TechHouse570- Packt

Photo Credit: Packt

Giving back to the IT community is one of the greatest feelings whenever I have the opportunity to do so! A few months back I did a series of giveaways to help promote one of my favorite times of the year IT Pro Appreciation Week through books, & so many other resources! Packt which is a spectacular publishing company focused on creating amazing technology materials on several topics ranging from Big Data, Cybersecurity, Cloud & more contributed greatly to this event by partnering with me to give away copies of some of their best sellers! Every thing they produce form the content to the authors they work with is top tier let’s look at some of their newest material I highly suggest you check out!

Mastering Windows Server 2019- Third Edition

Server 2019 has expanded the Windows Server platform on an entirely different level & expanded the tools & features in this newer version! Jordan Krause gives us a detailed dive into the key areas of monitoring our server infrastructures we also know such as Server Manager, PowerShell & Windows Admin Center. To newer features we’ve awaited such as Containers & Nano Servers & the ability to utilize & leverage tools such as Docker & Kubernetes to make day to day tasks simpler & more efficient. If you haven’t check out some of the latest version updates & more!

Mastering PowerShell Scripting- Fourth Edition

Now this one without question is at the top of my list & is worth the look if you love scripting & utilizing PowerShell to its fullest extent! This updated version gives us a look at utilizing PowerShell to automate some if not all of your day-to-day tasks. Whether you’re a beginner or expert, it explores modules, snap ins, how to create newer scripts to automate simple tasks such as account creation, emails & more! I’ve used PowerShell for years now & having this book to reference for things I still get stuck on is a huge asset to me in covering certain areas I may need to revisit. Chris Dent did a terrific job breaking down how the platform works & if you’re looking to expand your skillset & toolset there’s no better place to start than right here! Until next time every stay safe & happy reading!

Best Regards,

Girard

TechHouse570- Networking Field Day- Day 2 Recap

Photo Credit: TechFieldDay

Day 1 kicked us off with huge new offerings in the networking industry! Day 2 without question was packed full of more incredible presentations & even better demos! Let’s not waste anytime let’s hop into our day 2 recap!

NetBeez

NetBeez was a company I didn’t know much about but by the end of their presentation they were without question on the top of my radar! Initially starting out utilizing Raspberry PI’s to monitor Network Infrastructures. It was around 2019 they developed & implemented using agents to be assist with monitoring as well as WFH instances in real time! Whether its on-prem or off-prem, agents can be deployed in seconds! Another key feature was through their Path Analysis demonstration which showed that you can set your primary machine as a worker agent to deploy & monitor agents on multiple devices. The integrations are endless, Intune was one of the many platforms that can simplify an easy deployment right into day-to-day deployments with no problems! The newest version 9.0 which will be release soon will also break down more granular instances for troubleshooting which will play a huge role in WFH employees & many of the common issues they face such as connectivity issues, zoom calls dropping, etc. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off day 2 then with NetBeez, But the next presentation I’m not going to lie was one of the ones I had highly anticipated & was looking forward too!

PathSolutions

We’ve been looking for a SolarWinds replacement for some time at work & one of the companies without question that stood out to me was PathSolutions! The opening slide put it best What if you knew everything your network equipment knows? Their goal is to provide a slew of tools & monitoring capabilities at every level under one UI. That goal was a success! & The demos proved that through & through, I haven’t stopped talking about it ha-ha! Providing a detailed breakdown of an entire WAN architecture each connection showed where there was some type of issue in real time. Providing everything into one integrated package, this tool changes the way we not only monitor & detect network issues but how we can remediate & resolve it faster!

One of the coolest features I found too was through their Call Simulator tool which gives more detail into troubleshooting VoIP issues, as well as testing the call quality before even doing a deployment! Be it latency, jitter, lag, packet loss. This tool provides insight into where adjustments can be made to provide & assure better call quality. Another one of the most common problems we’ve all faced since the pandemic was not only beginning to deploy more WFH employees, but also the timeless issue of poor connectivity at their home. Is it the network? Is it the VPN connection? These questions & more are constantly asked & make troubleshooting a nightmare. But with their RemoteView solution all those problems go away & I couldn’t be happier! It gives you not only a breakdown of the client health, but also connectivity both on your end & though their respective ISP. There were so many additional features I could go on! But my recommendation to you is to head over & watch their amazing demo it’s a can’t miss & believe me this is one solution I’m working on getting into my Infrastructure ASAP!

