Time to do Some Self Reflection!

It’s 2022 now so I wanted to take some time and look back at what I set out to do in 2021 vs. what I was actually able to accomplish and then set some goals for 2022. I want to mention here that I have more goals than just certifications. However, in my line of work at a Partner, there is a lot of focus put on Certifications for a number of reasons. First, in order for partners to maintain their partnerships with Various OEMs they are required to have certified employees. Next, most customers find the credentials comforting when an engineer assigned to their project posses credentials and experience with the products they are working with. I also have some additional personal goals, but I’m not going to dive into all of those in this article. Here we go!

For 2021

If you listen to The Art of Network Engineering Podcast you may recall in an episode I set some goals for 2021 for myself. I wanted to focus a lot on automation and specifically, I wanted to tackle the DevNet Professional. I was going to do that by going for my CCNP Data Center – taking the DCCOR and then the DCAUTO specialist exam to earn my CCNP Data Center. Then, I’d take DEVCOR and complete my DevNet Professional. Well, 2021 had some other plans.

In late 2020 I was assigned to a massive project! This was a huge undertaking and I got tons of great experience. I was hoping I’d get to do learn and play with some automation, however, the customer was not thrilled with the idea of the contractor using automation tools on their network. Due to security restrictions, we could only connect to their network using the laptops they provided us. We were also very limited on what we could do on those laptops and installing anything was out of the question.

Additionally, the project had me on the road a lot! Working, at times, very long days, for weeks on end. That all being said I made some great friends, and got some great experience! However, the travel and work took a lot of energy that left me pretty burnt out at the end of the long days so I had little desire to study. As a result, I didn’t meet my certifications goals in 2021.

What I did do

Even though I didn’t accomplish my original professional development goals I did do a bunch of other things: Completed the Juniper Design Specialist in Service Provider Certification. This Specialist level certification was very challenging, and I was asked to complete it for work so we could maintain our partnership.

I changed jobs! I still do the same line of work as a Senior Networking Engineer for Post-Sales/Delivery for a Partner, just at a different partner. I am also no longer a Team Lead and have no direct reports, for now. This move brought with it a lot of balance that I didn’t have at the previous employer. Additionally, it was a significant pay increase that will be pretty life-changing for me and my family.

Next, earned the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. This was a great introduction to AWS and I highly recommend this cert for anyone considering AWS/Cloud. In talks with my manager, one of the things that engineers do is run Cloud Workshops with our customers so it is on my learning path to do more cloud in the future.

Outside of the professional goals, I’m extremely happy with how the podcast is doing and couldn’t be happier with the feedback we’re getting from our listeners and the community!

The Plan for 2022

For 2022 I would like to get a lot more experience with various SDN platforms – which is already happening. I’m currently working on a decent-sized Cisco ACI project and I’ve been helping another customer deploy DNA Center. I would like to continue to do more with automation like sharpening my Python skills. For certifications, I have taken a step back and re-evaluated my longer-term goals, and brought my short-term goals into alignment with them.

For long-term goals, I would like to work towards an Architect-level position. To support that I would like to obtain my CCIE (either Enterprise or Data Center) and the CCDE certifications. To support that I’d like to continue to work on my second CCNP level certification and obtain my CCNP Data Center by taking the DCCOR and the DCID – Data Center Design Specialist Exam.

Additionally, I would like to continue to work on my AWS Cloud journey and obtain my AWS Solution Architect – Associate certification.

Again, outside of my professional goals, I have a number of other personal goals, as well as goals for my blog and the podcast.

A quick word on Goal Setting

When I set my goals I try to set goals that will feed into each other so that everything that I am working on will help feed the next goal, so that no matter what I’m doing I’m making progress. For example, working on my CCNP Data Center aligns with the work that I do, and it gives me experience that I can use to create more blog articles, and content that I can share on The Art of Network Engineering YouTube Channel and Podcast. The same is applicable in my other life goals as well. These shorter-term goals also help feed into the previously mentioned longer-term goals. For example, previously I wanted to get my CCNP Data Center by using the DCAUTO exam. However, after some evaluation, I feel that the Data Center Design Specialist aligns more with my goal of eventually getting the CCDE.

What about you?

What are your goals? How do you set your goals? Shout it out in the comments below or let’s have a conversation on Twitter! Also, make sure you join the Discord, It’s All About the Journey, so you can find people working towards certifications just like you!

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