So many of you regular readers have caught onto the fact that I recently attended the INE Voice Boot Camp and I know many of you are anxiously awaiting details on what the experience was like and what to expect should you decide to attend the class yourself. So let’s get to it!
First up – class structure. This is not a class for the faint of heart. It is not the class for those who work for 4 hrs and then need a nap. It’s the class for those of you who work an intense 12+ hrs for days in a row and still maintain some bit of mental clarity at the end of it all. Maybe not a lot of mental clarity, but some nonetheless.
Officially class start time was 9am and lectures ended by 4-5pm. Unofficially, students came as early as 6-7am, at least that’s the rumor. I wasn’t there to verify, because as we all know, morning people are mutants. As far as the evenings went, students always stayed as late, sometimes as late as 10-11pm. Personally I need some sleep to function, so I often called it quits about 8 or 9 pm – just as my brain began to melt out my ears.
On the same subject of structure, I liked the fact that the labs, which were setup pretty much like what I am told you would encounter in the actual lab exam, were open on the weekend and accessible via VPN at all times. It was nice to go in for a few hours on the weekend and work through some of the topics that were giving me grief. Yes, that might just have been all of the topics, but not the point.
Shifting gears, let’s talk about class content. Class was a refreshing mix of lecture and lab and blessedly free from the dreaded death-by-power-point. Of course all the major topics on the blue print were covered, but one of the things I enjoyed about this class was it didn’t stop at just here’s-how-to-pass the exam. We covered how to think critically about tasks, configurations, and design. Yes, granted, a lot of it was how-to-think-like-a-proctor, but so much more – how to be a better voice engineer overall. This appeals to the part of me who knows it’s not just about certification but about being at the top of your game as an engineer.
So what about the teacher Mark Snow? Well, other that the class consensus that he has really great hair*, I’d have to say Mark knows his stuff cold. With that being said, he didn’t spoon feed students and he didn’t just give us the answers even though that would probably at times have been easier. He provided a great many helpful lab suggestions and methods for being successful, but I would stop short of calling them tricks or quick tips. You aren’t going to pass the CCIE Voice lab, or any other CCIE lab with a basketful of helpful hints, it’s hard work and mastery over the topics that will get you there and Mark provided excellent guidance on how to achieve that goal.
Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to my awesome fellow students who not only provided great feedback in the class but were also great resources to one another, and to myself especially. When working through labs, these guys were invaluable to each other when trying figure out what on earth was going wrong in a configuration that should be working and wasn’t. We’ve all been there. Some of us more so than others.
So there you have it – was it a positive experience? Absolutely! Did it get me closer to my CCIE voice? Definitely. In fact, I really just embarked on this study quest and I feel miles ahead. I’m really glad I went when I did, because I now know how and where to focus my study efforts, what my weakness are, what my goals should be, and how I can measure my preparedness level accurately.
So for the INE Voice boot camp experience, I’m giving it two thumbs up, awarding it 5 gold stars, clicking the Like button, marking it as a Favorite, giving it some Klout, etc…
*Yes, records will indicate that this was an actual topic of discussion at one point. And can you really make an argument against it?
**My awesome class comprised of extremely talented voice engineers: Miguel, Mike, Matthew, Justin, Trent, Mark, Israel, Vincent, and Juan. And of course, myself. I’m pretty sure you can tell which one I am.
***In the interest of full disclosure, INE did pay for my seat in the class and my company paid my expenses, but once again I’ll point out neither paid me to say nice things about them. If the class had been horrible, trust me, I would have let you know, with of course, as much snark as I could possibly fit into one scathing review. I’m talented like that.