Kentik

I gathered what I could from this presentation as I had a hard time wrapping my head around most of the cloud-based solutions simply because I’ve never done anything in the cloud! But I did love that they put what we’ve all known for some time front & center. Its not all about our network anymore, cloud-based solutions are a huge part of our day to day & will be for the foreseeable future. Through their platform they’re not only able to monitor & pull sources from your business, app & network data. But also provide insights & automate tasks through their expansive dashboard with endless integrations. If you’re focusing on more cloud-based solutions make sure to put Kentik at the top of your radar!

Day 2 had a ton of takeaways that I not only got to witness firsthand, but also a bunch of new tools & technologies I’m already looking forward to diving into myself! Be on the lookout for my Day 3 recap & final day of Networking Field Day events I can’t wait to share with you! Until next time stay safe everyone!

Best Regards,


Girard

TechHouse570- Jeff Bull Tech- At Home

In our everyday lives whether it be personally or professionally stress finds it way to the surface & often it wins. We get so consumed in everything else going on we forget to focus on the ones that matter our friends, family & loved ones. In the IT community we have such dedicated, & caring individuals who not only look for us to thrive professionally but also in our own lives as well. And I was fortunate to make such a good friend who not only embodies those beliefs. But constantly uses his platform to build awareness around technology, real struggles we face & some Star Wars too which is always a win!

That individual is Jeff Bull! Cisco DevNet Developer Advocate & host of the ever-popular series At Home! Where he sits down with professionals from many different industries who faces the real challenges, we all do every day. From navigating our careers to balancing that work & family dynamic. He provides a fresh approach to better finding the balance between remote work & personal life in this new dynamic. His guests always provide some fantastic insight into how they manage the day to day! Recently I had the privilege to go from a dedicated viewer to guest! & I can tell you it was an honor to get to sit down with my good friend & share just how I navigate the chaos myself! So, if you haven’t check out this week’s latest episode & also check out the entire At Home series anytime! Thank you again for having me & until next time stay safe everyone!

Best Regards,

Girard

TechHouse570- Networking Field Day- Day 1 Recap

Gestalt IT for quite sometime has been the cornerstone of IT content in our industry & in the IT community. Through blogging, podcasts & additional outlets. The best of the best in this industry not only contribute & share their wealth of knowledge on multiple topics but many that have been fortunate enough get to partake in their premier series of events known as Tech Field Days! The event sees some of the greatest IT Professionals in the world gather as delegates & meet with IT companies who not only sponsor this exclusive event. But also, share their incredible products, live demonstrations & more to get that first look at what’s coming down the line in the evolving world of technology. The event has seen such astounding growth its been split into multiple areas over the last few years ranging from Data Center, Cloud, Security & Mobility! And this year yours truly was invited to join the long list of delegates who have come before me in my favorite arena Networking! I’m excited to finally get to share with you some of my favorite day one takeaways so let’s get right into our recap!

Juniper Networks- Delivering Experience- First Networks From Client To Cloud
Juniper kicked things off with a deep dive into their Enterprise portfolio! Focusing on their tiered based mentality staring with Enterprise First Networking, the belief is that through their connected solutions married with their top of the line portfolio of products it’s a recipe for success & they’re not wrong! The key areas they wanted to touch on were assured experiences, automating more tasks & cloud first! But what came next really got me even more excited!

The Names Marvis Mr. Stark
I don’t know about everyone but I got Iron Man meets enterprise networking vibes & I loved it ha-ha! Marvis is their newest AI based solution that not only extends actions from client to cloud. But also, focuses on some key areas that are critical in our day to day IT Infrastructures such as wireless, wired & WAN connections. The dashboard & UI were completely user friendly easy to navigate & the demo provided more insight but this was just tipping the iceberg into what the solution was capable of. If you haven’t I would definitely advise to check out this session to see for yourself!

Mist AI
Mist AI gave us a deeper look into how this tool can be utilized to not only troubleshoot wired connections & their causes but also how easy it is to configure multiple devices though the AI! Simply unbox your hardware, scan the QR code add to Mist AI and you’re done! Configuring devices just got easier & takes automation to an entirely other level. You can create custom templates to do multiple tasks no longer needed manual intervention, for example setting up EVPN configuration now takes seconds by importing VLANs from those custom templates, uploading & you’re done! Also, this tool provides such detailed features such as checking into switch insights, configs, verifying port status, profiles & segmentation. Juniper took their products to new places & I can’t even wait to see what else they’ll have in store in the coming months as more becomes available!

