Wearing Even More Hats
Certifications help improve IT support versatility
For Shane Werlinger, working in the IT department of a small firm has its advantages. “My day is never the same,” says Shane. “On a typical day, I could be fixing a simple desktop-to-server connection, or switching out a switch, or helping a user whose AutoCAD system is out, or changing out a system, or figuring out some other problem from A to Z.”
Shane’s title is IT Infrastructure Support, and he works for a civil engineering office in Taylor, Michigan, near the company headquarters in Detroit. The firm designs and builds bridges, roadways, dams, and water resource facilities. He supports 350 remote employees and 100-150 onsite employees. “People call me no matter what the problem is, even if it’s something I don’t normally deal with, like servers. I’ll make sure it gets fixed one way or the other.”
And Shane credits his two Cisco Certifications for helping to improve his versatility—and his value—to his company. “I learned so much about the world of networking through the Cisco training courses. Before, I didn’t know much more than the basics. They prepared me to work with routers and switches, go from our data center to a remote office, and more.
“Our IT support department is so small. My certifications give our team more flexibility, and I now have another hat to wear.”
Moving from remodeling to routing
After attending college for a few years, Shane left to pursue a career in home remodeling, and made his living at it for the next 7 years. But after he broke his leg, and his body started wearing out as he was getting older, he decided he needed a career change. He thought back to what inspired him in middle school. “I realized that working in technology was what I want to do,” recalls Shane.
To support his new career direction, Shane attended a technical college, then got his first job at a company help desk in 2001. Two years later, he was hired by his present firm to work at its help desk, supporting engineering applications. “It’s an amazing company, and they treat their employees well. I have no desire to leave.”
Practice makes perfect
Since the environment at his firm was Windows-based, Shane hadn’t considered Cisco Certifications until years later. At that time, the other IT support co-worker recommended that he should improve his networking knowledge to be a backup. “That way, if one of us was hit by a bus, the other could capably fill in,” says Shane. He decided to pursue both a Cisco CCENT and a CCNA.
Shane took a training class from New Horizons, a Cisco Learning Partner, to ensure that he understood the content and exam requirements. To further prepare for the test, he read books and watched lots of YouTube videos. In addition, he bought some routers and switches to set up a practice lab in his home. He passed his ICND1 Exam, and a few months later, passed his CCNA Routing and Switching Exam (and was rewarded with a nice raise and a new title).
How have the Cisco certifications helped his career? “Certifications give my company confidence that they can trust me, and I know what I’m doing. And since I have two certifications in my back pocket, if something happens, I can get another job if I need to. It’s a great way to show you know this information. With Cisco Certifications, you have proof you can do the job, and have an advantage over those who don’t have them.
“I love to learn, and every time I’ve learned something through the courses, I’ve applied it to my job.”
Building his future with career and family
Recently, Shane received a Cisco scholarship to pursue a CCNA in Cybersecurity, and he’s currently in the middle of preparing for the exam. “Cisco provides everything you need; they offer you training, books, and live courses, which you can either take live online or watch later,” says Shane. Between study sessions, he’s spending time with his wife and two kids, ages 14 and 9, playing board games and visiting museums and parks. “Time is ticking, so it’s crucial to hang out with the family.”