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CWNE – The Journey has begun – Part 1

This blog will provide an overview of my struggles and achievements which helped me become an elite CWNE group member. In my childhood days, I was always fascinated to rip apart FM/SW radio receivers and just see what’s on the inside.

Well, that was just the start of the quest for Wi-Fi. I started my career in the Technical support industry which meant learning the basics of Desktop/Laptop and Server hardware and troubleshooting with end users. Times progressed and I moved to New Zealand in 2008. My work profile did not change much and then around 2012-13 I was introduced to the basics of Networking/Subnetting etc. What further interested me was to learn more about it and fit all the pieces of the puzzle. CCNA Routing and Switching are where I started. I spent around 6 months learning about the course with the help of Jeremy Ciaora from CBT nuggets which I don’t think anyone needs an intro of.

I progressed by CCNA to complete CCNP Routing and Switching which ultimately landed me in a Network Engineer position for a managed services provider. CCNP R/S (now retired) was a great experience and had to take the CCNP route exam twice after failing for the first time.

So after learning some intermediate network skills and how the spanning-tree root bridge is elected :), I was exposed to a Wireless Project (2014) which involved deploying some Cisco Meraki access points. I was not involved in any design and troubleshooting but just installation. The site reported a lot of issues after the installation and that is how Wi-FI kept fascinating me. This technology just works and also works in places where it is not meant to work.

I worked with the Wi-Fi engineer to get some basics of Wi-Fi and make it work better. After that project, I wanted to deep dive into Wi-Fi and learn/explore more about this. Around mid-2015, I did my first site survey using TamoSoft survey tool. Again, I was not involved in the design decisions or analysis but just conducting surveys and preparing the report for the client. My interest in Wi-Fi continued to grow.

I managed to get the role of Senior Network Engineer in mid-2016, where I was hired to do principal network engineer duties. The current state of the Wi-Fi infrastructure at the firm was still running 802.11n AP and it was due for a redesign. I worked along with another external vendor to learn more about the Cisco AP/WLAN controller and successfully deployed the 2800 series AP. I was successfully able to upgrade access points at 7 site offices. A lot of things I just learned as I go and was able to deploy high availability SSO design for the site.

I completed my CCNA Wireless in 2017 along with CCDA in 2018 (These certifications are now retired btw). At this stage, I came across this CWNP website but did not pay much attention then. The course content for CWNA looked pretty detailed and deep when compared to CCNA Wireless. I only realised how deep CWNA was when I failed with 53% on the first attempt in Nov 2018 I did attempt this in haste and did not pay much attention on some topics. I was under the notion that 70% passing may be achievable given you can get close to 18 questions wrong out of 60 and still pass the exam. But things don’t go as per the plan.

I changed my job again and was drifted with additional responsibilities for a while. This new role involved some security/firewall side exposure and got me to complete my NSE 4 Fortigate certification in Nov 2019. I did not lose sight of studying for CWNA and ultimately managed to clear it in August 2019 with 82%. CWNA is an ocean and CCNA Wireless was only like an Estuary (estuary is a partially enclosed, coastal water body where freshwater from rivers and streams mixes with salt water from the ocean). I would definitely recommend CWNA cert for anyone looking to learn about Wi-Fi and the learnings from it can be applied to any vendor on this planet. After completing a couple of certs in 2019 my aim was to complete CWNP (CWSP, CWAP & CWDP) certs in 2020.

CWNA helped me land a better job and ultimately got the title of Wireless Network Engineer. Here I was tasked to manage and maintain the wireless infrastructure for a retail stores chain. This job gave me great exposure in a Warehouse/Distribution centres type environment with Retail stores and corporate offices depending heavily on Wireless Networks.

I started studying for CWAP in 2019 November and realised how deep it is. If CWNA is an ocean CWAP is like the Mariana trench. (The Mariana Trench or Marianas Trench is located in the western Pacific Ocean about 200 kilometres east of the Mariana Islands; it is the deepest oceanic trench on Earth). You guys might realise my interest in geography by now. It took me 2 failed attempts to complete the CWAP certification. I have described this in my other blogs about the CWAP journey. More so as I was doing self-study and not fortunate enough to receive training from people like Peter Mckenzie. CWDP and CWSP were an easier lot of exams and sometimes I feel CWDP is even easier than CWNA but since it is the prerequisite you can’t take the CWDP exam before CWNA.

I will focus on the CWNE application process in part 2 and how I got the resources and requirements satisfied to earn the title. Thank you for reading my blog.

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