R&S Candidate Links Preparation to Workplace
Preparing for his second R&S lab attempt, Banlan Chen immerses himself in networking issues by consciously looking for ways to apply his study to his work.
Banlan Chen, a network administrator at Live Data Solutions, a Canada-based IT consulting firm, moved to Canada from China only three years ago. Yet shortly after his arrival and employment at LDS he was told that, with his talent for networking, he should pursue CCIE certification. Chen maintains the company's internal network, as well as providing technical support to both internal and external customers on network issues and equipment.
"I already had my Microsoft certification," said Banlan, "but I was really interested in developing my career in the networking field. Cisco is the best and biggest, so it made sense to pursue the certification. Also, at around the same time, I met a CCIE and was extremely impressed by his technical skills. I aspired to be like him. So after passing the CCMP I began to prepare for the CCIE, taking the test in 2001."
"I'm learning so many things. In networking you have to know how to connect many types of products and vendors. I know that having a CCIE certificate will improve my skills overall and benefit both myself and my company, since it helps us become a Cisco partner."
Despite his confidence based on his daily work in networking and over a year of preparation, Banlan failed the test in his first round. "I was surprised, as I felt I had done well in the lab," said Banlan, "but I still felt it was a useful experience. Cisco scored my performance for different parts of the lab, so I have a better idea of my strong and weak points and I know what to work on for next time. I also consciously use more of my daily work as part of my exam preparation. I try to remember to apply whatever I'm studying at the moment to my work. I often find that something I've just studied has helped in my daily job."
Banlan also points to the merits of finding a 'study partner' and taking advantage of group forums. "It's useful to have different viewpoints on ways to solve a problem, or have someone else available to explain something outside your usual expertise," Banlan explains. He also is taking more advantage of the Cisco website and the Cisco network professional forum. "The Cisco website posts many different scenarios - not only for the CCIE lab -- but for real-life situations. I'll use the website to practice solving problems, learning how to configure and better understand network content. I use the forums when I've got a question to post. I usually hear back immediately with many different ideas. Sometimes I'll hear back directly from the Cisco engineers which also helps and gives me confidence that I'm on the right track."
Banlan is currently preparing for his second attempt at the CCIE Routing and Switching exam and also plans to pursue the Security certification. 'I'm learning so many things. In networking you have to know how to connect many types of products and vendors. I know that having a CCIE certificate will improve my skills overall and benefit both myself and my company, since it helps us become a Cisco partner."