Back to school at age 46: Everett's path to network engineering


“I chose to study Networking Academy because of Cisco's reputation in the industry. Networking and Cisco go hand in hand.”


Before studying at Cisco Networking Academy, Everett was working in management at a big-box electronics retail chain.

It was his start in retail that first got him interested in networking. “Early in my retail career I was selling computer components and networking products,” he says. “That introduced me to Cisco products.”

A better future

Unfortunately, during the pandemic, he was laid off as the chain went into liquidation. It was a seismic event for Everett, who decided that study would lead to a better future.

Cisco Networking Academy seemed a natural choice. “I chose to study Networking Academy because of Cisco's reputation in the industry,” he says. “Networking and Cisco go hand in hand.”

“I had to learn how to be a student again and work on studying techniques to help retain the material,” he says. “Going back to school at 46-years-old was very challenging. And rewarding.”

Investing in study

Despite everything, Everett rose to the opportunity. “I had to invest time studying to help me understand the material that I was learning in class. It pushed me to better myself.”

After passing his CCNA certification on his first attempt, Everett found employment with Straight Up Technologies (SUT), which specializes in deploying large, fast and secure networks globally for clients in sports, entertainment, gaming, government, and corporate events.

To do this, SUT needs networking talent.

Bring in the Dream Team

“At our events, we’ve hired over 150 alumni through Cisco Networking Academy’s Dream Team initiatives all over the world,” says John Grindley, Head of Workforce Development, at Straight Up Technologies. “One-third of those have become contractors in the field and 10 percent of all students we’ve had in the program have earned full-time positions with us over the seven years we’ve been utilizing Cisco’s amazing Networking Academy program.”

Everett is one of those 10 percent, working as a Network Engineer for SUT.

When he was still studying, Straight Up Technologies reached out to his professor for potential candidates. “I was selected and invited to help at a job site in Los Angeles in 2022,” he says. “After that, I was invited back as a contractor for two more job sites in Santa Barbara and New York. That opened the door for full-time employment with SUT.”

Partnering with purpose

Straight Up Technologies University (SUTU) is a program that SUT launched to help equip Cisco Networking Academy students worldwide with the necessary training, real-world experience, and exposure to walk out of the classroom and into full-time careers in the network technology industry. Everett’s path is a great example of the purpose of that program.

The combination of Everett’s people skills and networking knowledge has won him admiration at SUT.

“Everett is the total package,” says John. “He goes above and beyond in everything he does as an engineer. Everett is a sponge for knowledge, always looking to learn and apply that learning in the field while also teaching others. Add that to his amazing people skills and his ‘can do’ attitude and you have the recipe for success that brings such value to SUT which makes every one of us smile every day in his presence, including our clients.”

“Networking Academy was life-changing,” says Everett. “I would tell prospective students to do it and not look back. You never know what opportunities are on the other side of that door.”



Explore more inspiring success stories at

Ready to begin your learning journey? Explore all of our courses.