My current state with Networking

Greetings everyone!

I’m a new member here on the forums, been following Lawrence Systems since I started with my homelab two years ago. I’ve found a lot of useful information on the Youtube page, it has been quite helpful in my journey. So, as I mentioned, I started homelabbing two or so years ago. I enrolled in college courses around that time, and am in my last class before I graduate in December. Sadly, most college courses have been virtual since the pandemic. I would say that I am mostly self-taught, and have been trying to learn as much as I can. I do know a good amount of knowledge, however, lately, I feel like I don’t know anything. I have great background knowledge of some of the material I learned in class, however, some things I have not had time to get hands-on with.

For example, I know subnetting, VLANs, and everything that goes along with that is super important to know. However, every time I come across them on my home network I get lost in the sauce. I always try to research or find some sort of help through communities. I just feel like I don’t know anything, and I will soon be looking to apply for jobs once I graduate. I think this could possibly be a confidence issue, but I don’t have any experience in the field, so I’m not 100% sure. When I first started, I wanted to teach myself Linux, then messed around with web servers, firewalls, etc. So, my journey has just been learning and finding something new and trying to learn that.

My question to everyone is…is this normal to feel lost in the sauce knowledge-wise? I see people like Tom, and many of my Professors, they just have this knowledge and understanding that I wish I had. I know I am more than capable of being as skilled and knowledgable as them, however, I find myself in this spot of frustration and second-guessing myself. I remember when I was an apprentice mechanic at a younger age, I had this mentor and learned so much from him. I feel that is how I learn the best, having someone show me these things, as well as putting some individual time like with my homelab. I love computers, networking, servers, etc. I just want to be good at what I do, and have a good career (financially, and fulfilling).

I would appreciate any advice/suggestions. I’ve always been willing to put the work in, I’m just not sure what I can do from this point on. Thanks for your time.

For me (20+ years in IT), the only thing I can say to you is the more you know the more you think you don’t know anything. I frequently feel I know nothing :smile: Long gone are the days of being able to know everything in IT, and things never stand still, so you’re going to be constantly learning, either on the job or at home in a home lab. The fact that you have a home lab and do things for interest is great. What is also great is that you don’t think you know everything. All the good people I know in IT will tell you they don’t know everything and will start from a position of questioning if they have missed something when trying to figure something out. Almost everyone I have seen start from a position of “I know everything” soon demonstrates they don’t know much at all.

If I were hiring someone, I would look for someone like you rather than someone who has loads of certifications. Someone who has seen the problem before, or a similar problem so has an idea where to start, will almost certainly fix the issue before the person who has memorised a book to pass an exam. I know Tom has mentioned before he doesn’t have any certifications, but he seems to be doing all right :grin: Personally I have a few certifications, but I did them to get past the person in HR who likes to tick boxes. Although I will say, doing some formal training can help build good practice and can give you a deeper understanding.

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If you want network training, hard to beat Cisco CCNA or 1st level of Juniper training. The first level of Juniper is free and you can find a bunch of free CCNA videos with flash cards and Packet Tracer labs on Youtube. The Official Cisco training books are not horribly expensive, especially around holidays (50% off until Tuesday?). The Cisco stuff has labs, but they are poorly implemented and have at times left me frustrated, the freelance guys do a better job and I’m most fond of two people right now:

And an affiliate of his Cisco CCNA Gold Bootcamp training course - FlackBox

Overall I think the Flackbox courses are well done and the labs are good. Packet Tracer is free, you just need a valid email address and it runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux (and Android sort of).

Not exactly what you were looking for, but maybe something that helps you along the way.

And full disclosure, I do own the Cisco books for the 200-301 and did buy the Flackbox course as well. Now if only I could buy some time! Dante certification - level 3 checked off. Newtek Tricaster and NDI training, part way through. The CCNA keeps falling to the back burner and it’s killing me. Part of the killing is that this certification can help open doors.

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Yes, despite having worked professionally in the tech industry since 1995 there are still times like yesterday where I felt like a noob and surrendered my keyboard to Jay from LearnLinux TV to work on my system and help solve a weird GVFS problem in Linux. Photo for reference

Also remember Jay, myself, and other tech channels producing educational content are only posting the edited and polished versions of our work. We don’t do this for the purpose of looking smart, but because we want the content to be concise, accurate and helpful. The looking smart is just a side effect from removing all the “umms”, pauses, and typos.

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Wow, Tom might I first say it was awesome learning from you. I understand exactly what you are saying, we only see the edited versions. My goal is just to learn, have a good career, support my family, and feel like I did something. I would like to think I came a long way, not even knowing how to boot ESXi on my first server. I think most of this is a confidence issue, which always seems to creep its head when big changes happen. As I mentioned, I’m in my last class before my degree, and I’ll then start my journey to find employment. Yes, I remember a lot of the information that was presented during the courses. Sometimes (most of the time) I forget exactly how to do something, but I’ll “eventually” figure it out. Honestly, I just want to learn, make decent money, and enjoy my job.

edit: My final class is Internetworking, as soon as I saw subnets, I forgot everything ;|

@drinkyT , I totally support the notion of being aware that there is always a lot more to know than you do. It can feel bad, but with that attitude you have mastered the most critical step. :+1:

As to the details: Watching videos and reading stuff is never learning IMHO. Learning requires you to do (or rather try in the beginning) things. And initially you will experience just what you described: “Hey, I watched all those videos and thought I really understand. But now that I try it, I feel like I know nothing.” That is absolutely normal. Whoever says differently either has an IQ of 140+ or is just liar.

So, you can relax :grinning:

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Chris,

I really appreciate that these virtual classes and videos are no help other than background knowledge. I’ve always been a “hands-on” learner, as we speak I’m learning about the OSI, ping, arp, mac addresses, and the different layers. This would be much easier if I was in a class somewhere seeing it in front of me. Luckily, this class meets once a week, so hopefully, it will all click.