Tackling the Catch-22 of networking jobs?

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Networking careers
Networking Equipment
Networking in 2010
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My colleague Jessica Scarpati (blog|twitter) over at SearchNetworking wanted to ask the community: How do networking professionals tackle the catch-22 of needing technical experience with routers and other real-world equipment to get a job, but no way to afford the routers and other equipment without a job? Any advice on low-cost lab solutions or other "hacks" you've found helpful in educating yourself? (Please note if you'd be open to talking to Jessica for an article!)
ASKED: April 13, 2010  5:56 PM
UPDATED: April 22, 2010  6:58 AM

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One way I’ve learned was use existing computer equipment (old pc’s), install nics (2 ports needed), and various flavors of Linux. You in essense would turn a regular PC into a router/firewall. Now using another machine, you can use a free virtualization product of your choice. I’ve used Ubuntu on a laptop with VMware Server. On the laptop, I have various systems configured but due to CPU & Memory restraints, I would only turn up 3 VMs at a time.

I would started to volunteer or do co-op at companies like Cisco or IBM on they community projects.

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  • Yogi
    I've gotten a lot of useful knowledge through old "throw-away" equipment, or still-usable equipment that was being set aside for new...a tinkerer's mindset. White papers, old manuals and books, any information that can be gained online or through colleagues, etc., are also great ways to learn things on a budget. Salesmen can also be a source of education, too, as they are usually knowledgeable about the routers and other hardware that they sell. Free downloads and demos are also tops! Load them into a virtual machine and learn to one's heart's content. These are pretty much "no-budget" ways to learn, but they work well. (I'm open to the article idea with Jessica.)
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  • Kevin Beaver
    Boson has a solution for this.
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