At a Dead End, Certifications Help Turn Career Around
Refocusing brings more opportunities—and more enjoyment
Sometimes, you don’t fully realize what you want to do for your career—until you fully realize that you’re completely miserable in your current job. For Travis Reiling, his “moment of truth” came when he was working at a call center, fielding sales- and billing-related calls.
“No one ever called me to thank me for a correct bill, or that their phone, TV, or Internet were working great,” recalls Travis. “Every day, I got yelled at by someone. I thought long and hard, and realized that I didn’t want to go another 35+ years doing something I didn’t like or didn’t want to do. Though I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, I decided to give an IT career all I had.”
Travis decided to pursue a Cisco CCNA certification, and it turned out to be a life-changing experience. He’s now happily employed at a national IT company that handles DMV self-service kiosks where people can renew their automobile registration.
Working on the network security side, Travis makes sure that hundreds of kiosks are securely connected to network, as well as to 19 state networks. “We’re usually the first call. We troubleshoot, and are in the firewalls making sure the VPN tunnels are up and the traffic is making it to where it needs to go.”
Early inspiration—then, a long and winding journey
Travis’ introduction to technology came when he was in the fifth grade. “My dad brought home a computer that had Windows 98,” says Travis. “I was amazed. I saw it as something incredible, and knew right then that technology was what I wanted to do. I’m really thankful for that.”
Travis received a Comptia A+ certification while in high school. After graduation, he decided not to go to college, and got a job in a computer repair business. “I didn’t think I needed to do any additional work or studying, since I had that job and an A+ certification. But when that business closed, I struggled to get an IT job.”
Travis worked at a number of non-IT positions, including stints in a factory and a gas station. He was continually passed up for IT positions because he didn’t have the knowledge or experience. But his unhappy time at the call center and his subsequent epiphany made him more determined than ever. He decided to obtain his CCNA in Routing and Switching. “I made the decision to bear down, devote the time and energy, and give it my best shot.”
To prepare for the CCNA exam, Travis used Cisco Press materials to study in his free time after work. He started collecting older Cisco gear, and worked with it to gain hands-on experience. And he found a friend who was pursuing IT, and they teamed up and studied together. “It’s like having someone go to the gym with you. There’s more accountability. His advancement was on the line, too, and we had to set time aside.”
Proof that he has the knowledge and skills to do the job
Seven months after obtaining his CCNA certification in 2013, Travis left the call center and got a great job in IT with a managed service provider, monitoring their networks. “It was easy,” says Travis. “Employers liked my Cisco Certification; it showed that I really knew what I was doing.”
He then decided to try for a CCNA Security certification, so he attended training at Skyline, an authorized Cisco Platinum Learning Partner. “There’s a lot of downtime in network monitoring, so when there were no alerts, I studied, instead of watching YouTube or playing games.” After he received the CCNA Security certification, he got a substantial promotion.
Later, Travis worked for a local telecom, before moving on to his current position. His employers have benefited from his multiple Cisco Certifications. “I can bring them best practices. One employer had problems with their VLANs, and I applied what I learned from my CCNA to make it work and implement it into their network. It gives me a big sense of pride; I can prove that I know it and it’s not all talk. Cisco teaches you the nuts-and-bolts fundamentals and details.”
Looking ahead, Travis wants to stay on the security side of networking and continue to build up his knowledge. With three Cisco Certifications to his name, he’s preparing to go after a CCNP Routing and Switching certification. “I enjoy studying more Cisco topics. I love the opportunities that the CCNAs have brought me. No other certifications bring the visibility and attention to my resume like my Cisco Certifications; they’re at the top after my name and contact info. And so many job postings want people with Cisco Certifications.”
Travis encourages anyone who wants to obtain a Cisco Certification to go for it. “Certification is well worth it. Those hours that you put in now are really an investment in yourself and your future, and that’s the best thing you can invest in. Your time and effort are going to pay off so quickly. You get to show what you’ve learned, and that you have a skill set that will work great.”
“Cisco Certification has really been the major factor in my success, and has driven my career forward.”