Well, it has almost been three weeks since I passed the Voice lab, and I have to say, as much as I love to study and learn, it has been nice not having the pressure and spending every free minute in the lab or reading! Sure over the past few weeks I have still cracked a book almost every night, but I have also been spending some well deserved time just hanging with my family and doing things like playing video games with my boys. Fun stuff!

I owe a lot of people for my success. I would like to say thank you to Josh for allowing me to share my experience here on Blindhog.net and to all the readers who have been so supportive over the past year and a half. Your positive comments were always motivation and gave me the drive to continue after each of those failed attempts. Thank you to the guys on my team who were there to pick up my slack when I “may” have been spending more time labbing then working. Thank you to Mike Down and the rest of the gang over at IPexpert for providing me with a great product and for the great support. You da man Mike! :-) Thank you to all of my “study buddies”, many who I met right here on Blindhog.net. My UK friends, Ayo, Dharmesh, and Shah. Thomas S. , Antonio “Amp” C. , and Kamal Y. And last but definitely not least, a big thank you to my wife and two boys. This is just as much yours as mine, and there is no way I could have done this without you.

So, since passing my lab, one question that I keep getting asked is “what’s next? Do you intend on getting another IE?” (If my wife is reading this, please do not continue reading from this point :-) ) And my answer is yes. I plan on continuing to study for IEs. As many of you know, with our field, it is ever changing and we constantly have to learn older, as well as newer technology. I have found (for me at least) there is no better way to learn than immerse yourself in it and studying for an IE requires just that. I also like to be challenged, and studying for the CCIE is quite the challenge! So up next for me is Routing and Switching. I plan on taking it easy enjoying the summer with my family, and then begin to hit it hard when fall arrives. Once I begin my lab prep, just as I did with voice, I plan on blogging about my progress right here on Blindhog.net. I will also be blogging on different voice related topics as well as different lab strategy tips that I used to help pass my lab.

For those of you who are currently studying for your lab and pursuing those digits, the one bit of advice that I can give you that is the most important of all, is NEVER GIVE UP. There are going to be those times when you just want to quit. There are going to be those times when you are sick of the process and what you have to put into it. Stick it out. As anyone I am sure who has passed the lab for the first time will tell you, it is worth it! Good luck on your journey, and it is just that, a journey.

James Key
CCIE #25772 (Voice)

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