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Old 02-04-2013, 09:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New Member - need IT career guidance

Hello all!

I'm a new forum member. I joined this forum because I need career guidance. I'm new(ish) to information technology and I can use all the help, suggestions and recommendations I can get! But before I ask any questions, I'll share a bit about my background. I'm a full-time college student and full-time employee working in retail. I spent my first four years of post-secondary education pursuing my BS in Communication (electronic media / journalism). I currently taking my last class but I've decided the field just isn't for me because (1) I no longer enjoy the work like I used to and (2) it is not a financially viable option. The current economic outlook for those in the field of Communication is dismal at best. Jobs are sparse, workloads are over-the-top, and there's little room for advancement. Ironically, much of this is due to the proliferation of technology, especially mobile. It was inevitable technology would overhaul the field of Communication. Moving forward, I've always been fascinated with technology and how it's intertwined into almost every facet of daily living. From microcomputers to corporate data mining, I enjoy it all. So, I've decided to make a career for myself in IT. And to get started, I've jumped straight into another post-secondary program - Bachelors of Applied Science in Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications (aka Networking Engineering). Here's some more info about the program: Program: Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications (S300) (B.A.S.) - Florida State College - Acalog ACMS It's an accredited program that utilizes Cisco, Inc course material. A requirement of the program is one must complete and pass the CompTIA A+ and Cisco CCNP exams before receiving a degree - this was a big plus for me.

Now, here's where I'm having trouble. Along the way, I've asked various IT professionals, some with 30+ years of experience, "Am I choosing a good career path?" and I always get different answers. My career goal is to become an IT professional in some capacity - and I'm really enjoying networking. My program adviser is an IT guy with a 20-year background. He says networking is the way to go because there's presently an increased market demand for network professionals. Besides, the work is challenging, versatile and exciting. On the flip side, one of my professors worked IT management for 30 years and says the least opportunities are in hardware-based fields such as networking. And he made some darn valid points. He said companies do whatever is more cost effective and increase ROI. After all, most companies sole existence is to produce profits at the least expense. He said for example, if ten machines for ten employees making 50k annually stopped operating, is it cost effective to hire a technician or replace the machines? He said replace the computers. And of course, because broken computers need time to be repaired, which means the company loses money to idle employees and non-productivity plus the added cost of a technician.

So, I'm wondering "where do I go from here?" I know there are those that say "do what you enjoy" but I want to do something viable.

Is networking a good IT career path?

How can I make myself a worthy asset to prospective employers in this field?

Should I expand by learning programming, completing certifications, etc?

And while money is not the most important aspect of a career for me, making more than I make working retail would be a plus. Some other things I've considered:

Programming (eg, C++, MySQL, Java, etc)
Data Mining
Network Security

Thank you! Any thing is appreciated!
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Old 02-05-2013, 12:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Member - need IT career guidance

Welcome to the forums, and the IT field!

I'm not a pro in this area, ( I'm only 16 years old) but I'll give it a crack:
Networking is an in-demand IT position, it's almost always needed. To make yourself an asset, get all the certs you can, get real world experience, and get tons of references for your CV. Programming is also going to come in very handy someday, so it's good to study up. Programmers also make a large sum of money, and there's work all over. You could create a web design firm, or be the next-big-thing at Google! So, sorry to say, but you need to do what will make you happy for the rest of your life.

Best of luck sir,
Matt
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Old 02-05-2013, 08:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Member - need IT career guidance

Ok I'm in a Vocational program so here is what I have so far and I'm only 17 by the way. I have a A+ certification. I have my CCNA Certification I'm working on getting more in the coming few months. No matter what networking professionals will always be needed to build and maintain networks. I myself and currently a network tech for my vocational school. Networking is a continuously growing field. There are always new ways to do things and most corporate execs don't know what any of it means so they need people with IT backgrounds to help. Thats where people like you and me come in. I love what I do and hope to continue in that path. If you find you like it keep with it. If you don't then see what interests you and try to make a career in it. If you spend your life doing something you hate you sir have just wasted what you have been given. Hope this helps.

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Old 02-05-2013, 11:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Member - need IT career guidance

Quote:
Originally Posted by technologystudent View Post
A requirement of the program is one must complete and pass the CompTIA A+ and Cisco CCNP exams before receiving a degree - this was a big plus for me.
Looks like a good program, but are you sure about the CCNP part? You need at least a CCNA before you can even take the exam, and it's not the sort of cert you get in school. Are you sure it's not the CCENT?

Quote:
After all, most companies sole existence is to produce profits at the least expense. He said for example, if ten machines for ten employees making 50k annually stopped operating, is it cost effective to hire a technician or replace the machines? He said replace the computers. And of course, because broken computers need time to be repaired, which means the company loses money to idle employees and non-productivity plus the added cost of a technician.
I don't know about that. You can replace a computer, but you still need someone to load the system image onto the machine, you still need to connect it to the corporate network, you still need someone to test and push out OS and application updates, you still need someone to clean a machine when it is infected by malware and troubleshoot application or link failures, etc. You can't replace a computer every single time something goes wrong, it's not cost effective. Also, no one in a large business sits there waiting for a computer to be repaired; they get assigned a new one while someone repairs the old one.

Besides, wouldn't it be cheaper to hire someone for$20 an hour to repair a $2000 machine instead of buying a new $2000 machine?

Businesses save money by outsourcing their IT departments instead of maintaining their own, and no large business can get by without an IT department. The world runs on the internet and local intranets and all those networks need to be monitored, maintained, and troubleshot constantly.

I can only speak from my own perspective, but everything I've seen suggests that the field is growing and expanding. My own place of work is in dire need of experienced networking professionals.

Quote:
So, I'm wondering "where do I go from here?" I know there are those that say "do what you enjoy" but I want to do something viable.

Is networking a good IT career path?
IT is very viable. It's one of the continually growing fields of study. It has been for a while and will continue to be, and it's lucky for you that it's something you enjoy.

Quote:
How can I make myself a worthy asset to prospective employers in this field?
Experience, experience, experience. It's never too soon to start. People usually start at the bottom as phone support/help desk or repair tech and work their way up. If you can't find a paid position, look for internships or even volunteer work.

There are internship programs that can lead to full time employment for people with Bachelor's degrees, so that's always something you could look into. Having some practical experience on your resume would definitely give you a leg up on something like that.

Quote:
Should I expand by learning programming, completing certifications, etc?
At this stage, A+ and Net+ are good certs to get. The entry level certs will all help; more advanced certs can get pretty tricky if you don't have the corresponding work experience to go with them. They may help you or hurt you, depending on the employer.

Programming is good to know. Networking requires a lot of work through command line interfaces, and a familiarity with programming will help with that.

Quote:
And while money is not the most important aspect of a career for me, making more than I make working retail would be a plus. Some other things I've considered:

Programming (eg, C++, MySQL, Java, etc)
Data Mining
Network Security

Thank you! Any thing is appreciated!
Network security is what I'm working towards right now. For that, you will definitely need to know some programming and you will need to know Linux.
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