The ccie is one of the most difficult it certifications that you can earn. So today, I'm going to go through the process that I went through to get my ccie. Let's dive into what it takes to get a ccie now, What I'm going to do is I'm going to go over my path and what I did - and the thing I want to emphasize here, Is that there are many paths to the top of the mountain. I'm going with my path, I'm going to explain what went on, But ultimately you are going to have to choose your own path, But there may be some aspects of this that you can utilize in your journey to the ccie.

So, Let's go back to 2009, Where I was just starting out my career and I was looking for something to to move in a direction with career-wise. And while I was working my regular day, Job at a major it and computer distributor, I started taking night classes at a local college. I enrolled in the cisco networking academy program there and I went through the ccna program now over the course of nine months.

I went through all of the ccna classes and afterwards I tested for and earned the cisco certified network associate now at the time the company that I was working for. We were a major I t and computer distributor, But we did not do cisco. So what I had what I was looking for at that time was something outside of the company, But within a couple of months of me, Earning the cisco certified network, Associate there's a big announcement at the company that we were going to start working with cisco.

So this created some new opportunities for me and, As we began, Deploying cisco and working with that technology, I managed to secure a role that put me right into the heart of building out cisco solutions. With that, I then went back to a company funded program to earn the ccnp the cisco certified network professional. Now what I did was. I went right back to that same college and enrolled in the cisco networking academy program there again only this time to go through the ccnp classes.

Now again, Over the course of about nine months, I went through the the curriculum and each class corresponded with a ccnp test with the structure that went on at that time. This was 2010 2011, And so, With the completion of each class, I took the associated CCNP test and everything went great for the first two, The third test I actually did not pass on. The first attempt, Went back a week later and passed it.

So it was definitely a challenging program and the ccnp, Even today on the current setup, Is still a challenging program. Now about a year later, I had the opportunity to go to cisco, Live cisco's, Massive technology program and what I went through there was. I decided to take the ccie written exam as an attendee at cisco live. You do get a free exam attempt, So I in taking the ccie I figured oh I'm gonna, Take it.

I'm gonna I and I did study for it, But I was really just looking to see what was on it and . If I passed it great. If not, I knew what was on it.

I knew what I needed to drive for to hit that next level. Beyond the ccnp now at cisco live, This is 2012. I passed the exam, The written exam.

It was a intense exam as it should be, And this basically finally clicked in my mind that I can achieve the ccie. You know when I was sitting in those network academy classes, I kind of looked at the ccie as just this high level, Certification that I probably wouldn't get to. But as soon as I passed that written test, I was like you know what I can do this now.

My first attempt toward the ccie through this actually revealed what I'm going to give as my first major tip for the ccie program, And that is, You need a support network. . So when you're doing the ccna and the ccnp, You can actually do that on your own. That, In my opinion, You can study for that you can even self-study for that.

You don't have to go through a program, Although one helps particularly the cisco networking academy program, But you could still do it on your own with the ccie. You may be able to get through the written test on your own, But when it comes to the lab exam, That is where you need a support network. You need a support network, Both personally and professionally.

Now, Personally, I had the support network with my wife, With my parents, But professionally it was lacking the position I was in at that time and the the manager that I had there really wasn't any support for me to go beyond the CCNP. So in my attempts to come up with resources to find training that I could perhaps attend anything like that, I just couldn't put it together and therefore I never actually made an attempt based off of my first passing of the ccie written exam now flash forward. A couple of years and I had changed positions within the company and I was working for a manager that understood the level of support needed, And this time this was the cisco live in 2014. Where, Again I went, And I took the written exam for the ccie. Now what I did at this time, Because over the past few years, I had actually been working on the cisco data center portfolio and really had all of my knowledge and experience over the past few years.

In cisco data center, I switched from the route switch, Which is now called the enterprise ccie over to the data center ccie, And I took the test on data center and again at cisco, Live. I passed it so with the support network in place. This time I was able to build out the resources, And one of the things I did was. I went digging through what we had equipment wise at the the company I was working for and I was able to find essentially two nexus 7010 switches that were not being used in addition to other nexus and ucs infrastructure from cisco.

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So I was actually able to put together a pretty good lab off of that just through what was lying around at my company for most people, Particularly for the data center exam, The the equipment that you're looking for has such a high dollar value to it. That you're likely just going to have to rent lab time from various lab rack providers. So in that sense I definitely do figure that I was a little bit lucky in what I was able to find, But I took advantage of it and I built out my own data center lab.

The other thing that I did was I sought training and, At the time cisco, Through their advanced services, Team was actually offering a ccie data center prep class. It was actually two classes and I was able to get the the ability to go attend those classes. T were each a week, Long at cisco's campus in various places in the united states, And I went and I buried myself in them and I studied through them and then came back and worked on the lab that I had built and also as a result of Doing those classes a week before I was set to take the lab exam, I was actually given access to cisco's own lab gear that t had set up that I was using when I was in those classes.

