Hour 235: The CCIE mindset

I want to talk a little bit on how the CCIE Lab preparation has opened up my perspective on networking concepts and technologies. First, let me talk a little bit on how I see the progression of a CCENT-CCNA-CCNP and a CCIE candidate.

In my opinion, the best way to describe the different stages of a network engineer’s career is to understand how the engineer looks at things. Let me explain this with an analogy. Imagine networking is represented as the planet Earth and the candidate pursuing a Cisco certification, whether it is the CCENT, CCNA, CCNP or CCIE, is represented as a person looking at Earth.

  • A CCENT candidate would be in space. From space, he can see Earth from very far away and he understands the different parts of it but not really what happens on it.
  • A CCNA candidate would be on a plane on Earth. From this plane, he sees that there is a lot more on Earth going on than he could see from space. He understands that there are people, cities and animals living there but from this plane he does not understand how they interact between each other or how they live.
  • A CCNP candidate would be living on Earth. He now understands how everything exists and interacts with each other. He also thinks he understands what is possible and what is not.
  • Finally, a CCIE candidate would be on Earth but looking at it through a microscope. He sees everything at the molecular level and he now understands that nothing is impossible. Furthermore, he knows different ways of accomplishing those tasks that he previously thought were impossible.

The point I’m trying to pass across here is that the more you progress in your networking career, the more you realize that there is a lot you don’t know and that you might never know. That once you understand how the technologies work at the bit level, the things you thought were previously impossible can actually be accomplished several different ways. That two technologies that were simple on their own can become complicated once they are mixed together. But the most important lesson I want to share is that you should always be humble, because there is always going to be something you don’t know or understand in this career path.

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