About a thousand years ago, rather than configure routers, I taught high school English.
One day, instead of unpacking our favorite Shakespearean sonnet, I was sidetracked by a student who asked me how we know anything about electrons and how they orbit the nucleus of an atom. Apparently he asked his physics teacher the period before and got a pithy “electrons are the essence of a negativity.”
We don’t think in five paragraph essays. At least I don’t. We think in small explosions of ideas in a nebulous, non-linear cloud of word pictures. It makes sense in our own minds, but try to communicate those ideas to someone else, and we find that sometimes we don’t have as clear a picture of our own ideas as we thought we did.
Being a good network engineer requires a strong technical skill set. In fact there’s an entire industry devoted to technical training in networking technologies. We know that persistent technical training is necessary to keep pace with constant changes in technology, so I’m sure we agree that technical proficiency is important for the network engineer. If you don’t have a deep understanding of how VPN technology works, you’ll have a very difficult time troubleshooting a site-to-site VPN without the help of some [unnamed] technical assistance center. But is that all that’s required for a successful career in networking?
Few fields require the continual professional development that IT does, but few fields offer the incredible rewards that a commitment to developing the skills of our trade can provide. Many factors come together to shape if, why, and how we advance in our field, and though I can speak only of my own experience, I believe the lessons I’ve learned from my journey so far may be of some value to others also on a similar path.
At Plexxi - fifth startup. Blogging since '06. Prior stops: 4 start-ups, 4 public companies and 4 years in investment management. I started in networking during the 5.25 inch disk era. I will probably write stuff you do not understand. I have been told I do not make people comfortable; deal with it. This is my personal blog and does not reflect the opinions of my employers.