Arista Networks


Arista was up next and for me definitely gave me much more insight into an area I never get to focus on too much cloud! In the networking industry we still see such a struggle in having a lack of network structure & architecture, as well as truly being able to scale our automation tasks to the number of devices in our networks. Not only did they offer an incredible demo but then I learned of another tool I’ve never even heard of! That my friends is BatFish, an amazing tool that goes through network configurations and verifies any bugs or issues with the configurations before they’re applied. Arista also showcased their AVD collection utilizing Ansible and some additional tools as well as dove into Cloud Grade Routing showing the three different levels in which deployments can be handled.

Networking Field Day 26 was full of surprises on Day 1 and this was just the beginning! Were just getting started! Stay tuned for my Day 2 recap & don’t worry the action wraps up tomorrow so tune into catch Day 3’s incredible presentations, demos & more! Until next time stay safe everyone!


Best Regards,

Girard

TechHouse570- Cisco Champion 2021

You know as the old saying goes, the best things come to those who wait. And that statement couldn’t be any truer after the news I received last night as I sat next to my beautiful family, loving children & with my daughter Mary Claire on my lap. I got the email I’ve been hoping to receive for some time as I was announced as one of the newest members of the Cisco Champion 2021 class! I’ve been so fortunate and honored to have so many opportunities, experiences, etc. through helping others in the community & on their journey! But while everyone of them & more are incredible to me, this one means something a lot different & that’s due to how close this one means to my heart & a promise that I made.

Let’s go back to 2018, I’m working at an MSP living life to the fullest and no worries as a single guy ha-ha! While referencing something I was working on & looking online I saw a notification for the Cisco Champions program! Didn’t have any idea what it was no clue… So, I figured I’d take a look later on more into it. What I gathered back then…. These are the most elite IT Professionals in the industry who as a group help this incredible community which again I didn’t know anything of! To succeed on their IT Journey through guidance, sharing their knowledge & more. Plus, you got to play with some of the newest technology in the industry sounds amazing right! Yeah…until imposter syndrome hits and it dawns on you you’re not even in these individuals league and some are even CCIE’s!… Oh, don’t mind my brain talking cause that’s exactly what went through my mind. I went over to my moms and as I was looking this info up I can hear her voice. “Girard why don’t you apply to this Cisco thing?” Mom I’m not even a fraction as good as these people. Well you’ll never know if you don’t apply, eh maybe next year.

Always Supporting Me!

I spent more time labbing, studying, etc. and it was around the middle of 2018 into 2019 my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. My mom meant everything to me. So, I helped with whatever she needed. She went to her treatments and by 2019 it went into regression! So, she decided to move down to VA to be closer with her sister and enjoy her life as she should she gave me one! But about 3-4 months into living down there her cancer had returned & she got worse. She fought everyday as hard as she could. But I remember one of the few last conversations she had with me, one was me telling her that she was going to be a grandmother for the first time & the other was her asking me again about this program. She knew the way I talked about it, what it meant, what opportunities it could allow me to help others & more. So once more she asked “You gonna apply to that thing or what ha-ha” always so direct in her approach I said I don’t know I might. You should she said! You’re too good at this to not be out there helping people. That meant everything to hear her say that. But that was one of the last conversations we had she passed away a month later.

A few months had passed and I really sat there one day and thought to myself about not getting to see her one last time so many things. But I remember our last conversations and that line she told me I should be helping people, that’s great but how!? It was through a conversation with another individual Sergey Lisitsin, such an asset to the community. I messaged him on LinkedIn & asked the burning question? What does it truly take to be a Cisco Champion? He said its about helping he community and gave me a great place to start the Cisco Learning Network! But I felt I could contribute so much more! & the rest as they is history. I found an incredible IT community of professionals who are where I’m at on my journey, just starting out or looking to begin. I found content creators who created amazing resources through Labbing Every day, another one shared not only his technical journey but how he balanced it all with having a family, kids & making sure the lights stayed up they can’t go noblinkyblinky. Once it all came together it was clear just exactly how I could help others & give back on an entirely different level.

