Help needed to make a career choice..

Unanswered Question
Jan 2nd, 2010

Hey,

I am currently pursuing my Btech Degree in the field of Telecommunications and am in the second year of Engineering. I have avid interest in the field of Networking(and hate Programming)  and currently am undergoing courses in it. The main reason i joined these courses is to spice up my resume and fuel my interest in the field of networking and infrastructure management.

By courses i mean ones which enable me to write CCNA and CompTIA Certfication Examinations. Also i want to do an MS degree in a Related Field of networking. So if someone could guide me and provide some advice as to what course(s) i can pursue for my MS i would be happy and grateful..

Looking forward to your Replies..

I have this problem too.
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marikakis Sat, 01/02/2010 - 16:00

It's not a bad thing to hate something (programming in your case). It can make future decisions easier. If you are interested in many things, then you do have a problem. However, I must say that we sometimes hate things we are not good at. And we are usually not good at things we haven't spent sufficient time on. I am saying this because I have seen many EE/CS students hating software or hardware classes. The reason for this is the highly demanding classes found in schools sometimes. It's like they assume you are already an expert on the field you are trying to learn, and by joining school you are plainly entering a championship among experts. The students that excel in most cases have spent sufficient time in programming before entering school, but might not share this information with you. Schools are sometimes the opposite of pedagogical and treat students as either intelligent or stupid, and that's a very sad thing, because students tend to believe what their teachers seem to believe about them. So, if you don't absolutely hate programming and took your time with it, I believe that you can do it. It doesn't really matter if you make it this year or the next. Schools also make us believe we have to learn something in a specific time frame, but each person is different, has different problems, and in the end life is longer than a semester and not that strict.

If you are interested in becoming a network engineer (dealing with cisco devices and the like), you do not really need a master's degree. I have seen people that do not have a degree at all performing great. You just can't beat with a degree a person really interested in something who happily spends time with it! What degrees can do for you is make it easier/faster for you to learn, because general theoretical knowledge does help to grasp concepts, although it is sometimes underestimated because you cannot do anything immediate/practical with it. If you do intend to do the master's degree, it might be difficult to avoid programming altogether. In any case, you could explore wireless courses or any available courses on economics/marketing stuff that might help you in case you would like more a technical sales direction in the future.

varadarajshastry Sat, 01/02/2010 - 23:28

Hey marikakis,

Thanks for the valuable advice, and i certainly agree with you. But if you could specify some career paths i would be very happy. By career paths i mean a sequence of courses in Cisco Technology so that i can weigh out my options.. and once again Thanks..

Kent Heide Sun, 01/03/2010 - 02:44

As to specializing in the Cisco field there are also a multitude of options. You'll have to decide for what part of networking you enjoy the most and what you want to end up working the most with.

To this day there are several paths to go for with even the CCNA. I suggest you browse to http://www.cisco.com/go/certification to get an overview.

As to what I suggest, then do what you feel the most comfortable with. Getting Cisco Certified will always be a benefit although the Associate and Professional level certs does not hold the strenght they used to anymore due to them being easier to obtain than the practical certs.

At last... be MOTIVATED and INSPIRED. Those are the two most important advices I can give.

marikakis Sun, 01/03/2010 - 03:46

As already noted, there are many options. Some of them are more specialized and others are more general. Maybe it is more natural to start with the CCNP track, so as to not narrow down your options at an early stage, and it will be helpful no matter what you decide to do in the future. As already noted, the value of associate and professional paths is debated. The general consensus is that certifications should reflect job experience.

You will hear a lot of people talking about the famous 'hands-on'. I do not absolutely disagree with that. However, no certification is easy if you are doing honest work to obtain it, and really try to understand the material, instead of just learning to answer some limited questions that will get you to pass the tests. In learning courses or in books, all features can possibly be used, no bugs exist in software/hardware, and there is no cost associated with the features or the devices! So, you just focus on how to configure something and understand what it is supposed to be doing. No matter what people say about the hands-on, still, obtaining a certification is something, and something will always be better than nothing! It shows that you are at least interested enough to obtain the certification.

