On the evening of December 15th, we gathered for our virtual graduation ceremony to celebrate the recent success of our Full Stack Network Engineer 6-19-2020 cohort. This was truly an exciting moment for everyone as the cohort members completed the Full Stack Network Engineer (FSNE) program having put in their passion and hard work over 22 weeks to achieve success. The cohort began on June 19th, 2020, and completed with 66 graduates.
Through the program, students learned exactly what it takes to be an effective and successful Network Engineer in today’s workforce. Having most students starting out with no prior experience, their knowledge was built from ground zero where they learned the fundamentals of networking and progressed all the way to planning, designing, and deploying their own multi-site, enterprise-grade networks by the end of the program. The students from this cohort are now in the job hunting phase. Some of which have already landed new IT jobs or landed promotions within their companies.
What’s the program like?
The FSNE program prepares students for the real-world by rigorously vetting their skills and knowledge over 22 weeks and across multiple checkpoints and milestones which include multiple certifications. The first certification that students must achieve is the Full Stack Network Associate (FSNA) certification from NexGenT. To achieve this students must pass a written exam and also deploy a real network on their own which supports routing, switching, wireless networking, voice over IP, and network security. After achieving the FSNA, students then work on obtaining their Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification from Cisco Systems. The goal is for the students to knock out this certification by the 90-day mark before moving into the advanced training aspect of the program. Upon entering advanced training, students immediately begin learning project management skills and working to design and build their first project. Their first project is a very robust 3-site network deployment with a headquarters and two remote offices. Two more projects are then deployed where a Cisco ASA with remote access SSL VPN solution is deployed, followed by a Colo Data Center deployment for redundancy and additional network services.
After planning, designing, implementing, supporting, and finally closing all three of these projects, the student must pass their final skills qualification and troubleshooting check, in order to achieve their Full Stack Network Professional (FSNP) certification from NexGenT. Throughout the program students also receive career help and have many career-related milestones to accomplish relating to their career plan, resume, and personal branding. After completing all program milestones and capstone projects, the students then move to the job hunting phase where they focus strictly on landing their new job or promotion.
There are currently three other cohorts running who will soon be graduating and celebrating similar success, and our next FSNE cohort launches in February 2021, only a few days from now! To learn more about getting on the path to become a network or systems engineer with robust training, project-based learning, career planning, and real-world skills certification with zero upfront costs, then click here.
Additionally, six special recognition awards we handed out to recognize top performers, most improved, and first to get certified.
Today we wanted to share a story from our very own Nate Nicely, a story that started exactly one year ago and we hope that Nate’s story gives you the encouragement that you need to get you to your next level.
Not really a significant day in terms of the whole year but this day, one year ago marks something very significant for me. While most people were preparing their evening to bring in the new year I was at the start of a new journey that was too good to be true.
December 31st, 2019 is the first time I logged into NexGenT. I still remember the first video I watched of Jacob and Terry explaining the program and the opportunities in IT. I was excited and ready for the challenge and even going back and watching those videos now I still get the same feelings! I started the NexGenT Zero to Engineer program with a “let’s see what happens” mentality. I had a decent paying job, and for me, it didn’t hurt to learn more and if I got a better job out of it that would be a win. I decided I was going to clear my calendar and focus only on getting through the program. My goal: do the 6 month program in 3 months. I decided to force myself to do nothing but work and learn. I stopped playing video games, watching netflix, and dedicated my weekends to watching videos and labbing. It wasn’t easy. I pushed myself like never before and took the exam for the CCENT at the beginning of February–and failed! I was bummed but determined not to let it stop me. I rescheduled the exam for 2 weeks later and hit the books even harder. The second try I passed and it was a huge relief!
— yea. Like everyone else, I had no clue that 2020 was going to be what it was. I came into March and April with a CCENT and a job but was separated from my family because of health concerns. A better job that would enable me to return home to my family was what I needed. I took my CCENT and applied for every job I could find. Nothing. Then came the furloughs, I was out of work for one week and went back home, thankful to be with my family but worried because I wasn’t working. One week of furlough in April turned into the month of May. Testing centers were closed, and that’s when I decided it was time to buckle down and get that CCNA! My wife graciously agreed to watch our kids and let me study as much as I could. I scheduled an in-home exam for the end of May.
If you sleep for eight hours a day what do you do with the other sixteen? Studying was my job now, and I studied for twelve hours a day, stopping only when I couldn’t possibly fit anything else in my brain. Because I was forcing myself to learn so much I discovered new ways to learn and retain information. I found systems that worked for me and how I learned best.
