Network Engineer - let's define our terms!

Discussion in 'Cisco' started by newsreader, Sep 7, 2003.

  1. newsreader

    newsreader Guest

    Hello again,

    I'm sorry to have started the bru-haha that seems to have begun! Having been
    out of work for several months and trying everything that the "What Color is
    Your Parachute" book (and other people) suggest, has simply been a
    frustrating experience. My original post was to solicit thoughts on what may
    be happening in the IT Network industry. My background and passion for what
    I do lies in data networking, so when I think of it being removed and my
    career forced into server administration, it's a bit unnerving. Given that I
    interact with a small fraction of what's really going on in the industry, I
    wanted folks like Bernie, nrf, and Hansang (along with other seasoned pros)
    to give me their thoughts.

    After reading the thread thus far, I'm not sure what to think. I'm going to
    continue the network focus, as that is what I'm (pardon the pun) wired to
    do...I wouldn't be as good a systems guy as a network guy anyway. During my
    job search, I've been volunteering to help clean up things like Blaster,
    Welchia, and other stupid desktop things around town. When I walk into these
    environments, it's hard to believe they even function. The servers and
    desktops are a shambles and the network is a disaster. If the systems
    environment looks this bad to me, what would it look like to a real systems
    pro? The stuff is bubble-gummed/bailing-wired together. I thought it was an
    isolated thing the first time, but I've seen it over and over in different
    shops and industries. To the previous posters who said "good enough" is just
    that, well, Blaster and Welchia demonstrates what happens when the "just
    good enough" approach meets up with 15 year old kids with too much time on
    their hands. <DIGRESSION> Perhaps I'm on to something here - the slackness
    associated with "just good enough" HAS put a couple of dollars in my
    pocket...hmmm... :) </DIGRESSION>

    It seems that if I offer what I'm decent at doing, take pride in what I do,
    and be sesitive to the client's needs, then I'll be successful. After
    reading some of your posts, maybe I need to focus on larger environments
    (agreed, as this is consistent with previous environments I've enjoyed) and
    continue what I've been doing - excel at my focus and be mindful of the
    increasing systems/network integration. I also need to continue to be
    flexible and stay in front of technical and non-technical people alike in
    business settings (which I enjoy very much).

    Thanks again everyone, and I'll be sure to post when I finally find a new
    network gig. Take care!
     
    newsreader, Sep 11, 2003
    #41
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  2. newsreader

    Sean Guest

    Didn't you hear about it? It's the latest thing. Sylvan is now going to
    allow all kinds of tests. You want your PhD? No problem. The answers
    are : A C B D A
    Seriously though my point is just that the certs that people in the
    networking industry hold have to be maintained, just like any other
    certification.
    I'm sorry. Sometimes I don't
    quite explain myself as well as I should.
    What I meant was that the argument that people with titles like lawyers
    and doctors have to maintain their certification, is invalid. MCSEs have
    to maintain their certs too. The detail of the test is far more demanding
    in the case of some other disciplines.

    However, at the current time there is no such test for networking(that I'm
    aware of). It would be interesting if there was. I wonder what range of
    knowledge would be required for such a test...
     
    Sean, Sep 11, 2003
    #42
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  3. :It seems that if I offer what I'm decent at doing, take pride in what I do,
    :and be sesitive to the client's needs, then I'll be successful. After
    :reading some of your posts, maybe I need to focus on larger environments
    :(agreed, as this is consistent with previous environments I've enjoyed) and
    :continue what I've been doing - excel at my focus and be mindful of the
    :increasing systems/network integration.

    IMHO, it depends a lot on your definition of "successful".


    In my part of Canada, in the sector I work in (biomedical research),
    network hiring is slow. The sector overall is growing relatively well,
    but the organizations involved seldom think about ROI on computational
    infrastructure, so they tend to hire too few people and overload them.
    The people who have some kind of clue tend to hold on to their jobs for
    long periods. If you are in the right place at the right time, you
    might be the person who ends up with the long-term job... but if you
    aren't that person or you are at the wrong time, then another
    opportunity along the same lines might not come up for a few more
    years.

