New Member, an introduction of myself

I am a young mother with two children, originally from China. I have been living in the United Kingdom for 20 years now, residing in London.

My professional background is not overly complex, but rather diverse. I originally studied art and design, graduating from the product design program at Kingston University in London. Initially, I intended to return to China to become an art and design teacher, hence pursuing a master’s degree in art education. However, after graduation, I found a job as a graphic designer in the UK and decided to continue living here. Along the way, I took on some marketing-related tasks at work. Later, I switched to a position at China Telecom’s UK subsidiary, focusing on front-end marketing. To enhance my qualifications, I obtained the CIM Certified Marketer credential.

After giving birth to my children, there were departmental changes, and I seized an opportunity to move to a back-end department, transitioning to the network operations and maintenance division, which is primarily staffed by network engineers. With the expectations of departmental leadership, I spent six months preparing and recently obtained my CCNA certification. Given my status as a newcomer and relatively light job responsibilities, I’ve decided to further my studies and pursue CCNP. While searching for study materials online, I came across many recommendations for courses here, so I decided to join in, hoping to engage in discussions with everyone.

My knowledge in networking is not extensive, but due to my background in education, I have some techniques in learning methods that we can also discuss.

Hello Xinran

First of all, thank you for sharing some of your life experiences with us. This gives more meaning to the true scale of your accomplishments. I admire your determination. It is often difficult to change so drastically from an area of art and design to marketing, to a more technically oriented job position.

Congratulations on your recent CCNA certification, it’s truly a noteworthy milestone in your progress. I also salute your decision to further your studies with the CCNP, and we are happy that you have made NetworkLessons a part of your journey. It’s a challenging but rewarding path, and it’s great to see your dedication to learning and improving your skills in network engineering.

NetworkLessons is a rich source of lessons in networking, and the forum is a great place to ask questions and engage in discussions. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions, no matter how basic they might seem. We all started somewhere and we’re eager to help.

Your background in design and marketing, as well as your teaching experience, will bring a unique perspective to our discussions. I’m particularly interested in hearing about the learning techniques you mentioned. They could be very beneficial to many of us.

Remember, the key to mastering networking (or any field, really) is to never stop learning and asking questions. Good luck with your studies and I look forward to seeing you around the forum!


Hello Xinran,

Welcome! You have indeed a diverse background. Congratulations on passing CCNA!

CCNA is one of the most difficult exams because there are many topics that might be completely new to you. CCNP is still a lot of material, but it’s somewhat easier because you’ll be learning more about the things you already know from CCNA.

Your background in education should be helpful. There is a LOT to learn in networking and knowing how to approach things to learn effectively helps. If there is anything in particular that has been helpful to you, I’d love to hear it.

Usually, I give this advice:

  • Read or watch videos if something is entirely new to you.
  • Do labs to see if you understand what you read/watched and to get rid of knowledge gaps.
  • Try practice exams.

And create notes in your own words for everything. It’s difficult to memorize everything:

If you need any help, you know where to find us :slight_smile:

I wish you good luck studying!


Dear Rene:

Thank you very much for your email and the invaluable suggestions. I’ve just started learning, and so far, I don’t have many questions. Just one thing: If I study your ENCORE course thoroughly and follow the sequence of the structure, would I still need to buy the official Cert Guide book? When I was studying for my CCNA, I bought the official book, but I found it hardly useful, and in fact, I hardly read it. I’m also curious if you have any recommendations for supplementary reading materials. :slight_smile:

Many thanks to you again, I wish you all the best and can’t wait to hear back from you:)


Xinran Chen

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Hello Xinran,

Going through the ENCOR course, doing labs on your own, and a practice exam to figure out of if you have any knowledge gaps should be enough:

It won’t hurt to read the Cisco Press book once, but I’m confident you can do it without it.