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Getting started

By andrew.kaczmarek ·
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I'm just not sure where to get started with everything I guess. I've been in a few different IT related jobs since some time in 2007, have my A+ and Net+ certifications, along with an expired CCNA that I earned the day before graduating high school. I've done IT work in the Army since joining in 2006, but I just can't seem to find a break in the work force.

I started as a PC tech at a local store where we repaired and sold PCs. It was a really small shop and pretty much everyone was both a tech and a sales person. Then I got an internship at a local hospital on their desktop support team, which led to my current position, working third shift as an "Operations Specialist," which more or less boils down to me running a few reports every night and making sure that nothing blows up in the company's server room. I've been in this position for a little over a year now, but that's not so much my problem. It's more that I just can't seem to get anyone to bite and give me a shot to progress and expand in my career. I'd really like to get into a networking position, being that it's where I started my education AND it's what I really enjoy in the broad field of IT.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I could be doing to try and make myself seem more marketable? I'm just tired of working a job I hate with hours that don't play nice with being a single father, but I'm really hoping to stay within the IT field and improve my living situation, rather than make it worse taking a job that I might enjoy more, but get paid less (which isn't a lot to begin with.)

Sorry if this should have gone somewhere else, haven't really been here or posted anything before. Guess I'm just a bit frustrated and hoping for some ideas to spark something.

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Some suggestions, may not be useful to you

by DelbertPGH In reply to Getting started

First of all, you've got an unfortunate time time to be starting. It's just going to harder now, when all the economy is scared and immobile, to get started.

Second, the start is the toughest part. Be flexible, if you can, for the first opportunity. Once you are a proven commodity you can be pickier, and other chances will come easier.

Third, if something big and great comes your way, something that can move your career forward in one quick stroke, take it. You don't generally get a second chance at the brass ring, particularly if you pass it up the first time.

I don't know where you are working now. Some geographic locations have better employment. You might consider a move. Particularly, if you are working in a small town, you are looking at lower opportunities than you would find in a city. Out in the countryside they don't do as much with IT, and whatever it is they do, they pay less for it. Try the nearby city. (Your kids may become more sophisticated and successful exposed to city life than do country kids.) Maybe you're already in a city that's going nowhere. Maybe you can move to a different state. It's tougher finding a job before you move, sure.

You're a veteran; that's worth something with some people. As long as you were honorably discharged, be sure it comes up in every interview. The notion of an ex-army person raising a kid (or kids) on his own is a little inspirational, and may get you a toe hold. Don't be averse to exploiting sympathies like this; if in the end you give an employer good service, he's getting what he wanted most.

When you interview, ask questions about the company and how your interviewer feels or thinks about it. The more he talks, the more he will believe you are a brilliant conversationalist. In general, any time you talk with somebody with the object of getting something from them, remember: it's not about you, it's about them. Try to find out what they need, and speak to how you can address their needs and be useful to them, and not just discuss your background.

You write very well. I don't know if your resume is as well composed as your post here. Have somebody review it. It should mention that you write with a concise and understandable style. It's an asset, and written communication is a big part of any business.

Are you fluent with Excel, Word, and Powerpoint? In finance, Excel is often used as a glue to make one program work with another. Just about everybody in a bank knows how to use Excel a little, so it's a handy user interface when you have to fetch a file from point A and deliver it, reformatted and cross referenced with data from point B, to a destination program at point C. Learn Excel formulas and macros. It's a universal asset, and something important for the resume. Word and Powerpoint also have macro features, though these are less used. However, in an office, you're always using those programs at one time or another, so it's good to say you know them very well.

Network admin people get stuck with minor programming problems, and if they can figure out a solution without having to wait for a programmer to fix it then they are that much more flexible and valuable. Perl and Visual Basic are handy to know something about. VB is the language of Excel macros, by the way.

Good luck. Wish I could say something more useful.

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by santeewelding In reply to Some suggestions, may not ...

I find what you said of sound use. It matches what I would liked to have said, would that I knew enough to say.

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Thank you!

by andrew.kaczmarek In reply to Some suggestions, may not ...

The reply honestly is appreciated. I do have a very small amount of experience with VB and C+ from classes a couple years ago, but that really is the extent of it. However, that's something that I can definitely start to work on myself. Biggest problem being that I can never think of anything to do, but I'm sure I can find "labs" or something online. Becoming more intimate with Excel can also be taken care of relatively easy.

To be honest though, I've actually felt that my service has been more of a roadblock than anything. I'm currently still a member of the Army Reserve and therefore have to attend drill every month, as long with a minimum of two weeks during the summer. During past interviews the question of my service has come up and the employer seemed enthused.... until I had to correct them and say that I am STILL in the Reserve. Body language kind of shot them in the foot at that point as I could visibly see that they were suddenly not so happy about my service. (Shoulders drop, eyes no longer brightened, small things that really just suggested dealing with annual absences outside of me taking vacation wasn't what they wanted.)

At any rate, I'll definitely make it a point to improve on some of the other skills you mentioned, and as said before, I really do appreciate you taking the time to reply. My biggest problem really does seem to be that I can't convince anyone to just give me a chance. Only thing I can do is keep working at it though, right?

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