I was so anxious, I just wanted to take the test and get it behind me. I felt like I was ready but there is so much they could test me on. Through 75% of the test I felt like I was doing ok, then I realized I had ten minutes left to answer fifteen questions and at that point I was certain I would fail. I had to answer each question in thirty seconds, no matter how complex it was. I clicked finish and held my breath, waiting for the inevitable.
“Congratulations on passing the exam”
Are You Ready?
It’s time to take your career to the next level. If you want to level up your career, your skills, your overall knowledge like Nate did follow other success stories like Nate’s on our Zero to Engineer page and learn how you can take your career to the NEXT LEVEL.
A devastating future was just around the corner. The calm atmosphere had morphed into one engulfed with chaos and destruction. With no end in sight, my parents decided to pack-up and leave the civil war torn country of El Salvador in the 80’s. Even with empty pockets, they made sure I had everything I needed to be successful.
After high school, I transferred to a small Christian school and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies. I loved the missionary work I did during college because I got a chance to work in countries like Israel, Hungary, Mexico and Chile. Life was moving fast and I got engaged right in the middle of the recession. I was forced to find a job quickly and ended up at Verizon as a Field Tech. I only planned to be at Verizon for 6 months but stayed for 7 years! Thinking back now, I was very comfortable financially and avoided looking for another job because I didn’t want to shake-up my life. However, working 60-70 hours a week left no time for me to enjoy my personal life. I was missing so many things at home like seeing my kids grow up and enjoying time with my wife. I remember my wife telling me that she felt like she was a single mom. The epiphany that dealt the last blow was realizing that my parents were 28 when they left El Salvador. They dreamed of me having the opportunity to be anything and have everything I wanted, yet, here I was at 28, miserable and scared to do anything that affected my cushiony life. Work was extremely taxing on my body and I knew I couldn’t work at the pace I was for the rest of my life.
My friends suggested looking into networking and trying to pass the CCNA. I took some Cisco classes to help me out, but I wasn’t understanding anything. Fortunately for me, I found Zero to Engineer. Working through the Zero to Engineer program was the first time I felt like I understood what was being taught and actually enjoyed it too.
I’ll never forget what Terry told me about how prepared I should be for interviews, “You have to be able to articulate things, make them tell you to stop”. Zero to Engineer gave me the knowledge I needed to think like a troubleshooter and helped me land a network tech role at Navy Federal. Professionally I’m constantly improving and growing and currently working towards a role in cyber security. On a personal level, giving back is my passion and I’m engaged in many activities to influence my community to have a larger presence in the networking industry. My parents took a leap of faith for my future and they couldn’t be happier with what I’ve done with the opportunity they gave me.
UPDATE: Jonathan Flores has been employed with Navy Federal Credit Union ever since and in June of 2019 was promoted to a position as Cyber Security Engineer.
Makeia Jackson was looking for the next step in her life. As a mom and wife, she knew she would need something flexible and highly effective to bring her to the next level.
Before Makeia discovered NexGenT, she was a stay at home mom with a technical degree that wasn’t getting her anywhere. “I had gone to a technical college, applied for jobs, and nothing was happening.” She had given up and resolved to stay as she was. For four years, she shoved her ambitions aside.
“I psyched myself out. I told myself I’d just wait until my kids are older and apply for a job then.”
She tried to ignore that restless feeling of wanting to put herself back in the game.
She needed a way to make her resume stand out among the other stay at home moms looking for career opportunities. She needed an edge.
Makeia came across a couple ads and articles from NexGenT that popped up on her Facebook and LinkedIn feeds and was intrigued. She dove deeper into learning about what NGT was offering. “I googled NexGenT and went to the Facebook page, and thought: Okay, I’m going to see what they’re talking about.”
After attending one of Terry’s webinars, she was ready to give it a shot. “I thought, okay, this is going to be it.” Makeia, on how she felt after making her choice. She had found her edge.
From “Going to see what they’re about,” to “This is going to be it!” just like that.
That’s how quickly a life can change.
Landing The Job
Makeia began her training and worked diligently. A few months in, the inspiration that came from speaking with Terry and Jacob led her to take a chance and apply for a cyber technician position she found online.
“I went in, and they asked me what I knew, so I just told them what I was learning at NexGenT.”
“When I decided to go through NexGenT, the way they took us through each phase and made sure we understood, was great. Having the videos helped because I could always go back and listen again.”
One of the beauties of NexGenT is the flexibility that helps each learning style thrive. You learn on your time, at your pace, at your level. “My mom always told me that if you can’t teach it, you don’t know it. With NexGenT, I’m able to explain everything!”
Makeia got a phone call with a job offer on the same day of her interview.
