Before knocking on doors at Cisco or Alcatel, use your networking certifications to get a job at a smaller company, where you can gain broad experience. Start small Before knocking on doors at Cisco or Alcatel, use your networking certifications to get a job at a smaller company, where you can gain broad experience.
Dear Molly: I have recently acquired two Cisco networking certifications (CCNA and CCNP). Please tell me what areas I should focus on in the field of networking and what is the minimal experience companies like Cisco, Alcatel, and others are looking for in new hires.
Molly says: Congratulations on obtaining these certifications. Now that you have them, it’s time to find a job in which you can put them to use–such as a position as a network technician or network engineer. What you end up doing depends a lot on your own interests. If you want to plan and set up new networks, you can do that. If you want to troubleshoot existing networks, you can do that, too.
Those, however, are longer-term goals–your first step is to find a job that uses your training. Network vendor companies such as Cisco like to see at least six months of hands-on experience to accompany any certification. A year or two of experience is even better. If you don’t have this experience, get it before you apply. That way, you’ll have a good shot at a better job and more money at Cisco than if you apply with no experience.
Look for a job with a medium-sized company that has an established network and needs someone to look after it or expand it. If you get a job at a large company, you’re not going to get the variety of experiences you need to learn as much as you can in a year or two.
Visit the Cisco Web site and read through its descriptions of various job openings to get an idea of what the skills and experience requirements are for a job you might like to have someday. Then, visit the Alcatel and Novell sites and do the same thing. Use the information you gather to help guide your job search, looking for the same kind of work at a smaller company.
Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]