Joseph Pevec, CCIE #45176
Passed the Service Provider Lab exam in San Jose last week, now CCIE #45176. I started studying hardcore for the CCIE Lab in Jan 2014. I've been in the networking industry going close to 20 years mostly in a Senior Engineer/ Architecture role and if not for my experience I think it would have taken much longer.
I started with the Advanced Technologies Course and the INE workbook, first watching the video then doing the lab. I also coupled this with extensive reading of mostly Cisco Press books.
After I went through the Advanced Technologies Course once through the videos and labs, and I thought I had a solid understanding, I read through the Full Lab I and ate some humble pie. I then went through the Advanced Tech again, focusing on things I was struggling with, mainly multicast. I read through Full Lab I again and thought I could do it. I remember I did it but it took me a couple days, which I knew that wasn't going to cut it in the real lab. At this point I began to go through all the Full Labs focusing not on speed but really learning how to do things and different ways to accomplish them. If I got hung up anywhere I would go back to Advanced Tech videos and labs, and more Cisco Press reading. Over and over and over.
I made my first attempt on May 30th and failed. I simply ran out of time along and half of everything working probably had something to do with me failing also. I had a strategy going in but when I sat down I blanked out and just went to the first task and started typing away. That had a lot to do with me failing. Stick to your strategy! I immediately rescheduled for June 30th. The whole month of June I worked on my strategy and speed. Took the lab and felt really really good only to fail again. That one hurt more than the first one, because the second attempt I actually thought I aced it. Humble pie again. I thought I must be missing details and that I need to do everything perfect in my prep for the third time. So at that point
I decided to really get serious and stopped drinking on the weekends, actually stop drinking period. This really helped because if I drank on a Saturday night and was hungover the next day, I wouldn't be able to study or really focus on Sunday and sometimes Monday so it was throwing me off. Maybe the details I was missing were in the brain cells I was losing, who knows. I know it sounds funny but it's probably kind of true to some extent.
Scheduled the third attempt in San Jose for Sept 22nd. I took off like 3 weeks from studying to clear my head. Started back up again, went through the Advanced Tech labs AGAIN for a refresher. Then this time when I would do the Full Labs I would come up with my own requirements and solutions and try to come up with many different solutions to each task I made. I think when I hit this point in my journey that is when I really felt READY. I felt that anything I got hit with in the real lab I could do without even thinking about it. This is where you need to be.
Flew out to San Jose and took the lab on Sept 22nd. At lunch I was 80% done and felt really good. After lunch I finished with an hour to spare and just kept testing reachability, which I had everywhere. Went back to my room, went to bed, woke up at 10:30pm and looked at my email, my lab results were in, logged in to my Cisco account and there it was PASS. That felt good.
Couple take aways for those pursuing. DON'T GIVE UP. I know it's frustrating when you fail but if you keep going you will eventually pass. It's easy to give up. Persistence will pay off. Just keep going. Have a strategy and stick to it. This is 50% of this test. For me a key point was verifying reachability after every task. If you wait until the end to verify reachability because you're trying to save time and something isn't working it's going to be much much harder to pinpoint the problem. When you complete a task, run your TCL script and verify connectivity, that way if something doesn't work you know it something you just did. Don't ever say that it's too late in the game to complete the CCIE, I'm gonna be 40 next month and this is my first one. Even though I don't feel that I need the CCIE to be better at my job I think by doing it and sticking to it, it proves to me that if I put my mind to something that I can do anything with my life and that my folks is worth its weight in gold right there. Thanks to all the support from my friends and family, Brian McGahan and INE.