“To this day, I still use things that I learned in my Cisco class,” said Eric Eddy, an alumnus of the Cisco program. “I studied hard and practiced a lot with the switches and routers at the F. Donald Myers Education Center. That allowed me to compete in the SkillsUSA competition on the state level. The Career and Technical Education program really gave me an early view into what the Information Technology (IT) field was like and could hold for me in the future. That early education and view into the IT field assured me that IT was the right field for me.”
As a youngster, Mr. Eddy always enjoyed working with technology and creating things with it. When he was a sophomore at Corinth High School, he visited the Cisco program at the Myers Center in Saratoga Springs. “I figured the program would be a good start to whatever I wanted to do in technology.”
After completing the two-year Cisco program, Mr. Eddy continued his education at the Rochester Institute of Technology where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Networking and Systems Administration. He added, “The CTE program gave me a good foundation that allowed me to really excel in my college career. The hands-on experience I received was very helpful to me, too.”
While in college he participated in two co-ops, which are similar to internships except students get paid for their work. The first one was at Sixnet in Clifton Park that was recently acquired by Red Lion Controls. He provided IT support for their network and computer systems. His second co-op was for Cisco in Raleigh, N.C.
He worked at Cisco in Customer Advocacy Lab Operations (CALO), an arm of Technical Support (TS). CALO works with the Technical Support team that provides technical support for Cisco products. “I worked in a lab that was around 20,000 square feet with millions of dollars in equipment,” remembers Mr. Eddy. “I took request from engineers that were working with customers that needed to recreate customer issues. I would take a request to cable devices with specific software, which meant a lot of software upgrades and downgrades and running cables between devices.”
Soon after graduating from college, he landed a job at Cisco in July 2010 working as an Associate Network Consulting Engineer, which is an eight-month training program. “We were trained on consulting skills communication and presentation as well as technical skills,” said Mr. Eddy.
Cisco, with its corporate headquarters in San Jose, Calif., has nearly 75,000 employees worldwide. The company has major offices in the United States and in many different countries with the nearest office located in Albany.
Now a Technical Manager for Cisco, Mr. Eddy works out of his home in Wilton. “I’m very impressed with the CTE program. When I landed the position at Cisco, my colleagues told me how lucky I was to have received such great training so early. I was way ahead of the curve.”
Things have come full circle or is it full circuit for Mr. Eddy as he now returns as a consultant to the Cisco program, which has transitioned into a program that offers tuition-free college credit. The Cisco program is now called Information Technology/Computer Networking and is one of three programs offered through the SUNY Adirondack Early College Career Academy: An Early College High School program.
“I wish the college credit had been available to me when I was taking the program!” said Mr. Eddy. “It would have shaved a semester off my college expenses. I would have saved nearly $20,000.”
As a consultant, Mr. Eddy visits the classroom located at the SUNY Adirondack Wilton campus and talks about IT careers, coordinates field trips to Cisco, and sets up a replica of a real-world network in the classroom. At his last visit to the classroom, Mr. Eddy reviewed the logic and methodology behind deploying firewalls, and then worked with the students on an exercise in deploying firewalls. A firewall is a networking device used to block unwanted traffic from entering or leaving a network.
As the students were attempting to reset the configuration of the firewall devices to the factory default, two of the groups issued the wrong command, which resulted in the firewall's operating system being erased. The lab then turned into a troubleshooting exercise in how to recover from a "disaster" and be able to bring the network back online.
His words of advice to today’s students considering an IT career are: “Take advantage of free resources you have and learn about IT and what a career in IT is like. Some of you will find that the IT field isn’t for you, which is fine. It is much better to find this out early than in college when you are switching majors that costs you money. Also, I would recommend that you work hard and give the IT program 100% effort. A strong work ethic is important in any career and knowing general IT knowledge is also very helpful, too, as most of the jobs of the future involve some sort of computer.”
Click here to read more about the Information Technology/Computer Networking program.