Hands on experience

I'm 80% ccnp voice, and have been job searching, getting hits and interviews, but getting the all famous "pursue other candidates with more hands-on experience".  How can one break into Cisco Voice?  Everyone wants a Sr. Engineer with 5 or so years of experience.  I have even sought Associate Voice Engineer roles, which there are basically none.  Are the CCIE vol. 1 and 2 workbooks, enough to equate to some type of real world experience?  Seems like i'm just chasing my own tail not getting anywhere.  Any advice anyone can share?

Volunteer work to assist on a deployment or support team is a no no, no body wants a risk on the job site, lol.  How did you guys manage to get in?  The market seems to be really ripe for voice engineers.  I do have a legacy telco background, but that seems to be worth zilch as it relates to VoIP and UC.  You put in considerable time and investment in studying and
paying for exams and you get the impression that its not worth it in the
end. Just a rant/vent.

 

Would definitely like to get some feedback/input from some of the instructors on this.

Comments

  • Hello,

    While entering the market associate role would be the best for you to get into touch of real life deployment and inherent troubleshootings. Yes CCNP Voice certified engineer can expect mid-level career but not without hands on experience. My advise would be just get into this, have some experience and then thy to shine up your CCNP badge.


    Somehow I feel even CCNP is a tough cert without having hands on expetience but salute to you as you have almost done it already. INE workbooks will help you a lot to get into more real life scenarios but not without having experience. Even CCIE doesn't carry any value without having hands on real life experience.

    I hope I'm clear on my saying. Thanks.

    On Sep 12, 2013 8:48 AM, "ddwinder" <[email protected]> wrote:

    I'm 80% ccnp voice, and have been job searching, getting hits and interviews, but getting the all famous "pursue other candidates with more hands-on experience".  How can one break into Cisco Voice?  Everyone wants a Sr. Engineer with 5 or so years of experience.  I have even sought Associate Voice Engineer roles, which there are basically none.  Are the CCIE vol. 1 and 2 workbooks, enough to equate to some type of real world experience?  Seems like i'm just chasing my own tail not getting anywhere.  Any advice anyone can share?

    Volunteer work to assist on a deployment or support team is a no no, no body wants a risk on the job site, lol.  How did you guys manage to get in?  The market seems to be really ripe for voice engineers.  I do have a legacy telco background, but that seems to be worth zilch as it relates to VoIP and UC.




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  • peetypeety ✭✭✭

    I hate referencing "two jobs ago" and "in my last job", especially when it's as complex as this story, but it makes the point, so bear with me:

    Manager from two jobs ago went to a Cisco Silver Partner.  He wanted to grow the engineering team to six: two senior route/switch, one senior security, one senior voice, and one junior voice, plus him as a fill-in.  He lured me away from (two jobs ago) to (last job), and got another guy from (two jobs ago) to come as well, such that we left a week apart and started on the same day.  The other guy was a telco NOC guy who came from Qwest in some sort of call center and (two jobs ago) taught him what he needed for Siemens legacy telco, Santera next-gen telco, and Cisco networking.  The manager was willing to put him through a variety of junior-level Cisco UC training because he knew the guy's potential.

    Where am I going with this?  Teams that need junior people (hint: check any/all Cisco Partners, particularly the nationals like GDT, WWT, CDW) but don't ignore your locals, can be fantastic candidates if you can get to know them.  They need certified people, and are often willing to pay for lots of training.  Also, it quite simply can be who you know, not what you know.  (On the flip side, I got my current job because of my CCIE.  There's no need for any certs, and no reward for them, but having it got me in the door at the contracting agency.)

    At my last job, their training policy was simple: one week of training twice per year.  Cert policy was simple too: for anything that the company can reference/use, they'd reimburse the first attempt and the last attempt.

  • There is a lot to be said for someone who earns certifications on their own, but there are a lot things that just can't be learned from a book. Soft skills is one of them and the other is all the weird things that can happen in a network with no explanation.

    Do you have a position in networking or IT now? If not, start looking for a help desk position. Sure it is not exciting but it will get your foot in the door and give you an opportunity to show your employer what you know.

