Struggling to find work in the I.T. field

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by Brennan, Sep 18, 2003.

  1. Brennan

    Brennan Guest

    Hello Everyone,

    I recently graduated from high school about 3 months ago and during that
    time I have been having a rather challenging time finding work in the I.T.
    field. Just to let you know, before I go any further, I'm currently living
    in Calgary, AB (in Canada). I would also like to let you know that both
    computers and the internet have been a strong interest of mine for six
    years.

    Throughout high school I took many courses related to both computers and
    networking. I was actually enrolled in a special networking class - the
    Cisco Networking Academy program - in which I completed all four semesters
    in two years (It's considered a college level course). I struggled to find
    minor I.T. jobs through high school - my first being a three month work
    experience term at a computer servicing shop. Last summer I managed to land
    a summer internship at DeVry technical school. In my senior year I got
    myself a part time position at a local computer repair shop (about 10-15
    hours/week - I learned a lot). Then, as graduation approached, I decided to
    earn some certificates to back up my knowledge and experience. I wrote and
    passed the A+ and CCNA exams both on my first try and with high final
    scores.

    Since graduation, I've applied for jobs such as Assistant Network
    Administrator, Helpdesk Analyst, and field PC Technician (for an ISP). After
    an initial interview (or two) the response from these companies is that I'm
    lacking in qualifications and/or experience (or someone else had a lot
    more).

    My question to any I.T. professionals reading this is - where do I go
    from here? How am I supposed to land my first "entry-level" position into
    the I.T. field? How did you land yours (when you had no prior formal
    experience)?

    I thought that I could get a technical job out of high school without
    post-secondary education - maybe that was very naive of me. I thought that
    certifications and the experience I had would be enough to get myself into
    an entry-level position. Now I am seriously considering attending SAIT,
    which is a technical school here in Alberta that offers 2 year technical
    diplomas and has a very good reputation for finding their students jobs.
    However, I don't want to waste $20,000(Canadian) and find myself in the same
    position I am now - not being hired because of lack of experience. So what
    would you recommend? Attending college, earning more certificates (MCP,
    MCSA, database certs, etc), or volunteering for free just to get the
    experience?

    Just on a side note - When I was going through high school I recall
    hearing so much in the media and from friends that "I.T. is the field to be
    in, there's a mass shortage of qualified workers, lots of money" but I
    suppose all this has changed(Spring 2000 .com flop, September 11th)? It
    frustrates me to see it change so quickly and now the only people getting
    hired have like Phd.'s with 5 years experience. I understand that the job
    market is competitive, but how can I compete with that? Especially when no
    one will hire me so that I can get those required 5 years experience!?!?

    Hope I don't sound too whiney :p. Thanks for any comments or
    suggestions - I'd be happy to hear any input or thoughts.

    Brennan
     
    Brennan, Sep 18, 2003
    #1
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  2. Brennan

    Leythos Guest

    Son, dang I feel old saying that. You are on the right path, but being a
    graduate of high-school is not going to get you taken seriously
    anywhere. There are people with degrees in Computer Science that can't
    get hired, and they have the extra 4 years + internships.

    What you are going to find is as follows:

    1) If it can be done overseas it will be done overseas - find an area
    that they can't out source easily.

    2) Working in computer shops doesn't count for much unless that's all
    you want to do.

    3) Computer sales - again, it doesn't count for much - just look at the
    quality of people working in computer stores (large chain ones).

    4) The A+ doesn't mean anything to most people in the field. Getting a a
    MCSE or a couple CISCO certs would help.

    5) All the thing you hear about IT being a hot field is not as true as
    it use to be. A few years back we could get very high rates and there
    was not much competition - now, with the Global economy, tech support,
    remote management, off-shore, etc.. all these drive the rates way down
    and put a LOT of lot of qualified people out of work. It didn't change
    so much in the last two years, it's a wave that was heading from the
    west coast of the US to the east coast (at least in the US), it was
    always on it's way, but people are just now seeing it. IT has reached a
    level where a LOT of things can be done remotely (off-shore) and that
    means you are looking at people that were earning $60K/yr being replaced
    with people earning $5K/year. Programmers are going to have it the
    hardest, then support center people.

    6) You have to understand that you are in competition with senior IT
    people that are out of work (more than 600 IT people in the small county
    I live in here in Ohio).

    So, how to get started - go back to school - get a 4.0 GPA - intern with
    large IT companies. Pick a special area where people need you, not just
    some remote support person that can be half way around the world. Study
    you butt off and get the MCSE and the CISCO certs (I don't take MCSE's
    seriously unless they have something to back it up, but a CISCO cert
    with an MCSE would score very high in my book).

