That’s right, I’m taking the 640-802 exam from Cisco to attain my CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certification in one week!

The last four weeks have been quite eventful, although I’m ashamed I didn’t really start studying REALLY hard until about 3 weeks ago. Regardless, I’ve learned a lot! I’ve been following the book “31 Days Before Your CCNA Exam”, which is essentially a daily planner for study topics regarding CCNA material.

Since I’ve had a decent amount of exposure to most if not all of the topics involved in CCNA, a lot of the days were review, from a conceptual perspective. However, my experience has been almost purely theoretical up until this studying. Although I was able to think networking, I didn’t have the experience, or even the reason, to actually CONFIGURE the concepts involved until I started studying for the test. Cisco’s Packet Tracer software has been PHENOMENAL and quite instrumental in getting the experience in configuring Cisco hardware for the concepts in the CCNA. While I won’t know how this experience will translate into a test score until next Saturday, I CAN say now with certainty, that the opportunity to put the concepts I’ve learned into practice, even in a simulator, makes all the difference in the world.

I don’t want to go into a ton of detail in terms of concepts involved, or even start to give advice to those aspiring to do the same, until I know how I did on the test. However, right now I can say that this process is just about the best thing I’ve ever done for my IT education.

I have to get back to studying, but I just wanted to document my feelings on this process. It’s true, a certification can only get you so far in the IT industry right now; it takes people skills, a good resume with good experience, and a host of other attributes to make it out there. But in terms of raw networking knowledge, and the ability to apply concepts and WATCH AS YOUR LEARNED KNOWLEDGE SOLVES PROBLEMS…..there is no better high.

I hope to write again in a week with the good news, but even if I have to make another attempt, the journey alone is a thrill.

Matt Oswalt

Matt Oswalt is an all-around technology nerd, currently focusing on networking, software development, and everything in between. He is at his happiest in front of a keyboard, next to a brewing kettle, or wielding his silo-smashing sledgehammer. He spends his days diving deep into the intersection of networking and software, and likes to blog about his experiences when he comes up for air. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedIN.