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Moving into IT from clerical

By sm richmond ·
After almost 20 years in clerical positions (secretary, project administrator), I find myself as the one-person IT department of a small company. I have learned a ton of practical hands-on stuff from our outside network consultant, taken Network+ certification classes, and spend lots of time on the Internet doing research. We're currently running NT-4 data servers, a Linux mailserver, and Win98 PC's.

Would you offer advice for my next steps? Is it really worth pursuing certification (and if so, in what?)? I often hear people say, "Yeah, you're certified, but what can you REALLY do?" I have a lot of real-world experience, but am unsure how to transform that into an IT career.

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Moving into IT from clerical

by timwalsh In reply to Moving into IT from cleri ...

Much really depends on what your goals are.
I'm going to ramble a little bit here.

Do you plan on staying where you are or maybe searching for "bigger and better things?"
Are there any plans at your current job to change your network configuration in the future?

Any certification can have worth a 2 levels.
First, it can have worth personnally as a measure of accomplishment.
Second, it can have potential worth to your present or future employer as a means of proving you have a certainlevel of knowledge.

Employers sometimes use certifications as a filter when screening potential employees.

As to which certification, that really depends on your goals. Some people just rack up certifications to see if they can do it (and they like to take tests. If your looking to make a move in the job market, you may want to look and see which certifications are in the biggest demand. Vendor-specific certifications (which most are) will only have value to a prospective employer ifhe uses products from that vendor.

While a certification may only prove you are good at taking tests, it may be enough to get your foot in the door to get a chance to prove 'what you can really do'.

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Moving into IT from clerical

by sm richmond In reply to Moving into IT from cleri ...

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Moving into IT from clerical

by TimTheToolMan In reply to Moving into IT from cleri ...

Hi,

Yep, practical experience counts for a lot - especially when it comes to getting a job. But in your case, it sounds as if you've little formal training and so pursuing that would be useful.

Its one thing to know your own network inside out, but you'll find that much of what you know wont be applicable to other people's networks and you wont have had the training to realise what is and isn't possible - even if you haven't actually "done" it.

I suggest two things you can be doing right now to improve your knowledge, experience and future prospects...

1. Certification. I'd go for Microsoft's MCSE if I were you. Its widely regarded and relatively easy to get.

2. Upgrade your network. You're way behind the times with WinNT and Win98 and the experience in doing so will be invaluable to you.

You will come across problems you simply wont come across when supporting an existing setup.

I suggest going for Win2K servers and WinXP on the desktop. While you're doing that, look at new software your company could use too.

Do all that and a potential employer will see a reason to hire you as an IT guy. At the moment an employer would see someone who has run an existing network and may or may not be qualified or able to do work in the "real world".

Hope that helps,
Cheers,
Tim.

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Moving into IT from clerical

by sm richmond In reply to Moving into IT from cleri ...

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Moving into IT from clerical

by PENGUINSRULE In reply to Moving into IT from cleri ...

You may want to rely about your past experience as a project administrator and try to use that background to manage IT projects. Project leadership is an area within IT that is really lacking in many IT organizations and usually presents itself as a good opportunity for your career. You can manage software or hardware projects, but what's needed is someone who is organized, who's good at planning, and who can motivate people. A good clerical person is good at all these things, and this is a way you can really benefit an IT organization. I'd hate to see you get started as an entry level technical person, when your skills lean in this direction, and it's a better way to go. Certifications only do you good if you are seeking to work in a certain area, actually they do you good if you are already in a certain area and then you look for work later on. Most of the time people don't really care that much about it - it's not like the gold is going to fall out of the sky just because you have the certification. It's not a good thing, but you may never see the rewards - about the only way you'll know is if you don't have it - and then you'll know.

Rick

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Moving into IT from clerical

by sm richmond In reply to Moving into IT from cleri ...

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by sm richmond In reply to Moving into IT from cleri ...

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