Career in IT Field

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by Jordan6, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. Jordan6 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 21, 2006
    #1
    I am looking to get into the IT field. Not really experienced with anything. I KINDA know the basics. I am more of a Hardware guy then software. Just started school and probably going to be leading into that direction. Any Idea's, Tips, advice,etc about what I should be looking at or heading towards?

    Thanks for any help
     
  2. Bobdude161 macrumors 65816

    Bobdude161

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2006
    Location:
    N'Albany, Indiana
    #2
    Know your software as much as your hardware.
    Play with Windows Server by getting a free student copy from Microsoft.
    Learn Linux and if you know how to use Mac, learn even more.
    Mess with networking multiple computers and sharing files.
    Screw up a computer and find out how you screwed it up.
    Study for the CompTIA A+, and strive for the Net+ and many more. The more certs you have the more likely you'll get a great job.
    Get troubleshooting experience before hand, by helping others with their computer problems, like family, neighbors, random people. It helps to know how they describe computer problems different than u do.

    There's a lot more but that's how I've become proficient. ;)
     
  3. Jordan6 thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 21, 2006
    #3
    Damn, that was fast. Thanks

    I recently just started getting my feet wet with networking a few computers, file sharing,etc.


    I've heard many people mention Certs. What's the significance of that?
     
  4. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

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    Jan 28, 2009
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    #4
    Ugh... waste of time. Most "certified whatever" techs are worthless. Those certifications only show that you're able to pass a certification exam after reading a book, they say nothing of your actual value as an IT worker.

    There are many branches in IT. Server admin, desktop support, application specialist, DBA. Trying to be a jack of all trades usually lands you in a NOC position or a call center, where you'll gradually lose your sanity as you discover that there's no way out.

    Find one domain you like and stick to it until you master it. Specialized jobs are where the fun is at.
     
  5. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

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    Nov 13, 2003
    #5
    I am taking a Bachelors of Computer Information Systems.

    But I have learned more through personal tinkering then through the degree. I started when I was young just playing with a few computers. Slowly I learned MS server 2003. Now I manage a couple of networks while I am going to school.

    That being said most of the people in my degree don't have any IT background and they are trusting the degree will get them kick started.
     
  6. Jordan6 thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 21, 2006
    #6


    That is one reason why I made this thread. I've had been on the phone with a call center rep and they just sound misearable(LOL). I was just reading up on Network/Server administrator's and it sounds like the direction I would like to head towards.
     
  7. jaysinnva macrumors member

    jaysinnva

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    #7
    I definitely agree with this, though certs become less important over time. They're good for getting your foot in the door, and the gov't likes them nowadays.

    Also agree with this. Don't be a "paper certified" tech, please actually know your stuff. Figure out what you want to do and specialize.
     
  8. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

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    Nov 13, 2003
    #8
    I too am working my way into the Network and Server Administrator type role. If you don't mind me asking are you still in high school? Or are you at a university? If so what are you taking?
     
  9. Jordan6 thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 21, 2006
    #9

    I am just getting back into school after putting it off for the longest. Just started my second semester at a local college in my area(NY). I was looking at some fields within IT, and Network Administrator looks like it fits me best.
     
  10. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

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    #10
    So do you hope to get a college degree in IT?
     
  11. Jordan6 thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 21, 2006
    #11
    Yes, definitely. I was looking into some other fields but they just was not doing it for me. At the end of day, IT is the just the way I would like to go.

    How bout yourself?
     
  12. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

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    Nov 13, 2003
    #12
    Like I said, I am taking a Bachelors of Computer Information Systems with a minor in business.
     
  13. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #13
    I have do disagree with the certs. Most of us in the field can judge how good somebody is just by talking shop with them. HR people, on the other hand, have no idea. And in many organizations, those people are going to filter through the stack of resumes before forwarding to the people who actually know what to look for. Therefore, they are good for getting through the first wave or two of eliminations. Also, some of the top level certs carry a lot of prestige in the industry. I have a lot of respect for people who have managed to pass the CCIE, for example.

    Honestly, I have to echo what others have said. Practice, practice, practice. Troubleshooting stuff is a science and an art. A lot of being good at it comes from experience. The CompTIA A+ is a good place to start for hardware. Most places today want at least the A+ for their hardware techs. For the certs, try to get a job with a place that will pay for certs and it makes things easier. To be honest, the degree and certs are a foot in the door. Experience is the real deciding factor. You'll probably start at the bottom, doing things like PC/workstation repair and work you way up. Most places aren't going to hire someone with a degree but no experience to be a system admin.

