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How to move from networking to programming?

By ObiWayneKenobi ·
I've recently gotten a network administrator job, but the more I think about it the less I like networking and the more I like programming (at my last job I did a lot of web development and taught myself VB.NET and C#). So I'm looking at ways I can make a transition from one end of the IT spectrum to the other.. the problem is that I have a degree in networking (A.S. Computer Network Administration, to be exact) and not a Comp Sci degree. Is it really going to screw me over if I don't have a Comp Sci degree and want to do programming, even if I want to eventually be like an IT manager or director or something like that?

Also, how do I try and work around the inevitable lack of "real" programming credentials and/or experience? As I said, I've mainly done networking, and I do that now at my current job; The company's programmers are all outsourced to India, so I can't ask for any programming type assignments there. I don't really want to start looking for another job as I only just started this one, but I'm disappointed with how my "career" is turning out because networking doesn't excite me anymore.

Am I screwed? :) Should I seriously look into a CompSci degree if I want to be a programmer (I was looking at an MIS degree), or is having the skill and desire to learn and solve problems enough to cut it. Thanks!

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Try building programming into your current job

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to How to move from networki ...

Performance data collection and reporting for instance, chuck a database in the solution. There must be some repetive, mind numbingly boring, or this is so complicated I keep forgetting how to do it tasks.
Use C/C++, or Pascal if you like a programmer's language , you'll learn a lot more about the nuts and bolts of coding. After that you just describe yourself as a programmer with networking expertise, not a bad niche at all.

You're only confined to one discipline if you agree to climb in the pre-labelled box.

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I wanna

by Jaqui In reply to Try building programming ...

shoot the guy with the labeller.

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They are annoying little wimps aren't they

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to I wanna

I make a point of upsetting anyone who labels me as this or that. Means they have to think, and encouraging people to do more of that is my service to humanity.

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Don't Worry, Be Happy !

by unni_kcpm In reply to How to move from networki ...

Dear Mr.Wayne ...

Nice to hear at least you are one of those lucky guys who has a job in hand. As regards, a programmer's job is concerned, you REALLY need to UPDATE and keep on UPGRADING yourself when new technologies(programming) comes up otherwise you gonna redundant. At one point you might feel uneasy in learning when age increases. This is just a basic idea for you.

If you still want a programmer's job, continue shaping/sharping up your skills in .Net and try at .Net programmer's vacancy in some other company even if you lose the current one(you have to do it,if needed - you have choose between the job and the company).

Best Regards

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HR Hoop

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Don't Worry, Be Happy !

Programming is not about .NET, C, Cobol, QuickBasic or any other language. They are merely different brands of tool to do the job. Some are better at some things than others, dependant of the granularity of their syntax. First learn to program, then you can learn a slew of languages without any difficulty at all. It's HR et al who would have you believe, that programming in one particular langauge or another makes you more valuable. .Net is fashionable, being good at just that will not give you all the techniques a programmer may require. Pointer manipulation for instance. In fact to be accurate .NET is not a language it's an environment.

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Think long term

by rwidegren In reply to How to move from networki ...

The first step is always to decide what you want. If you really want to become an IT manager then you probably will need to go back to school. The days when you could walk in off the street with no experience and no IT education and work your way through the ranks are in the past. IT managers, particularly in larger companies, generally have graduate degrees with a lot of business courses. The good news is that they also tend to have experience on the network side - which you have. When the time comes, this should give you an edge over people who have only developed applications.

I agree with one of the previous posts about changing jobs. Your goals would be better served at a company where you could at least get some experience writing code. Since you already have a job, you are in the enviable position of being able to take your time and look for just the right fit. You might consider looking at smaller companies. You'd probably find that you'd be allowed to learn skills outside your current job description more readily than in a larger corporation where you have a "written career path."

As far as which languages you should learn, just look at the want ads. C++ and C# seem to be good choices in Colorado.

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Good skill combination for smaller companies

by Ray In reply to How to move from networki ...

You might already have a perfect skill-set for a job with many smaller companies (< 50 employees). Many of these companies have just enough equipment and complexity to need a trained network admin and also have many small programming needs too.
Often that can't afford both. As their network admin, you could develop your programming skills and help arrange for consultant programmers for projects that are over your head.

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Thanks for the advice!

by ObiWayneKenobi In reply to Good skill combination fo ...

Thanks.. I'll look around and see what I can find.. the problem I'm having is that the area I live in doesn't seem to have many (if any at all) small businesses with such needs.. most of the people here either have no desire/need for a network or if they do are complete cheapskates and are unwilling to pay to have a legitmate network (in other words most of 'em use pirated software).

I have a legit question too, but feel kinda silly for asking :) I know that networking (the people kind, not the computer kind) is always cited as the main tool to find a job.. but when catering to a small business just how does one network to find out if they are in need of an IT guy? Just call/write/etc. to companies and introduce myself, say what I can do, and then say something about discussing the possibility of working together? Does that actually work?? Sorry for asking such a dumb question.. I just always thought that was a surefire way to look like a fool because the company may not even be hiring.

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Everybody in Business could use some IT

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Thanks for the advice!

functionality. Some don't know, some can't afford, some are afraid. If you can find out one way or another that they do need a formal IT function, that you can provide. It gives you an in.

Networking isn't about being the boss's nephew's best mate, but being far enough inside their circle to hear their ideas and aspirations, then you turn up like the seventh cavalry with an offer they can't refuse. The trick is to make your inquiries loo like your are doing them a favour by meeting a need they already have as opposed to them having to find a need for you to meet.

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Yes, think small...

by Matthew Moran In reply to Good skill combination fo ...

Ray has it right. However, small business can be companies with between 20 and 200 employees. This is the earning sweet spot for me. I've been consulting full-time since 1995 - earning pretty good money. During the downturn, my earning went up. My focus has always been this market.

As indicated, they have complexity and needs. Also, many are very lucrative and want personalized service.

Lastly, they lack the levels of management to place projects on the forever timeframe. They get started once they are comfortable that you can get the job done.

I provide MS Office Integration and productivity tools for two companies. Basically, building tie-ins to their company data for document assembly, automated reporting and spreadsheet creation, and limited vendor & client access to corporate data through web tools.

Matthew Moran
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