A few weeks ago on the 3rd of September it was exactly 1 year ago I received my digits. In this article I would like to tell you how the last year was and how the CCIE changed my life completely!
I took the exam in San Jose, CA. Mainly because I was in the US a couple weeks for studying and vacation. During my studies there I felt really good about my level and really had the feeling I was in ‘the zone’. It was in the time that you could still reschedule your exam 30 days before instead of the current 90 days. With that 30 day limit I was just within reach of rescheduling my exam to about 5 days after I finished the bootcamp I did.
I took a couple days off and did some really touristic stuff and really had a good time in San Francisco. After a good day in the Cisco Building C in San Jose I went home with a very neutral feeling. At 11.30pm I got the e-mail. YES I passed, #21946.
Now a lot changed. I got a very nice raise at my employer but it really took some effort. Mainly due to my age. I had to fight for it, but after a few meetings with the HR managers I got the salary I wanted and the growth plan I wanted.
The attitude I got from my co-workers really changed a lot! They really saw me as a senior engineer now and came to me with lot’s of questions and wanted me to verify about everything. Teaching basic classes about their own network and more stuff. I really enjoyed that feeling and it really felt the CCIE paid a lot more than just money!
After staying a couple months with my current employer I got this really nice opportunity to work for a company which is very close to my home. My previous work was at least a 1 to 2 hour drive and the new job would be a 5 minute drive.
I went there for a chat and that meeting only took about 45 minutes. Mainly because they knew that I had my CV and I just had 2 basic technical questions and I had to draw a basic LAN design which I just implemented. Afterwards the guy who interviewed me said: I just felt you were a great guy, you don’t need to ask a lot of questions, the feeling was immediately great and you really fitted in the group! Which in my opinion is about the best compliment I got so far.
So after debating a long time I chose to switch jobs! This was a big thing which I considered a long time and the day before I went on vacation I had my exit meeting with the HR manager, which he totally didn’t expect.
During my vacation I started working on the CCIE Service Provider big time! I bought a couple books and bought some training materials including videos. I read all the books and watched over 40 hours of video and came back with a VERY good understanding of the Service Provider topics.
After coming back I attended Cisco Networkers in Barcelona. It was my first time and I enjoyed it so much! The sessions that Cisco gives are just the BEST. The people that are giving the lectures are very good and a lot of them are ‘distinguished’ engineers.
I took the CCIE Service Provider techtorial which I really liked. We got a practice lab which was really comparable to the real lab. I could do it quite fast and didn’t have to much trouble with it.
After another month I joined my new employer. I changed from an outsourcing company to an integrator, which is a really different way of working. Instead of working on 1 project for 1 customer I’m now working on 10 projects for 10 customers. This means a lot in terms of skills you need to have, as I’m now really expected to advice the customer and defend my solutions.
I’m now so much entertained by the challenges I get, which are much more difficult than I got with my previous employer.
After another few months of studying and doing a lot of full-scale labs I passed my CCIE Service Provider also on the first attempt on May 19th. I was so happy that I was able to pass 2 CCIE’s within a year and all before my 22nd birthday.
After passing the SP exam, again a lot changed! Not in terms of how my colleagues saw me, but I got approached by a number of people that asked me to coach them and I was also approached to be doing CCIE lab development.
So another thing that can change your life. Now people approach you internationally and ask how you did it and what they have to do, to be at the same level. It’s such an awesome experience!
My last major change was that I joined IPexpert as Sr. Support Engineer, to assist in supporting the CCIE Community wherever I can and also co-author some of the BEST workbooks that are available. I really enjoy making the labs for students and it’s also a huge addition to keep your own knowledge up to date.
This is a big thing for CCIE’s. Once you got your digits, your knowledge just somehow erases from your memory for a big part. At least that’s what I experienced after a couple months. I just wasn’t at that high level anymore. It takes a lot of effort to keep up to date with everything and remain at CCIE level! I spend a lot of time in reading the Cisco Documentation and even doing R&S labs again, just to keep my knowledge ‘active’. People expect you to have a certain vast amount of knowledge and you have to keep proving it. The CCIE pays off, but it keeps taking time and effort! At least that’s my opinion if you want to be one of the best. The only way to reach and maintain your level if by constantly keep improving yourself, don’t loose focus and keep looking.
The downside of all the things you are doing and all the thousands of hours you spend on it, is that people could become jealous. It’s also something I experienced. Suddenly I was ‘selfish’ and ‘arrogant’. People even start forum topics just to bash at you. It’s something you have to deal with I guess. I like it, since some of the replies actually make sense and people start defending you. That’s such a great example of what a fantastic community this is.
So after a little more than a year of being a CCIE I switched jobs, I earned another CCIE, I joined the best CCIE training company to support the great community I got to be part of, I met dozens of CCIEs and I can say that my social community grew enormously. It’s been such a great experience and it still is. I keep discovering new things and I still learn so much every day! I now see the CCIE not as an end-goal, it’s a milestone on a path to become an ‘expert’ (or ‘guru’ as some people might call it). I hope I will reach that level one day, but on the other hand it’s hard to tell that, as you keep learning.
Keep looking, keep learning, stay hungry, don’t settle!
CCIE2 #21946 (R&S / Service Provider)
Sr. Support Engineer – IPexpert, Inc.