I received a number this week in an email. It was sort of important to me, but more about that later. What’s more important is the journey toward that number–setbacks and breakthroughs, twists and turns, joy in victories and agony in defeats. Knowledge, fun and relationships as well. The journey is the important thing because in this process we learn, grow and move forward. After all, it’s not just a number, it’s the journey…
I began my Wi-Fi journey with CWNP in 2007. (If you are not familiar with the vendor-neutral Wi-Fi CWNP program, please check out this outstanding organization at www.cwnp.com). It started with the first CWNA exam, and I walked out of the test center with a failing grade. I was devastated! Why, after all, I had Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco and FCC exam completions under my belt! Why in the world did I fail this one? <insert tears, sniffling, discouragement, throw APs at the wall….>
I discovered something interesting about my Wi-Fi journey during this time. CWNP really knows how to “raise the bar” when it comes to WLAN certifications! They do not make overly difficult exams but they do test candidates to make sure they understand Wi-Fi technology. And understand it well!
So, I studied hard and mastered the material and successfully passed the CWNA exam about a year later.
As I went on to study for and take other exams in the CWNP program, it hit me hard that the first exam was not the only one I would fail. Yes, I also failed the CWAP exam and the CWDP exam. I didn’t fail the CWSP exam, but the time limit did expire, so I had to retake that exam. I was getting really good exam practice in my Wi-Fi journey — I took eight CWNP exams in total! <insert not another exam, bang head on wall, groan, open study guide again…>
My Wi-Fi journey took an unexpected turn along the way. The IT job where I had worked for over 17 years was moved out of the state. I began job searching and found an opportunity at a VAR, doing new Wi-Fi stuff, meeting new people, and making changes. I was sad to leave my professional relationships over the last decade and a half, but excited for what was ahead for me, as I continued WLAN studies.
I also realized it was not just books, studies and labs that helped me move forward in Wi-Fi, but the people I met on the journey. The WLAN community is like a family and I am so grateful to men and women from whom I have learned so much. Thanks to Lee, Keith, George, Blake and Jake. And I cannot forget Francois, Eddie, Jim, Colleen and Dan. Then there’s Scott, Jim, Brian, Jason and Dale. I should not forget to mention Wilfred, Herr, Adrian, Adrian (yes, both of them) and Brett. And there’s Craig, Jennifer, Manon, Kimberly, Phil, David and Rowell too. And those who have provided training (G.T., Metka, Sam), mentors from my previous employer (Bill, Darryl, Richard, Gary) and those in my present VAR (Nolan, Jeff, Patricio, Rob, Todd, Justin, Cos and Steve). The list goes on and on — the WLAN community is incredible, large and and a thrill to be a part of! I have gained so much Wi-Fi knowledge from those in my “family” — their blogs, tweets, presentations and emails have helped me on my journey. <insert Thanks to my great Wi-Fi family!>
Lastly, the journey does not end here. I want to give back to the community for all that they have given to me. I want to mentor, answer questions and blog about what I am discovering. And I want to keep building my WLAN skills in new areas of study and research into where Wi-Fi is going. This technology is not going away — 802.11ax is not too far around the corner and IoT is everywhere. Wi-Fi has become mission-critical in many verticals and WLAN professionals are in high demand. <insert However, I am taking brief study break….>
Yes, it’s just a number. But it’s also a mile marker showing how far I’ve come, and showing how far I still need to go.
The CWNP awarded me the Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE) certification #181 this week.
I would like to dedicate my CWNE certification to Bernard L. Cate, the best dad a Wi-Fi engineer could ever have!
The journey continues…….