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How Do I Get In The Door?

By Pawel ·
Hi?.I'm a 24 year old 2nd year grad school student with about a semester worth of classes left before graduation. Credentials? MCSE (2000 track), CCNA, CWNA, Sec+, Net+, A+. Education wise, AS in Computer Network Administration, BS in IT, and a MS in Computer Info. Systems (well once the semester is over). I'm real thin when to comes to the "on the job experience" in the industry. Although I have several years worth of lab experience under my belt. After reading some of these postings and talking to a number of people that work in the filed it seems like things are looking pretty bleak out there for folks who are trying to get into the field. I have invested so much time and resources in my education and it just doesn't seem like its good enough to land a legit job. So what's my next move? Internship? Is that a credible way of building experience in the industry?

Thanks guys

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Help Desk

by JamesRL In reply to How Do I Get In The Door?

At some organizations, they use help desk as an entry point into the company.

Its a good place to learn how a large organization works - you get familiar with who does what in an organization.

As a HD person, you will get to know people in other parts of the IT org, and making those connections will help when those people post jobs you are qualified for.

You may face a challenge that many people will judge you are overqualified by your certs and education - and you are. But you need to answer honestly that you are looking to get into an interesting company and work your way up.

I started at a multinational doing desktop support and some help desk duties, and made a lot of great contacts - I was in demand and became a project leader within a couple of years. It was a great way to start out.


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Keep your expectations realistic

by BlueGiant In reply to Help Desk

I agree with James. The help desk or other support roles are a great place to start, especially with a small to mid-sized company. In this role you will have many opportunities to meet people through out the organization and show your capabilities. You also gain exposure to all aspects of the business - manufacturing, sales, finance, purchasing, etc. Use this time to learn the business and people skills needed to advance to more senior positions.

Your advanced degree and certifications probably will not be enough to get you directly into the position you desire without some experience to back it up. This is probably for the best anyway. You may find yourself in a position that you're not ready for without business experience. You'll need some time to be able to recognize when things are theoretically right, but practically wrong. Take this time to learn how to identify what the business needs are and how to lever the information technology to meet these needs. You'll learn quickly that many times your customers within the company don't know what they need and you have to ask the right questions to determine their true needs (often quite different from what they ask for).

Keep your salary expectations realistic. You will probably start at a much lower salary than you may expect for someone with a masters degree because you don't have the experience to go with it. However, once you get some experience under your belt, your education will allow you to rise farther faster.

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Same Boat

by Kratos7 In reply to How Do I Get In The Door?

I'm having the same challenge. I have my MSCIS and only one cert (Certified Information Assurance Profesional). I posted a similar discussion myself. I'm actually switching careers, so all of my experience is in a non IT field. I've submitted resumes for positions that start at the bottom, at the top, and everything in between. It does appear that experience is driving everything.

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Try contracting

by Chuckyg In reply to Same Boat

You can try a temp type firm/s to start. They might have deployment contracts and looking for bodies to do the upgrades of software and/or hardware. If you get noticed, the client company may offer a position. Happened to me.

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Everyone wants to know the same thing!

by mlayton In reply to How Do I Get In The Door?

Must be graduation time :-). The answers are the same: paper alone won't get you in the door. First, find a professional association in your area that will put you in contact with others in your field. IEEE is a good place to start. Second, think about doing some volunteering at a non-profit or a campaign HQ, giving you solid experience AND an opportunity to interface with people from other orgs that may be looking for someone like you (my first non-profit experience, I lucked out - a large percentage of the board worked for IBM.) Internships are also a good place to start. Your school (or even alumni associations if your degrees are from different schools) may be able to help with that. And don't forget to attend the conferences that come through your area to find out what is going on in the industry. And get a couple systems, build a network, install a firewall, and do it for a friend or two - this gives you some "real world experience."

Good luck.

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by ObiWayneKenobi In reply to Everyone wants to know th ...

But what happens when having that still doesn't help? I'm gonna be a graduate myself in about a month and a half.. I have 6 months "legit" IT experience and around a year and a half volunteering and helping out at my college, but I still have no luck even when applying for entry-level jobs. It's very depressing. Maybe it's just the area I live in (Tampa bay area)

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The importance of "Networking"

by wwwdomains In reply to Everyone wants to know th ...

