Interview: Moving from electronic warfare to network admininstration


Interview: Moving from electronic warfare to network admininstration

Cliff Saran

A CompTIA training course and a home Cisco network has helped one ex-serviceman secure a post as a network engineer.

Russ Muir served in the armed forces for 24 years and six months. He says, "I joined when I was 20. After four years, I moved into radar operations and then electronic warfare." 

His experience of IT came from 21 years in electronic warfare.

While planning for the transition into civilian life,  a good friend recommended an IT training company to learn about networking.

Muir said: "The ideal job I wanted was to be a network engineer, securing your network. The job I applied for was first line technical support at an ISP that wanted a CCNA, although I had not sat the exams when I applied."

However Muir had read training manuals for CompTIA N+ and some Cisco CCNA modules. He also took a CompTIA N+ course

The reading material helped, but he managed to get his hands on some old Cisco gear, which he used to setup and run a network at home. 

"All I needed was the £6 cable. Then I could go in and configure anything I want," he said.

"If I can pick up CompTIA N+ I think anyone can," he adds. 

The manuals he had read prior to the self study course helped. 

Muir admitted: "The only part I had difficulty with was TCP/IP, which blew my mind." 

He is now much better at TCP/IP.  

"I took a one-on-one session with a tutor. TCP/IP is a bit like algebra at school."

The CompTIA course was a stepping stone to full Cisco certification. 

"If it had not been through CompTIA N+ I would have been out of my depth in Cisco. I'm also a lot better at TCP/IP now."

Muir says he was quite surprised by the similarities between work in the network control centre and being in the forces. 

"I work on a shift cycle. The camaraderie among the people I work with is very forces-like.

"I was a manager on ships. Here I am, bottom of the food chain, but there's a sense of teamwork," he adds. 

While the people here don't have military-style discipline, the approach to customer centricity is a logical progression for him.

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