My first Attempt was Setpember 21st in Toronto.  I arrived onsite at 8:45PM as I talked to the other candidates.  I was the only first timer.  One guy had taken the lab 7 times in the last year.  It was very easy to be discouraged.  By 9:05 the proctor came in to collect our ID’s and it was off to the lab.

Troubleshooting is as hard as everyone says.  The worse part is the clock that ticks in the corner of the screen.  I had 2 hours but it honestly felt like an eternity.  I was able to finish the troubleshooting section with 5 minutes left to review.  I was very confident when I hit the finish button that I had passed troublehsooting.

Off to config.  As soon as I hit the begin lab button I just went brain dead.  I am not sure what happened?  I just lost it.  I felt like I had stage freight.  I felt like i had forgotten everything I had studied in the past year and a half.  I sat and stared at the screen for a good 20 minutes.  I realised where I was and how important the situation was.  I went to the bathroom splashed some water in my face and back to the lab.  By the time I was 50% through layer 2 it was break time.  My prcotor was not the greatest.  I am pretty sure he practiced how to say “Do what you think is right” in the mirrir in the morning.  I asked him a few questions and that was his response everytime.  The lunches are as stressed as everyone says they are.  After lunch I was able to finish the lab.  By 5pm I was finished it was time to take the 5 hour drive back to Pittsburgh.

Driving home I received the message from Cisco to log in and check.  My heart was ready to beat out of my chest.  I told my Wife I would open the email with here.  I got home only to open it to find out I passed TS but failed config :(.  With really really low numbers.  I believe I made a mistake on Layer 2 which affected me throughout the entire lab.

I took a week off of studying to figure out what I did wrong.  I was prepared for the lab topics but I did not prepare for the way the exam was structured.  I wish I took the Mock Exams that are offered by INE.  Fast forward to November I decided to take another stab at it.

This time I was more prepared.  I was able to finish ts with 10 minutes to spare.  I did not realise it but I was clicking on R1 and going to R4… yes I believe Cisco does this on purpose.  I was able to verify I did everything correctly without breaking any of the rules.

Off to config.  I looked at the lab at first read through every question.  I was able to finish layer 2 at the begining of lunch.  I had the same stressful lunch that I had in Toronto.  I was able to finish config with 1 hour for review.  I could not believe the amount of mistakes I made.  Just small little mistakes and how a few mistakes would have caused me to lose points in multiple tickets.  I fixed everything and verified connectivity with a TCL script.  I left RTP for the day hoping by the time I was back home I would get results…. Friday goes by.. Saturday… nothing.  I woke up Sunday at 0600 to an email from Cisco my heart was about to beat out of my chest.  I could not help to think in the back of my head I really do not want to retake this all the work that went into every attempt. I logged in and seen I had passed.  I was so tired, I closed my browser reopened it and checked again.  I did the same sequence 3 times just to make sure!! I passed!!! I went down the hallway to wake my wife up…. I was mid way down the hall I wanted to check on my laptop just one more time to make sure.  This was 1.5 years in the making of a strict 25 hour a week study.

What do I do with this blog now?  What would any new CCIE do… give back to the community which has helped me so much by adding more blog posts and write ups.  I work with newer data center technology, Nexus,WAAS load balancers etc etc. I feel I need to master the newer products out there.

I have to thank my friends, family coworkers and most importantly my biggest supporter my wife.  For all the help she has given me through my frustrations for the past year and a half.  She has easily been my biggest supporter.

-Daniel Hertzberg


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