The 'hands-on' is overestimated in my opinion (I can hear you all screaming in vain). Do you really need to actually type 'reload' on router prompt to understand what it does?   From my experience, there have been many cases where we had to predict the network-wide effects of a command, even if we knew what it was supposed to be doing (testing something in a lab cannot substitute the real network). In the end, at work you will not always have the luxury of doing things you have already done before. So, I think the 'lack of hands-on' is just an excuse for your employer to pay you less money!

Also, have in mind that professionals sometimes get too busy, and don't have time to obtain the certifications, sometimes because they only deal with a subset of features in their daily jobs, and other times because they are naturally afraid of failure after many years on the job. The best time to obtain certifications is after a couple of years on the job, or ealier if you have good imagination and can figure what the commands are doing according to labs/documentation and plenty of other available resources (such as books and blogs). In the end, have in mind that there is the 'heads-on' aspect of things besides the 'hands-on'.

rob.huffman Sun, 01/03/2010 - 09:03

Hi Maria,

Beautiful answer my friend! +5 points for this

As we get older the saying "failure is not an option" tends to sneak

into our minds and our lives. The ability to push the "fear of failure" thoughts

away gives us the method to keep striving for excellence. It is a fight that

is hard to win but very worth the battle, as you have so eloquently captured.

Cheers!

Rob

marikakis Sun, 01/03/2010 - 11:15

Hi Rob,

I will now dedicate a poem to all those who keep rescheduling their exams (like I am about to do right after posting this! ). It's Ithaca from Greek poet Kavafis : http://users.hol.gr/~barbanis/cavafy/ithaca.html

Hope you like it! The points for this should go to Kavafis account in CSC!

Kind Regards,

Maria

rob.huffman Tue, 01/05/2010 - 05:58

Hi Maria,

Yes, I like this very much

It captures many, many things about how to live our lives, especially this stanza (for me);

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches
.

We should give Kavafis all our points for this wisdom.

Cheers my friend!

Rob

PS: IT brings to mind another saying that I have known since I was young;

"Life is a journey not a destination"

Probably borrowed from Kavafis

marikakis Tue, 01/05/2010 - 07:05

Hi Rob,

Yes, this is my favorite part too. We are engineers, so we naturally like the simplest words that get to the point! That is the power of Kavafis compared to other poets of his time and in general, and made possible for his poems to be translated without serious issues in other languages. I would like to note that I am not promoting Greek culture or anything like that. We are children of the world and can enjoy what the world has to offer. That's the power of these forums anyway. There has been a long period of my life that I wouldn't read anything non-technical and obviously useful, and I wouldn't expect you guys to read poetry very easily anyway. The good thing with poems is that you can read them faster than a book. We did this poem in high-school, but, as you can imagine, you won't find many 13-year olds appreciating it! According to the membership agreement of this site, we should all be above 18 (I am slightly older than that ), so I expect more!

I also like the last part:

"And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean."

It kind of answers the hot question in this section of CSC: What is the value of my certification CCxx?

Well, the value of your certification equals to the value of the work you did to obtain it. Nothing more and nothing less.

Kind Regards,

Maria

rob.huffman Thu, 01/07/2010 - 06:13

Hi Raj,

Sorry for hijacking your thread here, but I guess education

and life are kind of intrinsically tied together

Maria....hopefully, as Kavafis spoke about in the stanza

that you quoted, with age comes wisdom. So being slightly

over 18 is a good thing

My Grandfather had a plaque in his home for years that I now

proudly display in my home. It was given to a him by a Dutch

family in 1945. It goes as follows;

"We get too soon old and too late smart"

I've always loved this saying.

Cheers!

Rob

PS: We can't be "Nerding" out all the time, so, it's good to have some less technical

sidelines like the "Arts". Fine Art, Music, Food, Poetry, Dance, Love, Life....these are the

beautiful things that work and study bring us.

marikakis Fri, 01/08/2010 - 13:15

Hi Rob,

Nice quote. However, you have put me in the corner with the age versus wisdom trade-off. I've been a member since 2004, so, assuming I always followed the rules, maybe I am slightly over 18 + 5 ~ 23! I won't reveal my true age though, because you know what they say: "Never trust a woman that says the truth about her age. She is capable of anything!"

As for the hijacking of the thread: well those things aren't completely irrelevant, we only wanted to help from the beginning, and sometimes members assume control of a thread if the author seems to have relinquished it. Hope you feel less remorse now!

Kind Regards,

Maria

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