Impressions from my first Cisco Live event

I recently attended my first Cisco Live event. It was an overwhelming week full of information, ideas, and a near limitless supply of t-shirts. I’m mostly writing to organize my thoughts and review what I want to take from the experience for next year.

1) As many other bloggers have noted, wear comfortable shoes. I took running shoes and my ever-comfortable military boots, but ended up buying new shoes halfway through the week. Something with memory foam, and room for your feet to swell is really ideal. You will do a lot of walking – more than you think. Someone tweeted their Fitbit statistics for the day midway through the week, and they were just shy of 40,000 steps. The convention center was enormous, and I walked from one end to the other on more than one occasion.

2) Schedule your sessions as soon as possible. Some of the sessions I wanted to attend were full pretty early, and I wasn’t sure how the waitlisting process would work. That said, don’t be afraid to waitlist a session. The lines for those on the waitlist weren’t terribly long for most of the sessions I walked by, and it seemed like most people got it.

3) Allow down-time for yourself. I tried to sign up for as many sessions as I could, without breaks between them. For instance, I would get out of a sessions at 10:00 and found I was supposed to be across the convention center to start the next session at the same time. It really is too big to try and make it all the way across before the next session gets underway. I don’t know if they would still let someone in after a session has started, but it seemed rude to interrupt the session.

4) If you’re responsible for purchasing or decision making, visit the World of Solutions. Spend some quality time there. Having all of the vendors in one place to talk to was very beneficial. There’s more to see in the World of Solutions than I was able to get to in just an hour or two.

5) Expect to snack all day long. From breakfast onward, it seemed there was always something around to snack on throughout the day. These ranged from healthy snacks like fruit and granola bars, to the more traditional IT staple: Snickers and Coke. Between snacking all day and the evening receptions, I think I only paid for food Sunday night and Thursday night.

6) Although there were a lot of great breakout sessions, I would like to see more sessions focusing on public sector in general and education in particular. I attended a couple of these, but would love to see more. Likewise, more associate level breakout sessions would be great. Many of the breakouts were at a higher level than those preparing for or have just received their CCNA. Maybe this isn’t the target audience, but I’m sure there were a lot of us there.

7) Take a certification exam while you’re there. Seriously, whether you think you’re ready or not, take the test. Everybody that buys a full conference pass gets an exam voucher. Yes, it was frustrating spending all of my free time studying for an exam, but it was completely worth it. The test center crew handled a lot of people very efficiently. I showed up thirty minutes early for my exam and got right in. At the very least, you’ll get some experience with the exam you’re working toward and know what to expect when you’re footing the bill – assuming you even need a re-take. Shameless plug here – I passed!

8) Finally, enjoy the venue. I’m seeing more pictures from around San Diego taken by other attendees. I wish now that I had made more time to see the sites and take in the local scenery.

Take from these what you will, your opinions may vary. If I’ve missed anything, let me know in the comments or on twitter @srpeters18.

Hope to see you in Las Vegas next year at CLUS 2016!

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