IPT Field Engineer

darkfibredarkfibre Posts: 22Member ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello,

Firstly, great forum.

Well let's get straight into it. Has anyone in here done a role like the one stated in the subject? What is being a field engineer like? It seems like a great experience opportunity, but is there anything I should look out for?

I have done a search on the forum to try and find out the ins and outs of becoming a field engineer but didn't have much luck. Can anyone shed any light?

A bit of a background on the situation...I have a job opportunity to deploy Cisco IPT as a field engineer, but it is a completely new role for me, something I have never done so naturally I am a bit anxious. You work on client sites, but you don't know where you are going to be each week it seems.

I explained to the employer that I have no voice/CCM experience and only basic data experience, but that didn't seem to phase them, saying that I should be able to pick it up quick enough. The other bit is that I did not apply for this role...I was recommended, so I took the opportunity to find out a bit more about it as voice does interest me.

It's funny, I have this opportunity and all of a sudden I'm looking like a deer in headlights because I am not very conversant with IPT. I guess I just don't want to bite off more than I can chew...I have started reading up on CVoice and it is certainly 'one mile wide, one mile deep', as someone kindly suggested on this forum, compared to CCNA. For some reason CVoice concepts are taking some time for me to digest icon_confused.gif

Is it possible for a newbie like me to pick up voice by working on deployments without any real voice knowledge, voice certs or experience? I only have my CCNA. I think my confidence would be higher if I had maybe one or two CCVP exams or Cisco Press books under my belt before starting the job, just so I have some familiararity, you know?

Sorry for the long post, but it would be great to hear people's opinions on this...

Best regards,

darkfibre

Comments

  • dtlokeedtlokee Posts: 2,381Member
    Like most things in this field there is a considerable amount of theory behind the design and configuration choices that we make when deploying IPT. Without a understanding of the theory behind IPT it may be difficult to implement it to meet customer specifications. I would recommend reading the Cisco Press books associated with CCVP and augmenting it with other sources like the Doc CD (things like CallManager Express are not covered). I have not used any CBT's but it seems people like them for an overview of the technologies.

    Welcome to the forums :)
    The only easy day was yesterday!
  • darkfibredarkfibre Posts: 22Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the welcome.

    That's exactly it - my fear is letting the employer down. I forgot to mention that the proposed plan is to shadow a couple of engineers on a number of deployments over a period of 3 months, then towards the end of the 3rd month to go out on deployments on my own. My hope is that a lot can be learnt through doing this. CME is what I would start off with. With that said, would you think there is much hope to be a success after this time period and what is field engineering like?
  • dtlokeedtlokee Posts: 2,381Member
    It will take some work but there is nothing you can't learn but 3 months is a short time frame. If you are going to be using CME it isn't so much because some of the functionality is lost but it's still a lot of work. I would check out the books (maybe sign up for a safari account and read through some of them to get an idea of what's involved.) and maybe look into some of the CBTs out there because they seem to give a good overview. if you're interested in it I would say go for it, but if you don't like what you see then don't. One good thing about voice: it's still a new marketplace and there aren't a whole slew of engineers out there with loads of experience, the company may be anticipating the transition.
    The only easy day was yesterday!
  • darkfibredarkfibre Posts: 22Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    I tend to agree that 3 months is probably too short of a time. I took your advice and looked at some material. Admittedly it seemed somewhat foreign to me, but I'll continue to read.

    On a side note...just something I've wondered:

    I hear a lot of people saying that an experienced individual without certs is more valued than a person with certs and no experience. I also think this - experience counts for so much. But what I am trying to understand is how this 'experienced' person with no certs starts to develop their experience in their chosen field (e.g. IPT, wireless, etc) in the first place? Is it just a matter of biting the bullet if you have an interest and charging in (despite being new to the technology?), but the opportunity being there for the taking?
  • mikej412mikej412 Posts: 10,090Member
    darkfibre wrote:
    Is it possible for a newbie like me to pick up voice by working on deployments without any real voice knowledge, voice certs or experience?
    Yes, as long as you're working with experienced people -- and they take some time to train you.
    darkfibre wrote:
    I forgot to mention that the proposed plan is to shadow a couple of engineers on a number of deployments over a period of 3 months, then towards the end of the 3rd month to go out on deployments on my own. My hope is that a lot can be learnt through doing this. CME is what I would start off with. With that said, would you think there is much hope to be a success after this time period and what is field engineering like?
    Depends on what "the plan" is -- and they may not have decided yet. They may have high hopes for you and your ability to "pick up stuff" and that's what they probably be trying to figure out in those first 3 months.

    If you're going to start with CME, you may become the "branch office guy" or the "small office guy" -- and that should "be doable" in a month or so....

    You might also be the guy sent out to make sure the cable is plugged in -- before the "big gun" gets sent out. Or you could be "the onsite hands" for one of the more experienced engineers who's talking you through stuff remotely.

    What you eventually end up doing could depend on how fast you learn -- so that might be something you'd want to ask about before taking the job. You might also want to find out if there is a "training plan" other than shadowing the other guys for 3 months. Do they have CBTs (or access to the Partner eLearning if they are a Cisco Business Partner)? Do they want you get certified? Are any of the other guys certified, and if so, what do they have? Do they have "standard solutions" they implement (and that you could learn)? Or do they "flutter in the breeze" and just do whatever the customer wants that day? Is the work scheduled and planned? Or are you paged and dispatched and sent scurrying from customer to customer, never knowing where you'll be in 2 hours or what you'll be doing?
    darkfibre wrote:
    I hear a lot of people saying that an experienced individual without certs is more valued than a person with certs and no experience. I also think this - experience counts for so much. But what I am trying to understand is how this 'experienced' person with no certs starts to develop their experience in their chosen field (e.g. IPT, wireless, etc) in the first place? Is it just a matter of biting the bullet if you have an interest and charging in (despite being new to the technology?), but the opportunity being there for the taking?
    A person with experience AND certifications is more valuable than either of the others.

