Best ways to gain experience while studying for certifications?

JSJJSJ Posts: 5Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello all! Newbie here.

I am currently a junior at University of Maryland, College Park majoring in Economics. I've always had a strong interest in building gaming computers in the past but "grew out of it" upon entering college. However, recently I have become more and more interested in the networking field, especially considering the amount of jobs available in the Washington DC area. My short-term goal is the CCNP within the next year. I have begun studying for the CCENT/CCNA using Odom's 3rd Edition w/ Simulator and I will proceed to the CCNP shortly after.


Moving on, I'm looking for a good way to gain some real world experience in the field while I am studying for the exam. I know simply studying and (hopefully) passing these certifications isn't a guarantee for a job. However, there are very few internships for this field - especially if you aren't a CompSci or EE major. In some ways I regret majoring in Econ but it is what it is...there is no way I'm starting over now icon_redface.gif So where does one begin? I want to get my foot in the door early as I have a very good understanding of computer hardware but most jobs in this area require 3-5 years of experience and I can't find a single apprenticeship.


What are your thoughts? Is my degree going to hold me back from jobs in this area?

Comments

  • Mrock4Mrock4 Posts: 2,360Banned
    IMO, the best way to go is use GNS3 or build a small cisco lab at home to practice on. Once you have the basics down and are comfortable with the CLI, an entry-level part-time gig should not be terribly hard to get your hands on if you know your stuff. Keep in mind, you may have to "work in the trenches" so to speak at first.

    On a side note, your degree, if anything, will help you in this field. Once you get up there in the certification chain, being business-savvy is incredibly useful. It might not help you entering the field, but eventually it will as you progress.

    Best of luck.
  • LetterLetter Posts: 18Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Have you considered Internships? I know we try to reach out to the universities as much as possible.

    Try asking your professors if they have heard anything.
  • SomnipotentSomnipotent Posts: 384Member
    JSJ wrote: »
    Hello all! Newbie here.

    I am currently a junior at University of Maryland, College Park majoring in Economics. I've always had a strong interest in building gaming computers in the past but "grew out of it" upon entering college. However, recently I have become more and more interested in the networking field, especially considering the amount of jobs available in the Washington DC area. My short-term goal is the CCNP within the next year. I have begun studying for the CCENT/CCNA using Odom's 3rd Edition w/ Simulator and I will proceed to the CCNP shortly after.


    Moving on, I'm looking for a good way to gain some real world experience in the field while I am studying for the exam. I know simply studying and (hopefully) passing these certifications isn't a guarantee for a job. However, there are very few internships for this field - especially if you aren't a CompSci or EE major. In some ways I regret majoring in Econ but it is what it is...there is no way I'm starting over now icon_redface.gif So where does one begin? I want to get my foot in the door early as I have a very good understanding of computer hardware but most jobs in this area require 3-5 years of experience and I can't find a single apprenticeship.


    What are your thoughts? Is my degree going to hold me back from jobs in this area?

    I majored in English. I'm working as a network engineer for Sprint. Makes no sense. Anyway, best way to approach it is to lab it up... I'm local so if you want or need assistance, I can mentor you on your way. I'm in Northern VA tho.
    Reading: Internetworking with TCP/IP: Principles, Protocols, and Architecture (D. Comer)
  • JeanMJeanM Posts: 1,117Member
    I agree, don't worry about your degree...it's not uncommon for it to be totally different from what you end up doing in life/career anyway!

    Yep, build a small / cheap lab...easy way to get all kinds of hands on experience, it's all up to you :)
    2015 goals - ccna voice / vmware vcp.
  • JSJJSJ Posts: 5Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Mrock4 wrote: »
    IMO, the best way to go is use GNS3 ...snip....

    I don't mind "working in the trenches", I understand this is a process like anything else. This is why I am trying to lock something in right now, so I can learn as I study and gain experience in the process instead of studying and trying to find something afterwards. I'll check out GNS3 - thanks for the tip! Hopefully this will get the ball rolling!
    Have you considered Internships? I know we try to reach out to the universities as much as possible.

    Try asking your professors if they have heard anythin
    I've been looking on Indeed and a couple others. Unfortunately the Professors in this department barely know how to turn on the overhead projector, let alone guide me into an IT career. I don't blame them - this isn't their field.
    Awesome, thanks! I'll keep in touch. I plan to build a mini practice lab but my funds are tight. Any recommendations? Craigslist seems to be the best bet right now but I've had bad luck with CL in the past...
  • JSJJSJ Posts: 5Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Mrock4, Thanks - I'll look into GNS3. I don't mind working "in the trenches" to get my feet wet.

    Letter, I would love an internship - I am always looking for a good one...the teachers in this department don't know enough about the IT field to guide me into anything.


    Somnipotent, thanks! I'll keep in touch.


    JeanM, I'm trying to do this as low-cost as possible....would you recommend going on Craigslist for these parts?
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Posts: 2,360Banned
    Ebay! Just do your research on here and other sources prior to purchasing. It's easy to buy something that won't support what you want to study, doesn't have the necessary parts (ie: missing RAM, not enough RAM, etc)
  • JSJJSJ Posts: 5Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Awesome, thanks. Quick question...

    This is what I am using to study for the ICND1/2.
    CCNA 640-802 Official Cert Library, Simulator Edition, Updated (3rd Edition).

    I got it off Amazon for a decent price. Do I need anything else as far as text goes? I'm going to look into purchasing my own lab but money is kind of tight...not sure when I'll be able to splurge on a setup.
  • JeanMJeanM Posts: 1,117Member
    You can't go wrong with Odom's and Lammle's material.
    2015 goals - ccna voice / vmware vcp.
  • ciscoman2012ciscoman2012 Posts: 313Member
    For ICND1 (CCENT) I'd look at getting a 2950 switch and a basic 2600 router (even non XM series would work). Then you can practice the initial configurations needed on both devices for the ICND1.
  • SomnipotentSomnipotent Posts: 384Member
    JSJ wrote: »
    I don't mind "working in the trenches", I understand this is a process like anything else. This is why I am trying to lock something in right now, so I can learn as I study and gain experience in the process instead of studying and trying to find something afterwards. I'll check out GNS3 - thanks for the tip! Hopefully this will get the ball rolling!


    [/INDENT]
    I've been looking on Indeed and a couple others. Unfortunately the Professors in this department barely know how to turn on the overhead projector, let alone guide me into an IT career. I don't blame them - this isn't their field.
    Awesome, thanks! I'll keep in touch. I plan to build a mini practice lab but my funds are tight. Any recommendations? Craigslist seems to be the best bet right now but I've had bad luck with CL in the past...
    [/INDENT]

    I'm selling a CCNA Lab right now... 3x 2610XMs + 2x 2950s for $150. serials and console cable included. Should get you up and running. Since I'm local you can come look at it if you want.
    Reading: Internetworking with TCP/IP: Principles, Protocols, and Architecture (D. Comer)
  • JSJJSJ Posts: 5Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Awesome, I'll keep you in my mind Somnipotent! I may buy your setup within the next two weeks if it is still available.
  • SomnipotentSomnipotent Posts: 384Member
    i have someone coming to look at it this weekend so it might not be around... but if it is, i'll let you know :)
    Reading: Internetworking with TCP/IP: Principles, Protocols, and Architecture (D. Comer)
  • JeanMJeanM Posts: 1,117Member
    I'm selling a CCNA Lab right now... 3x 2610XMs + 2x 2950s for $150. serials and console cable included. Should get you up and running. Since I'm local you can come look at it if you want.

    Thats a great price!
    2015 goals - ccna voice / vmware vcp.
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