- Troubleshooting, troubleshooting, and more troubleshooting. Cisco does a great job of making sure you understand concepts far beyond just knowing facts. Thus, you have to be able to know the fundamentals down pat and then know how any deviations from those fundamentals will cause Cisco devices to not work or show specific results from the outputs of show commands. If you have a lab setup to practice on, I would ask a fellow Cisco admin to go into a working setup and break the configurations forcing you to explore all the show commands and fix the broken configurations.
- Routing protocol nuances. Beyond knowing how to configure the routing protocols, I would know the relevant features of routing protocols. This is especially true of the more modern routing protocols such as RIPv2, EIGRP, and OSPF.
- Switching concepts. Knowing when, where, and why you use a switch is certainly essential; however, I would also be sure to know how the features of switches work as well (i.e. Spanning Tree Protocol and VLANs).
- Understanding the path of a packet. I would make sure I understood what happens when a packet leaves a source and hits all the intermediary devices in between such as switches and routers. Along with this, I would know how routers filter these packets using access lists.
- Basic configurations. As I mentioned before, you need to understand the fundamentals first before learning how to troubleshoot. This means simple configurations such as interface configurations, passwords, etc. If you do not have a lab setup, I would pick an objective for a configuration and see if you can write out the steps to get there from scratch.
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