    Specialization is also nice. You may get a chance in your program to try both networking (routers, switches, etc) and sysadmin stuff. If you do, figure out which side you like. Specialization is good, but the reality is in many jobs, especially in smaller organizations, you end up being the jack-of-all-trades.
     
  14. sl1200mk2 macrumors 6502

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    Oct 17, 2006
    #14
    Totally solid advice. Having worked in my field for 8 yrs now I can't tell you how many people I've interviewed that have a bunch of certs (and/or CS degree for that matter) who can't problem solve or put something to practical application to save their life. In IT (my field anyway) it's all about critical thinking skills and staying cool under pressure. Everything else comes with practice. You simply can't teach someone how to think and problem solve though.

    Certifications aren't bad, but they aren't by any means a guarantee of knowledge or experience. Again, I do agree with the last poster in that some certs like CCIE or CCIE candidates carry some serious weight, but most of them are just acronyms for your business card or resume with little real world meaning.

    Everyone has to start somewhere, so don't rule out call center jobs. They'll often lead you to other opportunities. Get your foot in the door where ever you can to start with. Most IT professionals don't start out making a lot of money. You work hard, often lousy hours (on call to boot), pay your dues and if you love the field the rest comes in time. You can obviously make pretty good (to exception in some cases) money depending on the area, but it rarely starts like that, so don't expect it. ;)

    Don't specialize too much. The industry changes far too quickly to be absorbed in some little myopic thing while the rest of the world passes you by. What's hot today is history tomorrow. Nothing wrong with being focused on 'networking' or 'virtualization' (a subset of something), but don't be too highly focused like 'Juniper SSG Security Specialist for v4.5.07' -- I made that up, but you get the point hopefully. As soon as you've mastered whatever that 'thing' is there will likely be little demand for it as the next 'thing' has already replaced it.

    It's a great field. I love it, I sometimes hate it, but I really couldn't imagine doing anything else. It's just too damn fun and challenging getting to play with new technology all the time.

    Good luck!
     
  15. Jordan6 thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 21, 2006
    #15
    Lots of solid information, Definitely appreciate it. Thats one thing I am curious about. How can you not specialize when there is SO MANY different fields, and how fast the technology changes within IT.


    I may sound like a novice, but thats cause I am;)
     
  16. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

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    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #16
    I'm about 10 years in myself. I started out doing hell, err, help desk, and it sucked. I got lucky, though, because I wasn't required to follow a script and didn't have the time constraints most help desks have. (It was a university environment) While the job sucked, it did wonders for both my troubleshooting skills and my people skills. Calming the angry PC user is quite an art form.

    Speaking of troubleshooting skills: To get away from said helpdesk, I went back to school at a local community college in a networking program. In the hardware repair class, my instructor gave specific problems and specific hardware on his tests and homework. Most of them were odd problems and finding the answers involved much searching the web. His point? Developing critical thinking and learning WHERE and HOW to find the info you need. My first job after the help desk job was PC/printer repair in a decent sized computer consulting firm. That also proved very valuable in troubleshooting skills.

    And yeah, don't specialize too much. You never know when that obscure skill may give you an edge over another applicant. I gave up on it a long time ago, since I have tended to work in smaller shops. For example, right now I am doing Active Directory maintenance, Blackberry Enterprise Server admin, Video Conferencing admin, babysitting out ticket tracking system, and some IA stuff. I'm also backup on several other systems. In previous jobs, I have also done SAN admin, Mac network admin, and teaching Office classes. Like I said, I gave up on that specialization thing a long time ago. :)
     
  17. sl1200mk2 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    #17
    There's a difference between knowing an area and knowing a specific thing. Focus on an area of IT, but not a specific product, vendor or technology. Rare exception to would be something like Cisco who covers many different platforms and fields. Even then you're still mostly focusing on concepts and implementation and not so much a specific product.

    Let me try to give you a real example...

    Server virtualization is something very hot right now and will be for the foreseeable future. VMware is arguably the biggest player in that market... today. You can bet though that even the VMware 'experts' are learning, experimenting and trying other platforms like Xen, Hyper-V, OpenVZ, etc. They are constantly on the lookout for the next big evolution.

    If they were to tie themselves solely to VMware and only 100% focus on that, what happens in 3-5 years (or less) when something else could totally revolutionize the market? They either race to learn that new technology or try to live off supporting the ones who won't abandon it and that only lasts so long. Are you willing to bet your career that VMware is always going to be dominant player? I certainly wouldn't try to predict that with any product, company, platform, programing language, etc.

    History shows us the only thing constant in this industry is change. You just have to be willing to always try other aspects, constantly evolve and always be learning something new. The minute you stand still you're a dinosaur and no longer needed.
     
