Proving You Can Have a Life and an IT Career
Juggling a busy networking job with certifications—and worthy causes
For many people in IT, their jobs are so demanding, there’s little time for anything else. But Franklin Morillo Montas is proof that you can have an IT position with a great company, multiple Cisco Certifications—and a life.
Franklin has a full-time job with an IT firm that has 1300 IT employees in 27 locations in the United States. The company serves 6000 clients, including 35 of the Fortune 100. “I work in the Network Operations Center (NOC) as a Foundations Engineer,” says Franklin. “I troubleshoot any day-to-day issues, make upgrades to the networks, and maintain security for the Cisco routers and switches.”
In his free time, Franklin has earned several Cisco Certifications. But he’s also active with his church, participating in charities so he can help others. He cleans parks, serves food to homeless people, and plays guitar and bass at services. He’s also a model, and has appeared on billboards, as well as ads on the Internet. A true renaissance man.
Benefiting from a technology education
Like many IT professionals, Franklin first became interested in technology the first time he connected to the Internet. He soon began taking training courses, and received his first Cisco Certification, a CCNA in Routing and Switching, before graduating from high school.
Franklin enjoyed both programming and networking, but when he went to community college after high school, he had to make a choice. “I fell in love with networking,” recalls Franklin. “It was simple. And many of my friends were getting their Cisco Certifications, and Cisco was the only company I knew of in the networking field.”
His local college, Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), also happened to be a Cisco Networking Academy. “I got to practice on Cisco routers, switches, and firewalls. You really learn all about Cisco devices; it’s integrated into the degree program.” Franklin earned his second Cisco Certification, a CCNP in Routing and Switching, then received his Associate degree in Networking Technology.
In addition to attending Networking Academy courses at CCRI, Franklin used Official Certification Guides, and took numerous practice tests. And he studied with a friend. “You think you know everything, but when you and another person study together, you realize that there are things that come up that you don’t know.”
Advancing his career through certifications
Franklin’s Cisco Certifications have already paid big dividends in his IT career. “During my first interview at the IT firm, when they found out I was certified, that was the key to them hiring me,” says Franklin. “Without certification, I wouldn’t be in my present role. Companies are looking for people who are certified. It proves that you know the equipment, and can do the job.”
His employer has benefited as well. “They’re gaining not just a regular employee, but someone who knows Cisco devices and can implement that knowledge and help customers when they have any kind of issues. A certification isn’t just a piece of paper; you have to study and get prepared, then apply it in the field. Without my certification knowledge, it would be impossible for me to implement equipment or troubleshoot systems.”
Next year, Franklin is planning to earn CCIE Routing and Switching, CCNA Security, and CCNA Wireless certifications. “These certifications will help me escalate in my job, and move up from Level 1 to Level 2.”
“I would tell anyone that certifications are worthy. They’re not easy to get, but once you earn them, you’re more valuable to the market and benefit your knowledge base. And you get respect in the IT field.”