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I’m Back

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:

August 2011

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. :D

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.


December 2011

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!


February 2012

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.


November 2012

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. :D



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.


8 Responses to “I’m Back”

  1. Roy (#routeleaker)No Gravatar Says:

    Welcome back, Aragoen and congratulations on the job progression :)

  2. Aragoen CeltdraNo Gravatar Says:

    Thanks Roy! I’m trying to push myself to work with the same intensity as I used to when I was going for CCNP. It’s much harder with 3 kids. :)

  3. Roy (#routeleaker)No Gravatar Says:

    Yeah I have 2 kids and it’s hard enough to get any studying done at home :)

  4. Aragoen CeltdraNo Gravatar Says:

    How are your CCIE studies going?

  5. MorboNo Gravatar Says:

    Oh boy, this post is just like my situation. Am a baby sitter during the day (father of 3) and NOC engineer at night. In the past one year I managed to re-certify my CCNA and I am now working on my CCNP passed routing so far , about to take switching. Been kissing the network manager’s butt ( working hard like u:) so I could have an opportunity to move. I posted my resume on career builder just to test the field. Been getting calls about network engineer positions, been invited to interview but not sure I should do that right now as I would like to first finish my CCNP. The other thing is am just nervous I may not have as much hands on experience as Network engineer since all I do is look at the green and red lights. Hopefully one day I will make that progression into a fully fledged network engineer. Good luck in your CCIE track

  6. JonathanNo Gravatar Says:

    Great to reaad how things are going. I passed the TSHOOT exam in Sept 2011 completing my CCNP and whilst I was studying I kept dropping by to your blog as I was 1 exam behind you all the time. Since then I’ve moved from an ISP to the banking sector and recently obtained my CCDA. Hopefully I’ll get the CCDP by christmas then I think that will be it for me and I’ll be happy to re-certify every 3yrs there after. 
    All the best with your CCIE studies and keep us updated on how you’re getting on!

  7. sreeNo Gravatar Says:

    awesome inspiration to read a real life network engineer’s story.

  8. sreeNo Gravatar Says:

    ive read through the ccnp switch book, need to re read and do the labs alongside. hope to finish the ccnp switch exam on 17th nov 2014, route exam on 19th december and tshoot on 8th jan. Cisco changes the syllabus by the end of jan 2015.

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