Everything is so gloomy these days isn’t it? SDN is going to put us out of a job so you have to learn Python or go make burgers (been there done that). The CCIE is now irrelevant so why would anyone pursue it? While there are some good arguments for its demise there are also good ones on why it is beneficial. It’s been just over a year since I passed my lab and I’ve been reflecting a lot on how it changed my life. I certainly consider it a life changing moment in the same way hearing Smells Like Teen Spirit for the first time changed me forever (yes I still listen to the same music I did 20+ years ago).
A few things happened to me after I passed my lab that took some getting used to. The first one was I went in to a pretty deep depression, it seems that is not something I am alone in experiencing. Going from constant focus on learning and labbing during every waking moment to doing nothing made me feel so empty inside. I didn’t know what to do with myself and I just floated about not knowing my purpose in life. In reality I had just done what I had considered the impossible. After maybe 4 months I started to get myself out of that funk and I decided it was time to find a job that would reward me for my achievements, I was already at the top where I worked and had nowhere else to go internally. It was at this point I realized the true value of the CCIE.
I got a fair few calls from recruiters wanting to talk to me about A, B and C positions, all full of the usual exaggerations of course, but it sure made me feel good. It was at this point I started looking properly and on my own terms. Confidence has always been a problem for me but now I was owning my destiny. I was escaping Stockholm syndrome and moving on in the world. Even though I had nearly 15 years experience in a service provider it wasn’t until I read #40869 that I truly felt like someone who knew what he was talking about. My wife thinks I am a more confident person since passing the lab and am much happier. While I have always embraced the hard work that is out there I don’t worry about struggling with it any more. I know if there is a solution I can find it.
I don’t worry about failing a test any more. I recently took a $700 lab that I didn’t study for, not because of arrogance but because of a football injury that required head melting pain killers. They prevented me from being able to think or stay awake for a few weeks prior. Sure the exam was around CCNP level (ALU NRS2) and I felt I should have passed it with relative ease but because of the confidence in my own abilities I acquired along my CCIE journey I though ‘just do it, if you fail then you fail’. It was too close to cancel so I did it and I passed.
So what does my CCIE mean to me?
- It means I respect myself more
- I get paid more so I can give my family a better life
- Regardless of the state of networking to come, I am free to do what I want for now.
- When I talk with customers they listen, not because they know I’m a CCIE (I don’t volunteer my status in conversation) but they listen because I speak with confidence, that I believe what I am saying is right
- I am going to start my own business, something that never even crossed my mind before. It might fail but I don’t fear the prospect, I look forward to the opportunity.
- I like tests. I do random written tests that I will go to a Pearson test center and give one a go. I’ve only passed 33% of them but I see them as fun, not as something scary. I wouldn’t feel like this had I not passed the CCIE, it’s like a weight has been lifted that held me back from trying.
- If I could justify the cost I would go back and do the lab again to see how I would get on, just for fun.
- I’m not afraid to make mistakes and I will own up when I do.
- I don’t worry about young whipper snappers taking my place. I can only control my own destiny so I focus on myself and not who can potentially usurp me. I didn’t feel like this a year ago.
- I am not afraid to try anything in this business, succeed or fail, I will do it for the experience and learn from it.
Now don’t get me wrong, my attitude is not I’m a rock star and I can do anything. It’s more that I will try and achieve everything I can but if I don’t who cares. For me the CCIE was the key to unlocking the most positive feeling on my professional future I never imagined.
While these may be things people can do with or without passing something like the CCIE they were always a struggle for me. Whatever the future holds for us network folks I look forward to the challenge and I move forward with the self confidence that I can adapt and for that I can only thank the liberation passing the CCIE gave me.