Career advice? This is somewhat off topic, or is it?
Well they definitely forgot to mention this chapter in the CCNP workbooks..
I do warn you tho, i might get all philosophical about it, so turn it off if you’re not in the mood.
I believe that one of our basic needs, something that keeps us happy, is progress. whether it’s professional knowledge (certification track), career progress (better position, better salary) or self development (life skills). When we are stuck in one place for too long, in one of these areas, we tend to lose our patience and get the itch.
What brought me to where I am today, are not my certifications. Sure, it helped.. but my Cisco career path from CCNA to CCIE is much more than a bunch of exams (although very highly regarded and well paid for). To become a CCIE, you would need much more than technical knowledge, you would have to become a man who deserves it and more much more crucial, able to achieve it.
I’m here to be a little bit (a lot) in your face and let you have a glance on how an actual Cisco career path may look like:
Study hard for the CCNA certification, pass the exam, look for a job, smash the interview because you sucked at selling yourself, sink an interview because you were rude to the receptionist (no, seriously, be fucking nice to the receptionist), get the job! work your ass off, convince your employer to pay for CCNP exams, fail to convince him to give you some time to study, slaughter you chances to get a class based course, work even bloody harder, achieve embarrassing results at salary rise negotiations, look for a better place to work, find a place that will pay you just a bit more for the same hard work, compromise, suck at convincing your employer to pay for your CCIE, have a hard time to manage your time and yourself, stop studying for the CCIE, keep beating yourself up for it, start again after two years, attend to the lab exam, make it look like a bloodbath, collect your broken pieces and start again, fail the second attempt because you hesitated to ask the proctor for the meaning of the question. Pass the CCIE!!! miss the job of a lifetime because you got so cocky about your title that you forgot that a great job requires a great individual to fill it, not 4 great letters to show for it.
Not exactly what you might’ve imagined for a Cisco career path, now did you?
In order to have an exceptional career (and life), in order to succeed, you have to take complete responsibility over you career. You can’t blame anyone(!) for anything(!!), you have to be a go-getter, and you have to acquire certain skills. These skills are what this section is all about.
Personally, the one thing that helped me to get where i am today is self development. I can honestly tell you, i wouldn’t be writing these words nor having an amazing job and most definitely, wouldn’t be a CCIE, without having learned some very important skills throughout my Cisco career.
I’m not saying that you should make it your life goal, nor spend thousands of dollars on it.
I think you should first be aware that these skills exist and that they can be a game changer. Beyond that, it’s really up to you how deep down the rabbit hole you are willing to go.
I’m not going to talk here about how to improve you confidence or health, not that it’s not important, it’s just not that kind of a blog..
I want to focus on some business related skills that tremendously helped me to advance and achieve results in my Cisco career (and consequently in my life).
I achieved these results by both acquiring skills ,and shaping my attitude and mindset towards what it is that we’re doing.
I believe that online courses and books are the best way to go, that’s what worked for me for years. They are mostly built with the end user in mind. They are very well structured and easy for consumption and understanding. Most importantly, they won’t eat up too much of your time and money, and you won’t have to make a thesis on the internet to gather bits and pieces for hours long. For me, the value for money of these programs was and still is, tremendous.
“Invest three percent of your income in yourself (self-development) in order to guarantee your future.” Brian Tracy.
There is really only one book you’ll ever need on the subject.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity is, as Lifehack called it: “The Bible of business and personal productivity”. It’s been #1 best seller for time management books for more then a decade.
I truly don’t know where i would be without it.
It doesn’t eliminate your responsibilities, but it does prevent your work from piling up and keep stress levels at bay. This book had a massive influence over the course of my Cisco career, and still shapes the way i work, plan and execute. David Allen was one of my best friends during my CCIE studies, i really can’t imagine how i could manage my time and life in such a stressful period.
The audio book was perfect for me during my commute time and a great motivation to start your day with. (let me know when you’re done reading, i have some great apps recommendation for the methodology).
The 7 habits of highly effective people
Guilty as charged, it is in deed another #1 best seller in the leadership section (for two decades). What can i say, it’s just that good.
If you aspire achieving great things in your lifetime, this book is for you. The book was a cornerstone in achieving the mindset that helped me through some rough time while preparing for the CCIE exam and failing 2 lab attempts. The book also includes some of the best lessons on how to conduct in business with partners and customers, since we are constantly working with customers, these skills are vital.
Understand the concepts of this book, and you will forever cease being a pawn, making your path towards a leader. Priceless.
Advanced communication skills for 21st Century leaders
This online video course is an amazing resource for business communication knowledge. It touches some critical topics like persuasion, presentation skills, trust and clear communication. If you waived it off as this silly body language course or content strictly reserved to managers, I encourage you to think again. One thing I’ve learned is that you are your own BU (business unit), and must treat yourself as one. As a BU, you have to invest in it and constantly improve it.
This course will help you manage your own BU, and in turn others as well.
This is another online course, although i have to say, it is not for everyone. This is an advanced, in depth course in communication and influence (not only towards others but also towards oneself). It requires more engagement and it is more pricey.
If you are willing to take that path however, results will come, and they will be sensational, in all walks of life.
Get the Job!
Job Interview Skills Training Course
If you have little experience with job interviews go ahead and take this course. It’s short, it’s free and it will give you the highlights of what you are up against. This course won’t change your world but it will definitely set you on the right path in your Cisco career.
The first step of competence is Unconscious incompetence , simply put, you don’t know what you don’t know. This course will get you pass it.
If you want more advanced skills (both free and price tagged) continue reading.
The Complete Job, Interview, Resume/LinkedIn & Network Guide
If you are to pay for anything on this topic, make this one your investment. This course is the most comprehensive guide to get you the job and the career you want.
For 12 hours, Prof. Chris Haroun goes over critical aspects like mindset, job interviews, resume building, salary negotiations, networking, Linkedin and the list goes on.
It is absolutely priceless. If you are serious about going after the job of your dreams with the salary you’re after, this course has a ROI of a goldmine.
The Big Interview is a great website! The blog section is free and it covers much of what you need to know and to do towards your job interview. The authors contribute great deal of their experience and share some very helpful insights. Navigation is great via the menus on the right and you can find the most popular Q&A on the subject. Enjoy the reading.