CWNA Unlocked & a New Gig

A lot has happened since my last (first) post: CWNA cert obtained, job end, job search, new job (return to the old).

The CWNA is by far the best certification experience I’ve had.  From the well-written study guide by David D. Coleman & David A. Westcott to the exam itself, the materials were mentally engaging and seemed worth the significant time commitment required.  Rather than require you to burn a lot of mental cycles remembering CLI commands or GUI clicks, the CWNA guide teaches the actual underlying technologies that make WiFi work – from the physics around wave propagation to modulation & coding schemes to authentication methods & everything in between.  The book is written in such a way that you feel the authors are personally explaining the material, even putting in humor at times.  The material was not light, yet reading the book felt more like a conversation with a knowledgeable colleague than trudging through a technical manual.  After reading the book (and re-reading many sections!), reading the glossary, going through the end-of-chapter knowledge-checks, and lots of flash card making and reviewing, I took the exam in mid-January 2016 and passed.  Always a great feeling!

Along with this up came a bit of a down…my job as a Wireless Support Engineer would come to an end on January 31, 2016, as my employer lost the contract to provide wireless services to their main client.  It was an enjoyable, if brief, experience.  On the plus side, I had the opportunity to work with some awesome folks who taught me some handy skills, particularly about the Cisco WLC CLI.  My previous shop had been GUI-only, whereas this group heavily emphasized the CLI.  I also learned a new way to implement FlexConnect in a large enterprise, techniques for better managing the finite spectrum available to us (RF Profiles are da bomb!), and sooo much client troubleshooting.  This gig really drove home the importance of never thinking you’re all that in some area, as there’s always more to learn.  Great group and I hope I get the chance to work with some of them again in the future.

With another gig done, it was time for a scheduled septoplasty & turbinate reduction surgery…not going into the details here, but suffice to say it wasn’t very fun.  On the bright side though, my wife and I were sick of winter, and with a little time on our hands decided to spend a few weeks in the Caribbean – one week in Punta Cana, DR, and a week in Aruba.  This was the first time I’d had this much time off from work since college, and was definitely a welcome break.

With March 2016 came a new gig with new challenges and opportunities…more to come…


CWNA Certification Trek Begins…

Well here goes…I’ve started on the journey towards becoming a Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA).

I’ve been working with enterprise wireless networks in some form or another for the last 5 years, and obtained my CCNA-Wireless last year.  While the CCNA-Wireless curriculum certainly provided good wireless theory, there was a lot of memorization of Cisco-specific tasks.  Some test questions even asked about which tabs you would click on in a Cisco wireless controller GUI to find certain options!

As I’ve started to follow and interact with folks who are active in the wireless networking community, I’ve found that a true wireless professional needs to have a solid understanding of the underlying wireless theory, including solutions from multiple vendors.  Along those lines, many people recommend the vendor-neutral CWNA certification, along with other certs from the CWNP organization.

With this blog, I hope to be able to share some of the things I’m learning with others in the community, and at the same time motiviate myself to keep learning!