    Be willing to work for cheap in the beginning - if you want a job that
    has potential for advancement you may have to start at the bottom/low
    salary. It might help to find someone that works with a company that's
    hiring and ask them to help get you in (friends become contacts, and
    contacts become customers).

    I started when I was 9 in electronics (back in the very early 70's) and
    had my first patent by 14, then started with computers (IBM) in boy-
    scouts and through a banking group that helped kids in high-school. I
    was being paid for coding and micro-electronic design work by the time I
    was 16. I was getting paid to design micro-controllers and systems by
    the time I was 18, and then did 4 years in the US NAVY (nothing to do
    with Computers), and got out of the service and was designing batch
    weighing systems on S100 buss computers in machine language. Those where
    the days - too bad it doesn't work like that any more. 10 years later I
    was a director for a fortune 500 company for the IT and Remote
    Development division. I quit that job at the start of this year and own
    my own IT company now. I (and my team) design WAN/LAN systems for medium
    size businesses. We avoid programming, but still write custom interfaces
    to systems. I have not formal certifications, no 4 year degree, but I'm
    also 41 and it would have been a lot easier to get here sooner had I
    done the Computer Science route.

    How can you do this - get working hard at finding a company that will
    let you START and work your ass off proving that you are a valuable
    asset (don't brag, let them see how much you know by the quality and
    depth of your work. Be willing to work long hours and look like you love
    it, never hide when the network is down, stay in there helping and
    learning). Stay in school and get that degree in Computer Science while
    you work (some employers pay for school, or part of it). Never stop
    tinkering at home (I have two rooms of servers and workstations in my
    home, just so I can try things when I have an idea).

    The most important thing is this: If you don't love IT with all your
    heart, get out now and find something else to do. If you love it with
    all your heart, then never give up, work harder than everyone around
    you, and never LIE to anyone about what you can/can't do.

    My wife has a degree in Computer Science from DeVry, I helped put her
    through school (even did some of her homework). She worked for Sperry,
    Unisys, Sterling Commerce, and other places. She never had the love of
    IT work and decided to leave the field after 15 years.
    Don't stop trying - while it won't get you a hired easily, you could
    still get hired for low level positions that provide you with the
    opportunity to add EXPERIENCE to your resume and to LEARN more.
    No whiney - in fact, there are a lot of IT people wondering how they are
    going to get a job too.

    Remember, if you really have the love for IT, never stop trying for that
    job and NEVER STOP TINKERING AT HOME.
     
    Leythos, Sep 18, 2003
    #2
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  3. Brennan

    Jim Watt Guest

    <long lament sniped>

    With a science degree and some experience in computers I applied for
    over 100 jobs before I got one, after a couple of years practical
    experience the people who did not want to hire me before stared
    phoning and offering lots of money.
     
    Jim Watt, Sep 18, 2003
    #3
  4. Brennan

    Rod Guest

    Let Me Preface this with the following: everything I know about computers
    and networks has been self-taught. I have no Degree or Cert's, but I have
    just enrolled at a college part time (so I am working towards a degree).

    My first "I.T."job was technical support for an ISP. It was through a place
    that did outsourcing for dozens of companies, very low pay but good
    experience.

    I was there for exactly 6 months when I moved on to a "Bigger" ISP.

    I worked at the "bigger ISP" for exactly one year, and was promptly laid off
    because my job went to lower paid technicians in London, Ontario and
    someplace in India. Myself and 200 other Technicians...some with degrees in
    computer science and some with thier MCSE's all looking for the same few
    elusive "I.T." jobs.

    I spent 6 Months unemployed before I took a job as a Network
    Administrator -This position payed a third of what it should have, the only
    reason i got it is because the next candidate had his degree and
    certifacations - but he wanted more than twice what I was willing to take.

    The market right now is very tough, and your best friend at school can be
    your worst enemy in the job market. You may have to take low-paying
    thankless jobs for a while, and like was said in an earlier post...take the
    jobs and like them.

    Look for local ISP's, or service tech positions at a local computer shop or
    chain stores (like Best Buy or Circuit City...We have a store here called
    CompUSA that charges rediculous amounts for PC service). Take one of these
    jobs then ask for more and more responsibilities. If there is something
    that needs to be done..DO IT. The more indispensible to a company your are,
    the better it will look on your resume when you go for the real "money job"
    later on.

    I am still a Network Administrator, still learning my trade, and I am always
    looking for the next "money job" to come along.
     
    Rod, Sep 19, 2003
    #4
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