    People approach me, half expecting that government can hire at will,
    but we are much -more- constrained than business: there's even a law
    that limits the number of full employees we can hire.

    I see numerous postings on local newsgroups from people looking for work
    and complaining because there are so few new jobs being offered by
    the big companies and organizations in the area. And these people
    usually keep looking only at those larger companies, and of course it
    takes them a long time to get a job.


    Our most recent position went to someone who made a comfortable living
    for more than 15 years as an independant contractor, setting up Mac or
    Unix networks (and print servers and so on) for small businesses -- an
    odd job here, a car dealership there, and so on. It wasn't a rich
    living by any means, but it was enough to get through. Those small
    places you've been going into for virus removal and what-not, that have
    the messy networks: this person made a living by cleaning up those
    kinds of messes. Never needed to advertise, either: just by word- of-
    mouth there was always -something- around the corner. Similarily, our
    second- most- recent hire used to do freelance PC systems/network work
    for dentists. There's *lots* of work like that out there.

    That independant contractor had no certs at all. What s/he -did- have,
    was the ability to *talk* to people, find out what they need, and
    skills enough to impliment it. The people I see on the local newgroups
    complaining about the lack of jobs usually have little ability to
    *talk* to people (except perhaps to flame them.) And when potential
    work does comes up (here or when I'm asked to recommend someone), the
    people I think of first are the ones who are polite and helpful, and
    whom might not always be right but demonstrate an ability to learn from
    experience and criticism. I might be broadly aware of someone with
    better technical skills but if they talk down to people, chances are
    that I wouldn't be involved in very many conversations with them, and
    they aren't likely to spring to mind when work comes up.

    There are livings to be made out there, dealing with SOHO and SMB,
    available to people with decent technical skills and good communications
    skills -- and in that field, a cert opens far far fewer doors than
    (say) a hairdresser being impressed enough to mention your name to
    someone venting about a hard day.
     
    Walter Roberson, Sep 11, 2003
    #43
  4. newsreader

    Sean Guest

    MS and Cisco people, etc. *do* pay to keep their certs recent. Just not
    Again. I was merely showing that both types of certifications need to be
    renewed. Not comparing the contents or value of the document.
    I agree.
    Then why not start a pettition to get something like that started. I for
    one would jump at the opportunity. Get a test setup like the Bar exam, or
    any State or Federally accredited exam. Make sure it's difficult, and
    practical. Written, not multiple-guess. Covering a wide variety of
    hardware and software. There is still room for certifications, because
    such a test could not replace specializations.
    Some schools already do something similar, but there is no
    standardization. I have also seen people graduate from these schools,
    that are completely worthless in the real world. They have their CCNA!!
    Whoop-de-doo. Have them configure something simple on a router. BGP
    route redistribution... they can't do it. I *don't mean all* CCNAs.
    However some that I have seen are such.
     
    Sean, Sep 11, 2003
    #44
  5. :Then why not start a pettition to get something like that started. I for
    :eek:ne would jump at the opportunity. Get a test setup like the Bar exam, or
    :any State or Federally accredited exam. Make sure it's difficult, and
    :practical. Written, not multiple-guess. Covering a wide variety of
    :hardware and software. There is still room for certifications, because
    :such a test could not replace specializations.

    When I last looked a few years ago, a small number of US States had
    something related to that idea in place.

    Under NAFTA, there are a series of types of workers that can work
    freely within any NAFTA country, without needing an immigration visa,
    under some conditions. The worker just has to show up at the border
    with a letter of offer that uses the right key words, have a copy of
    their credentials with them, and pay a fee, and the immigration
    officials will stamp their passport on the spot with the appropriate
    notations.

    About the only other condition of note is that if the destination
    State has official certifications in order to be considered that kind
    of worker, then the person must be so certified -- but if the destination
    State does not have certifications then pretty much any relevant
    post-secondary education is considered acceptable as establishing
    sufficient qualifications.

