*This blog was written by Ryan Curry, an Extreme Academy Live participant and Network Services Technician at FCi (Fleming Communications Inc.), in Ottawa, Canada.
I want to take a moment to extend my gratitude to the Extreme Academy team at Extreme Networks. As an individual who came into the world of IT and Networking with no prior background, the opportunities for learning and advancing my career they have afforded me are beyond measure. My sincerest gratitude to you and your training program!
I originally thought that my career would be in the field of physiology and biomechanics. My studies in Kinesiology/Human Kinetics landed me the opportunity to pursue a career in the field by shadowing a few physiotherapists through an internship. While I am incredibly grateful for the experience and education I received and would never give it back, I learned that this was not the career path I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. Confused, nervous, and inexperienced, I set out in pursuit of finding work in another industry that would re-light a passion in me.
In January 2019, I began my job at Fleming Communications Inc. (FCI) as a Network Data/Telecom Technician. The company took a chance on me because I had no prior experience in the field of IT/Networking. I quickly grew curious about the mechanisms behind my job in Layer 1/Layer 2 installation and configuration due to the depth of knowledge that my senior coworkers possessed. I wanted to know what they knew and why they were doing what they were doing so that I too could participate in the discussions and troubleshooting of our work. Before long, I was pursuing any industry-specific online courses and free content that I could get my hands on during my own time.
Now, this leads to the ultimate question we all face when diving into a new skill: What do I start with? Networking is such a massive field that it is beyond intimidating to know where to begin in the pursuit of fundamental knowledge and concepts, especially for individuals who did not pursue post-secondary education in the field. Well, that is when I stumbled across Extreme Academy. Extreme Networks had just announced the Academy curriculum tailored for individuals of any experience level in Networking and as a bonus, you could earn a certification for doing the courses. Seemed like an opportunity that I wanted to take advantage of!
I will admit, my expectations beforehand were quite low considering that most free online courses are self-guided slide presentations, but Extreme Academy had me engaged immediately. First, the weekly courses were live-streamed AND with an instructor. Secondly, they were answering my most fundamental questions about Networking basics and core topics within the first course modules. To top it off, they provided homework tasks so that you could stay engaged with the content between course modules and keep yourself sharp to weekly content.
Now all of this looks standard on paper, but Extreme Academy taught me the true value of having a proper instructor, or a teacher rather, to lead the content. Isaac made the content clear and relatable to everyone watching. He was able to communicate in a way that made you want to know more about the topics and set a fire within you to keep learning on your own, whether it was as simple as the OSI Model or if it were more complex topics like OFDMA in Wi-Fi 6. This solved the ageless problem that we all face when trying to learn on our own: How do I keep going when I don’t know where to go?
I have been fortunate enough to become a veteran of all three Extreme Academy courses and I am anxiously awaiting the fourth course beginning in December. These are the certifications that I currently hold closest to my heart because I pursued them on my own and I achieved what I set out to accomplish. I get to live and breathe the rewards of these courses everyday because my employers took notice of my self-guided learning and initiative and chose to begin developing me for new business ventures coming up in the realm of Audio/Visual Networking. My dedication to learning and the material that I learned from Extreme Academy helped me achieve this opportunity because it proved to the company that I can learn, and I am worth investing in.
The success that Extreme Academy has brought me is not limited to my progression within my current company. Taking the time to learn the content and achieve the Extreme Networks Associate certifications has qualified me for positions that I could not have dreamed of when I started in this industry two and a half years ago. I have been approached by companies regarding opportunities relevant to my Extreme certifications and I am even in active application processes for a career closer to aspirations in Networking. Interviewers are often curious about my Extreme certifications and delighted to hear about what I have learned in them. To them, it shows that I can learn the skills required to succeed even if I do not possess the working experience. In today’s world of Work-From-Home and the incredibly fast-paced growth of the Networking and Technology industries, the ability to learn and pursue knowledge is beyond invaluable to employers.
The point behind all of this is that Extreme Academy offered me an opportunity to develop myself and poise my career for success in ways that I could have never anticipated. And most importantly, they can do the same for you too. All you must give them is a bit of your time and you can succeed at learning, and continuing to learn, to improve your career in the field of Networking. To Isaac, Rohan, Claire, and everyone else behind Extreme Academy, my sincerest gratitude and thank you. The opportunities I have seized, opportunities I continue to pursue, and opportunities for knowledge are all thanks to the learning environment you created and your dedication to your students’ success. I wish for everyone who engages in the pursuit of knowledge through Extreme Academy to be met with the same success, if not more, and to continue feeding the fire within themselves for constantly learning new skills to better their career and life!