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BlueWolf's Howl

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September 27, 2003

Down to the Wire

The past three days have been spent with my head in a book. I ate a half a chapter for lunch...

Seriously - I finished the Study Guide. Now I'm reviewing my notes and doing all the practice tests I can get my hands on. I can see improvement as the hours fly by... Yes, the hours are flying. I realize I only have one more day to get this information locked down in my brain. I can't have a good idea about it. I can't "kinda" know it. I have to KNOW...for SURE what the answer is and WHY.

I've updated the sidebar. It's not just bravado that made me take down the CCNP book. It's because this is my only shot at the 640-901 Exam. It is now retired and if I don't pass it on Monday, I'll have to take the 642-801 (updated) exam. The book for the 801 exam isn't available yet. None of the books for the 642 series exams are available yet. It'll be another couple of months before they're published. So - come rain or come shine, my efforts are going to be redirected for a little while.

As you can see by the new reading material (and new row in the cert table), I'll be focusing my efforts on getting the new MCSE:Security credential. Since I took the 70-220 [Designing Security for a Windows 2000 Network] exam as the "design" exam of my MCSE2K track, I only have 2 more tests to complete to get the credential. The first test I'm going for is the Security+ exam. For some reason Microsoft and CompTIA had lunch together and shook hands over this one. Anyway... for some reason it counts. Which will leave only the 70-214 [Implementing and Administering Security in a Windows 2000 Network] exam.

I believe I'm finally getting somewhere now. I'm finally at the point where just a few tests make a difference...instead of a battery of tests. It took 6 for the MCSE (NT), 5 for the MCSE (2K), and will take 4 for the CCNP.

If I pass this test on Monday, I'll be looking at 2-2-2 and then I'll be on an entirely different level. I know the CCNP is not an instant ticket to fame and fortune. But, it does put me a step above those who took just the CCNA. It shows a commitment to an endeavor. Just like the MCSE demonstrates a larger commitment than the MCP credential.

Things like this tend to build on themselves (read:snowball). With a higher credential, you tend to be handed higher-level tasks -- which are really good on your resume. Which lead to jobs with even higher-level tasks. Credentials are not a "be all and end all" in themselves. For some, they can be a foot in the door. For others, they can lead to an interview. Most people on the cert track worry about certs without experience. I'm worried that my experience will outpace my certs. I've experienced that in other career fields.

You have to keep your credentials consistent with your skills and experience. If you have 14 years of experience and only the MCP credential, you're going to be limited. Potential employers are going to wonder about the level of experience you're claiming. Did you spend 14 years doing the same level of task? Perhaps your resume speaks of increasing levels of complexity in networking. Perhaps they don't believe it when your credentials don't match up with your resume... Everybody claims they can do everything on a resume and in an interview.

I'm also hoping that the Security specialization will help me to glide into that line of work. Right now I'm *doing* the security work...but without the security title. It's part of the job. You have a network. You write a security plan. When you go to interview...well, you've written security plans...but, did you hold the security TITLE??? No. Okay....next candidate.

The frustrating part is that I know Security Managers that couldn't build a firewall if their ass was on fire. Most of them don't even know what an ACL is...much less ever configured one on a router. But, I digress... In reality, those aren't the jobs I want. I don't want a Security Manager job where the only function is to inspect for compliance to security standards...or merely write policies that will largely be ignored...

No, that's not what I want. I want a job where what I do in the field of security actually makes the network more secure. I want to make a difference. Somewhere.

Posted by BlueWolf on September 27, 2003 09:52 PM