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Many questions on where to begin!

    Pertanyaan

  •  Hi, all!

    I am looking for advice on where to get started in a career in IT. I have been all over this site, but there really isn't much for the beginner to go on. To give you a little background...

    I'm a working mother of 3 (4 if you count my husband!), love to play around on my computer, never had any formal training in computers (everything self-taught), but believe I know just enough to get a good start on a career in the field. Problem? No formal training or experience. So I would like to start at the begining, whereever that may be. If someone could give me some direction, it would be greatly appreciated!

    I DID happen to go check out a training center just today. As my husband pointed out, it's VERY expensive to go that route concidering the actual amount of time spent in class. It works out to be around $14,000 per quarter, if you break it down into typical school terms. (I figured it up and these folks are bringing in over 2 million dollars per year based on the numbers they gave me today! And that's for only 80 students per year!)

    Anyway, I guess what I'm geting at is that I feel I would come out a heck of alot cheaper in the long run by going it on my own. Not to mention being able to go at my own pace or as finances allow (instead of racking up a huge bill that's going to have 5 or more % finance charge added to it!)

    Thanks in advance, and sorry if I rambled!
    Annette

    19 April 2008 2:07

Jawaban

  • Hey Annette,

    As a Microsoft Certified Trainer, I firmly believe in the value of instructor led training. There are some things that you can only readily learn from an experienced and talented trainer, who can communicate complex concepts in simpler ways, and who has the real-world experience necessary to explain what is important, and why.

    With this said, ILT can certainly be very expensive and is not necessary for everyone or for every situation. In the situation you're describing I would probably approach it something like this:
    1. Figure out just what it is that you want to do. A "career in IT" is incredibly broad; there are so many different career paths that fall into this category.
    2. Pick a "starter" certification to pursue. Take a look here for a starting point: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/default.mspx. I recommend certifications for two main reasons. First, they are industry recognized, and if you achieve one, it can help you get that interview and maybe help you get the job as well. Second, they help you focus your studies, and this is something that can be very important with such a complex job field out there.
    3. Review the exam prep guide(s) for the certification you select. Each one will have a list of topics covered by the exam, and lists books and training courses that you can use to prepare for those topics. Here's an example: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcts/sql/default.mspx.
    4. Prepare for the exam, getting as much hands-on experience as you can.
    5. Take the exam.
    6. Review what you've done, and refine your goals.
    7. Move forward.

    I know that this doesn't include a ton of detail, but hopefully it will be enough to help you get started. And if not, let us know and perhaps we'll be able to make more and better suggestions.

    Matthew
    Matthew Roche, MCT, MCSD, MCDBA, MCITP, MCSE, MCAD, MCSA, MCPD, MCTS, OCP, etc.
    20 April 2008 19:21
  • The challenge of need experience to get a job and need a job to get experience is not a new one. You may not be aware of this, but most of the students who take technical level classes ate training centers (not the ones for job changers) are there because their company sent them there. I think if I were in your shoes I would pick up a MSPress self study kit or two and get some letters after your name. Then look for an entry level position in a company that believes in training their support staff.

    Others have given good advice about doing volunteer work at a church or school. I would add to that to get them to write a letter of recommendation. On your resume you refer to this as consulting. Get someone who is good at resume building to help you put one together that will help you get that first job.

    Richard Civil, (insert lots of letters here)


    RC
    20 April 2008 23:29
  • Hi, Annette.

    Great replies all, but I thought I'd offer my $0.02.

     

    First, as Matthew pointed out you want to narrow down what you want to do.  The two great divisions are IT Pro and Development.  IT Pros are the administrators who keep things running, and developers create software (loosely defined) by writing code.  These are not mutually exclusive—I was bitten by the code bug very early, but somehow have migrated into the admin role over the past several years—but they are very different activities and it is probably best to decide which would be more fun.  It is important to have fun.  For most of the most successful IT people I know messing with computers is their hobby, not just their job.

     

    I know you’ve set your sights in an IT career, but when people ask me whether IT would be a good fit for them I ask them three questions.  Do you like doing puzzles?  (That’s what hooked me on computers in the bad old days.)  If you like puzzles, do you also enjoy learning complicated things just for the sheer joy of learning complicated things?  It’s a little like “Through the Looking Glass,” you have to learn as fast as you can in order to stay in the same place—if you want to get anywhere you have to learn faster.  Finally, when you run into a brick wall do you have the intestinal fortitude to keep working on it until you find a way over, under, around or through and keep doing that for the rest of your career?  If all that sounds like fun then you’re probably crazy enough to join us.

     

    I completely agree with setting your sights on an entry-level certification, of which several have been mentioned by others.  There is also no substitute for experience, however.  First, you need a play network at home.  DO NOT—UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES—practice or study on any computer you use for useful work: there are things you won’t want to try for fear of disrupting your life (or you just may disrupt you life by accident).  Do not despair.  If you don’t have any spare computers in the basement, the odds are pretty good that you know someone who has a few they would “lend” you and earn you the undying gratitude of their spouse.  You could also add enough RAM to a box with a reasonably powerful processor (one P4 at least) and create a virtual network in it.  Evaluation copies of almost all current software are available for free download.  Then play, play, play.

     

    Once you get comfortable with the tool of the trade, one way to get some “real world” experience is to volunteer.  Non-profits (don’t forget churches) use computers and tend to rely on volunteers a lot.  If you can find one that will let you volunteer to practice you skills you will gain experience you can put on a resume.  Also the executives of NPs tend to be VERY well connected—especially with decision maker types—and should be able to provide you with references and recommendations, assuming you don’t break anything you can’t fix.

     

    There is, of course, no substitute for ILT, either.  The suggestion to try a community college is a good one, but be careful.  There are some great community colleges, but some of them teach obsolete software and techniques.  If you live in or near a large city shop around for training companies.  Some (like ours ;-) are pretty flexible on price, schedule, format, etc.

     

    Finally, keep asking questions and don’t worry whether you are being obnoxious.  In the first place the opinion of anyone who finds questions obnoxious doesn’t count, and in the second place IT isn’t a popularity contest—even though most of my favorite people are in IT.

     

    I hope some of this rambling is useful.


    Mark Russell, MCT and a lot of other stuff
    21 April 2008 20:39

Semua Balasan

  • Hi Annette,

    You could look at a Community College, it may be more cost effective. As far as getting started, I would get a MCDST (XP) or MCITP: Vista Enterprise Support, and look for a Support Position with a company or call center, you can also gain experience through volunteering with non-profits or even the PTA...

    I started working with a non-profit then I went to a small company, moved to a government IT position now I'm a Trainer, l started small to get the experience.

    HTH,

    Jeff
    Jeff
    20 April 2008 19:12
  • Hey Annette,

    As a Microsoft Certified Trainer, I firmly believe in the value of instructor led training. There are some things that you can only readily learn from an experienced and talented trainer, who can communicate complex concepts in simpler ways, and who has the real-world experience necessary to explain what is important, and why.

    With this said, ILT can certainly be very expensive and is not necessary for everyone or for every situation. In the situation you're describing I would probably approach it something like this:
    1. Figure out just what it is that you want to do. A "career in IT" is incredibly broad; there are so many different career paths that fall into this category.
    2. Pick a "starter" certification to pursue. Take a look here for a starting point: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/default.mspx. I recommend certifications for two main reasons. First, they are industry recognized, and if you achieve one, it can help you get that interview and maybe help you get the job as well. Second, they help you focus your studies, and this is something that can be very important with such a complex job field out there.
    3. Review the exam prep guide(s) for the certification you select. Each one will have a list of topics covered by the exam, and lists books and training courses that you can use to prepare for those topics. Here's an example: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcts/sql/default.mspx.
    4. Prepare for the exam, getting as much hands-on experience as you can.
    5. Take the exam.
    6. Review what you've done, and refine your goals.
    7. Move forward.

    I know that this doesn't include a ton of detail, but hopefully it will be enough to help you get started. And if not, let us know and perhaps we'll be able to make more and better suggestions.

    Matthew
    Matthew Roche, MCT, MCSD, MCDBA, MCITP, MCSE, MCAD, MCSA, MCPD, MCTS, OCP, etc.
    20 April 2008 19:21
  • Thanks, guys! At least this gives me something to go on (kinda).

    I've thought about the community college, but my work schedule doesn't allow for something like that. Hence my need to do this more on my own. I have a ton of experience with different programs, either from using them at home, various jobs I've held that weren't computer related but required the use of one to complete paperwork etc., or even doing stuff for my church on the computer. The problem is that I can't find a REAL job working with computers because I don't have ANY formal training. It's all self-taught.

    That said, I also firmly believe in instructor training. That's one reason I was looking at some of the workshop training offerings that I've seen one the site. I can choose to go to ones that don't clash with my work schedule. As far as what I want to do with computers...I don't really know for sure. I mean, I know that there are certain jobs, but I don't know what I would like to do most. I certainly want to obtain certification(s)! And I plan on taking the other steps mentioned, I just don't know where to start.

    Are there any certifications for working with or running different programs? Such as for Excell, Access, or Power Point? Something that I can tell a prospective employer I have credentials in to get my foot in the door? I have these programs on my computer already, and have a pretty good working knowledge of them, but need just a little more to make it a marketable skill.

    Thanks for all of your input!

    Annette

    20 April 2008 22:13
  • Annette,

    There is the MCAS and MCAP, but they are geared towards Office/Business Professionals

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/msbc/mcas/default.mspx

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/msbc/mcap/default.mspx


    The two certifications I mentioned are the entry level MS IT Certifications, also if you look at Microsoft Certified Partners for Learning Solutions (CPLS) training centers many have programs for career changers... also some centers are offering training on-line

    http://www.microsoft.com/learning/modl/courses/default.mspx

    BTW 'm also a proponent of ILT since it is my lively hood :-)


    Jeff
    20 April 2008 23:09
  • The challenge of need experience to get a job and need a job to get experience is not a new one. You may not be aware of this, but most of the students who take technical level classes ate training centers (not the ones for job changers) are there because their company sent them there. I think if I were in your shoes I would pick up a MSPress self study kit or two and get some letters after your name. Then look for an entry level position in a company that believes in training their support staff.

    Others have given good advice about doing volunteer work at a church or school. I would add to that to get them to write a letter of recommendation. On your resume you refer to this as consulting. Get someone who is good at resume building to help you put one together that will help you get that first job.

    Richard Civil, (insert lots of letters here)


    RC
    20 April 2008 23:29
  • To expand on what Jeff said above, I'd encourage you to look into a college that is a Microsoft IT Academy. You can review the IT Academy program here: http://www.microsoft.com/education/MSITAcademy/default.mspx and there's a search tool to find an IT Academy near you. I am a trainer at an Academy and wholeheartedly endorse the concept. Basically you're getting the same training from the same quality instructors, but spread out over an academic semester or quarter, and at what probably would be a lower cost.
    BJB
    21 April 2008 3:09
  • That is a great response Matthew.  Can I borrow/steal that when I get asked this question?

    Cheers,
    James
    MCT, MCSE, MCSA, MCTS:SharePoint MCITP:Exchange 2007
    21 April 2008 9:13
  • Hi, Annette.

    Great replies all, but I thought I'd offer my $0.02.

     

    First, as Matthew pointed out you want to narrow down what you want to do.  The two great divisions are IT Pro and Development.  IT Pros are the administrators who keep things running, and developers create software (loosely defined) by writing code.  These are not mutually exclusive—I was bitten by the code bug very early, but somehow have migrated into the admin role over the past several years—but they are very different activities and it is probably best to decide which would be more fun.  It is important to have fun.  For most of the most successful IT people I know messing with computers is their hobby, not just their job.

     

    I know you’ve set your sights in an IT career, but when people ask me whether IT would be a good fit for them I ask them three questions.  Do you like doing puzzles?  (That’s what hooked me on computers in the bad old days.)  If you like puzzles, do you also enjoy learning complicated things just for the sheer joy of learning complicated things?  It’s a little like “Through the Looking Glass,” you have to learn as fast as you can in order to stay in the same place—if you want to get anywhere you have to learn faster.  Finally, when you run into a brick wall do you have the intestinal fortitude to keep working on it until you find a way over, under, around or through and keep doing that for the rest of your career?  If all that sounds like fun then you’re probably crazy enough to join us.

     

    I completely agree with setting your sights on an entry-level certification, of which several have been mentioned by others.  There is also no substitute for experience, however.  First, you need a play network at home.  DO NOT—UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES—practice or study on any computer you use for useful work: there are things you won’t want to try for fear of disrupting your life (or you just may disrupt you life by accident).  Do not despair.  If you don’t have any spare computers in the basement, the odds are pretty good that you know someone who has a few they would “lend” you and earn you the undying gratitude of their spouse.  You could also add enough RAM to a box with a reasonably powerful processor (one P4 at least) and create a virtual network in it.  Evaluation copies of almost all current software are available for free download.  Then play, play, play.

     

    Once you get comfortable with the tool of the trade, one way to get some “real world” experience is to volunteer.  Non-profits (don’t forget churches) use computers and tend to rely on volunteers a lot.  If you can find one that will let you volunteer to practice you skills you will gain experience you can put on a resume.  Also the executives of NPs tend to be VERY well connected—especially with decision maker types—and should be able to provide you with references and recommendations, assuming you don’t break anything you can’t fix.

     

    There is, of course, no substitute for ILT, either.  The suggestion to try a community college is a good one, but be careful.  There are some great community colleges, but some of them teach obsolete software and techniques.  If you live in or near a large city shop around for training companies.  Some (like ours ;-) are pretty flexible on price, schedule, format, etc.

     

    Finally, keep asking questions and don’t worry whether you are being obnoxious.  In the first place the opinion of anyone who finds questions obnoxious doesn’t count, and in the second place IT isn’t a popularity contest—even though most of my favorite people are in IT.

     

    I hope some of this rambling is useful.


    Mark Russell, MCT and a lot of other stuff
    21 April 2008 20:39