  18. Jordan6 thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 21, 2006
    #18

    Does getting your degree from a "AFFLUENT" school make a difference in terms of getting hired for a specific job?.

    Last week I was speaking to a IT into a guy who said that. Honestly, I was kinda shocked that he said that.
     
  19. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2004
    Location:
    "No escape from Reality..."
    #19
    I just left the IT field after 22 years...

    I kept getting laid-off and only found work for less and less money... one time I was almost 3 years "between jobs"... :eek:

    Well, if I'm going to be earning that little pay for tons of stress, forget it...

    Hope you guys all find work at half-decent pay...

    I doubt I'll ever go back.

    Should've gone into Aviation from the start - better late than never... ;)
     
  20. Jordan6 thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 21, 2006
    #20
    Got'cha now. Makes total sense.
     
  21. sl1200mk2 macrumors 6502

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    Oct 17, 2006
    #21
    I can only speak from my experience. That said, no, it matters little difference where you went to school (or even if you went to school). What matters is your ability to present problem solving skills, some working knowledge of the area you're applying in and a huge willingness to learn & try new things. Hands down, that's it. YMMV.

    I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you find something you love. There's certainly days where I could throw a <insert computer thing here> out the window and wish I was a strawberry farmer (just anything completely away from technology), but I always come back to it. The challenge and oddly at times the frustration keeps me interested.

    Good luck -
     
  22. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium

    KnightWRX

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Location:
    Quebec, Canada
    #22
    We'll never agree on certs. HR is useless, they don't even know about the certs. The manager that's hiring usually provides the requirements and if your boss is handing out a list of certs to HR, you better start to look for another job. My boss just sends years of experience per systems and not specifics like 10 years HP-UX 11.23, which would be stupid if a AIX guy with 20 years experience wants the job. Generic terms are best for HR. Who cares if the guy knows Checkpoint and your internal Firewalls are all Cisco Pix. The guy knows firewalls, he knows PAT/NAT, he knows of concepts like Egress filtering, he knows how to build proper rules, he knows about IP networking as it applies to firewalls. Typing up configurations is the easiest part to learn, whether it be in the Checkpoint GUI or on a Pix ssh console.

    Experience is key, diplomas second, certs dead last. I don't even mention any of the certs I did bother with anymore. Most of them are hogwash and most of the time, I never waste my time with the actual exam (work pays for the courses or material). Those that I do, I wouldn't want to be near responsible for systems which I'm certified for (ACIA comes to mind).

    CCIE is a whole different matter. First it's not just some mindless written test after reading a few pages out of a book. It's an actual field test that lasts for a few days. It requires a lot of pre-requisites (CCNP or other Professional level certification) which in of themselves require a few pre-requisites themselves.

    If you want to play the certification game, this is one of the top ones. And you can't read yourself out of it because of the field test that is required to pass. That's why you don't see CCIE in every sig in Outlook in your organisation. CCNA, A+, Net+ and all other 5 day courses + written exam certs don't mean squat. But I'm sure no one was suggesting to the OP to go for CCIE before knowing if he's even remotely interested in that level of networking...

    Smaller organizations tend to have smaller systems. Forget scalability, high availability or any kind of advanced systems/networking work there. 2 or 3 servers, mostly overpowered because they were the cheapest you could find anyhow, running some file sharing/domain controller/Exchange. Boring stuff if you ask me, and you're not really a jack of all trades, you're just a surface scratcher (yes, I did work in such a small organization for a few years, luckily, I managed to carve myself a nice niche doing their web hosting system administration and their VPN/DMZ customer integration, so I was still doing specialized work which led me where I am today).

    I know I ragged on NOC operators/Call center monkeys earlier but they are a good starting point in this industry. Don't forget to seek out a specialty you like while you're sitting there staring at surveillance monitors or answering customers. Usually, organisations that have internal call centers/NOCs are good places to work for. The starting position gets your foot in the door and then you can graduate to systems administrator/network support/DBA/programmer/whatever as positions open up. Companies will usually promote internally vs hiring externally, so if you get yourself known as the "goto NOC guy", you have a good chance of being picked up by other departments. I've worked for 2 such organizations in the past and basically had my pick of what I wanted to do (I'm still at the 2nd one, having gone from NOC to systems admin).

    School is one thing, but mostly in the end, you'll learn how to do Start->Run->dcpromo and that's about it. Read and try out stuff on your own. Building a Linux/FreeBSD box (not installing a distro and calling it a day) and actually using it as a desktop for 5+ years is what got me all the Unix knowledge that landed me my job, not some stupid Linux course (which had half of the material wrong anyhow) during my college years.

