Hi all. I’m CJ. I wanted to share a little bit about myself and how I ended up here. Hoping there’s at least one person out there who can relate to my story. Feel free to drop a comment or ask specific questions.
Had previously worked various business roles for a SaaS company that offered a web-based retail report building suite from 2011-2019. I worked as a Data Coordinator, Customer Support Analyst, and Business Analyst during that time. The company was hit with a ransomware attack that ultimately set the course for its eventual downfall in 2020, when it was purchased by its main competitor, of which was then purchased by another company a short year later. I got out a year before the first buyout, deciding to spend $10,000 in savings toward a 2-year degree in Cybersecurity. I had always excelled in the more technical aspects of my roles as opposed to the more soft skills-based tasks that came with these positions, so IT felt like a better fit for me.
Shortly into my second semester, COVID-19 hit. The college moved to 100% remote learning and it was immediately obvious that they were not at all prepared to offer this in any meaningful fashion. Long story short, we were forced into using Cisco NetAcad with Packet Tracer as our only learning materials, aside from weekly 3-hour classes from a professor. I managed to get straight As but by the time I had completed my final course in 2021, I did not feel even close to ready to go out and get an internship in IT, nevermind a career. The problem with the college route is that it covers too much content in too little time; it works for passing tests on what you learned most recently but you learn over time that networking is a field of study that you must not only learn but absorb. Also, you only have access to your professors during the time you are actively enrolled in classes. There is also a very real disconnect between what many colleges teach vs. what employers are actually looking for. Certain credits are wasted on filler courses such as Computer Ethics where they could and should have gone towards classes geared toward teaching CompTIA A+ related material.
NetAcad is a great tool but few out there would argue that it’s beginner friendly for most topics. Hence, I made the difficult choice to reinforce what I had learned starting with a CompTIA N10-008 Network+ course. Afterall, commands and syntax mean nothing if you don’t understand networking on a fundamental level. I completed Keith Barker’s CBT Nuggets course, then Professor Messer’s course, then Jason Dion’s Udemy course while cross referencing each against my NetAcad content. Why 3? Because the first two not only didn’t cover all possible topics that you could see on the exam, but also still left a lot of unanswered questions and confusion.
Shockingly, I found that none of these resources covered a lot of glaring knowledge gaps that would have helped put what they were teaching into context. To get a proper understanding on a great number of topics required a lot of my own reading. I found free content to be far more helpful in filling in these gaps; particularly Firewall.cx, Practical Networking, The TCP/IP Guide, Sunny Classroom, Tech Target, Cisco’s own Forums and Whitepaper Guides, and finally the best of them all, NetworkLessons. I was so impressed by Rene’s IPsec lesson that I figured I had to give this site a look once I felt comfortable enough to move on from Network+ and into CCNA. After skimming through a few more topics from CCNA and cross referencing what he was offering for free against my NetAcad content, I finally today decided to pull the trigger and begin my journey.
At this point, I am coming in with a lot of knowledge and at least some experience, but am hoping that Rene’s content can fill in the remaining knowledge gaps. I particularly like the way his course is presented. Straight to the point, beginner-friendly language, and mindful of very particular details that if left out, may cause a slew of confusion. He is responsive and receptive to questions and appears to have patience and understanding for beginners trying to wrap their heads around core topics. As someone who has bugged countless people on Reddit and a few other networking forums, this is a rare quality from IT experts.
Not gonna lie: my ultimate goal here is to get my CCNA (and Network+), use that to get my internship, then use both with my 2 year degree to land my first career in the field, most likely as a junior network analyst. No pressure Rene.