CCIE approach

TurgonTurgon Posts: 6,313Banned
Interest in the CCIE is rising on TE with many candidates working towards it in 2012 and others considering it. I offer some advice based on personal experience and observation of the habits of many successful candidates over the years..

Your best time to study is 9 to 5, whatever you can get away with. This is when your mind and body is most fresh. I advise you discuss this with your boss because if it is going to be a regular thing it could create issues for you with workmates who dont study, and you need to be sure you have time to meet your obligations at work. Get some buy in so problems about managing your time dont come up in your appaisals. Even one hour every other day at work studying adds up over a year.

Outside of work when it comes to studying, allow for travel time, time with loved ones and yes, some time for yourself. Make a long term plan and discuss with your wife/partner. Be sensitive and keep it flexible. If your job is demanding, hawking up until 2AM regularly doing labs really might not be in your best interests professionally. You need not only sleep to perform at work, but time in the evenings to disconnect, and lab practice when tired isn't always beneficial if you have a busy day ahead where you need to do well in meetings, produce material and handle things. People count on you at work so do look after yourself.

You mustn't be lazy and should push yourself, but if you are fatigued in the evening go for a lighter session and if *really* fatigued, give it up. Also have some off nights. You need not spend these alone. Socialise if you dont have a partner, and if you do have one spend it with them.

When you do lab practice, have an objective in mind and see it through.

Do your best to study during the week, but the weekend is where the CCIE lab is won. So forget games and other pointless distractions at the weekend. Dont forget your kids, your wife and helping around the house. Weekends is when lots of wives need a break and have plans for your time.

Regularity is key for CCIE lab practice but do be realistic about what you have to give. People have beasted themselves to pass the exam, but if your job is anywhere senior you need to perform at work. You are also needed at home. Too many candidates go on a feeding frenzy of late nights for 6 - 12 weeks only to burn out not only on the lab, but also professionally and personally. It takes time to recover from that and it's not unknown for CCIE candidates to end up living alone because of it. Remember, while you put in the long hours you are moving towards an objective which is personally motivating, but for loved ones it feels more like solitude..again. This takes it's toll on people around you. Even if they do seem to be fine doing something else, check in. Women like to spend time with their blokes and going to bed alone can get old for spouses. Less study time is ok, so long as it is regular. A break of several weeks and months will hurt your prepartions, so at least read something if hands on prep isn't an option for a protracted period.

For the off and on candidates, like myself, year 1 is important. I certainly labbed hard and regularly that year, and while hiatus has it's problems, the hard miles I put in then to this day help me when I pick up the studies and start getting regular again. So if you are likely to be a longtermer, have a solid first year. Incidently, longtermers do pass the CCIE lab exam, groupstudy has many examples of over the years.

The written works. Opinion is divided on this but a written exam well studied for has certainly helped me in my lab prep. A Vendor workbook scenario and solution can remain wholly puzzling without those hard reading miles particularly if your opportunities to do hands on have been limited on a regular basis.

Good Luck!

Comments

  • KelkinKelkin Posts: 261Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Very good post! I think this could be sticky'ed :)
  • TurgonTurgon Posts: 6,313Banned
    Kelkin wrote: »
    Very good post! I think this could be sticky'ed :)

    Thanks Kelkin. Hopefully this helps a few. The CCIE is very demanding socially and on TE out of every 10 CCIE wannabe threads only 1 keeps going after a few months. The rest bite the dust. I think its important for candidates to realise what the demands are, to assess what they have to work with and to set expectations accordingly! Many things to spend your free time on, resting, with friends and family, hobbies, playing games, socialising, eating food. All important to be sure, but regular study required also. Everything in balance, and a long game is as good as a short game to get there, but no sacrifice, no CCIE.
  • shodownshodown Posts: 2,271Member
    Thanks for the advice Great info in here. I wanted to rush through mine, but more than likely I'm looking at a 2 year cycle
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    CUCM SRND 9x/10, UCCX SRND 10x, QOS SRND, SIP Trunking Guide, anything contact center related
  • ipSpaceipSpace Posts: 147Member
    Nice thread. The think is that i work from 9-5 so i sacrifice the rest for study. We'll see where i am at in a few months.