    Soft skills are very important and usually only come with experience. The way you communicate with others, your body language, how you deal with situations, etc. I learned very early on that the way you interact with your customers and your co-workers is almost more important than your actual ability to do the job. Things that seem perfectly OK to say/ask come across as rude, accusatory, or condescending to non-IT type people. Personal communication style plays a huge role in where you'll go and what you'll do in networking.

    On the knowledge you only gain with experience, well you only gain it with experience and not everyone gains the same knowledge. Because I am a consultant and have worked in a lot of difference situations, I have seen a lot of unusual things go wrong. Some just can't be explained, but I know what to do in those situations and what the indicators are simply because I have seen them. No amount of lab time would have show me what slightly bad cabling can do, the effects of bad firewalls, or the interactions of different programs installed in the wrong order on a PC.

    Keep your head up and keep looking. Don't get discouraged. It can take a while to land that first job.

  • Incredibly well stated.  I've been doing consulting for 15 years.  It took me a few years to get the 'how you say it' importance through my thick skull.  But once you get the interaction skills and confidence down, the rest kinda falls into place.  

    Sent from my iPhone

    On Sep 12, 2013, at 9:26 AM, jgmitchell <[email protected]> wrote:

    There is a lot to be said for someone who earns certifications on their own, but there are a lot things that just can't be learned from a book. Soft skills is one of them and the other is all the weird things that can happen in a network with no explanation.

    Do you have a position in networking or IT now? If not start, looking for a help desk position. Sure it is not exciting but it will get your foot in the door and give you an opportunity to show your employer what you know.

    Soft skills are very important and usually only come with experience. The way you communicate with others, your body language, how you deal with situations, etc. I learned very early on that the way you interact with your customers and your co-workers is almost more important than your actual ability to do the job. Things that seem perfectly OK to say/ask come across as rude, accusatory, or condescending to non-IT type people. Personal communication style plays a huge role in where you'll go and what you'll do in networking.

    On the knowledge you only gain with experience, well you only gain it with experience and not everyone gains the same knowledge. Because I am a consultant and have worked in a lot of difference situations, I have seen a lot of unusual things go wrong. Some just can't be explained, but I know what to do in those situations and what the indicators are simply because I have seen them. No amount of lab time would have show me what slightly bad cabling can do, the effects of bad firewalls, or the interactions of different programs installed in the wrong order on a PC.

    Keep your head up and keep looking. Don't get discouraged. It can take a while to land that first job.




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  • Thanks to all that commented so far, I appreciate your encouragement.  No i'm not working presently, so that further adds to the frustration.  I'm certain once I get on a team and get a chance to play I will demonstrate my potential and ability.

     

    Anyone in the Atlanta area, need an associate on their team?

  • If you carefully search DICE.Com for both CCIE R&S and CCIE Voice/Collaboration, you should be able to piece together a small list of contract companies specializing in Cisco network admin talent. They attempt to gain big bucks by obtaining/filling job orders for senior engineers.

    The reality is that many client companies will not or cannot afford the cost of senior talent and will attempt to get the best that they can for the lowest cost. Fallout from that attitude will result in opportunies for CCNP x certified folk to work at CCNA x salaries. By the time that you achieve CCIE Collaboration you will have sufficient experience if you have been applying your skills, even at lower pay rates.

    HTH

    Ernie

  • It's certainly going to be tougher trying to land a position implementing new IP telephony solutions without requisite knowledge and experience, but if you can demonstrate solid knowledge of Cisco VoIP technologies, a contractor position supporting an existing Cisco IP telephony environment isn't too far fetched.

  • I fully understood your feeling coz I was in the same shoes before. After failing 2 interviews, I bought used routers to build an express version of CCIE lab: 1760s, VWIC-MFT-T1 cards, FXO/FXS cards, UCM and UnityConn servers. Then I followed Jeremy Cirora's CCVP video to go through it again.

    Next time at interview, right after interviewers threw out their 1st question (usually it's "introduce what you do currently"), I brought out my lab topology, hardware list, study notes.... That was the turning point. Nobody asked me any tech question any more. I got 4 offers in a single week after 1 interview a day.

    Be confident. Good voice engineers are still rare considering the huge market demands. Beyond CCVP, we have CCIE v, IPCC, UCS.... Jobs chase us, not the other way around.

  • "Flyingput" That was encouraging. Thanks.

