Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It Looks Like Paper CCNPs ARE Good For Something

Yeah, it's been posted b4, but it's one of my favorite success stories, so here it goes again!

From CCIE Pursuit Blog & GS:

“Anger is an energy”
Rise - Public Image Limited

I recently blogged about Dale Kling passing the lab on his first attempt. He was a classmate of mine at the IE Mock Lab Workshop. Dale was knocking out labs in under 3 hours at the workshop. He finished the real deal in four hours, so he must have been putzing around. :-)

It was pretty obvious that Dale had a very good shot at passing the lab on his first attempt. His dedication and hours of effort are nothing short of insane. I have taken his advice and am trying to increase my speed by doing labs over and over again.

Below is his story as posted in GroupStudy - since the jerk never replied to my email! :-) There’s a lot of good information and tips in his posting. Plus Dale had a rather unique motivation to pursue the CCIE.

Dale is already starting on the Service Provider track, which just verifies his insanity.

Damn, I finished the lab in 4 hours and had 4 hours to verify and I still didn’t………..

get served that coffee Brian Dennis was talking about. At least I got my number on my first attempt though, 21330 baby! BTW, never ever ever take your lab on Friday, the wait was worse then the night before christmas as a kid! I didn’t get my results until I woke up this morning and have been on edge with people all weekend.

Some people already know me from class and know my story. I began studying because of all the paper CCNPs out there, especially my work. Now I have nothing against CCNPs or any paper certs if you did it the right way, but what pissed me off is that our employer thought this other guy was as qualified as me because he got his CCNP and this guy announced himself as a Senior Engineer. Well this schmuck took two days to get an SVI on a Cat 3750 up and just started networking about a year ago. While I worked hard for mine and have recertified it twice over the past 7 years now, he got his in weeks with you know what…… Pretty blatant about it as well as they passed them around work talking about how they can get CCNP in just a few weeks. These guys blow and I wish Cisco would do something about their testing system.

In any case, I got mad, I mean really mad that nobody could see through the charade of these fake qualified network engineers. February of this year I had enough and I knew there was only one thing to do. Get something that they couldn’t get or at least they would have to work real hard to get and based on their work ethic, I doubt they would ever get it, the CCIE. I worked my @$$ off since I got the materials end of February, and by the grace of GOD and my lovely wife I was able to get my number in RTP on June 27th. I pretty much shut my family off for the last 4 months, while my wife took care of everything, the kids, the house, the dogs…… To give everyone an idea of the hours I put in…. I worked 40 hours a week, I studied everyday after work, from 6 pm to 2 am labbing and 12-15 hours each day on the weekends. I took one day off and that was Mothers day and then I attended InternetworkExperts 12 day bootcamp. I actually finished their bootcamp material by the 3rd day of the bootcamp and Brian Dennis and company was nice enough to let me mock lab the rest of the days I was there. The InternetworkExpert bootcamp was nice to get away for 12 days and lab for about 12-15 hours a day. I went outside once the entire time I was there and that was for a 5 min walk to look at the pool and I didn’t turn on my tv once. I probably squeezed in about 3 weeks of lab time in 2 weeks of time. In essence, I was driven to get the CCIE from start to finish in about 4 months. Granted I have about 8 years Cisco experience, but it hasn’t been hands on everyday the past 3-4 years because I work in a lab environment now and no longer do operational support, thank god for that too.

It was a hard road, and there was many times I kept telling myself this is too hard and will I never get there. However, I kept telling myself as long as I keep studying and as long as I keep labbing I will always learn something and will get closer. You might think I’m crazy, but I had a goal and my wife said go for it. As I’ve said in previous posts, my motivattion was not money, but to gain the knowledge these other guys didn’t have and to achieve CCIE status, something most of these paper certifiers won’t ever get. I have to say that I must thank these guys at work for the motivation, and I will today when I go in to work in 2 hours after I get my Cisco polos embroidered with the CCIE logo and install an LED behind it. :P Seriously though, they gave me that spark that I was missing for years and passing this lab attempt has ignited it even more. Now if you’ve managed to endure the past few paragraphs of blah, all you first time CCIE candidates enjoy my recommendations, which you’ve all heard time and time again I’m sure.

Study the Core, lab the Core until your fingers bleed. Get your Core down to at least 3 hours or less. InternetwokExpert WB3 labs are awesome for this, I got those down to 2 hours or less, some of the hard ones took 2 1/2 hours. Speed and time management was huge for me. I probably put in about 500 hours of harcore lab time the last 4 months. I initially started InternetworkExperts WB2 doing labs in like 10 hours, learning and understanding the theory behind things. They were tough at first, but I constantly would go back and reread the DOCCD and reference all my books, I have ton of books. I watched their technologies COD 2 1/2 times in it’s entirety. It took a lot of coffee and doing it hands on with them to stay awake. Brian Dennis’s jokes couldn’t even keep me up anymore after the first go around. ;) After a few months I started completing their labs in entirety in about 4 hours. Once this happened, I would do them and then look up everything in the DOCCD, no matter if I knew it or not. This was my DOCCD familiarization stage. I actually picked that up from Scott Morris from somewhere I believe. Here it comes, you’ve heard it before, and you’re going to hear it again….

KNOW YOUR DOCCD.. I guarantee you will get something in the lab that you haven’t seen before. This is where speed on the CORE was essential for me. By lunch I had completed the lab once over , ran my TCL script, and was feeling a little uneasy still, but I had the meat done. I’m a paranoid guy, you can ask others. The only thing left was verification and digging in the DOCCD for those few things I didn’t know. I verified twice and each time I found one small mistake that would have cost me 2 or 3 points each. Oh and by the way, I still don’t know the answer to one of them weird questions, even now that I’m home and I have google, so here it comes, here it comes again, KNOW YOUR DOCCD. My last suggestion is make sure you know theory very well in the CORE IGP, well everything you learn really, but especially your CORE. you’ve heard time and time again Switching, FR, and IGP probably will be half your points. If you understand the mechanics and how things work, no matter what scenario you get you can work through it. If you memorize the vendor WBs, it won’t help in the real lab.

So I guess I should recognize people and materials that have helped me. First off, my wife and GOD. If I don’t mention her first, she might kill me and probably the same about GOD… O_o Next, InternetworkExperts ver 4 WBs and their Technology COD. I have the Brians’ voices engrained into my head. Brian Dennis, Josh Finke and crew from InternetworkExpert were nice enough to hook me up in the last hours. Also, IPExperts audio CD with Scott Morris. I bought their WB package, but I only used the audio portion. I thought it was very good and I probably listened to it about 5 times in it’s entirety driving to and from work everyday. It was just an extra tool to feed my brain the knowledge it needed.

I already have the materials from InternetworkExpert for the SP track and will hit that at work starting this morning since this is what I do at work everyday and my boss will let me study while I lab it up on our 7604s. :) MMM Knowledge, I think these guys at work turned me into an animal. Watch your back Petr, I’m coming for your CCIEs and I’ll probably pass up Brian Mcgahan in 6 months because he’s a slacker. j/k man. ;)

Good luck to all other CCIE candidates and I hope this email helps.



P.S. Don’t unicast me for any NDA crap either, I’ll turn your ass into Cisco.

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