The confidence she earned in NexGenT encouraged her to nail her interview and land a position as a Cyber Security Technician with EDTS Cyber, now know as Corsica Technologies.
Makeia’s ultimate goal is to be a Network Security Engineer, and because of her determination and quick thinking, paired with our course, she has the confidence and tools in her belt to do it.
Makeia is grateful to have network experience going into her new position. “The training included Wireshark and that is something I now use every day. We’re always reading packets and reading the network to determine if it’s a brute attack or user error.”
“Seeing Terry and Jacob, I just see honesty and the passion of them trying to help other people without having to spend so much money, without putting themselves into debt with college degrees.”
Something shifted in Makeia while she was attending our webinar that day.
She felt that they saw potential in her without even having a one on one conversation. Seeing their motivation and fire for empowering people instilled a sense of inspiration in her that fueled her to take the chance, and change her life.
“NexGenT helped me get my passion back, to come up with a solid and sound vision, and to know that I’m going to have to put in the work and not to expect something to come to me easily. It helped me remember not to give up on myself and to keep learning every day.”
A quick tip from Makeian Jackson:
Invest in yourself! You don’t want to put so much effort into putting out your funds without getting a return on your investment. Be wise with your investments and make sure it’s coming back to you in positive ways!
“Thanks to NexGenT, I have leveled up, and I have the confidence I need to be anything that I want to be as a network security engineer.”
That’s the kind of excitement and clarity that NexGenT strives to help instill; to help people see a future for themselves.
Are you ready to level up? I heard a YES. Click here to learn more about our programs and apply now!
A zoom interview with Zero To Engineer Alumni, Logan Brindley
Logan Brindley was tired of lifting 5-gallon buckets of chains every day and working late nights away from home. Uneven sleeping schedules, physically harmful work: missing the morning moments with family that propel us through the day.
Logan knew it was time for a change. The only question was how and when. He had sustained an on the job injury that accumulated into an apple-sized hematoma on his knee, leaving him out of work for a month. His warehouse employer did not acknowledge his ailment as qualifying for workers’ compensation. He was on his own, and that was when he knew for sure that it was time to move on. “That was the point I was like, I’m getting this done, I’m digging in, and I’m getting a new job.”
When Logan discovered NexGenT, he knew it was his chance to get away from forklifts, knee injuries, and graveyard shifts. His wife had seen an ad on Facebook and was excited to show him the option.
“It looked like fun!” Logan, on his initial take on NGT. Enjoyment is an important part of work. If you can find the fun in what you do, it makes all the difference. Logan took to the program like a fish to water.
He didn’t wait around for his luck to change: he took action. Logan went full throttle into NGT for his entire month of recovery time. He was ready to break into the world of information technology.
A Quick Tip From Logan
Do the labs in the program! Before you think of taking any of the tests, do the labs. I thought I could skip over them and power through the lessons but soon realized I couldn’t. Absolutely necessary.
How did you land the position without prior experience?
Logan was browsing online for available opportunities. Among these, he found an open position with Efusion programming, he updated his entire resume to best match the programming position and applied with high hopes.
He knew he wasn’t fully qualified for the programming role but attempted anyway and managed to land an interview. In his interview, Logan mentioned his NexGenT training and the IT background he had been developing. He spoke with confidence on the topics that he had a full understanding of.
To his surprise, the manager instead acknowledged Logan for fitting perfectly into a systems administration role. Unfortunately, that position at the company had been filled only a few days prior.
Logan on how his conversation with the manager went: “He said, ‘I wish I had found you before this because I would have hired you [for the administration] role on the spot!'” The representative he spoke with was so impressed with Logan’s skill set that he held on to his resume.
Three weeks later, Logan got a call. It was Efusion, and the previous hire hadn’t worked out. “He said he wanted me to come in and interview for the position.” Logan was more than willing to do so.
One engaging interview process later, and they called with the offer. Logan had been making $19 an hour at his warehouse job, and Efusion was discussing keeping that wage for him. However, they kindly offered to bump his starting wage to $21 an hour instead.
Surprised and excited, Logan said he would call back after discussing it with his wife. “What?” she had said, blown away as he explained the offer to her. “Why didn’t you say you would take the job on the spot!” It was a happy time in the Brindley house.
With that settled, Logan called back and took the job as Systems Administrator at Efusion programming.
How has this career change shifted your life?
Logan is enjoying taking general phone calls and supporting people with common tech issues. No more demanding physical labor, no more heavy buckets of chains. Logan is confident that he’ll move up in his IT career as he learns new programs and expands his skill set within his current company.
“Right now, I’m being paid to learn, which is super nice.”