Now looking back on this journey so far, she was right about everything as moms always are. What I’ve accomplished so far is just the beginning compared to what’s next in this amazing chapter of my journey. And being named Cisco Champion I’m humbled, excited & anxious to see what new opportunities await as I join some of the best IT Pros in the world on an entirely different level. This means something different to everyone & I’m glad I could finally share with all of you just exactly what this one means to me. If you love technology, giving back & helping others this is the opportunity of a lifetime to do so! Keep your eyes peeled through the Cisco Technical Influencer Hub for amazing content, & also how you could be a Cisco Champion as well! I I love you mom, time to keep making you proud. Until next time everyone I’ll see you soon, I’m gonna go celebrate first like a Champion should.

Best Regards,

Girard

TechHouse570- Learning At Cisco- Webinar Series

A few weeks ago, I wrote an amazing piece about one of Cisco’s premier level professional essentials event & some of the incredible resources Learning At Cisco offers to get you prepared on your IT journey! This time around I want to really begin to highlight some of those resources they offer more in depth & to kick it off were taking a look at some of their spectacular webinar series that are coming up let’s take a look!

Associate Essentials Webinar Series

If you’re preparing for your CCNA, DevNet or CyberOps journey you’re not going to want to miss this event for anything! This event will cover exactly how these associate certifications not only fit into your career path, but also how it could lead you to the next steps on your certification track. With a detailed overview ranging from exam topics, some tips & tricks in preparing for the exam to utilizing some incredible resources on the site. Each webinar will be 90 mins packed full of information, so whether you’re working on your first Cisco cert or just getting into the industry there’s something for everyone to truly guide you or even spark that interest to kickstarting your IT career the best way possible!

ESA, NGFW & StealthWatch Oh My!

It doesn’t matter who you are life long learning is always a win! And with these series of upcoming webinars they’re going to provide just that & more. Giving you the opportunity to add to your tools & skillsets, these events will be running all throughout August and will cover a wide spectrum of topics. From Email Security, Stealthwatch, to some of my favorites which are Best Practices with Cisco Next Gen Firewalls & Stopping Ransomware utilizing Cisco’s incredible Secure Endpoint & Secure X platforms! These webinars are without question some of the best ways to utilize your time & expand your resources. I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve attended in the past I’ve lost count! But each one is so informative, the opportunities they provide to take you to that next level on your path are endless so don’t wait register today to sit down with some of other best experts out there. Which reminds me… I need to go register myself before my kids bombard me ha-ha! Until next time stay safe everyone!

Best Regards,

Girard

TechHouse570- Networking Field Day 26

Photo Credit: Tech Field Day

You know they say hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, and when I received this email yesterday it felt like just that. That email I’m referring to was being notified that I was selected to become a first time Tech Field Day Delegate for Networking Field Day 26! Humbled & Honored don’t even seem enough to describe how fortunate I am to be selected to join a panel of my peers & some of the best IT Professionals from across the world for a packed three-day event covering many topics within the IT spectrum.

The event will be held from September 14th to 16TH & so far announced for NFD26 are some of the industry’s top organizations such as Cisco, NetBeez, Arista, RiverBed, Juniper, Path Solutions, & Kentik. Focusing on many key topics and areas through demos, roundtable discussions, presentations & more this event is shaping up to be amazing! And if getting to partake in this event wasn’t enough there’s the incredible delegates that I get to share this event with! In the coming weeks they’ll be announced but I know for one thing getting to share the virtual stage with them & getting to connect is something I truly look forward to as well.

For the last year even longer, I’ve gotten to share my IT Journey with all of you & help so many others along the way and that’s exactly what I set out to do when starting this. So, to be even considered as a part of this event means a great deal to me. Keep your eyes out over the next few weeks on the TFD website for announcements and for coverage of this cant miss event! Until next time, stay safe and ill see you all at Networking Field Day 26!

Best Regards,

Girard

TechHouse570- MalwareBytes

You know in our IT career we’ve come across many tools in our arsenal that without question stand out & are synonymous with getting the job done, overcoming those challenges & moving ahead. There’re so many tools I’ve utilized Id be here forever listing them! But there’s one tool in particular that’s always been one of my favorites, a tool that until last week I hadn’t needed in quite sometime but was still there to aid me! That tool was Malwarebytes!