    Heck, while I was doing customer VPNs at the smaller company I worked for, I even bought myself a Cisco Pix. A 501 cost me about 800$, but boy did I ever learn how it works. I could type up a configuration from customer specs in about 30 minutes without any documentation after about 6 months of playing around on mine and doing other customer's.

    The fact is, IT is very large. You can work for smaller organizations all your life, supporting their 2 switches, PCs and 2 overpowered servers and you'd still learn about new stuff everyday. You can work for large organisation and specialized in a particular field and always be amazed about the amount of stuff you don't have a clue about and need other teams to help with to. You can try to go over everything and go into management (a possible exit place for jacks of all trades with managerial skills) or you can go into programming, which again, is a very very large field in and of itself.

    This is very right. Learn Unix, not Solaris/HP-UX/AIX. Learn networking, not IOS/Juniper. Learn firewalls, not Checkpoint/Pix. Learn SAN, not Brocade/McData/Cisco. This goes back to the cert thing. Certs are mostly about vendor products and vendor specialisation. They teach you how to answer the questions as asked by the vendor (what port does the Arcsight Manager use to talk to connectors ? Who cares, I can always identify it on the fly and in my installation, maybe I didn't use defaults anyhow).

    This is what I mean by specialize. If you ever want to do more than surface scratching, pick a domain and master, don't pick a vendor or product.

    Oh be honest, It's all the great 100,000$ toys we get to play with all day that keeps us coming back.
     
  23. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #23
    While the argument that having a certification ≠ knowing how to deal with a problem, you should still jump at the chance to get any certification you can. Since HR doesn't know that certs are often quite meaningless, they just follow the line and reject any candidate who doesn't have their A+ if the person who requests the hire says it's needed.
     
  24. ZachsMacDaddy macrumors 6502

    ZachsMacDaddy

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    Location:
    Maryland
    #24
    I've been doing IT work for 14 years now. I got my MCP back in 1999 and it proved to be useless at the time.

    Too many managers and HR folks look at certifications as if they are a reflection of the person's ability. With over 10 years of support and admin experience I was passed over for a job specifically because I did not have my MCSE. I despise the thought that some kid fresh out of school can be more qualified because they went and passed some tests, but have no real world experience.

    So, in 2007 I decided that I'd combine my years of experience with certifications. I got my MCSE: Security. (Funny thing, I switched my primary home PC to a Mac 2 months later.) Within weeks of adding that new certification to "enhance" my resume I landed a new job making more money.

    BUT, if you want a career in IT, study hard, work your way up AND earn certifications as you go. If you don't, you will likely be stuck in a thankless Help Desk or junior SysAdmin job for a long time. If you want to make good money, look into Cisco certifications. Volunteer to work on projects with the Networking Team at your company to gain some real world Cisco experience. If you show then you are sincere and you prove you can learn the job and do it well, you may find yourself on that team one day.

    Help Desk jobs are a a necessary evil, but if you don't try hard, you can get stuck in that rut for a looooong time. Dealing with end users is a nightmare at most places. Just keep studying, work with other teams at the office to learn what they do and work AND learn your way up. Otherwise, you'll regret an IT career.
     
  25. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #25
    We'll have to agree to disagree on certs. I have worked places that gave raises for certs, so I was highly motivated to get them at that job. Who am I to question their motives? :) They also work for keyword searches. My current position also requires them to stay employed. Do a search for DOD 8570. Your tax dollars hard at work.

    Anyway, I guess what I meant by smaller places is that often IT is one of the first places to experience layoffs. You end up woefully understaffed in a large environment. At one position, we had 3000+ workstations, and 75+ servers with about 10 techs to run everything from helpdesk to server admin.

    Having said that, I have also done the small scale stuff. A few years ago, I got fed up with the red tape and shrinking contracts, and left a government contracting job. I took a job with a small consulting firm specializing in the SMB market. That was worse than any red tape. I found out you can only install Microsoft SBS and 10 PCs so many times before going insane. So, yeah, it's the $100k toys. :) I quickly looked for something in enterprise level again.

    School/training: I have two Cisco 2600 routers I bought, so I know what you mean. It's fun calling your ISP and saying "Cisco" when they ask what kind of modem you have. Anyway, for school, I tend to agree. Most academic programs barely scratch the surface. I went through a networking program at a community college, and I highly recommend a tech/community college. Most 4 year schools don't touch the stuff, but we were all hands on. In the first semester, we were building an NT Domain and doing hands on Cisco programming. I was also done in only two years.
     

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