The Launching Pad to a Stronger IT Career
Certifications improve job opportunities
Shane Woolf is a Senior Unified Communications Systems Engineer for the second largest health care organization in the state of Indiana. He credits his Cisco Certifications for giving his career a boost. “They helped me springboard my career to senior level,” says Shane. “For anyone looking into certification, Cisco is the network leader in many categories. It’s a great door opener.”
Transitioning from loans to LANs
In his role as a Senior Engineer on the Unified Communications team, Shane is responsible for the back-end infrastructure for Cisco phone systems and products that connect to it. He keeps everything up and running, and performs upgrades as needed. He’s responsible for supporting 6 hospitals, 150 ambulatory and specialty practices, and 16,000 employees, along with patients who use analog connectivity to make phone calls.
Like many IT professionals, Shane had a love of technology that stretched back into childhood. “Growing up, I always wanted to do something with computers,” says Shane. “I built them, and tinkered around with them.” When he was in college, however, he needed to make money, so he got a job as a teller for a credit union. “They then pushed me into the accounting/money management portion of it as loan officer, which I hated. I decided to switch gears, I got my associate degree in Computer Information Technology from community college.”
Around the same time, Shane got his first IT job as a Network Administrator. “Me and another guy were basically running the whole department; I was the jack-of-all-trades. I was in that role for 2 and a half years, until I decided to look for a more structured company with an area I could focus in. My wife, who’s a nurse’s aide, wanted to move to Indianapolis, where there would be opportunity for career growth for both of us in a bigger area.”
To expand his role and improve his career options, Shane knew that he had to get moving—and get certified.
Success the second time around
With his associate degree in hand, Shane began taking classes toward his bachelor’s degree in Indianapolis. He took an accelerated course from Skyline, an authorized Cisco Platinum Learning Partner that provides training to prepare for the CCNA Routing and Switching exam. “I also self-studied and used Cisco Press books,” says Shane. “My job experience helped, and I had access to real-world equipment I could take home and do lab stuff with.”
Shane took the CCNA exam twice, and passed on his second try. Almost immediately, his hard work paid dividends. “Certification helped me move up to a Senior Engineer position, with more responsibilities, a title, and a salary increase. And it helped my employer, too, by giving them one more person to do the functions that they’re requiring or they’re requesting. It’s definitely on my resume now.”
Hard-earned career advice
What nuggets of wisdom would Shane offer to anyone who’s thinking about Cisco Certifications? “I would encourage people to go for as many certifications as they can,” says Shane. “Certification is good for your personal and professional development. It helps you focus more; you have to read the entire question and pay attention to what you’re doing. And it makes you more desirable to another employer. It lets them know you can do the job and perform in the real world.”
Shane’s next career step is to earn his CCNA and CCNP in Collaboration. “You learn a lot about troubleshooting by going the NP route, and this will help me out with current problems for my employer.”
With ever-growing responsibilities—both personal and professional—Shane hopes to continue making the right moves for his career, while continuing to build a family with his wife. With the paycheck that comes with a senior position, they have been able to build a blended family of two biological children and six foster children.