. But only from 11pm – 8am, Tuesdays through Saturdays.
I became a father.
For the 3rd time.
And you know what that does to you study schedule if you’re studying for CCNP… You die!
I didn’t actually die. But I finally completed my CCNP in February 2012 – over 4 years after I set out to pursue Cisco networking. The great thing about working at a NOC, on graveyard, is that they actually pay you to study. OK they didn’t pay me to study. But there was ample enough free time that I was able to focus on completing my CCNP. Finally.
It was actually a good timing I started with the older CCNP track (You know, BSCI, BCMSN, ISCW, and ONT). But this was the final year they were offering that track and the very last date I could finish it was July 2012. They have since moved to the current 3-exam format (ROUTE, SWITCH, TSHOOT). At this point I had already completed BSCI and BCMSN and Cisco was willing to honor those exams and only pass TSHOOT to complete CCNP requirements. So I studied and studied for a good 2 months. Basically, reviewing everything on BSCI and BCMSN and doing lots of labs. The exam itself was a joke. By far the easiest I have taken.
I finally found a crack in the intricate processes of the recruitment and hiring system of the company. I got myself hired in the IP Routing team as a Network Engineer – the ultimate destination of all human endeavor. Ok maybe not. I did it by sheer persistence and ass-kissing – that’s my crass-way of saying, I worked hard, bid my time, studied, and struck at the right moment. Oh and I also emailed the director and manager of the routing team every chance I got. I wanted to put myself out there and made it known that I existed and I was interested in joining their team. Whenever there was high severity outages where I knew their participation was required, I made sure I was involved in one way or another in triaging or the driving of the resolution. When the opportunity came and a position opened up, the manager of the routing team already knew who I was and all I needed to do was impress him in the interview. The interview process went like this:
Manager: So you’re interested in the Network Engineer position huh?
Me: Yes sir! Very much so. I have been intent on being a part of the team since I started with the company. While I was at the NOC, I have been familiarizing myself with the network and how everything interacts with each other, just trying to get in the mindset of an engineer. And while I was waiting for the opportunity to open, I was making good use of my free time studying to get CCNP certified and position myself as the best candidate for this opportunity. <blah blah, blah, insert LinkedIn blurb>
Manager: Good! When do you want to start?
And that was the extent of the interview.
I have been enjoying every moment as a Network Engineer, finally putting to good use all the knowledge I have learned thus far. One thing about a huge, complex service-provider network is that everything is standardized. In that sense, there is not a lot of room for experimenting and “learning from mistake” experiences. But the good part is that I get to work with current and (more or less) up to date technology. So even though most configuration is already pre-scripted, I still learn a lot of the industry’s best practices and way-of-doing-things. All our major routers are at least at 15.0 code. I get to work with a lot of SP Cisco gear. I work primarily on 7600s and ASR9K but not limited to that. I get to touch some Juniper devices. Occasionally I get to peer into the CRS-3 cli. I have been learning IOS-XR for the past few months and expected to troubleshoot some Junos stuff. And, they now pay me two meeeeelion dollars!!!
Eventually, I will probably leave and move on to more advanced stuff. Or I may stay and move on to more advanced stuff. But regardless, my goal now is to get my CCIE. Well it has been my goal. But I think that my next major milestone is to pass the CCIE written and get neck-deep into CCIE labbing.
So far, in the past 2 months I have been averaging about 2.5 hours of CCIE Written prep. With my busy work and family schedule that is a pretty solid amount of time. But I’m looking to move my schedule around to get a more consistent schedule instead of the sporadic 4 hours one day and none the next two days and 3o minutes one day and 2 hours the next. We’ll see how that works out. Stay tuned… or not.