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Preparing for a Career in Information Technology

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									Preparing for a Career in Information Technology
So you want to work in the Information Technology field? In this article
i'll provide some advice to those seeking employment in this field. Keep
in mind these are my opinions, others may agree or disagree.
Mechanic or Engineer?
The first question to answer is which direction do you want to go?
Typically there are two types of IT Staff. Those who administer and and
those who create. What do I mean by this? Ask yourself if you'd rather
sit in a cube and write software, create and maintain databases and
develop applications, or would you rather install software, manage an e-
mail system or create a network or remote access solution.
The two areas are usually comprised of employees with very different mind
sets.
The administrators tend to follow a career path that goes something like
this. IT Intern or PC Technician performing break/fix tasks on PC's. As
they advance they may manage the larger rollout of operating systems or
software applications. Keep in mind the focus is on more mechanical or
problem solving tasks. Later in their career they may move on to network
or server administration. The larger the impact of a mistake the further
up the ladder in their career. Eventually they may manage a team of other
administrators or perform some consulting services.
The engineers typically come from computer science backgrounds. They may
have learned programming of various languages in college. The particular
language is not important only the fact that they are creating or
maintaining applications for systems and databases rather than focusing
on the workings of the system its self. Many of these employees are
introverts. They would prefer to work within their group and make a cube
or office their home. The administrator would be perfectly happy being
"visable" within the company.
Education
First let me say that a four year Bachelors degree is valuable to anyone
seeking employment in the IT industry. Not sure what direction you want
to go? Get a basic Business BA because it will teach you how a business
operates and get you the open door to most job interviews. More
accurately it will prevent you from being excluded simply because you do
not have a degree. If you are the administrator type i'd also recommend a
basic BA unless you find a program that has the current skills you are
seeking. Mainly a variety of desktop and server operating system and
networking skill path focusing on TCP/IP , DNS, WINS, DHCP and routing.
If you are on the applications path than a Computer Science major is
going to get you headed in the right direction. Often companies hire
right out of college because they have been teaching login and
application development for decades.
Those looking into administration can count on resuming their education
either by self-study using technical books, certification paths, home
built networks and lastly for those with the money private non-accredited
coursework at various ATEC's
Once your in your in. Until your in your way out....
When I got into this field ten years ago I took a pay cut to move from my
sales position to my PC Technician position. This is because it is VERY
difficult to get hired if you've never been hired. There are so many
great applicants that there is no reason to take a chance on someone who
only can tell you what they know. Multiply this statement X 10 with the
economic downturn after the dot com boom. So get whatever resume worthy
experience and references you can as fast as you can. To land even the
most entry level job you'll need it.
How to get experience?
Internships are a great way to get in the door anywhere. These are
positions that everyone understands and they are the mark of a hungry
student. If you can get an internship (preferably paid) at a company so
much the better. If you can't start volunteering for any organization
that will take your skills. Churches and schools or charity's are a good
start. The key is to get something on your resume that says you've been
in the business.
Self Employment
The IT world is great for the self employed. For those who want to accept
side work there are many ways to find it and you can do as much or little
as you want. When your first starting out why not perform PC Technician
or entry level web or application development and get paid? Individuals
are more likely to hire you for a few hour of work and you'll gain
business skills and have yet another thing to add to that resume.
Remember the key is to walk into your first interview as if you've been
in the biz.
Conclusion
In closing keep in mind, know your direction, get an education, and its
never too early to start building that resume. Good Luck!
About The Author
John Gall works as a full time IT Manager in Minnesota and is self
employeed as a Consulant for Gall Consulting
http://www.gallconsulting.com; jgall@gallconsulting.com

								
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