The Cisco Kids

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

When Troy Jilot started working for Brookfield-based Jefferson Wells as a network administrator, he was not required to work with firewalls and routers. But when he was promoted to team leader of end-user services, he needed to progress from being a network administrator to a skilled network professional.

His new tasks included implementing and troubleshooting with networking equipment and network management tools created by San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc.

Menomonee Falls-based MasterLink Corp., an integration and consulting firm, is a Cisco-authorized training provider that offers mini camp and boot camp training for Cisco technology. The classes are taught by certified Cisco trainers from Global Knowledge, a training and solutions provider based in North Carolina.

Jilot attended a Cisco certified network associate (CCNA) boot camp to receive the information and training that he needed for his job without the costs of needing a significant amount of time off and funding from his company.

"The boot camp is two courses slammed into a week instead of eight to 10 days," Jilot said. "I received basic knowledge on routing and learned about troubleshooting, which is what I really needed to get out of (the courses)."

The mini camps and boot camps last on average four days and enable information technology (IT) professionals to attend standard certification courses on Cisco products in a shorter period of time, said Karen Kostrewa, executive vice president of MasterLink Corp.

Normally a Cisco certification class costs between $5,000 and $10,000, but the MasterLink mini camp and boot camp sessions cost between $2,600 and $3,700. When completed, users have the opportunity to take a certification examination for free.

"I have more than seven years of experience in the (IT) industry, but certifications are more for consultants," Jilot said.

MasterLink works with companies to supply the necessary training to IT professionals, Kostrewa said.

The company offers several training courses, including CCNA, Cisco certified voice professional (CCVP) for Internet protocol telephony, Cisco certified design associate, Cisco certified internetwork expert and how to build various Cisco networks.

As team lead for end-user services at Jefferson Wells, Jilot serves as a help desk manager and plans to send his analysts to MasterLink Corp.’s Technology Primers and Application Training courses.

The Technology Primers courses are half-day, whole day and two-day courses for Cisco, Microsoft, Adobe and Web authoring that cost between $250 and $2,000 and are taught by in-house MasterLink trainers and engineers, Kostrewa said.

Technology Primers courses include training for routing and switching, basic wireless technology, advanced wireless technology, call manager administration, Cisco PIX firewall training, network management and Windows SharePoint services.

Application Training courses are one day and two day classes available for $159 per day and cover Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and a variety of levels for Microsoft Access.

"A lot of people who move into a new job do have a good basic background in networking but may not know how to set up a phone system," Kostrewa said. "That is what the Technology Primers are good for."

The Technology Primers and Application Training classes help small and medium-sized companies train IT employees that are not necessarily interested in certification courses or do not wish to make the investment, Kostrewa said.

The classes hold three to six students each so that participants receive as much of a hands-on, one-on-one experience as possible, Kostrewa said. MasterLink will also customize a class for a company or group enrollees by level of experience, she said.

"There is a nice synergy between the student and the instructor," Kostrewa said. "And students can always get back to the instructor for free consulting and advice."

Tom Uyehara, IT manager for Milwaukee-based IndependenceFirst, enrolled in the Technology Primers classes and has been enrolling in various others ever since.

"I have been in the business for many years and have always looked for someone who would give half-day or day classes that would get me up to speed without having to (enroll) in a massively expensive $7,000 certification course," Uyehara said. "A lot of the certification courses cover theory… what I need to know is how to make it work."

As an IT manager, Uyehara said, it is very difficult to be absent from work for a week or more in addition to the high cost of certification. Uyehara’s department tracks independent living center demographics and services for IndependenceFirst, a resource center for people with disabilities.

He regularly consults with seven IndependenceFirst centers in the state, he said.

Uyehara said he is most interested in the Microsoft Access Application Training courses offered by MasterLink.

"We have an Access database that we develop internally because we cannot afford an Access expert to come in and develop the database for us," Uyehara said. "These classes allow us to customize our own database."

Uyehara said he is attracted to MasterLink’s Technology Primers courses because they emphasize how different programs and networks work and because the Technology Primers instructors are full-time engineers for MasterLink.

"In the industry, the certification process is necessary but if (instructors) don’t combine certification with work experience, (the course) does not become as extensive as it might normally be," Uyehara said. "What works in a classroom does not necessarily work in the real world and in the field. The Tech Primers that MasterLink provides take real world experience and teach what the book says and what really works."

MasterLink Corp. launched the Technology Primers courses about a year and a half ago to accommodate the need for IT professionals to either brush up on skills they have not used for a while or to teach them specific systems because of new job requirements, Kostrewa said.

MasterLink has grown the training and certification end of its business by 100 percent this year and expects to grow it by another 100 percent in 2006, Kostrewa said.

"We think we are doing all of the right things and have a number of people interested," Kostrewa said.

The Technology Primers help fill a gap between the need for a current IT employee to be trained and the need to outsource a network consultant when a problem within the system arises.

"We were finding that technology was changing from basic (systems) from a few years ago to gearing toward Cisco. People don’t want to spend a lot of money just to get the technologies started," said Timothy Nehs, director of project management for MasterLink Corp. "We do an overview from point A to point B. If instructed, people would know what the problem was from the beginning."

To further fulfill a need in the marketplace, MasterLink Corp. launched two-and-a-half-hour classes called "Tips and Tricks" for any professional using Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel or Power Point, Kostrewa said. The classes are offered for $99.

Two-thirds of the class time is spent reviewing the applications and their various functions and the last third of the class is dedicated to a question and answer session between participants and instructors, Kostrewa said.

MasterLink plans to continue expand its Cisco certification course, mini camps, boot camps, Technology Primers, Applications Training and Tips and Tricks courses, as well as add new technologies to the mix as customer need increases and technologies change, Kostrewa said.

"You can only do so much training online and at a higher level," Nehs said. "It is what the business community is looking for."

Elizabeth Geldermann is a reporter for Small Business Times. Send technology news to her at or by calling her at (414) 277-8181, ext. 121. Technology news can also be sent to: Elizabeth Geldermann, Small Business Times, 1123 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.

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