CCIE Match Point: Serve it, Smash it, Win it, Love it

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I had always believed that I would earn a CCIE certification one day if I put in the effort. I don’t say that lightly. The CCIE, or Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, is the most prestigious networking certification in IT. So when they say “nothing worth having comes easy,” they may as well have created that phrase for those on the CCIE certification path. As for me, I am not the exception. My IT journey began long before I started to prepare, and even then, it took years before I sat for the lab.

As an avid tennis fan, I’ve found kindred spirits within the sport’s most respected athletes. Tennis may be a simple game, but that does not mean that it will be easy — especially if you want to beat an opponent with exceptional skill. It’s hard work. But, if you want to be the best, whether in sports or your career, you will need to hone your skills, maintain your focus, follow your passion, and push yourself to train — especially on the days when you’d rather relax instead. (It happens. You aren’t alone!)

And if you want to become a certified expert in Cisco technologies, you’ll need to serve it, smash it, win it, and love it — just like the all-star athletes quoted below who share a similar love and tenacity for tennis.

My journey to two CCIE certifications

I was born and raised in a small town in India named Mayiladuthurai. I did well in high school, and one of the best universities in the country accepted me into their undergraduate program. Since networking and communications have always been my passion, even back then, I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering.

 Muthu Varadharajan shows two CCIE certifications

“I always had the dream.” — Roger Federer

My dream was to work for Cisco — and that dream finally came true.

I’ve been at Cisco for over 15 years now, and to this day, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work for such a fantastic company that puts employees and their well-being first. Even more, our solutions have a profound impact on communities worldwide.

“It’s not the time to look for excuses.” — Rafael Nadal

Cisco was my second employer. I can still remember my first day in the Brunton Road office in Bengaluru, India. I was super excited to wear the Cisco badge for the first time and meet my fellow Cisconians.

In my first role as a software engineer, it was essential for me to learn Cisco networking technologies and platforms. That’s when I decided to start my Cisco certification journey. I wanted to be a better engineer and follow my passion for technology. From the start, I stayed positive. I knew that preparing for a Cisco certification exam would not be a simple task. As I set out on my certification path, I resolved to keep my goals realistic and attainable.

“I always try to adjust to the situation.” — Novak Djokovic

My career evolved, and I found myself in my second role at Cisco. My new position was within the industry-recognized Cisco Sales Associates Program (CSAP) in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. CSAP is a year-long graduate program for professionals early in their careers who possess strong interpersonal skills, are achievement-driven, and are passionate about technology and innovation. While in the program, I worked towards earning the CCNP, CCDA, and CCDP certifications. And since I was a systems engineer designing networks using Cisco solutions, training and certifying my skills with Cisco was critical. Every certification exam that I prepared for directly impacted the quality of my work.

“You just got to keep going and fighting for everything, and one day you’ll get to where you want.” — Naomi Osaka

I started my CCIE journey in 2009. After nearly three years of hard work and sacrifice, I did it! I earned my first CCIE certification in Security! I would work all day at my regular job and then come home to prepare for the CCIE Security lab exam. There were many days when I would sleep for only four hours. But, I knew the journey would be worth it in every way. So, when I received the email from Cisco notifying me that I had passed the CCIE lab, I felt an incredible sense of satisfaction.

“CCIE Practice Labs for Practical Exam Preparation” by Geoff Anderson [Read now]

“Victory is very, very sweet. It tastes better than any dessert you’ve ever had.” — Serena Williams

Nearly 18 months later, I achieved my CCIE Wireless certification. (CCIE Wireless is now the CCIE Enterprise Wireless certification.)

I have always believed that Cisco certifications help people excel in their careers because it symbolizes their passion, discipline, and dedication. In my prior role as a systems architect, becoming certified helped me earn instant credibility and rapport with customers. Now I’m a senior leader in systems engineering sales. I support our team through a consultative relationship with our customers, designing future state architectures and Cisco technical strategies.

Many people have asked me how I earned two CCIE certifications, and my answer is simple: Be resilient, follow the process, believe in yourself, and have a support system. I will always value Cisco certifications. And if you’re thinking about pursuing a CCIE, my advice is to aim high.

Resources

There are many resources available to help you accomplish your certification goals. Here is a short list to support your journey as you work towards an Expert-level Cisco certification:

  • Streamline your study approach with the free Cisco Expert Prep program. Access on-demand resources, such as webinars led by Cisco experts focused by exam topic, participate in discussions, and access the support you need to certify with confidence. 
  • Prepare for your CCIE lab exam in a fully functional hands-on lab environment. Learn more about CCIE Practice Labs, available now in 4-hour rental sessions. 
  • Join the Cisco Learning Network (it’s free) and add CCIE Training Videos to your Learning Plan, participate in Communities with others on the Cisco certification journey, and more.
  • Train with the official courses and e-learning available by certification technology track on the Cisco Learning Network Store. Shop now.

Thanks for reading! Which quote did you find the most impactful? Are you preparing for a Cisco certification? I’d love to hear about your learning goals and how it’s going. Leave me a comment below!

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