    My Network & Security Blog with a focus on Fortigate. New post on how to create a fortigate ssl vpn.
  • TurgonTurgon Posts: 6,313Banned
    shodown wrote: »
    Thanks for the advice Great info in here. I wanted to rush through mine, but more than likely I'm looking at a 2 year cycle

    Well, you can hammer it inside a year, but only if you have the bandwidth to do it. Demands on your time and energy at work and at home are a reality and need to be accounted for.
  • Sa'adSa'ad Posts: 150Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Wonderful advice and suggestions. Thanks a lot Turgeon!
    INE v4 volume 1
  • FloOzFloOz Posts: 1,614Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    great post! goodluck to all who are in pursuit of the ccie
  • KelkinKelkin Posts: 261Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Turgon wrote: »
    Well, you can hammer it inside a year, but only if you have the bandwidth to do it. Demands on your time and energy at work and at home are a reality and need to be accounted for.

    I can totally agree with that.. I was on track to hit the voice within a year then life slapped me down right there at the end. I am almost ready to start that climb again..
  • NOC-NinjaNOC-Ninja Posts: 1,403Member
    Its a VERY tough journey. The word VERY tough words is an understatement. A CCIE wannabe will not understand this even if they read CCIE journey's. Reading gives you a glimpse of the whole picture.

    You need to plan
    Money for the lab, workbook, books, test, plane ticket, hotel
    Time for reading and labbing = money
    Never ending revising your strategy
    Sacrifice social time
    Argue with you friends and love ones because they dont understand how much time you need to study, study hard and tell yourself that I need to study even more and ever harder
    Cant get enough sleep for months and months of studying

    Its a cycle, a never ending cycle that will BREAK you or make you. It will definitely change you.
    You guys have no idea how many times I doubt myself in labbing at 0-100hrs and then 100 - 200hrs. lol

    That is why Turgon always say its about the bandwidth and try it first because he knows that people will say "I can do it" and then CCIE wannabe backs up because they find out how much demanding CCIE is in your personal precious time and money.
  • Forsaken_GAForsaken_GA Posts: 4,024Member
    NOC-Ninja wrote: »
    You need to plan
    Money for the lab, workbook, books, test, plane ticket, hotel
    Time for reading and labbing = money
    Never ending revising your strategy
    Sacrifice social time
    Argue with you friends and love ones because they dont understand how much time you need to study, study hard and tell yourself that I need to study even more and ever harder
    Cant get enough sleep for months and months of studying

    Its a cycle, a never ending cycle that will BREAK you or make you. It will definitely change you.

    I know we've had this conversation before, but while I agree that it will change you (after all, that's kind of the point, you want to be a master of your craft, and that takes change), I think you're being a bit extreme. And quite a few candidates do the same thing.

    It shouldn't be a breakneck and all consuming thing. Passion is good, obsession is not. It takes discipline in order to keep yourself current enough to retain everything, but it also takes discipline to keep your life in balance.

    There are two main folly's I see committed by the average CCIE candidate -

    #1 They think they're behind the curve, and are in such a hurry to catch up - So it's breakneck total consumption all the time. You'll get yourself into a negative feedback loop, as you consume yourself with whatever the subject of the moment is, and then you'll realize what you studied three or four topics ago is now gone, and you need to go back and study it all over again, which results in more total immersion, so on and so forth.

    #2 The candidate thinks they're smarter than the average bear, and that they'll pick all this stuff up pretty easily, they don't need to put as much effort into it, and it won't take them as long, so they approach it casually, but lack consistency (this was me, btw). The yogi candidate may very well pick things up pretty easily, but the lack of follow through and reinforcement means he forgets important crap and gotchas, and while he'll eventually figure them out, or have the same epiphany all over again, he's killing himself in the time consumed department.

    In both cases, you have to step back and realize that it requires attention to detail, yes, but consistency, and you have to spend the time to let it all blend together. I think the INE crew has it exactly right - there are certain things you need to know dead on, you have to be able to configure it without thinking about it, the first time. Those are the things you obsess over, and that you find the time to practice to make sure your retention is good. Everything else, you need to be familiar enough with to recognize it when you see it, but you don't need full retention of it - you're better off remembering where the hell it's located in the documentation so you can go find it when you need it, and usually after a quick glance at the documentation, what you know will come flooding back into you.

