What is your IT background?
Don’t have one? Get started.
Most people that want to move into the IT field have at some point become struck by technology in such a way that they decided to help others with their own technological needs. IT is quite a vast field – and there is definitely more than one way to go about thrusting yourself into its grasp. The first thing is to identify what it is about IT that intrigues you, and from there you can determine which branch might be most fitting for you. Let’s be clear from the start – if you want to program or design software systems or engineer components – then you would be looking at entirely different fields than the one that I’m about to discuss. Information Technology is most commonly known as the field that supports the already existing equipment, and implements new systems that have been designed elsewhere. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything is laid out in front of you either. Architecting a network, implementing and maintaining complicated systems, and satisfying a user-base are all chores in themselves. So, how can the new guy on the block get in on this sweet slice of pie? If you have zero experience in an IT or customer service role, then you may find it difficult to land even the most basic of help desk jobs. Let’s take a look at how one can get started and what they can do to grow their opportunities from there.
Certifications can open the door to new job opportunities.
Ever notice how even the lowliest of IT jobs appear to require certifications or job experience that the newbie wouldn’t have? That can be a problem. Let’s fix it! One of the most common vendor-neutral certifications for a help-desk role is the CompTIA A+. Now, before I brag it up, I have a disclaimer. From what I have seen regarding the material, this certification is very outdated in some areas. Regardless, the A+ is still listed as a requirement for several positions and you can learn some great beginner skills and gain some real knowledge that will help in the real world. Of course, there are a ton of other certifications out there, and for many environments Microsoft certifications will look great on your resumé. For a helpdesk role it would be wise to focus on certifications that build credibility on client operating systems such as Windows 7. More information can be found on Microsoft’s website. Of course, these certifications aren’t free, and the cost will likely need to come out of your own pocket – for now. Many IT jobs offer benefits which include absorbing the cost of any certifications that you would acquire while working for that employer.
Degrees are great for moving up the ladder.
Ah yes, the degree. If you don’t have one, then you might have a more difficult time getting into the management roles, etc. Now, I’m not saying that it’s impossible (I did it), as this depends entirely on the company. But many companies like to see a related degree when they are interviewing for the upper crust of their IT department. Now, don’t fret. A lot of the entry-level positions don’t require a degree at all. And, if you land a job that will offer to pay for schooling then you’re home-free. This is more common than a lot of people might think. Many companies enjoy growing their own employees into their management roles because they have worked in the trenches and been-there, done-that, gotten the t-shirt.
Experience is where it really counts.
Now, let’s say that you have landed the all-mighty help-desk position. Where the heck do you go from here? Well, as previously stated, the certifications and education can play a large role in moving up the ladder. If your current employer will help pay, then all the better. How do you go from a help-desk position to that of a server administrator? Or a network engineer? Experience is everything. Many people working the help-desk are surprised to learn that their desktop skills often very easily translate to best-practices in a server environment. Depending on the work environment, it can sometimes be hard to make that transition. This is where the certifications can help show your employer that you know your stuff, and are ready for the next challenge. If there are no opportunities with your current employer, then it may be necessary to look elsewhere. We’re here to better yourself and move up the ladder. Getting a well-deserved pay raise and change in job responsibility isn’t always easy when you try to stick with you current employer – because they already know what you make and have their own idea for what you are capable of! So, let’s start looking for that next stepping stone in your glorious IT career.
Can’t find an IT job? They’re everywhere!
A lot of people have a hard time finding an appropriate job, let alone getting an interview. First, consider getting your resume reviewed by a professional. I wouldn’t waste my money with one of those online services, but rather a family member or friend within the field would be willing to help make your resume more pleasant. Once this is accomplished, you need to find as many jobs as possible! Don’t be afraid to apply for a job in which you might be missing one or two qualifications. Hiring managers make exceptions on a whim all the time. You may have several other great qualities and qualifications that would trump those anyway! Now, here’s on secret that a lot of people appear to miss out on when job hunting: don’t limit your search to job board sites. That is, make a list of all of the schools, hospitals, government agencies, insurance companies, banks, service providers, and any other companies that come to mind. Bookmark all of their career sections on their websites. Check them regularly. Many of these companies and their jobs will rarely be found on your average job sites, as they only take the time to post their jobs on their own hosted websites.
Now, get out there and take advantage!