Value of Community for Certifications




“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.”
― Orson Scott Card


How do you solve a challenging networking problem? Which way do you turn when stumped in mastering a technology topic? Where do you go to test your knowledge with tough technical topics? Thinking about the answers to these questions can help us to begin to define the value of community for certifications and IT training.


When writing about the value of community it would be easy for me to gush about support and knowledge sharing, but coming from the fingertips of a Cisco Learning Network community manager such as myself, this might seem a bit biased. In attempting to define the value of community, therefore, I figured the best information might come directly from our community members. Starting with Twitter and LinkedIn, I asked some of our community of IT professionals to provide their input, thoughts, resources, or quotes. Here are a couple of the gems that were shared with me:


Eric Perkins via Twitter:


When an IT professional goes down the path of certification, particularly one as respected and complex as CCIE, he or she can begin drowning quickly in all the information that is out there. It gets so bad that soon one becomes lost and doesn’t really know where to begin. The community includes these types of individuals, those who are trying to find their way. The community also includes those who “have gone before.” The value of an experienced individual who has already slayed the dragons is immense. It cannot be overstated how important a living example can be. At the very least these individuals’ experience serves as a starting point for those who are looking to get going. The best ones provide focus points and real world testimony, guiding others through the fog and setting them on the path.

Secondly, a community includes candidates from all walks of life. Speaking specifically about my experience, the CCIE-DC community is packed with engineers and architects who have real world experience regarding the technologies that are being studied. We have a slew of people who professionally instruct people on exam topics, providing the academic knowledge that we may not be familiar with in our day-to-day experience.

Finally, we have those who ask questions. These people are the most valuable in my opinion, because they truly get everyone to come together. They bring in people who may have had the same question, but are too afraid to ask. They bring out the troubleshooter and problem solver in all of us, which opens up a truly collaborative effort with some very intelligent people. IT turns into a true peer session complete with critique and compromise. The best part about being a part of such a community is that, being technologists at heart, we leverage what we do every day to make the world that we live in smaller, to the point where we begin to consider each other personal friends, even though we may have never met face to face, spoken to each other, or been in the same time zone together. IT certifications are a trial by fire, and situations such as that will always have a “band-of-brothers” effect. If we have truly embraced the community, we never leave it. We only see our role change from the scared lost technician to the helpful zen-master.


Elias Santos via LinkedIn:


There are a lot of valuable cert-related resources in a community. People from everywhere can get in touch to help each other, and bring valuable knowledge into discussions; besides inspiring and encouraging other members, we can learn from other people's questions as well as from excellent insights from expert members. Once I heard that "people are the most valuable asset of an organization." In my view, they are the most valuable asset of a community too. In the end, each person will be responsible for achieving the desired certification, but I believe the community can help a lot when pulling together people willing to help and contribute with the most accurate information possible.


Now let’s bring the quest to define the value of community for certifications closer to home with a few outstanding recent examples of how members of a vibrant, active Cisco Learning Network community can support each other:



Whether it’s knowledge sharing, motivation and support, or strengthening your own skills by helping others, being engaged and active in a strong community can do wonders to advance your studies and help you accomplish your goals.


How to Get Started Today


Ready to jump into the community and boost your certification efforts? Here are a few great ways to get going right now!


  1. Review our Getting Started Guide
  2. Join a Study Group
  3. Attend a live free IT training session or view previous IT training videos


Now how about you? How does being a part of a community help you with your certification goals?