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Yes, it’s official!!!! After a grueling 9 hour wait, most of which was in my hotel room here in Raleigh, I just got my score report, and I am officially CCIE #24347!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! The greatest 5 #’s I have ever heard! Keep in mind, that I am 5.5 beers in at this point as I decided around 10:30 that no matter what I was having a 6 pack for my troubles hehe. So what can I say? I guess I will give you my experience today and a little bit about my preparation.

I flew into Raleigh Sunday afternoon, and stayed at the Wingate. The Wingate came highly recommended by the many that have gone before me, and they were right on. I can’t recommend it enough. They picked me up at the airport, and took me right to the hotel. When I inquired about where I could walk to pick up some redbull for the lab the next day, they DROVE ME to the nearest gas station like it was just normal. I guess that is the southern love…being from Detroit, I’m not used to that sort of thing hehe. When I was picked up at the airport I was told I was the 3rd CCIE candidate being picked up that day…they knew exactly what I was there for, and exactly what to do.

The lab started at 7:15, and I was told the shuttle from the hotel to Cisco would leave about 6:30, giving us plenty of time. I woke up at 6:00 AM, threw on my jeans and T-shirt (opted against the sweatpants!!!), grabbed my 3 large size redbulls from the fridge and headed down to the hotel breakfast area. I was too nervous to eat a thing. I chatted up the other 2 candidates staying there and passively sipped a cup of coffee. The other 2 guys were doing voice, so there wasn’t really much to talk about. The shuttle drove us over to Cisco and we were there by 6:45…in total there were about 6 of us waiting outside…it was the most awkward thing EVER….after some brief introductions by a few of us, it was DEAD SILENCE for 30 minutes as we stood outside and waited for the proctor to show up. Our proctor pulled in about 7:10, and took us into the lobby where we were ID’d and given our temp stickers and rack numbers. The proctor gave us all the regular instructions and told us basically where the bathrooms and drinks were, and gave us the general rules of the lab (get rid of any macros at the end of the day, save your configs often, etc…).

I sat down at my pod and started in on the OEQ … the first one threw me….it seemed very simple. All I can say without breaking NDA is that it was some command output and a diagram, and I couldn’t place the answer… I gave it my best shot and moved on. The other 3 questions were no problem at all, although later in the day I feared I might have messed up the wording of one of them….all in all it took me about 5 minutes. Guys, after reading all the posts and fear regarding this I have to say, IF you have studied properly, there is nothing to fear!!!

I moved on to the lab just like I would any other mock lab I’ve been doing for 10 months….followed the method Jared Scrivener gave us at IPexpert bootcamp, which was AWESOME. Yes, I read the entire lab first, which was a good thing, because there were things towards the end that definitely effected how I did other tasks. I made a list of tasks, point values, and notes for every task. I redrew the diagram…I made 1 diagram with all my L3 and IGP information. The BGP diagram they provided was sufficient enough for me, and I didn’t feel the need for a seperate switching diagram. Having initially read through the lab, I felt pretty good. There were only 2 things I had not done before…it was just a matter of implementing all the things I had learned and practiced time and time again, and making sure to pay special attention to detail.

I was not going for speed…I knew one of my weakest areas was not paying attention to detail enough, so I took my sweet time. I knew I had good speed coming in and I’d likely have plently of time.

Just as the proctor called lunch (11:15) I was starting in on multicast and had full IP reachability, so was feeling pretty good. My personal experience on the point system was that all my points added up to 80. At lunch time I had 42 points and was feeling pretty damn good. Lunch was basically silent….they had a pretty decent tasting chicken contraption with soda, water, and salad. It was pretty good. I was actually so juiced up on redbull and coffee that it didn’t really matter, as long as it was food : ) We had to wait through the whole lunch time that was allotted to us. Actually, the proctor let us start working 5 minutes earlier, noting to everyone that we would lose 5 minutes at the end, which I found fair. I approached the proctor more than anybody else in the lab…probably about 4 times. Guys, you are paying $1400 for his time, do not be ashamed!!! Most of my questions were just verification of things to be 110% sure of what they were asking!