So I went into that. First, Lab exam really feeling like I had it, That I had all the resources I had my support. I had everything done and I had studied for it and in that first lab exam. I failed.

I failed miserably to put it in plain terms. In fact, I even knew by lunchtime that I was not going to pass the the ccie exam. The lab exam is a very difficult exam and what I did was, I then decided to switch gears after lunch, Because I knew that I basically did not have a chance at this now.

This is my second tip for the ccie know how to handle failure, Because this lab exam is so difficult. You will likely experience failure in your attempts to do it. What I did during the entire afternoon I had from lunchtime on was, I just simply sat there and I went through everything on that test and - and I just looked at what I needed to achieve the objectives I logging in I looked through everything on the equipment And really just committed that to memory as soon as the the lab exam was over. I went right back to my hotel room.

I pulled out my laptop and I just took everything that I had memorized and I committed it and and just put it into the laptop and and just stored it there. Those were now now my official notes that I had for future lab attempts now, After that, I just needed to mentally decompress and I'll just tell you that at the time interstellar was in the movie theaters. My hotel was right next to a movie theater. So I went and saw interstellar after I had just mentally downloaded everything onto the computer. The next day I flew back home and I went to work again for four months. I studied the ccie lab, Knowing what I had based off of my experience and I went through and I worked through the lab that I had built and unfortunately I didn't have the classes again but - and I didn't have access to the resources that those gave me.

But I still had the very well built out lab four months after my first attempt. I made a second attempt. This is march of 2015.

I went in there and the first half of the day I was doing great everything was, Was going along, Fine got to lunch, I'm real, Confident, I'm I'm feeling great about this test, But then in the afternoon period I hit an issue and I was getting an Error that was basically preventing me from going any further and from meeting course objectives or the lab objectives. So this of course caused a problem and I'm spending the entire time troubleshooting wasting time, And it got to the point that I knew I was not going to pass on this attempt. So again I committed that error that I was receiving to memory.

So I and and continued to look things up go over anything that I might have missed previously. So once again I went back home and I began studying having failed the lab exam for the second time now I went through the error that I was encountering and troubleshooting and and researched that and I found out what it was that was causing it and how To resolve that which, By the way when I figured it out, I was quite upset with myself - it actually turned out to be something fairly simple, But it was still an attention to detail thing now over the next four months. I continue to study and work through the lab. I actually created the error that I had and cleared it and and just made sure that I was set to go into this on the third time now. My third attempt at the ccie lab was much better. In fact, I actually wrapped up all the lab objectives with two hours to spare on the time, And so then I spent an hour going back through and I worked through everything again, Just checking all my work, Making sure everything was good.

I saved all the configs. You know copy run, Start on all the switches and everything making sure everything was saved just out of sheer paranoia and that that maybe I'd missed doing that and it might get wiped in the grading process. But essentially I then left that third lab attempt feeling extremely confident at that point.

It's kind of you're in this you there's nothing. You can do again. The hotel is next to a movie theater. I wouldn't saw jurassic world not as good as interstellar by the way, But I will just say that it was kind of a bit of a torturous thing waiting thinking that I had this, I knew I had it, But just waiting for that final result to Come through and at about 1 30 in the morning it came through and . It was a pass and of course I'm super excited super happy.

I had actually achieved what I set out to do. I got the ccie, So my third tip for preparing for the ccie is this is a marathon and you need to prepare for it like it is a marathon. You don't just slap this together and and think you can just go out and do it.

all in all, From the time I started studying for the data center written exam to the time I passed for the ccie and data center was about 18 months, So that was a year and a half now, Like I said part of that support network is Even the personal side, You need those around you personally to understand that you are going to be committed to doing this and you're not going to have much free time. You'Re focused on getting this done and the first attempt I went through. I thought I had it. I thought I was prepared.

I thought I had all the resources available to me that I had this done and I was not prepared at all when I actually sat down for the lab the second time it was an attention to detail issue that tripped me up. So make sure that you are truly committed to this. You are committed to the long haul and you are going to prepare with every little detail that you possibly can in order to pass the ccie. Now, With that, I'm going to say that if you are truly committed to going through the cisco certifications by all means do that if you think that ccie is for you commit to it, Commit to it fully 100 percent that you are going to get that ccie Set the goal you plan for that goal and you work through how you're going to do that, Get what you need in place to be able to do that if you've already gotten a ccie comment down below with some of your experiences, If you're looking to get The ccie please go ahead and comment where you're at on the cisco journey.

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