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CCNA Student: Joy Das

"I found out a lot about CISCO, and it's a company I'd definitely like to work for."

No matter what your political leaning, having the chance to work on the technology to support the 2008 Republican National Convention as an IT student would be a life-altering experience. Joy Das, a student in Inver Hills Community College's CISCO Certified Network Associate (CCNA) program, knows that first hand.

The opportunity came as he attended CISCO Academy. His instructor mentioned CISCO was looking for volunteers who could be "on call 24/7." But more than a flexible schedule was needed. Joy was one of only three Minnesota students chosen (along with one instructor) to provide IT security, networking, IP telephony, and wireless connections for the Republican National Convention. Joy credits his being chosen to his concentration in IP Telephony and the CISCO Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification he is working on obtaining.

Happily, his boss at In Gear Technology understood this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and gave him the go-ahead to volunteer. But the process took more than simply volunteering. Joy was rigorously interviewed by a panel of six people before being chosen for the team. His networking skills and familiarity with CISCO were tested. Plus he had to undergo security checks.

Months of intense upper-level "boot camp" training led up to the convention. Then, Joy and his team monitored the system for hackers throughout the convention, in eight-hour shifts.

In addition to his team, CISCO engineers and managers from around the country converged on the convention. One of them visited his home and invited him to use her as a reference when he starts looking for an IT position. "[This manager], and the others at CISCO, even the highest level of personnel, were down-to-earth and friendly. It spoke about the culture CISCO promotes. I found out a lot about CISCO, and it's a company I'd definitely like to work for."

"It was an amazing experience," said Joy. "I received an entire semester's worth of knowledge and received a certificate on a high-level security program, the MARS (Monitoring Analysis Response System)." He added with a chuckle, "And that was on top of all the CISCO gear they gave me."