    I've gotten to the point where I do my configs in notepad, because of the ease of copying and pasting to modify like configurations that need to be applied to multiple devices. I'm also not shy about looking up something I may have forgotten in the docs, even if it's something easy (for the life of me, last week, I had a total brain fart and could not remember how to configure a virtual link. So I went and looked it up, now if I need that during the lab, I know where it is.)

    I don't stress about the things I don't know, I never doubt my self confidence. I don't expect to be perfect. When I run into things I overlook, or small gotchas that I had forgotten about, I make a note of it. That list gets longer every week. And every few weeks, after I'm done with my normal lab work, I run a little script which randomly pulls up however many number of issues I feel like working through (usually 3 to 5) off of that list. Nothing *ever* gets taken off the list. If I had a problem with it once, I might again down the road, so I give myself every opportunity to work on the problem areas. If feasible, I'll redo the task, if not, then I mock up a quick scenario and do it. These exercise aren't meant to be deep dives into the things that give me problems, they're just quick hits to make sure I keep my exposure to them, and keep them fresh in my mind. I also try to leave at least two weeks minimum before revisiting the same problem. If I just read the solution to it yesterday, and then I do it again today, that's still fresh in my mind, and it's not what I need - I need long term retention, not short term.

    Now with all that said... I'm having a devil of a time with multicast, so I leave that off the list. That's the one section I'm going to have to spend a crap load of additional time with because for some reason I have such a ***** of a time with it. That's the one area which I *am* going to spend alot of time deep diving it until I understand it fully, because it's a core topic, so it needs the attention.
  • vinbuckvinbuck Posts: 785Member
    Now with all that said... I'm having a devil of a time with multicast, so I leave that off the list. That's the one section I'm going to have to spend a crap load of additional time with because for some reason I have such a ***** of a time with it. That's the one area which I *am* going to spend alot of time deep diving it until I understand it fully, because it's a core topic, so it needs the attention.

    I work on an IPTV network as one of my projects and I really didn't start understand multicast until I had to get it from a video headend all the way through a core/access network and spit it out through a DSL modem. I think the key to learning multicast is having something to multicast (more than one thing is best) so that you can see the effect on your network of things like selecting PIM Dense vs PIM Sparse-Dense and where to put your RP in the network and why - just to name a few. It's one thing to lab it, but quite another to put it into play from a learning perspective. Multicast is actually really cool when it's in production...it can be fun to put a show ip mroute active into your router and watch Starz and ESPN make their way through your network.

    bulid yourself a linux server and start running udp streams of movies or other video and start slinging it around your IE lab...it's a whole lot more fun anyway... icon_smile.gif
    Cisco was my first networking love, but my "other" router is a Mikrotik...
  • nerdydadnerdydad Posts: 261Member
    Ok Turgon, I haven't posted about my plans, but I would like your opinion about my approach.

    I will be finishing up my CCNP in the next couple of months, as I have read the CCNP level on topics, I supplement it with sections from the CCIE books. (Safari Books is awesome for this) I plan on taking the written at the end of this year, after that I would like to do Narbik's bootcamp in January, after that, spend a year labbing everything I have learned there, I can pretty easily get in 20 hours a week to study and lab. Next retake the bootcamp (love that Narbik allows you to retake) to make sure I am ready, then sit for the lab, if I don't make it, another 6 months of 20 hours a week and then retake.

    I have been studying at the Networking Academy for 2 years now and have been putting in a consistent 20 hours a week, I want to do this while the train is still moving. I work almost exclusively with Cisco, and am exposed to a lot of different technologies, although no OSPF.
  • TurgonTurgon Posts: 6,313Banned
    nerdydad wrote: »
    Ok Turgon, I haven't posted about my plans, but I would like your opinion about my approach.

