Matt Schmitz/ December 13, 2016

I wanted to start off my providing a little background on myself. Hopefully this will put some context around my future posts.

In the beginning – I started off doing some minor PC repair for family and friends. Really quite minor stuff, like replacing power supplies, reinstalling the operating system, or troubleshooting application issues. The technical work really was fun for me, but at that point I had never considered the possibility of it becoming a career. It just seemed like a fun hobby that was great to do in my spare time.

After I completed my second year of high school, I found out that I would have to change schools. Luckily, I found out that my new high school offered this fun program called the Cisco Networking Academy. The program was three hours a day for two years, and taught all of the networking fundamentals necessary to pass the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam. I quickly found that this is something that I truly enjoy doing and I was actually good at it. We had quite a few networking professionals come into the class over those two years and tell stories of how successful a career in computer networking could be. That was the point where I realized that this might actually be a career option – so I went with it.

Within two months of finishing high school, I took and passed the CCNA exam. Cisco certified at the age of eighteen, and now left wondering how to find a job. My next stroke of luck came in the form of a family member who had actively been working in IT for about 10-15 years already. She sat down with me and helped me build my first resume, then showed me where to post it online. Within a few weeks, I began receiving calls from recruiters in the area about a variety of positions. “Level 1 Help desk? No, I want to be a Network Engineer making ALL THE MONIES”. Of course at the time, I had no idea that jumping directly into a network engineer position was very unlikely – especially given that I had no real world experience yet.

A couple interviews and a few months later, and I happened upon a local IT consulting company. I remember interviewing with the manager at the time and mentioning how difficult it was to find a job, since everyone wants you to have experience but no one wants to help you get it. Well, he decided that he was willing to help out and offered me a job as a Level 1 Network Operations Center Engineer.

I spent nearly four long years at that job. I was new to the field so I took advantage of every opportunity they offered me. Certification training? Yes. Networking projects? Yes. Consulting for a variety of businesses? Yep! The company culture was heavily focused on making money quickly, which meant that they didn’t always take care of the employees very well – but there is something to be said about the amount of varied experience I gained, especially for my first real tech job. While I was working here, I also added onto my collection of Cisco certifications: CCNA Voice, CCNA Security, CCDA. I finally finished up by achieving one of my goals of becoming CCNP certified.


So this has been part one of my history, and to make this a bit more readable I’m going to split it into two postings. Continue the story in the next post!

About Matt Schmitz

Herding packets since 2007. Perpetually trying to automate myself out of a job. I believe that all problems can be solved by implementing more IPv6. Disclaimer: All opinions posted here are my own, and do not represent any vendor or current/former employer.

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