    A little about me, that I didn't mention from my initial post; my entire career has been telco based (no IT), when
    I completed my CCNA in 2009 it was a push at my then employer to get as
    many of the technical staff certified at the associate level, then
    re-deploy to support NGN Network (telco company), of course that never
    happened.  Because of the sacrifice and effort that I put in (personal
    time) to ensure that I passed the CCNA and I knew I had to recertify in 3
    years, 13months later I purchased a home lab off of ebay to keep fresh,
    because it wasnt happening on the job, I recertified with CCNA-Voice and have deployed and maintained several Cisco SMB UC solutions
    (UC320, UC540, UC560), I am now 80% completed with my CCNP-Voice certification, all
    of which I have self-studied; my ultimate goal is to become CCIE-Collaboration.  I try to get some time in on the racks here at INE, but I have yet to purchase the workbooks as guide, I think I will invest in them soon. 

    I agree with you on the jobs chasing us part, I'm contacted weekly for Sr. Voice Engineer Positions, but they want persons with 5 years experience (damn!), and these jobs have been all over the USA from east coast to west coast. 

    I googled the stats on worlwide CCIE count and was awed by the numbers ~27,000 RS CCIE's, Vs ~2,300 Voice CCIE's.  No brainer which track I'm continuing on.  The voice track is definitely almost twice as long as RS and I'm sure a deciding factor against one pursuing it.  But being a telco guy voice just seemed natural and fitting for me.  Anyway, if there's anyone in the North Atlanta area looking for an Associate or Junior Engineer to plug in phones let me know :-)  I just wanna get on a team, contribute and learn.

     

     

  • For now, CCIE voice or Colla looks like an overkill. As you found, CCIE v guys are RARE in the US market so companies have to go with CCVPs. I received calls/emails from recruitors everyweek for CCVP level w/ 5 year experience, 120K in midwest metro areas.

    Your bestbuy would be used gears off eBay:

    1 x 2821 router for HQ with VWIC-MFT-T1/E1, DSPs, T1 cables;

    1 x 2800/3700/3800 router as PSTN with VWIC-MFT-T1/E1, DSPs, T1 cables;

    1 x 1700/2600/2800 router as a branch office with VWIC-MFT-T1/E1, DSPs, T1 cables.

    Then test the sh!t out of them. You will learn a lot to set up this classic "HQ-branch-PSTN" topology. And all these knowledge applies to our daily work. [:D]

     

     

  • CCIE voice, long term goal

    thanks for the info, my wife is gonna kill me, when i get this equipment

  • ddwinder... alternatively you can bypass purchasing actual equipment and look into INE rack rental time.  Soon they will have the CCIE Collaboration equipment which will mirror the actual lab. 

    However there is both a pro and con to owning your own equipment, so find what works for you!

  • I am afraid I have to disagree. Our own home lab is 24x7. Whenever I get an idea, I can implement it and test it. I can't remember how many times this happened on me in the past 6 months. [H]

    By the way, I heard some very sad stories on voice rack rental. Phones won't register, UCM won't sync database....etc. With used 2821 routers flooded on eBay (not sure why 2821s sell cheaper than 2811s), voice labs are much more budget-friendly than 3 years ago. But hurry up, CCIE colla will require 29xx, DSP3... LOL

  • Flyingput, what exactly are you disagreeing with?

    I can see advantages and disadvantages of both rack rental and home lab.

    I feel home lab offers more benefits as long as one can afford one.  I know I would prefer a home lab for the convenience that you mentioned and you dont have to be rushed especially if you are having challenges in the config.

  • I was just mentioning an alternative to owning a home lab.  I own a home lab aswell, so I am not discrediting how valuable it can be but at the same time I know the cost and headache that has come along with it.  Various parts that have gone bad or were DOA, its just a chance you take.  However when CCIE-Collab comes out if you want to test out the LAB hardware 29xx w/ DSP3s  and UCM 9.x then you'll have to fork out even more or go with rack rentals.  Just wanted to make sure someone knows what they are getting into before they spend money, espcially when its this close to the transition from IE Voice to IE Collab.

     

    One could certainly make the arguement of try rack rentals for XX amount of hours and if you find that you could get more done with a home lab and can justify the cost then by all means piece one together :)

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