Occasionally, readers send us e-mails about the things we write. They also ask questions about certification, training and other career development resources. We always enjoy hearing from you, and we appreciate the fact that you rely on us for advice, guidance and information about your field.
I got two messages in the past few weeks that I wanted to address in this space. The first was fairly clear-cut: “How should one get started in obtaining a certification in networking?”
The answer, though, is not as straightforward as the question. A few factors have to be considered before diving into the networking credentials space.
First, what kind of networking do you want to go into? Are you interested in local area networks (LANs) such as Ethernets, or are the metropolitan area networks (MANs) found on college campuses, sprawling corporate headquarters and large cities more your cup of tea? Do you want to work with traditional wired networks, or are you fascinated by wireless technologies?
Your area of focus should influence the certification path you take.
Another factor to consider is your employer or potential employer. What technologies are predominant in the organization’s IT environment? If there is a preponderance of, say, Cisco solutions, then a good place to start probably would be the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) program.
On the other hand, if there’s a diverse mix of products from multiple vendors, you might want to opt for the vendor-neutral CompTIA Network+.
Additionally, most networking certification programs recommend or even require a certain level of experience with the technologies they cover, so candidates of these programs should be fairly comfortable with the relevant tools and concepts prior to pursuing a credential.
Get that experience any way you can — through an internship or apprenticeship and work for free if you have to. But make sure you spend some significant time with that technology. This not only will aid your certification efforts, but it also will make you evaluate whether you can pursue this as a career.
The next message wasn’t a question but a compliment about last week’s Study Guide feature: “Thanks for writing the article on maximizing memory. I have a cert exam coming up in August, and with five kids in grade school, high school or college, it's good stuff and reinforces some points my wife and I have tried to make in the past.”
Aw, shucks. Well, I’m glad I could help out.
Here are a couple of other points related to memory that I didn’t include in that article. Please feel free to pass them along to the kids:
- “Method of Loci”: This method extends back to ancient times, when it was used to help storytellers go through long oral histories or poems. Essentially, it’s a mnemonic schema in which the elements of an ordered set of information are mentally assigned to physical locations with which the mind is familiar. For example, you could designate some of the landmarks you see on your daily commute to work to various data points. It sounds kind of funny at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can use it to remember a ton of stuff.
- Proper Diet: You are what you eat, and if you want a good memory, you have to consume the right food. Nutrients such as vitamin B (found in spinach and citrus fruits), antioxidants (tomatoes, broccoli, green tea and assorted nuts) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, tuna and halibut) have been found to improve brain functions.
Got any questions or comments? You can always feel free to send us either at firstname.lastname@example.org.