Back in 2007, after months of intensive studying, I passed my first Cisco certification exam: the CCNA. I walked out of that testing center with tears streaming down my face, just like Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness.

That CCNA certification was my ticket to kickstarting a new life and career in IT. The satisfaction of passing after two previous failed attempts was incredible. Little did I know then that this achievement was just the spark that would ignite a passion for lifelong learning. My real growth began in the months and years after passing the exam. 

We all take certification for a reason: our employer wants us to get a pay raise, a job promotion, or a new job. But these do one thing: they give us self-growth and self-knowledge. What happens after the certification is what I will uncover here today.

“Achieving Cisco certification is a major accomplishment, but true success comes from having
a lifelong commitment to learning. Continually engage with the Cisco community,
share your expertise, and leverage micro-learning resources.”

Connecting with the Cisco Community  

In the lead-up to my exam date, I joined the Cisco online community forums. Interacting with Cisco experts expanded my knowledge far beyond textbook concepts. I learned invaluable real-world troubleshooting tips and best practices from professionals using Cisco technologies daily in their environments.

Their insights exposed me to new perspectives and solutions. One member helped me better understand how OSPF cost metrics impact route selection—a concept I had struggled with. Another gave a great tip about using port security to prevent MAC flooding attacks. Not only did the community help fill knowledge gaps, but exposing me to how other network engineers approached problems developed my critical thinking abilities. 

Empowering Change: Together, We Make a Difference 

After getting so much from the Cisco Community, I was excited to start giving back and paying it forward. I shared my lessons learned by creating blog posts and instructional videos and even mentoring other newcomers studying for their certifications. Helping fellow learners made an impact and reinforced my knowledge as I had to explain concepts in a simple and logical way. Never underestimate how much you know and how sharing this can help someone following your path.  

Short-form learning content has distinct advantages in today’s world of condensed attention spans and packed schedules. Technology topics can easily be distilled into <10-minute videos that convey the core concepts learners need. These bite-sized tutorials match modern consumption preferences; they are easy to access on any device, simple to repeat for reinforcement, and quick to fit into small pockets of free time.

Short videos take advantage of our brain’s visual processing capabilities through slides, screenshots, and code samples. Learners can gain broad exposure by watching numerous condensed tutorials on a subject area, building foundational knowledge piece by piece. While not comprehensive, short videos effectively impart fundamental principles, terminology, and workflows. They provide enough baseline understanding to enable deeper independent study.

In an era of information overload, compact learning experiences ensure key ideas stick. Technology topics are well-suited for focused, efficient delivery in snackable videos that spark interest and deliver value in minutes. 

Full Snack Developer  

Snack Minutes are short, bite-sized videos created by top IT professionals that teach focused lessons on technical topics. They are an easy and engaging way to keep expanding our skills. 

One of the great things about Snack Minutes is that they cover emerging topics like network automation. Network automation uses software and protocols like Ansible, Python, REST APIs, and NETCONF to programmatically configure and manage networks. This can make networks more agile, efficient, and resilient. If someone is new to network automation, this will be invaluable for learning foundational concepts quickly. The short videos give exposure to automation basics and terms.

More recently, the Snack Minute team has made some great content on core networking principles—perfect for reinforcing foundational networking concepts such as TCP/IP, routing protocols, and VLANs; distilling topics into compact lessons ensures that you do not forget what you worked on so hard to learn. 

Discovering New Cisco Products and Solutions  

The networking world moves fast, and Cisco is always releasing new technologies. With Snack Minutes, I can keep up with the latest Cisco solutions like Meraki SD-WAN, Catalyst 9000 switches, Umbrella Security, etc. Bite-sized videos quickly bring me up to speed on new innovations from Cisco. This allows me to stay conversant on where Cisco product families are headed and see how these technologies can benefit my organization.

It’s not just about staying informed; it’s about leveraging these insights to make informed decisions that drive efficiency and success in our networking strategies. With Snack Minutes, it is not only keeping pace with the ever-evolving tech landscape but also equipping ourselves toward a brighter, more connected future. 

The Journey Continues: Investing in Lifelong Learning 

My Cisco certification was just the starting point on my journey to grow as a network engineer. While the studying and exams were challenging, the real work began after passing, as I looked for ways to continuously expand my skills. Connecting with the Cisco community, giving back by creating tutorials, and staying on top of new developments have been crucial to my ongoing education. Short, snackable learning resources like Snack Minutes make it easy and engaging to reinforce foundational concepts and pick up emerging topics like automation. The bite-sized videos are the perfect way to keep growing your knowledge and skills wherever you are in your career. 

Achieving Cisco certification is a major accomplishment, but true success comes from having a lifelong commitment to learning. Continually engage with the Cisco community, share your expertise, and leverage micro-learning resources. This passion for ongoing education will keep you relevant and ahead in our rapidly changing technical landscape. 

Check out the Snack Minute Presented by Cisco U. playlist on YouTube for easily digestible videos that expand your skills and knowledge. The short, visually engaging tutorials are a great way to keep advancing on your career journey long after passing your certification exam. 

Read next: From Network Automation to Security: Cisco U. Role-Based Learning Paths

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Stuart Clark

Senior Developer Advocate Of Community, AWS