There is a very big difference between studying for a certificate and getting the experience. And I am glad that you recognize the difference. As far as books, I have used Cisco books but it is really dry reading. I have always opted to do more than just studying and memorizing things from books but networking is a more difficult area to get experience and practice in. Working for African Maths Initiative has given me a chance to learn a lot, practice and build my network skills. They have given me a great way to experiment with networking concepts and gear which is good for my career development. I am happy I can now create and set up a server, connect it to several devices, control devices on a network, establish internet connection and share some data across a network. The fact that I can Share some data and control all the devices on the network from one point really excites me. It was also interesting to learn that routers also protect information from security threats and can even decide which computers to give priority to over others. I am investing in myself day by day and really got to enjoy technology. Thanks to African Maths Initiative, my stepping stone!!