This weekend, all eyes will shift to Santa Clara, Calif., where the best of the best will compete in the most watched sporting event of the year. Super Bowl 50 will showcase two former No. 1 draft pick quarterbacks — one (Cam Newton, a.k.a. Superman) who’s playing in his first Super Bowl, and the other (Peyton Manning, a.k.a. The Sheriff) who may well be competing in his last. The Panthers have the NFL’s top offense, while the Broncos boast its best defense. Both teams entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seeds of their respective conferences. Perhaps the most compelling story line of all, a 30-second TV commercial will cost more than it ever has before, at $4.5 million.
This night full of No. 1’s is an excellent example of the places that hard work and diligent practice can take a dedicated professional. Super Bowl 50 may be happening on the world’s biggest stage, but that’s doesn’t mean that Levi’s Stadium is the only arena where the results of hard work and practice are placed on display for all to admire. Hard-working IT professionals may not ever line up across from each other and pop the pads while cheerleaders kick up their heels on the sidelines, but life has plenty of rewards for the dedication and energy it takes to, say, earn a certification.
Take Cisco's CCNA Routing and Switching certification, which has laid the foundation for many a solider career in IT networking. The annual Salary Survey recently conducted by Certification Magazine found that many CCNA-certified professionals wind up making six-figure salaries. So how does one make the leap from a mere CCNA certification to the Super Bowl of IT salaries? A recent blog post on Cisco’s website lists 10 pointers for a CCNA professionals looking to take their career to the next level. Here are the five that we find most helpful:
- Stay Current / Relevant — Technology advances will pass you by quickly if you aren’t careful. Always evaluate new and relevant products.
- Be Diverse — Don’t limit yourself by focusing on a single skill. The more you know, the more you can do, and the more useful you will be to any organization.
- Always Learn — Take time to advance your skills, expertise and experience. Take every chance that is offered you to learn something new.
- Don’t Rest on Your CCNA — CCNA is the first step your journey, not your ultimate destination. Take advantage of money that your company is willing to give you to get more certifications.
- Differentiate Yourself as a Communicator and Collaborator — Don’t ignore the crucial business soft skills that will set you apart from all the other CCNA holders.
These steps will not get you to the Super Bowl. If practiced, however, they will lead you to a successful IT career ... maybe even one that comes with a private yacht and a key to the executive washroom.
About the Author — Jake Slater is the social media manager for GoCertify and a graduate of Brigham Young University. He has never played in the Super Bowl, but once delivered a Papa John's pizza to Peyton Manning at Mile High Stadium.