When Tylor Kytasaari was younger, he loved to build things, from Legos to carpentry projects. As Tylor got older, he realized he could use his hands to build more than houses; he enrolled in Cisco Networking Academy courses, where he built the skills that helped him exchange a hammer for a wireless router and pursue a career in networking.
After high school, Tylor didn’t take the traditional route to a career in information technology (IT). He joined a construction crew and eventually worked as a bartender at night. For seven years, Tylor raised 3 children with his wife and supported his family through his bartending, but strived for more; he wanted to go back to school.
“It was time for me to switch to something I wanted to do, because I couldn’t have a family working late nights,” he said. “I was browsing through the local community college’s catalogue and saw that they offered Cisco Networking Academy courses.”
Tylor, intrigued by the course descriptions, visited Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Missouri, where he was “immediately sucked in” by the rows of racks, the towers of routers and the long stretches of switches. He imagined himself building these networks in the future, just as he had built things as a child.
Tylor earned his associate degree in December 2014 and completed his Cisco CCNP certification a month later. Before graduation, Tylor had attended an on-campus career fair where he impressed Buzz Key, an executive at Cerner, a global leader in health care technology.
“Tylor was interviewed for a network engineer apprentice role, and someone in that position needs to have an innate interest and desire to understand and work in a computing environment,” Buzz said. “He not only had base requirements, but an extensive knowledge that far exceeded expectations.”
When Tylor joined Cerner in February 2014, he continued his studies and worked for a team that specialized in network security. While he enjoyed his role, Tylor knew he wanted to work directly with clients and put the troubleshooting skills he’d learned through Networking Academy to use in the field.
“I’m never going to do anything in life half-heartedly,” he said. “My dedication and my ability to learn quickly stood out before I moved to the networking team.”Those qualities also stood out to Tylor’s Networking Academy instructor, who nominated him to join the Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team at Cisco Live in San Francisco in May 2014.
Each year, 10 Networking Academy students from the United States and Canada are given the chance to gain real-world experience setting up massive networks at Cisco Live, Cisco’s annual customer event.
Students must be nominated by their instructors and complete a competitive selection process. Tylor was selected and spent a week in San Francisco where he ran cables from venue to venue, worked at the help desk and ensured that the massive network never failed.
Though he already had 3 months of experience working at Cerner, Tylor said at Cisco Live that he “realized there was so much more to learn. I passed the Cisco CCNA certification [at Cisco Live] and that inspired me to come back and learn more.”
Buzz recognized Cisco Live’s effect on Tylor as a Cerner employee. Not only did Tylor come back to work with a broader set of networking and professional skills, but he returned with a new passion for his career.
“Cisco Live gave him better visibility and the motivation to apply his degree and certifications,” Buzz said. “He realized that certifications can take you to a certain level in terms of knowledge, but real-world experience in the field is what sets you apart in the industry.”
In July 2015, Tylor was promoted to Cerner’s North Atlantic remote hosting team, tasked with troubleshooting networks, assisting customers on the phone and ensuring thousands of customers are connected to the Internet. The move brought Tylor one step closer to his career goal, one that Buzz believes he will thrive in.
“We identified Tylor as a potential network architect early in the process,” Buzz said. “He has always shown the capability and initiative to take those types of projects on; he does everything ten percent beyond what is expected.”
That drive and motivation aren’t new to Tylor – he’s been working that hard for years, supporting his family late into the night as a bartender or studying to pass his Networking Academy courses. He may not have known what he wanted to do right out of high school, but Tylor’s vision is finally taking shape.
“Tylor’s future is his to determine,” Buzz says. “He’s got the skill set, the drive and the motivation to thrive in whatever he chooses to do.”
Tylor is also recognized as a role model to others. He was asked to return to Cisco Live in San Diego in June 2015 as the Dream Team captain and to Metropolitan Community College in the fall of 2015 as an instructor.
From a young age, Tylor enjoyed watching things come together with his hands. Over the years, he’s used his hands to take tests in Cisco Networking Academy courses, manage networks at Cisco Live and configure routers at Cerner. His journey started with a set of Legos, but Tylor has never stopped building.
“Cisco Networking Academy has benefited Tylor as someone who went back to school,” Buzz said. “It gave him a motivation, a driver, and with that motivation and the skills he learned, it was a recipe for success.”