    One of the types of work there is a free trade in, is (as I recall),
    Systems Analyst, which would not be an unfair way to name a fair bit
    of the work that I do, so I looked into this a little some years ago.
    It turned out that there were a small number of states that at the
    time did have official certification programs for Systems Analyst.
    I do not recall the details; I -think- one of them had a test,
    and another one required membership in one of the main computer
    organizations (ACM?) that has developed courses and has a
    continued education requirement.
     
    Walter Roberson, Sep 11, 2003
    #45
  6. newsreader

    Bernie Guest

    Fair enough. I see your point here. It is an invalid argument.


    --Bernie
     
    Bernie, Sep 11, 2003
    #46
  7. newsreader

    Hansang Bae Guest

    Then they have bs degrees (that was way too easy). CCIE is no walk in
    the park. I'll grant you that. But it doesn't even begin to compare
    with *any* decent engineering degree. But I will say that you can
    cheat yourself through college in terms of not dedicating your time to
    studying. I.e. maintaining a "good enough" gpa for graduation and
    nothing more.

    That's because it's a business degree. I don't mean that in a mean
    way. Business course are easy. Decent engineering course are not.

    You may want to use deja before you make that statement.

    Is that a rule or something? Did I miss the fine point? Does it really
    matter?

    --

    hsb

    "Somehow I imagined this experience would be more rewarding" Calvin
    *************** USE ROT13 TO SEE MY EMAIL ADDRESS ****************
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    Hansang Bae, Sep 12, 2003
    #47
  8. newsreader

    Hansang Bae Guest

    [snip]

    This is true in any test. You can even pass the CCNA test w/o knowing
    much. But you can study to truly understand the concepts. Same for
    college...the difference between an "A" and "B" is mountainous.

    --

    hsb

    "Somehow I imagined this experience would be more rewarding" Calvin
    *************** USE ROT13 TO SEE MY EMAIL ADDRESS ****************
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    Hansang Bae, Sep 12, 2003
    #48
  9. newsreader

    Hansang Bae Guest

    [snip]

    It may be a bit unnerving, but it will be worth it down the road. Not a
    day goes by where my experience with NetWare, NT, and UNIX don't come in
    handy. Not to mention protocol analysis. It may be a longer road, but
    you'll be better for it in the end.

    Stay plugged in as it's much easier to make an intra-company move into
    networking than an inter-company move (just like OSPF!:)

    Do what you love and you never work a day in your life!


    --

    hsb

    "Somehow I imagined this experience would be more rewarding" Calvin
    *************** USE ROT13 TO SEE MY EMAIL ADDRESS ****************
    ********************************************************************
    Due to the volume of email that I receive, I may not not be able to
    reply to emails sent to my account. Please post a followup instead.
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    Hansang Bae, Sep 12, 2003
    #49
  10. newsreader

    nrf Guest

    Several high-prestige programs immediately come to mind where there is a
    very real chance of flunking out, like, oh I don't know, my alma mater.
    "Look to your left, look to your right, one of you isn't going to
    graduate..." some profs used to tell their freshmen students. My old
    school engages in the practice known as 'weeding' for certain majors - those
    majors, particularly in the engineering disciplines, which far more incoming
    freshmen were interested in studying than the school ever had any intention
    to graduate. The school would then enact a sequence of 'gateway' classes
    where you needed a minimum of a C-minus to be eligible to take the next
    class in the sequence (can't take class Z unless you got past Y, can't take
    Y unless you got past X, etc. and they check your grades to make sure you're
    not trying to skip the sequence) and only after you've successfully
    completed the entire sequence with the minimal grade could you then
    officially declare the major and become eligible to attend the "real"
    upper-division coursework. Grade these classes on a forced curve with a
    median grade of a 'C' or C-plus (which would mean about 20-30% of all
    students would get a grade below C-minus and would therefore be booted out
    of the program), string a bunch of these classes together, and you end up
    with my situation - where I would say of the guys who started in the major
    with me back as freshmen, I would say that at best half of them actually
    eventually graduated with that major.