Photo Credit: Fandom.Com

My wife called and told me that she thought her computer had a virus, so no matter where you’re at in IT those trouble tickets will never go away even at home ha-ha! I performed some routine maintenance on the ZenBook & when I needed to check for malware like clock work it hit me! Malwarebytes for the win! Founded in 2008, to this day its without question still one of the leading security products in the industry, differentiating itself from its competitors with a distinct advantage in targeting malware, viruses & other threats for over 13 years. It was no surprise to see them expand into network security & and endpoint protection taking their world class system to another level completely!

Photo Credit: MalwareBytes Labs

Some key things to always remember whether you’re a seasoned IT Pro or new to the industry!

  • If its on the network in an enterprise environment or at home- GET IT OFF THE NETWORK!!! Without question that’s first always. Disconnect & quarantine the machine to prevent any further issues.
  • Disable system restore on the machine- If you’re planning to reimage you can skip, but if it can be saved go for it, disabling is to prevent getting reinfected after you’ve cleaned the machine
  • Run the app to get the machine cleaned & remove any viruses on the machine

I can’t tell you how many times early on in my career this tool has saved me countless hours of time, headaches & data loss. If you’ve never used it definitely give it a try & I can assure you if its not in your toolbox once it is it’ll never leave! Check out their website for more incredible products & Until next time I’ll talk to you guys soon!

Best Regards,

Girard

TechHouse570- Learning At Cisco- Professional Level Essentials Event

Being a part of the IT Community is a blessing in itself! More than that it gives me a chance to interact with other members on their journey & more importantly assist to their next path in IT. And throughout the community, without question one of the biggest advocates for continued learning & succeeding on your path is Cisco! They’ve held some spectacular events year-round & also some of the most informative through their Learning At Cisco platform! When I have time I always check out what new content or webinars they’re holding to stay up to date. And this past week they held an incredible Professional Level Essentials Event to educate those who were unsure about Cisco’s new certification paths. What’s the difference between core & concentration exams? How do you go about recertifying? Let’s take a look & recap!

Let’s Kick This Off!

Kicking off the event was some amazing panelists & some of Cisco’s top tier talent! With the lineup of Stefanie Garraffa Cisco’s social media expert & incredible host of this event! She was joined by Anna Rubin one of the exam development managers & Joe Clarke one of Cisco’s Top distinguished engineers! With a lineup like that you knew this was a can’t miss event!

What’s Changed On The Path To Your Cert?

I’ve talked about this often but this session gave us some more insight into how the Cisco exam tracks were redesigned. From the associate, professional & expert level Joe did an incredible job of detailing each track and elaborating more on the core vs concentration exam!

Recertification & Continuing Education

One of the areas that there was still some uncertainty is how does someone go about recertifying? Or if someone had the CCNP R&S does that now convert to an enterprise cert, what exam should be taken first? With a Q&A forum our panelists covered a wide array of topics and gave an extensive overview of where to start & what steps you could take to get a better understanding of the new tracks!

How Can This Assist Your IT Team?

Cisco offers such an array of different tools to help you on your journey id be here forever covering the all! But some of their most noted courses and tools range from self-study resources, incredible classes they hold to utilizing some of the Cisco sandboxes for your virtual environments, labbing your concepts & more.

Now I don’t wanna give too much away! But believe me when I say this is a must-see session that covered so many topics & could assist you greatly in preparing for your next Cisco exam! So, if you didn’t get to check out this event as I’ve posted the link in here & also check out Learning At Cisco on all social media for updates on training, events, new webinars & more! Stay safe everyone I’ll talk to you soon!

Best Regards,

Girard

TechHouse570- Opportunities & Agent Johnny Utah

This month we have two special collaboration pieces I couldn’t wait to share with you! So, to kick things off I couldn’t think of anyone better Than someone who’s a tried & true definition of the saying hard work is the key to success & Manny Pimentel embodies that & more! One of the first handful of people I met when I joined the IAATJ discord. Manny’s been one of the most influential & impactful people in our family of IT pros who’s always willing help, offering his vast knowledge & always uplifting those on their journey as they face challenges everyday. Through it all, He’s an asset to every organization, incredibly personable! & It’s no surprise he was just a guest on one of the hottest podcasts in tech today The Art Of Network Engineering! What also really inspired me to sit down with Manny was the uncanny fact that our careers while different paralleled in so many ways! From our start in retail to transitioning to enterprise IT. I got the chance to sit down, kick it with the man himself & have some laughs too, let’s take a look!