    I will be finishing up my CCNP in the next couple of months, as I have read the CCNP level on topics, I supplement it with sections from the CCIE books. (Safari Books is awesome for this) I plan on taking the written at the end of this year, after that I would like to do Narbik's bootcamp in January, after that, spend a year labbing everything I have learned there, I can pretty easily get in 20 hours a week to study and lab. Next retake the bootcamp (love that Narbik allows you to retake) to make sure I am ready, then sit for the lab, if I don't make it, another 6 months of 20 hours a week and then retake.

    I have been studying at the Networking Academy for 2 years now and have been putting in a consistent 20 hours a week, I want to do this while the train is still moving. I work almost exclusively with Cisco, and am exposed to a lot of different technologies, although no OSPF.

    Sounds like a good plan to me, and Narbiks repeat bootcamp offer is very attractive.
  • lrblrb Posts: 526Member
    Firstly, great post Turgon. TE is one of the places I come to see how other people are finding the CCIE experience so this thread will definitely help me when I eventually go for it too.
    #2 The candidate thinks they're smarter than the average bear, and that they'll pick all this stuff up pretty easily, they don't need to put as much effort into it, and it won't take them as long, so they approach it casually, but lack consistency (this was me, btw). The yogi candidate may very well pick things up pretty easily, but the lack of follow through and reinforcement means he forgets important crap and gotchas, and while he'll eventually figure them out, or have the same epiphany all over again, he's killing himself in the time consumed department.

    This is a really good point and I'm a big culprit of doing the 'half study' where I'll brush over material which I think is too easy or that I don't find completely interesting. Therefore when it does come to exam time I find myself having spend a lot longer reviewing my notes on these topics cause I didn't put 100% the first few times around.
  • KelkinKelkin Posts: 261Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    "#1 They think they're behind the curve, and are in such a hurry to catch up - So it's breakneck total consumption all the time. You'll get yourself into a negative feedback loop, as you consume yourself with whatever the subject of the moment is, and then you'll realize what you studied three or four topics ago is now gone, and you need to go back and study it all over again, which results in more total immersion, so on and so forth."

    I fell into this trap.. along with the feeling that I must get it done ASAP before the lab changes etc etc.. I am thankful that I ran into some issues with my personal life that caused me to pause in the pursuit because it gave me to time to rethink about my career and end goal.. now that I am almost got my voice lab back up and running its almost time to start the pursuit again.. this time going to do it smarter.. Just need to finish up the CCNP and then full speed ahead.

    Thanks guys for posting about your experiences.. thoughts and feelings over the chance for da digits..
  • nelnel Posts: 2,859Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Great post Turg man!
    Xbox Live: Bring It On

    Bsc (hons) Network Computing - 1st Class
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  • jamesp1983jamesp1983 Posts: 2,475Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Great post Turgon. We really appreciate your advice. This is quite a bear and you need to stay consistent and dedicated, but don't forget your health or family.
    "Check both the destination and return path when a route fails." "Switches create a network. Routers connect networks."
  • ShanmanShanman Posts: 223Member
    As always Turgon, you are a wealth of information. Great post and I also vote for a sticky!
  • TurgonTurgon Posts: 6,313Banned
    Thank you. People seem to like the thread. If you PM webmaster he might oblige, Im not a moderator.
  • mikearamamikearama Posts: 749Member
    Well explained, Turg-baby. You have a great way of cutting to the heart of the matter.

    As an added comment...
    ... after passing the written, I thought I was well off to the races. With 11 years experience as a cisco guy, though I didn't expect it to be easy, I did think I had a solid base on which to start. So, I bought a great package from INE including the all-access pass, and thought I'd start by watching the 12-day bootcamp series, and then begin working on the labs in workbook 1.

    All I can say is... Oh... My... God! The stuff I don't know and have never seen before... and the level of detailed knowledge cisco expects you to have on soooo many topics... incredible. I now understand why you say that a thousand hours of lab time is a good start. Holy Hannah!

    So, on to workbook 1. See you at the finish line.
    There are only 10 kinds of people... those who understand binary, and those that don't.

    CCIE Studies: Written passed: Jan 21/12 Lab Prep: Hours reading: 385. Hours labbing: 110

    Taking a time-out to add the CCVP. Capitalizing on a current IPT pilot project.
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