Further to mlaytons response, I don't think I could possibly emphasize enough the value of building a contact list when working in the IT field. Several factors have combined over the last few years to take away the "gloss" and prestige of working in IT:

1 - The multitude of courses avaliable in high school, etc, have de-valued the industry somewhat.
2 - Because IT courses are now standard fare for most schools, there is an over-supply of certified but unskilled people.
3 - A lot of companies are happier now to hire 2 or 3 juniors at minimum wages, instead of people with proven skills and expertise, (the barrel-of-monkeys for peanuts concept), you know, 1000 monkeys typing away for 1000 days can code an entire OS from scratch!
4 - Companies are finding it increasingly dificult to sift through the avalanche of "certified" (and I say that loosely!) job applicants, so they raise the minimum requirements to ease their own responsibility and pressure, where a few years ago if you were applying for a job in a Windows shop, you were expected to have a Leaving School cert, plus MCSE or similar, now though, for the same job you need a UNI degree, Cisco, and MS certs (not to mention coffee and sandwich making skills) to just separate you from the riff-raff as the people hiring quite invariably have no technical skills and therefore judge you by the weight of your certificate's. (usually in grams by the way over in OZ)
5 - The starting salaries are quite often below what you would get in (union-shop)a company as a forklift driver with no skills other than a forklift license. (I know, I have a bus, truck and forklift license having done all three jobs!)

The good news is that as suggested by many other's, by doing volunteer work, mixing at conferences, events, etc, you are giving yourself a tremendous boost and exposure, as you will find that invariably in IT, jobs aren't gotten by applying to ads, a lot are gotten by word-of-mouth from "someone who knows a person who does that kind-of-thing", and by developing associations with people at event's, etc, you will find that over the years, (esp as your skills and diversity - diversity being the key - grow, people will be confident to put forward the name of a person they know as opposed to a bunch of unknowns.

Hope this helps somewhat, it's not all doom and gloom, but I really couldn't stress the value of creating friendships with other's in the IT field, and by that I don't mean sucking up, as those that do will always fall hard at some point, but these associations are what WILL help get your foot in the door. And you'll also find you can make some very good friendships that allow you to build a community of fellow IT advice givers when needed.

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Changing Thymes - Make a Niche

by Bucky Kaufman (MCSD) In reply to How Do I Get In The Door?

I wouldn't count too much on internships and apprenticeships in the IT field for a way in the door of a company with your advanced education. Better to sign on with one of the temp services - Manpower, Dice, etc - to get some real world expeirience.

The "boom" industry in the Bush Economy is in military and police. There's *plenty* of tech work for defense contractors.

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Its a job, not a career

by Chaz Chance# In reply to How Do I Get In The Door?


I think that you should review your choice of career. You only need to take a look at the past, to see what the future holds for IT.

Ask you parents if they remember when the only people who had telephones were the rich, or senior business people. My grandmother, bless her, never got over her fear of telephones.

When I was in school 30 years ago, the only people who worked with computers were scientists. Since then IT has moved steadily downwards in status. When I used to teach applications like spreadsheets 15 years ago, (people used sign up for a 6 week course to learn a single application) computers were programmed by elite specialists. Today every person in a non-manual labour job is expected to know how to use a computer, and almost anybody can write a program.

The status of Tech Support personnel has changed in the users eyes from being a miracle worker to that of neccessary evil, suspected of causing more problems than they solve.

I believe that we are fast approaching the time when IT qualifications will equip you to be the IT equivalent of the person in the office who takes round the mail. Its a job, but not what you would call a career.

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If your serious about it, it's a career

by wwwdomains In reply to Its a job, not a career

To a certain extent I agree wholeheartedly with the general concept of your points, but there will always be exceptions in the IT field, and what stands a lot of people apart from the huge, unwashed masses, is the degree of commitment, and the realisation that if you REALLY want to succeed in IT and have a rewarding career, IT is not a job, it's your career, your hobby, the thing that gives you satisfaction when a tricky problem has been solved, you've discovered a new way achieving a goal, or when you've been of help to other's who may have been stuck with some minor or major impediment to their work.

I have a pretty serious setup at home (to the point that I can simulate my works entire network!!) because I ENJOY the constant learning cycle, and the ability to acquire knowledge essential in maintaining my IT career. I worked extremely hard to get in IT, (10 years working and selling computers, plus electronics/computer cert's all helped). But I find some night's i'm working till 2am trying to solve a problem. And therefore it does pay to have a genuine interest, as anyone who get's into IT that doesn't have a genuine desire to learn, grow, and adapt, will be in for a VERY trying, long, and thankless job.

Probably the most important aspect of IT is the ability to adapt in a constantly changing environment, to be able to set goals, place a value on your expertise, and in turn get value out of your job.

A lot of companies don't hold IT in high esteem anymore, but if your serious about IT, you can always redefine your job by proving to management that your role is not only essential, but can also be of great benefit and worth. Nothing makes the bean-counters as deliriously happy, as when someone in the IT dept shows management a way to save some money!

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