  • What were some of your best experiences in Retail?


Manny: I honestly got stuck on this question ha-ha. Despite the negative experiences many of us experience in Retail, my best experiences I can sum up into one sentence: The joys of helping others. In Target, it was the joys of helping others finding products they couldn’t find themselves. If the Back Room team was tied up with their duties, I would go myself to find something for a customer. I was a Sampling Specialist before Geek Squad so having a hand in what customers would sample was great. I ended up getting cross-trained in that role too so helping the teams in Deli, Produce, Bakery, and Starbucks was a rewarding act as stressful as it could get. 

In Geek Squad, it was helping our clients, fixing their problems, and not just guiding them to solutions but educating them. If a customer regardless of age keeps inadvertently causing the same issues and coming back in the store or calling us, you would want to educate them to help prevent that issue, right? With that, you create Trust with your clients and honestly, a preference. Getting requested by name from a client or a family of clients was a nice thing to experience which made my work all the sweeter. 

When Ransomware started becoming a huge thing, it would honestly break my heart seeing our clients come to my precinct being so devastated and angry. Man, I took it upon myself to research how these ransomwares would operate and how to kill it without having to restore an OS back to the factory defaults. I believe it was the “WannaCry” ransomware and the variants that surfaced afterwards. I won’t take full credit, but my team and I discovered how to remove them! We spread the word to other precincts, and it became a solution. Let me tell you, seeing those happy faces after a full diagnostic and repair, or a screen repair, a ransomware removal with the D&R, data backups…it’s more than the money, it is those simple joys that made my time in retail worth it! 

  • Do you feel that retail gave you a solid foundation before transitioning to enterprise level IT?

Manny: I feel that retail developed and improved a major and underrated skill: Soft Skills! I say this respectively that many of us (not all) that are drawn to or already in IT are often introverted or like me, an ambivert. In this field, you absorb and apply a wealth of growing knowledge but how do you interact with your end-users or clients? Nobody, whether they are your peers, management, or end-users want to deal with an unapproachable and possibly grouchy IT Professional. They gravitate to those that are easy to speak to and those that can break down technical knowledge into layman’s terms for better understanding. 

Retail, especially Geek Squad/Best Buy honed that one skill set of mine and it helped not only my former Geek Squad Precincts get many positive reviews, but it also helped when communicating with my end-users in my current organization as a Network Technician. 

Fundamentals are key in every field, especially IT. Before diving into the Networking Realm, Geek Squad built a solid foundation of A+ level knowledge. I knocked out my A+ certification exams easily because of the experience I’ve gained in Geek Squad.

  • Let’s Talk about Agent Johnny Utah haha! Geek Squad’s not so secret agent!

Manny: Oh God ha-ha. Where do I begin?! I’ve seen other people write up on this so me speaking about it won’t be anything “new” or “revealing” to the masses. It’s a platform of remote agents that reside out of the country aka outsourced support work. Something that many companies do already. It had its perks: Automate and expedite repairs while working on other units in your precinct’s queue especially if your queue is high. Alleviates your workload when your precinct’s counter is overwhelmed with clients. I don’t know the financials but I’m sure it was a cheaper resource to upper management. The biggest problem with it: Quality Assurance. On some days, you can have an agent that is THOROUGH and everything is perfect so when you do your manual diagnostic & repair after, there’s little or nothing wrong with it. On others…you will sit there scratching your head thinking, “What the hell did these guys do?! I don’t see anything completed?!”

That platform…I honestly think they should’ve given it to the Covert Agents within the country, specifically Covert Fulfillment Agents. Of course, it would’ve been a higher expense but I see it as a better investment towards the company that better protects the brand. I have no issues or any prejudices with giving work to out of country personnel BUT, if you’re going to outsource work, ensure their work is QUALITY. Otherwise…are you REALLY saving money doing that? 

When I became a Covert Fulfillment Agent, I pitched the idea of utilizing less of Agent Johnny Utah and re-routing that work to Covert Fulfillment Agents, at least a certain percentage if the entirety of that work was deemed too much or unreasonable. A team could easily be created for that purpose, or simply more agents could be hired on to help with the additional load the queue would get. Rumor was it was being beta-tested in some precincts throughout the country and I was awaiting approval to get my former precinct and others within the area to get in on that action. 