    What happened to those other guys? Varies. A lot of them changed easier
    majors where weeding isn't practiced. A lot of them simply dropped out of
    the school and transferred to somewhere easier. Some of them were
    expelled - you need to maintain a 2.0 gpa to retain your eligibility at my
    old school, and after attempting that sequence, a lot of people no longer
    had that. I knew one guy who attempted the sequence and wound up with a
    GPA of 0.75 (3 D's, one F). He was quickly booted out of the school.

    Let's just say that after going through that, something like the ccie
    doesn't exactly scare you. I still get nightmares thinking of how hard life
    was when I was 19 - the constant stress, the constant fear of having to tell
    my parents that I flunked out and now I have to go somewhere else. I
    comfort myself by telling myself - hey at least I didn't attempt the pre-med
    sequence at my old school, which was (and still is) REALLY a valley of
    death.

    I did not go to UCLA or UCSD, but these links do sound awful familiar.

    http://www.esuc.ucla.edu/pub/articleShow.asp?articleId=71

    http://www.esuc.ucla.edu/pub/articleShow.asp?articleId=10&section=1

    http://www.informage.net/archives/000093.html

    http://www.moochworld.com/scribbles/ucla/16.html (the bottom part where
    they talk about weeders)
     
    nrf, Sep 12, 2003
    #50
  11. newsreader

    Bernie Guest

    True. I guess I was making the point that those who talk about how
    easy college is are usually the ones with incredibly low standards for
    themselves. I self imposed a lot of stress on myself just by having
    the expectation that I would make A's in every class. Not that
    college is always a ball-buster everywhere you go, but at least when
    you are trying to skate by, the level of effort to get by is
    significantly less. Consequently those people joke about how easy
    college was. There are people that took all those same classes (as
    the guy that skated by) who aren't joking about how easy it was, and
    those people are usually the ones that graduate with some level of
    honors.

    That was my point, but as I sometimes do I overstated it by saying "no
    program". Even at your program, once you got through the weed out,
    you had a choice to skate by or to try to earn high grades. The
    choice made effects how hard you perceive those same classes in
    posterior.
    I am relatively sure that you went to Cal Tech. Am I right?

    --Bernie
     
    Bernie, Sep 12, 2003
    #51
  12. newsreader

    nrf Guest

    I've always wondered - why exactly is it that certain majors are harder than
    others, and not just at my old school, but at practically every school? Go
    to any school, ask the students there which are the most difficult majors,
    and you will always get a list of the usual suspects. There isn't a school
    in the world where electrical engineering is considered a 'skate-through'
    major, for example. What exactly is it with those majors? Or you can look
    at it the other way, why is it that certain majors always seem to be easier
    than others? Why can't a school run an extremely tough sociology or
    communications major? Why can't we have a situation where students say "I
    changed my major to chemical engineering because my former major of 'hotel
    and restaurant management' was just too hard"?

    I have heard some people say that earning potential is the driving factor -
    engineering pays more and therefore has to be more rigorous to prevent that
    field from being swamped by greedy know-nothing. But that only explains
    engineering. What about other notoriously rough majors like math or physics
    which do not have the same earnings potential?
     
    nrf, Sep 13, 2003
    #52
  13. newsreader

    Hansang Bae Guest

    [snip]

    Let me see if I remember this....

    0x0
    lim (ENG. MAJOR) = Business Degree
    GPA->0

    Or something like that. Can't believe you can forget so much! Geesh.


