Saturday, March 27, 2010

How CCNA's get hired without experience by Darby Weaver

1. Get experience.

- Read Cisco Books - Cisco Validated Designs, SRND, Cisco Customer Proof of Concepts, Steps to Success, and the list goes on for days.  Pick a technology, read it, create a project plan and a simple set of checklists.  Got more time, do the Visio diagrams, you can use these for templates later and always improve them as you get more experienced.  The Cisco Discovery Series for the Cisco Academy - Simply Awesome!!!  I just bought 3 sets myself.

- Join a local Cisco Study Group and Network (With Breathing People)

- Become a Subject Matter Expert on Cisco Forums (Lots to Choose From)

- Volunteer and Perform Network Related Tasks

- Offer Free Network Assessments and Advice

- Become a Speaker and Exhibit Your Hard-Earned CCNA Skills to Potential Employers

- Offer Help to Friends and other Students Seeking a CCNA - Help them study, build, and configure labs for example.

- Register with a temp agency - and mention you are a CCNA (any Cisco work WILL find you).

- Get a small lab and live the career you want to become...  I do it too.

2. Learn more.

- Learn to communicate.

- Learn how to get a job.

- Learn how to create checklists.

- Learn how to do research.

- Learn how to find things and find them fast.

- Learn how to listen.

- Learn how to attend meetings.

- Learn how to speak properly with peers.

- Learn how to make and awesome first and lasting impression.

- Learn your tools like MS Office, Visio, and Project

- Learn what is expected of a network manager.

- Learn everything else I didn't tell you and neither did your instructor.

- Learn how to use than Sniffer.

3. Apply what you learn.

- Volunteer...

- Go door to door in your neighborhood and offer to help people with their network, wireless, or modem.

- Go to your church or community centers and offer to help with their network.

- Go to local businesses and offer to be of assistance with their networks.

- Put an add in your local paper and offer to perform network related tasks for free or low cost.

4. Go and get paid...

- CCNA's might seem in abundance on the Internet however in reality they are still rather scarce. So you have to meet me half way and APPLY FOR THE JOB.

- Any CCNA worth his salt can basically go door to door and find work.

- If you can't find work at $250.00 per hour, then consider charging less, maybe the prevailing rate in your neck of the wood is $25.00 per hour or more... perhaps less.

- Hint: Most consultants need to earn at least $50.00 per hour to remain viably employed and pay their own employment taxes here in the USA.

5. If you are really having that hard of a time...  track me down... email is best but I have a phone number too...

- I offer my own consulting and guidance for free if I have the time...

- If you need my time when I don't have the time - I do charge $150.00 per hour or so...  might be the best one hour you ever bought...


I don't make this stuff up...

When I left the military in 1994, I found a computer repair shop and I offered my services...  for FREE.  I told the guy I'd do ANYTHING to be of service - just to hang around.

Charles Thorpe was the man's name and he looked at me... cautiously and thought about it.  Then told me to come in the next day.

For three months, I ran errands, cleaned up the shop, made the coffee... ran to buy stuff, deposit money for him... literally anything he asked... I did it.

In those three months, I learned to build my very first IBM PC.  Yep... that's how it happened.  The AMD DX2-80 was quite the powerful upgrade from my IBM PS1 SX25 Consultant.

I was happy with the bargain, but I needed to go to work to earn some cash so... I did a few of my own jobs and put my shingle out at a whopping $15.00 per hour and buddy business was a booming...  I got little 50 hour projects and such and it was working out.

Charles asked me to come back and this time offered to pay me $5.00 or so per hour to hang out when I could and be the gopher again.  This time I was fixing more and more things too.  But I was still a padawa...

One day I told Charles I'd be ready in about 6 months or so. He needed an expert now! at the time.  So it was what it was...

Then one day a doctor came into the shop and needed help with his computer and really with his network.  Well Charles' business was called "Computer Depot" and not "Network Depot" and I did have some "Network Experience" from the Navy...  so the good doctor and I were speaking in Spanish and he was not happy waiting (umm... he was the doctor) and he gave me a number and invited me to help him out.

So...  Not even 6 months into the game I got my first networking gig.  I charged an outrageous $35.00 per hour and I earned over $3500.00 that month on the doctor's network - most of it in just a single week networking 7 PC's with Artisoft's Lantastic which is what I just so happened to be running at my house at the time on 6 PC's I called servers...


So there's one of my rules put into action with awesome results... And that my friends is a very true story.

I did the paper thing and even ran fliers literally door-to-door...  and you know it worked for me...  400 clients in about 3+ years... till I went to work at City Hall in Orlando on a contract.

BTW - 100 Fliers produced about 3 clients each worth about $150.00 each on average or about 4 hours of work and I usually got them within 24 hours of the walking the fliers...

It's kind of kewl... Walk the fliers on the weekend and FEAST for the week...

That's my door-to-door success story.

I tell everyone I know that if I became unemployed in the corporate world today... I would never starve...

Mind you I was doing all this with no certs, no formal training, and only my will to work and do a better job than anyone else - my guarantee was "No Fix, No Pay" and baby... I got paid!

So... the volunteer thing.... I did that one too...

And ya know what?  If worked too... It did.

I got a call from the American Red Cross after volunteering and making a good impression of course...

They had an emergency... I now had my CCNA (actually I passed it twice as the exam changed in the 6 months period which I took it).

So I had to take a day off of work and come to the rescue... at $1,000.00 per day...

I earned $17,000.00 total for that bit.

The list goes on and on...

A CCNA is a formidable, reputable, certification and is worthy of $$$ if you can walk the walk...


Ramon Valentine said...

Thanks Darby, you really made my day! I just passed my CCNA exam. I have smaller certifications in IST Info Systems Technology. Microsoft Desktop Specialist, and SBT (Small Business Technology) from community college. I have no work experience in IT, but it has always been my love. I am 48 years young, and trying to make a career change. I have plenty experience, even as a small business owner, but no IT experience. You gave me plenty of "food for thought" and implementation..

AlexWo said...

Amazing blog I can share some of your experience but for me I have no doubt that I could be a CCIE what hold me was my own laziness and procrastination. I think passing they CCIE exam is not just studying but there is an art and a collaboration element to it. When I start voice back in 2004 the voice lab exam was not as hard and have all the resource but did not have the discipline to study. I should have joined a group and work together. I am also local in Silver Spring, MD. Let us hookup I will find u on Linkedin.

Good Luck.

PR Computer Guy, Inc. said...


Although the publishing date on this blog article is 2010, it is still very much true today. As someone who recently obtained the CCNA R&S and is now preparing for the CCNP R&S, I sometimes lose sight of this. Reading about your experiences is very encouraging and really helps to put things in perspective.

Thanks for sharing!


Ali Alhami said...

Thanks Darby, I'm so glad to be in contact with you, after reading this post I believe that I'm in the right path, networking is awesome and make peace with my mind..


Ali Alhami

Lucia Lisovska said...

I recently got my CCNP R&S, and started to apply for networking jobs, but no one got back to me so far. And the requirement for network engineer jobs are incredible - they want candidates to know Linux, Python, SQL, Brocade, Juniper, Nexus etc etc. How is it possible to learn it all?

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