    The experience has to be relevant to the job. If I were doing a bunch of network installs and had to choose between someone with 2 years of IT experience (supporting MS Office on a Helpdesk) and someone recommended by their Cisco Network Academy Instructor but with no experience -- I'd go for the academy graduate since they'd have skill that are needed to get the job done. The person on the helpdesk could have the ability to self-study and get the CCNA in a month, but until they do that, they don't have the skills.

    If you took this job -- and survived -- you'd be on the road to voice experience. This is how people can wind up with experience and no certification. But getting a certification like the CCVP gives you something else to get your resume pulled from a pile, and also fills in your skill set with things that might not be part of your prospective job.

    You didn't say who recommended you for the job, but it does sound like a good opportunity. If you're interested in VoIP you may want to consider it. Just try and get some more answers about the job so that you feel comfortable with it.
    :mike: Cisco Certifications -- Collect the Entire Set!
  • CucumberCucumber Posts: 192Member
    darkfibre wrote:
    It's funny, I have this opportunity and all of a sudden I'm looking like a deer in headlights because I am not very conversant with IPT.

    Fear not, for those who know nothing have nothing to fear!

    I was in a position like yours about six months ago, I didnt know too much about IPT and suddenly I became in charge of a bunch of ISRs routers, 3 CCM clusters, 2 IPCCs, 1 IVR and 1 Unity box. Its funny but you will find yourself doing configurations sooner than what you think, i.e. at month 2 I was configuring H323 and SCCP gateways, so just go for it; I will warn you though, you have a lot of reading ahead! And dont be afraid to ask.
    I hate pandas
  • darkfibredarkfibre Posts: 22Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Depends on what "the plan" is -- and they may not have decided yet. They may have high hopes for you and your ability to "pick up stuff" and that's what they probably be trying to figure out in those first 3 months. If you're going to start with CME, you may become the "branch office guy" or the "small office guy" -- and that should "be doable" in a month or so....

    The plan is to start off with CME, then probably move into Unity Express...then eventually participate in some Call Manager stuff...I think they do have high hopes that I can pick up stuff, but in 3 months? That's the bit that causes me some concern.
    What you eventually end up doing could depend on how fast you learn -- so that might be something you'd want to ask about before taking the job.

    Yes, I agree with you. The company is very busy and they have a high workload on, exp on UC. The interviewer even said that they are going to throw me into the 'deep end'... which for a newbie like me is quite daunting icon_rolleyes.gif
    You might also want to find out if there is a "training plan" other than shadowing the other guys for 3 months. Do they have CBTs (or access to the Partner eLearning if they are a Cisco Business Partner)?

    They are a Cisco Partner and they did mention that they have access to eLearning material.
    Do they want you get certified? Are any of the other guys certified, and if so, what do they have?

    Yes they do, probably get me started on CVoice and progress from there. There are a mixture of people there with CCNP/CCVP and I believe a CCIE (or two).
    Do they have "standard solutions" they implement (and that you could learn)?

    Not too sure if they have standard solutions. What could this be? Like a 20 phone setup, for example?
    Is the work scheduled and planned? Or are you paged and dispatched and sent scurrying from customer to customer, never knowing where you'll be in 2 hours or what you'll be doing?

    As far as I'm aware they work is scheduled in advance. I was told it will likely involve travel up and down the country and travel abroad to client sites on a regular basis.
    If you took this job -- and survived -- you'd be on the road to voice experience.

    Does going down one specific route (voice) tend to limit your employability/routes in the networking arena? Is it possible to transition into something different, like security or do people tend to choose the networking field they want to get into and stick to it for the long haul?

    If I took it, and survived..? You brought a lump in my throat when I read that lol.
  • mikej412mikej412 Posts: 10,090Member
    It does sound like they have a plan and it doesn't sound that bad -- but then, someone getting thrown to the wolves isn't a bad thing if you're one of the wolfs icon_lol.gif
    darkfibre wrote:
    Do they have "standard solutions" they implement (and that you could learn)?

    Not too sure if they have standard solutions. What could this be? Like a 20 phone setup, for example?
    Yeah, and all the customers get a 2xxx extension and the same couple phones, unless they insist on something different. Then you can just load a "standard configuration" with just a couple manual changes, rather than doing the same simple setup over, and over, and over at each customer.

    And even large installations may be "cookie cutter" if you control all the equipment and installations (like on a new installation or an office move or upgrade). Rather than all servers and routers being racked in random orders and plugged into the next available ports, having some of your customers configured similarly saves some time trying to figure out and remember each site. The time you save can then be used for those customers who think their spaghetti cabling is performance art and never racked or labeled their Callmanager Cluster servers and have them stacked on a desk. icon_lol.gif
    darkfibre wrote:
    Does going down one specific route (voice) tend to limit your employability/routes in the networking arena? Is it possible to transition into something different, like security or do people tend to choose the networking field they want to get into and stick to it for the long haul?

    The hardest thing is usually getting a good networking job to break into the networking field -- and this sounds like a good (and possibly challenging :D) one. It is possible to be the "Voice Guy" and rely on the "Network Guy" to give you a working optimized network to work your Voice Magic on -- while both of you hope the "Security Guy" hasn't gotten to heavy handed on internal security and shut you both down. But eventually, if your company doesn't limit their work to just the voice side, then you may become "The Guy" who can do it all.

    Working for a Business Partner is usually good for getting lots of experience in lots of different things fast. :D
    :mike: Cisco Certifications -- Collect the Entire Set!
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