    --

    hsb

    "Somehow I imagined this experience would be more rewarding" Calvin
    *************** USE ROT13 TO SEE MY EMAIL ADDRESS ****************
    ********************************************************************
    Due to the volume of email that I receive, I may not not be able to
    reply to emails sent to my account. Please post a followup instead.
    ********************************************************************
     
    Hansang Bae, Sep 13, 2003
    #53
  14. newsreader

    nrf Guest

    This whole discussion leaves me with the impression that apparently some
    people seem to believe that the CCIE is the greatest and most difficult
    thing they will ever do in their professional lives. I doubt that's really
    true, but if it is, then I don't want to be overly harsh, but my God, your
    life was pretty empty. If the CCIE is the greatest thing you will ever do
    in your life, then you won't have done much. I pray in 40 years I don't
    read people's obits and see that guys are listing 'ccie' as their highest
    life accomplishment.
     
    nrf, Sep 13, 2003
    #54
  15. newsreader

    nrf Guest

    Sure, I know what you mean. Unfortunately, the stark reality is that you
    don't always get to do what you want to do. Let's face it - most people in
    the world don't get to do what they want to do. In fact, the world wouldn't
    function except for this fact; if everybody did what they wanted to do,
    there would be no maids, no garbagemen, and no janitors.

    Speaking specifically of networking, I'm afraid that what has happened is
    that network technology and capacity seem to have advanced beyond the
    capability of the world to absorb them. There just aren't very much
    applications that really require gigabit to the desktop, for example. Which
    is why I am convinced that at least for the next few years companies are
    going to be less concerned with building out more network capacity and more
    concerned with what to do with the capacity that they already have. Hence
    the (unfortunate for us) emphasis on OS's and apps.
     
    nrf, Sep 13, 2003
    #55
  16. newsreader

    Memnoch Guest

     
    Memnoch, Sep 14, 2003
    #56
  17. newsreader

    nrf Guest

    So you call me a troll, yet who are you to judge who's a troll and who's not
    a troll when

    #1 -this is the first time I've ever seen you post a single thing on either
    of these newsgroups (either acc or cdsc), much less anything actually
    interesting
    #2 -If you read through the thread, you will see that the person who started
    this thread (newsreader) has specifically requested for my opinion by name.

    So pray tell, who's REALLY the troll here?
     
    nrf, Sep 14, 2003
    #57
  18. newsreader

    Memnoch Guest

    You. Your opinion is that the CCIE is not all it is cracked up to be and that
    those who wish to attain it are somehow missing something in their lives if
    that is all they want. Would you have the same opinion of someone who wanted
    to become a doctor? Would you be posting in some medical group that there is
    something wrong with their priorities if they wanted a PhD? They are one and
    the same things, professional qualifications and neither one has any more
    importance than the other because different people want different things. To
    answer number one by the way, did you go back on google just to look for
    little old me? I'm flattered but you didn't need to go to all the trouble I
    assure you.
     
    Memnoch, Sep 14, 2003
    #58
  19. newsreader

    Hansang Bae Guest

    That's not what nrf said. You missed the point.
    I hate it when people compare CCIE to MDs. The difficulty of getting
    the CCIE is about as same as 1/1,000th of getting an MD. That's not a
    hyperbole. If you know anyone that became an MD, you'd know.

    Sorry. Saving peoples lives or delivering babies is quite different than
    setting up networks to route packets.


    --

    hsb

    "Somehow I imagined this experience would be more rewarding" Calvin
    *************** USE ROT13 TO SEE MY EMAIL ADDRESS ****************
    ********************************************************************
    Due to the volume of email that I receive, I may not not be able to
    reply to emails sent to my account. Please post a followup instead.
    ********************************************************************
     
    Hansang Bae, Sep 14, 2003
    #59
  20. newsreader

    nrf Guest

    Putting words in other people's mouths is not a generally accepted debating
    tactic. There is nothing wrong with pursuing the ccie. There is something
    wrong if you think it's the greatest thing you'll ever do in your life.
    First of all, put the entire thread in context. We got a guy who shall
    remain unnamed who seems to have an unduly inflated opinion of what the ccie
    is all about. Hence this offshot subthread.

    Let me put it to you this way. Let's have it your way. Suppose we were on
    a PhD newsgroup and there was a guy who constantly stated that the PhD is
    the greatest thing in the world and he's therefore great because he has
    one, and he believes anybody who has one should be allowed to brag about it,
    blah blah blah. Don't you think that would get a little old after awhile?
     
    nrf, Sep 15, 2003
    #60
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