The One Year Journey – By Nate Nicely

One Year in the Making

Today we wanted to share a story from our very own Nate Nicely, a story that started exactly one year ago and we hope that Nate’s story gives you the encouragement that you need to get you to your next level.

December 31st

Not really a significant day in terms of the whole year but this day, one year ago marks something very significant for me. While most people were preparing their evening to bring in the new year I was at the start of a new journey that was too good to be true.
December 31st, 2019 is the first time I logged into NexGenT. I still remember the first video I watched of Jacob and Terry explaining the program and the opportunities in IT. I was excited and ready for the challenge and even going back and watching those videos now I still get the same feelings! I started the NexGenT Zero to Engineer program with a “let’s see what happens” mentality. I had a decent paying job, and for me, it didn’t hurt to learn more and if I got a better job out of it that would be a win. I decided I was going to clear my calendar and focus only on getting through the program. My goal: do the 6 month program in 3 months. I decided to force myself to do nothing but work and learn. I stopped playing video games, watching netflix, and dedicated my weekends to watching videos and labbing. It wasn’t easy. I pushed myself like never before and took the exam for the CCENT at the beginning of February–and failed! I was bummed but determined not to let it stop me. I rescheduled the exam for 2 weeks later and hit the books even harder. The second try I passed and it was a huge relief!


— yea. Like everyone else, I had no clue that 2020 was going to be what it was. I came into March and April with a CCENT and a job but was separated from my family because of health concerns. A better job that would enable me to return home to my family was what I needed. I took my CCENT and applied for every job I could find. Nothing. Then came the furloughs, I was out of work for one week and went back home, thankful to be with my family but worried because I wasn’t working. One week of furlough in April turned into the month of May. Testing centers were closed, and that’s when I decided it was time to buckle down and get that CCNA! My wife graciously agreed to watch our kids and let me study as much as I could. I scheduled an in-home exam for the end of May.

Time management

If you sleep for eight hours a day what do you do with the other sixteen? Studying was my job now, and I studied for twelve hours a day, stopping only when I couldn’t possibly fit anything else in my brain. Because I was forcing myself to learn so much I discovered new ways to learn and retain information. I found systems that worked for me and how I learned best.

Test day

I was so anxious, I just wanted to take the test and get it behind me. I felt like I was ready but there is so much they ​could ​test me on. Through 75% of the test I felt like I was doing ok, then I realized I had ten minutes left to answer fifteen questions and at that point I was certain I would fail. I had to answer each question in thirty seconds, no matter how complex it was. I clicked finish and held my breath, waiting for the inevitable.
“Congratulations on passing the exam”

Landing my first IT position

After completing my NexGenT course and obtaining my CCNA, I dug deep into job searching. One of the intimidating parts with preparing my resume was trying to translate my experience from NexGenT into “real-world experience” since that is what companies always look for. To my surprise, one of the companies I heard back from told me that the project attached to my resume from NexGenT is what set me apart from the other applicants and struck their interest to set up an interview.

With an interview on the calendar, I reached out to the NexGenT mentor network and got in touch with one of the mentors who I had built good rapport with during my studies. He hopped on the phone with me and we talked for nearly two hours. He answered my questions and talked me through some questions to expect. It made a massive difference with my confidence going into the interview and it proved to be worthwhile after I received the offer call.

In just nine months, I went from working in the fire protection industry without any IT background to landing a role as a Network Support Analyst earning an additional $20,000 a year! It took a ton of work but has been so surreal.

Thanks to NexGenT, I’ve grown personally, professionally and financially more than I ever thought that I would. I’m in a much better place now than I would have been had I never started the Zero To Engineer program.

Are You Ready?

It’s time to take your career to the next level.  If you want to level up your career, your skills, your overall knowledge like Nate did follow other success stories like Nate’s on our Zero to Engineer page and learn how you can take your career to the NEXT LEVEL.



  1. Jose Torres

    this is my dream aswell and i wont stop till i make i cant give up. Congrats and keep going my dude

  2. Jonathan Castillo

    Great Story glad to know you were able to come through for you and your family. this is a inspirational story


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