I’ve changed the names to protect the parties involved but the people are real.
Alan and James both wanted to make career changes into IT. Alan worked as a security guard and James was a self-employed gardener. They both wanted a career in networking and after checking, decided to go with the biggest name, Cisco Systems.
Both were on a budget so bought a study guide and used a combination of Packet Tracer and GNS3 for lab work. James froze his gym membership for 3 months deciding to work out at home instead. He diverted that money into some video training.
Alan decided to study for two hours per day but once he got home he had to help with the kids and eat dinner. Once that was done he felt too tired to study so often skipped study sessions. James got up one hour earlier every day and got to work before everyone else. He studied in a quiet office. He sat in his car during his lunch break and did practice labs and exams. He read out his study guide onto an MP3 track and played it during the journey home.
Two Months Later
Two months later Alan was still struggling with the book but James had passed his CCNA exam. James jumped straight into studying for his Cisco CCNP exam. They both wanted to get a job in IT. Alan started searching for jobs on IT boards and applying for junior networking roles. James made a list of all his friends, relatives and other contacts and let them know he was Cisco certified and looking for work. He also compiled a list of local companies and began contacting the network managers. Some were nearby so he personally visited and left his resume.
Six Months Later
Six months later both had jobs in IT. Alan had to settle for helpdesk to get his foot in the door. He had to work unsociable shifts and was making $35,000. At least it was more than he was making as a security guard.
James had been offered two positions as a junior network engineer. A friend of his had told the IT manager where he worked about him which saved them having to advertise the job. The other offer came through an agency James had been in contact with. He was initially offered $45,000 but negotiated up to $50,000 because he was certified, had other offers on the table and was already studying towards his CCNP which impressed his employers (and saved them money by having to train him).
One Year Later
One year later and Alan hates his job but he still hasn’t passed his CCNA exam. He’s also worried because he’s heard that some redundancies are coming. James passed his CCNP exams and also took an Amazon cloud certification. He was promoted after six months in his current role and is now being offered roles for $75,000.
So it all comes down to choices. I've found this lesson applies to almost every area of our lives. Some choices lead to poor outcomes and others great outcomes.