Later in the day I felt a bit less confident, as I hit my weaker areas (QoS, Multicast)… I felt 75% sure on about 75% of these tasks….maybe 85% sure…like you know you are right or very close to right, but the kind of thing where you want to look at the solutions guide to double check yourself. No solutions guide today gentlemen : ) I completed all the tasks by about 2:00 and started verification, which was SOOOOO important to my success I can’t even explain! I went through task by task and did the appropriate show commands to prove I had done it right. What I found was suprising. It is a little unnerving to have already marked down points and with 90 minutes to go find you have one section broken completely, and a routing loop somewhere else , as well as about 3 other stupid minor mistakes. Had it not been for verification I don’t know if I would have made it out OK. I wasn’t in it for speed…I stayed until they called time verifying and reverifying with my trusty TCL scripts. At 3:28 the proctor told us we had 2 minutes left and to save our configs, remove any macros and TCL scripts (which I don’t get because TCL scripts are not saved), return all the devices to priv exec mode and reboot our PCs. I found it a bit alarming that they didn’t say something like “OK you have 30 minutes left” but just like that BAM , OK you are DONE in 2 minutes! Oh well…I got about 75% through re-checking everything.

I counted up about 68/80 points I thought I had for sure….and I had about 8 points “on the fence” that I just wasn’t sure about…so I felt pretty good walking out. I felt like I probably had a good shot at it.

The worst part of my entire day was the waiting game…I am staying the night here in Raleigh, and have no car and nothing to do…I coudn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat much…I pain stakingly sat here refreshing my email and watching TV for about 4 hours….finally I decided to go take a walk. I walked about a half mile to a gas station and bought a 6 pack of beer while listening to the new Dylan album on my iPod. When I got back I killed some time talking to a friend on the phone….right before he hung up the email came in…I checked it live on the phone. I HAD PASSED!!! CCIE #24347! Obviously, I couldn’t even describe how I felt, but it was a great experience to share with a friend!

Wow this is getting long, so let me tell you a bit about my preparation. I am a straight forward kind of guy and I am not on here to promote any company over another, just to tell you my experiences. As far as vendors go, I uses STRICTLY the workbooks and blended learning solution from IPEXPERT. Their blended learning solution came with all 3 of their workbooks (1 technology focuses, and 2 workbooks of full scale labs), as well as the full Scott Morris Video On Demand / Audio on Demand series (When Scott was still with IPexpert.) This was my bread and butter guys. I passed my written at the end of July, 2008 and immediately started on the material. I read most of the usual recommended books cover to cover, and really tried to grasp the concepts…I went through the entire video on demand, and listened to the audio portion countless times. In fact, my wife even does here Scott Morris impersonation now : ) Thats how you know you have a keeper hehe….Anyways, I worked through these labs with all my heart and soul for 10 months. I got involved in the various communities, and I can’t say enough about them. Groupstudy especially…there are so many guys on here that you can learn from, it is just awesome!

Just when I thought I was ready, I booked an IPexpert 5 day instructor led bootcamp just to touch up my weak areas and hope that it would be mostly review and a confidence builder. I did this 2 weeks before my lab date, and it was well worth it. You can read my review of that that I posted earlier as well. Jared Scrivener was our instructor and he was at the top of his game…just a really great experience for me.

Going into the lab I felt confident…coming out of the lab I can honestly say I was exteremely well prepared.

And now the obligatory thank you section : )

Big thanks goes out to — Scott Morris — Dude, no matter what shirt you were wearing you were ALWAYS willing to help me with my issues, and I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate that.  Weather it was a question on a lab you had authored at previous jobs, or an annoying IOS bug I was struggling with, you helped me. Even when you had moved on professionally, you gave me honest and productive support. Yes, your voice is forever etched in my brain from the VoD and we know you don’t pay for therapy!!!