This change has also improved his home life, “To have a normal sleep schedule again is a bit of a change.” Logan laughs, “I get to see my kids before I leave in the morning! I get to say goodbye to my wife.”
If you’ve been feeling that pressure, that claustrophobic stress of being stuck on a path you don’t want to be on: remember, you have the power to choose a deviation.
NexGenT is here for the ones who are looking for a change. The ones who are eager to learn. The ones like Logan, the ones like you.
“This isn’t just a job I’ve been able to find. It’s something that I’m looking to turn into a career.”
His dedication to crushing the Zero to Engineer course is paying off in the form of stability, hope, and a fulfilling work-life.
“Because of NGT, I’ve not only been able to find a job I love, but I’m able to chart a course for my life going forward.” Logan, on how going through NexGenT supported his success.
A zoom interview with Zero To Engineer Alumni, Chris Mickinnis
Chris Mickinnis is a family man whose top priority is providing for his loved ones. For Chris, that meant staying in his predictable, safe, yet unrewarding job doing miscellaneous IT work. A “Jack of all trades” position that yielded uncertainties for the future.
What if he was injured? What if he had to find another job? Chris would be hard-pressed to find another sustainable situation that would provide the same security for his family.
Chris had worked in a call center with customer support and had no additional certifications. Though he knew that he needed to gain some longevity within his career, he didn’t know where to turn or how to take that step.
After over 10 years, he was resigned to that cycle. He had begun to believe he was stuck. He felt frozen in time.
And then a chain of persistent Zero to Engineer outreach emails snagged his attention.
He chose to answer the call of change. After sitting in on one of our seminars, he “pulled out the credit card” And was ready to go. The light at the end of the tunnel, the flag of possibility in the fog. He took hold of the hope and opportunity that NexGenT provides, and he flew to heights he thought he had missed the chance to reach.
When asked about his level of motivation and excitement through the program after his decision to enroll, Chris grinned, “…I could see why they were going over a lot of what they were, and it was a great refresher. I was excited, and that was sustained all through the network plus videos.”
His motivation persisted enough for him to branch out into other platforms, but he “keeps coming back to NexGenT’s material.”
Quick Tip from Chris:
Don’t burn yourself out! It can be tempting to stretch yourself to 8-10-hour days with the material, but remember to set a pace for yourself that is sustainable and effective in the long term. That can look different for everyone, as long as it’s helping you and not hurting you.
When you change course like Chris did, there’s going to be a time of adjustment as there is with any new development in life.
How did you land the job?
Chris met his current manager at Kirby Corp through running cables, and they struck up a conversation around future plans. He was impressed by Chris’s motivation and determination with NexGenT, and their conversation put Chris on his radar.
A few months of follow-up later, Chris got the call: There was a spot on the team at Kirby Corp, and they wanted Chris. They loved his enthusiasm for solving problems, and they recognized the strong signal that is sent when someone enrolls in a course like NexGenT.
“Back then I was running around all day finding cables and printers. Now, all my work is done on the computer, troubleshooting and making sure everything’s running as it should.” He’s building an extensive database for the entire company, which isn’t something they’ve had before at Kirby Corporation.
He admits, it can still be overwhelming. But Chris is quick to smile and knows that it’s worth the challenge.
When he initially explained what he was doing with NexGenT, people were skeptical about the merits. Chris dealt with all the familiar questions that come out when anyone does anything different than the norm: “What does that mean?” “What does that get you?” “What will you be certified in?”
Chris stuck to his plan despite the questioning. He knew that this was the choice he needed to make. He needed to become a Full Stack Network Engineer, and he went at it with full force.
Chris’s present reality was once a distant dream. He took the plunge and changed the course of his career, and he’s still the family man who can provide. “I can do my work anywhere. Home, the car, and I’m making a comfortable income.”
The rise of alternative education is creating empowered and driven workers, and Chris is glad to be one of them.
How does it feel?
“I feel proud to say that I’m a Network Engineer. I get a little grin every time I say it.” Chris, on his new title. We love to hear that from our students–see that light in their eyes.
When people think of changing their lives, they often let fear or familiarity hold them in place.
Chris is proof that stability does not have to be sacrificed when changing paths. You can have a fulfilling career and still hold a roof over your family’s head.
“I’m very grateful for all the dominos that had to fall into place for this to happen.” Chris, on his current status.
It’s not always clear where to turn, what decisions to make when it comes to building a career you love and are proud of. But it can be done, and with NexGenT, you can earn that state of pride and renewed enthusiasm for the work you do that Chris has.
You have the power to change your path, and NexGenT can help you get there!