Challenges and Opportunities – Year Over Year

At the end of 2020, I made a conscious decision that 2021 was going to be different. Now, I should say that things had been going well. I had been happy with my career and home/family life. However, there was something missing. I had never really set solid goals for myself. I would always just try to “do the right thing” career-wise and all would be good. For the most part it had been, but I wanted to take more control over my career and what comes next in my life. So, at the end of 2020, I decided to set goals. Really, there was only one that I really wanted, and that was to take and pass the Implementing and Operating Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies (350-401 ENCOR) exam.

The ENCOR Mountain
Ultimately, I want to become a Cisco Certified Network Professional in the Enterprise track. I had made a decision that this certification makes sense for my career now, as well as potential growth. With that being two exams, and given my track record for the time it takes me to prepare for exams, I wanted my goal to be attainable so I decided that my 2021 goal was to pass the ENCOR exam. Now, I should state that my preparations for ENCOR did not begin at the start of 2021. No, they actually started at the beginning of 2020. However, all throughout 2020, I feel like a made a critical mistake. I was really just going through different material, and never really reviewing anything. So, let’s say for a week or two, I would go through material that covered Spanning Tree Protocol. Well, when I finished that, I would just move onto the next thing, then the next after that. The problem was that I was never reviewing anything so after a short time, my study time around Spanning Tree was pretty much for nothing because I really didn’t retain anything. By the time I realized this “plan” (if you could even call it that) wasn’t working for me, it was already toward the end of the year. Thanks to the recommendation of leveraging the digital flashcard concept with the Anki platform that I received from the Art of Network Engineering podcast, I decided to reset my studying in 2021 and go at this with a better plan for review. You can read my full ENCOR journey story here. That reset and review plan was really what I felt was the difference maker. It took me most of the year, but I did take and pass the ENCOR exam toward the end of November, 2021.

The Podcast
I had mentioned the solid advice around the digital flashcard concept that I received from the AONE podcast. I had started listening to the show shortly after it started in the summer of 2020 and really enjoyed it. I joined their ‘It’s About the Journey’ Discord community and started communicating with like-minded people in there. I started writing for the AONE blog, then in February of 2021, got be on the show. I was so excited for that. This podcast and community really started giving me a sense of involvement and accomplishment. Later in the year, I was invited back for a few episodes here and there, and eventually was made a full time co-host. I really cannot thank the team enough for bringing me into this incredible experience. I had the pleasure to meet A.J. Murray in person and am really looking forward to when I can do the same with Andy Lapteff and Dan Richards. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this team.

The Year Ahead
With how 2021 is ending, I am really excited for 2022. I have two main career related goals for the upcoming year. The first is to pass the Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks (ENSLD) exam. This will get me the CCNP certification which has been something that I have wanted for a while now. Secondly, I want to write more and become a finalist in the Cisco IT Blog awards. As of now, after the CCNP goal is reached, I’m thinking about diving into learning Python. I am excited for 2022, and hope you are as well! Remember, it’s all about the journey!

Published by Tim Bertino

Network engineer passionate about solutions and design.

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