  • What made you or got you excited to jump into networking overall before transitioning!

Manny: It was while I was in Geek Squad as a Consultation Agent. You had to become an Advanced Repair Agent aka ARA to work on the clients’ computers. You were allowed to shadow but not touch anything unless you got promoted into that role. I thought to myself, “OK, I’m a Computer Information Technology major…I THINK my degree that I’m almost able to achieve would land me something like this. It’s time for me to pivot to something harder and something with a greater career path.” 

I went to my guidance counselor at my college, I attended a local community college that became a 4yr university. I explained my thoughts and my guidance counselor understood and presented me three major options of what was available:

“OK Emmanuel, here’s what I have for you, and I’ll break it down:

Computer Programming: You can learn to develop apps, programs, and operating systems. There’s a lot of math in this course.

Computer Engineering – Microsoft Specialization: You’ll learn to configure and manage Microsoft Windows Servers, many organizations including us have servers that host various files and/or applications. You’ll learn a little bit of Linux along the way too.

Finally there’s Computer Engineering – Cisco Specialization: You’ll learn to become a Network Engineer/Administrator specializing in Cisco Systems which is a huge vendor in this space. You’ll deal with routers, switches, firewalls, and access points. You’ll get exposure to Fiber Optics which is a very high-speed connection which is a highly potent laser instead of copper wiring that is very popular and growing. You’ll basically be the plumber of an organization’s network and will be able to control and filter all the network traffic to their needs.”

I told her no on the programming because I HATE math and there were loads of it on the curriculum LOL. I was interested in the Server one but in all honesty the Cisco-specialization track captivated my attention! She divulged much more information on each job description but there was something about running and creating cables/drops, configuring, troubleshooting, and managing network devices that just really spoke to me. Mind you, Networking has always been my Achilles Heel within IT. Many of my IT courses and electives transferred over and I started my first Cisco Networking Academy course that was based on the CCNA certification. After that semester, I put college on hold with the mentality that I would self-study and achieve the CCNA myself then eventually return to obtain a degree. 

  • If you could write a letter now to your previous employer what would you say? What would you tell your younger self looking back on such an incredible organization?

Manny: To Geek Squad/Best Buy: 

I can’t thank you both enough for all the lessons and training you have given me and my former co-agents. I’ve gained so much strength in my soft skills and my troubleshooting expertise. For training, you always made sure my team and I were prepared for changes as we lived and thrived in the Bleeding Edge. When Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 came out, we were prepped in advance with plenty of training. We had solutions for almost every issue. We even had plenty of soft skill training as we are client-facing even if you’re an ARA or Covert Fulfillment Agent (both of my previous roles).

Never stop developing your driving workforce (all Geek Squad agents below DCI) and your management (supervisors and above). I LOVED the meetings I had with my former Geek Squad Manager while being a Covert Agent where he asked all of us what our career end-goals were, even if it meant losing quality talent. Maybe even develop a program for it for agents to grow within the company or grow elsewhere. Unfortunately, I couldn’t grow within Geek Squad anymore due to my career goal of becoming a Network Engineer. As a Sleeper Agent today, I’m proud to say I’m almost there, if not there already minus the title I’m working towards obtaining and I have you to thank in helping and guiding me with the solid foundation you’ve helped build for me. 

Sincerely, 

Sleeper Agent Pimentel #30245 

To my younger self: 

As nice as the culture is, do not forget to invest in yourself for your IT career. Don’t be afraid of the change that comes with leaving the job, the people, and the clients you support (many became routine clients). Don’t be afraid to ask questions even if it means you won’t like the answers. Sacrifice more of the social stuff and prioritize more on yourself then you can double back once more of your IT careers goals are achieved. 

It’s so insightful when you think about it how far we’ve all come on our IT journey, this piece truly showed that throughout our journey we all evolve in more ways than one. Be it from a technical standpoint, soft skills, or learning how to interact with people. Working in a fast-paced environment while stressful can provide such rewarding results later on down the road in your career. Manny’s conquered the retail world & there’s no question he’s already left his mark on the enterprise side through his hard work, incessant will to learn & ability to adapt to any challenge thrown his way. If you haven’t followed his journey check him out on Twitter & LinkedIn & all of us can be found in the Its All About The Journey Discord server where were always there to help & offer guidance in anyway! Until next time stay safe everyone!

Best Regards,

Girard