Huge thanks to Jared Scrivener, Tyson Scott, Mike Down, Sean Orr, Wayne Lawson and the ENTIRE IPexpert team, who have been with me from start to finish. These guys have been just awesome…from Mike and Sean in sales, to Tyson and Jared with the technical material. It’s been a fun and good experience! I got what I expected — world class training, support, and customer service, and THAT is hard to find these days! A special thanks personally to Jared for his excellent teaching methods, and willingness to go the extra mile time and time again, and for giving his students personal 1-1 support!

Huge thanks to cciejourney, the guy that runs our blog at sunpenguin.net! Carl, I couldn’t have done it without you buddy, and you WILL get your digits soon man! We will all still be here pulling for you, and don’t forget it! Carl was nice enough to give me a login here, and a place to dump my thoughts.

Group Study and the OSL — You guys have been my life for the past 10 months…I’d read the threads every day, and hopefully I helped a few people along the way. It is so awesome to have a community of people just like me, willing to help just because well, we love it and enjoy giving back to the community. Special thanks to Scott, Narbik, Anthony, Petr, and so many others that have chimed in. Bryan B, who achieved his CCIE # just a month or so before me…we were study partners and bounced things off each other all the time…good times! Thanks to everybody that helped me along directly or indirectly weather I mention you by name or not.

Last but certainly not least, my family and friends for their unwavering support over the past 10 months and ESPECIALLY my new beautiful wife Beth. I know everybody says this and I know when I read these threads it was usually the part I said “yeah right” and moved on but seriously…they have given up SO much to support me and let me pursue my dream. There were many times I had to come home from work, eat dinner, and by 6:00 PM tell my wife goodnight, I won’t see you until tomorrow after work because I have to study 6:00 – 2:00 tonight, or do a mock lab, or read the docCD or whatever…to my friends, congratulations I am back : ) I have not had time to do many of the things I used to like to do lately, and now I am looking forward to hanging out more.

I guess thats it guys…I know this was long, and thansk for anything that got through the whole thing…this whole post is sort of stream of consiousness at this point. The CCIE is doable, but like many before me have said, you have to seriously want it, and put in the time, effort, and sacrifice to achieve it.

– Joe Astorino, CCIE #24347


35 Responses to “Introducing CCIE #24347!!!”

  1. Dana on May 12th, 2009 2:15 am

    Congratulations Joe. Thanks for the writeup. It is a great source of encouragement for others. Best regards to you.

  2. Mithun on May 12th, 2009 2:19 am

    Congrats!!!! 🙂

  3. CCIE Journey on May 12th, 2009 3:23 am

    Congrats man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I remember the days in the beginning when you would ask me question about RIP 😛

  4. MCL.Nicolas on May 12th, 2009 3:36 am

    Congratulations 🙂 man . Nice post 🙂 Hope I’ll get mine in 2 years arf !

  5. Roy Waterman on May 12th, 2009 4:26 am


  6. lessaid on May 12th, 2009 4:43 am

    Congratulation for your Digit !

  7. Jeff on May 12th, 2009 7:57 am


    It is a wonderful feeling for sure!

  8. Jody #24113 on May 12th, 2009 8:37 am

    Congratulation! No other feeling like it!

  9. cciepursuit on May 12th, 2009 9:57 am

    Congratulations Joe!

  10. Elizabeth on May 12th, 2009 10:50 am

    I’m so proud of you Joseph!!! All the sacrificing was worth it. Congratulations sweetie!!!

  11. routemyworld on May 12th, 2009 11:11 am


  12. CCIETalk on May 12th, 2009 1:28 pm

    Congrats Joe! Thats a great news. Way to go!

  13. navfett on May 12th, 2009 7:14 pm

    Congrats. nicely done.

  14. Eric M. Phillips, CCIE 23378 on May 12th, 2009 9:42 pm

    Congrats Joe!

    I stayed at the Wingate all three times I went down to RTP, and I loved that hotel.

    I also see that you are from Detroit? Where abouts? My office is in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  15. Etherealmind on May 13th, 2009 2:29 am

    Welcome to the club. It’s good to have you ! Well done.

  16. Nickelby Thane on May 13th, 2009 2:34 am

    Congrats Joe! 🙂

  17. Arden Packeer on May 13th, 2009 2:42 am

    Congratulations! That is great news!! Whats next?

  18. Caue Wailemann on May 13th, 2009 6:55 am

    CONGRATS MAN!!!! Wow!!! That was fast! Your dedication during your studies was simple amazing buddy! You´re on the right place now, “the top of the world!”

    I´m so happy you made it!!!! Enjoy it!

    All the best!

    Caue Wailemann

  19. Aaron on May 13th, 2009 8:52 am

    Congrats, Joe. Good job.

  20. Joe Astorino Gets the Digits! | Cisco Study Blog on May 13th, 2009 9:49 am

    […] you haven’t already, head on over and give Joe a pat on the back. Also, read about his experience. It’s a long road if you are […]

  21. Rob Routt on May 13th, 2009 6:49 pm

    Great Job Joe! Glad to hear IPE was such a help in your prep. Re-enforces my plan of attack for August.

  22. gilles on May 14th, 2009 2:13 am


  23. Kim Pedersen on May 14th, 2009 2:16 am

    Congratulations Joe!!!

  24. Mike on May 14th, 2009 3:09 pm

    Hey Joe, already told you a bunch, but Congrats! Glad to have you on the team as well! 😉

  25. Mike(sweden version) on May 14th, 2009 5:18 pm

    Hey, thats great news! Congrats man! You’re at the top of the pyramid! 🙂

  26. CCIE Journey’s Joe Astorino Gets His Digits « CCIE Pursuit Blog on May 19th, 2009 10:12 am

    […] Joe Astorino from the CCIE Journey blog passed his lab exam and earned his digits. He has a nice recap of the experience posted here. Surf on over and give him some love. Comments […]

  27. shivlu jain on May 21st, 2009 3:21 am

    Congrats Joe…When you are going for treat 🙂

    shivlu jain

  28. Steve on May 21st, 2009 7:38 pm

    Hey Man,

    Congrats and thanks for the well told story. I am CCIE #24069 so your tale is timely for me.

    I live 7 minutes from building 3 at RTP and work at Cisco so I only imagine the additional stress to having to be in a strange bed, in a strange town, to go through the exam.

    Took me two tries to get it, OEQ’s got me first round on some obscure stuff, but hey, I appreciated Cisco’s effort to protect the CCIE brand.

    Anyway, big congrats!,


  29. Ruhann on May 24th, 2009 5:35 am

    Super well done mate!
    Great feeling and I hope you enjoy the afterglow 🙂
    Good write-up

  30. Ferinannnd on May 25th, 2009 1:45 am

    Думается, если долго стараться, даже самую сложную мысль можно так подробно раскрыть.

  31. fabio on June 4th, 2009 3:42 pm

    Congratulations… I’ve done my ccie written today… and now I need to schedule the Lab until 19 october… I will talk to you to get some tips with the studies…


  32. George on July 19th, 2009 3:00 am

    Congrats! Must be a great feeling.

    Good post. I am scheduled for Aug / 6. A little worried about the QEQ.

    Without breaking NDA, could you provide some insight into what version of the DocCD is provided?

  33. Community String » IPExpert v4 VoD first thoughts on January 18th, 2010 3:29 pm

    […] of Content The videos are presented by Joe Astorino who trained with the v3 BLS as he explained in the videos. From what I have seen so far (after day […]

  34. Rajashekhar on January 24th, 2010 2:43 am

    Hey Man,

    Congrats and thanks for the well told story. I am CCIE #24069 so your tale is timely for me.

    I live 7 minutes from building 3 at RTP and work at Cisco so I only imagine the additional stress to having to be in a strange bed, in a strange town, to go through the exam.

    Took me two tries to get it, OEQ’s got me first round on some obscure stuff, but hey, I appreciated Cisco’s effort to protect the CCIE brand.

    Anyway, big congrats!,

    -Rajashekhar Hampanur

  35. Community String » Blog Archive » IPExpert v4 VoD first thoughts on November 14th, 2012 6:22 am

    […] of Content The videos are presented by Joe Astorino who trained with the v3 BLS as he explained in the videos. From what I have seen so far (after day […]

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