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Need Guidance - Is Sophomore year too soon to look for internship?

This is a discussion on Need Guidance - Is Sophomore year too soon to look for internship? within the Certification & Career forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hi all, My career goal is to work my way up to the management position in IT Management field. I


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Old 07-08-2014, 11:23 PM   #1
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Hi all,

My career goal is to work my way up to the management position in IT Management field. I like computer. I have been exposed to computer since I was a teenager. By "exposed," I mean programs, tools, virus removal, backup OS, tweaks, tune up, stuffs like that not just video games. I was able to obtain MCSA certificate in 2008 by the age of 16. Well, I know it's a piece of cake to get it back then, but at least I know I have learned something in there. I am able to identify computer hardware, build my own computer, set up my home network, basic TCP/IP, DHCP, DNS blahblahblah.

Now, I'm 22, I have still been working towards my goal by just finishing Associate degree in Business and Technology, and next fall I will be on my way to a B.S. in Computer Info Systems. The thing that stresses me out now is should I start looking for an internship now? Because the Associate degree has given me nothing more than the Business aspect and some programming knowledge. Although I have the MCSA cerf and the experience above, through all those years my technology skill has been rusted and the MCSA is just a piece of paper now, not to mention I have not been catching up with the newest technology in the field cause I was too focused in business, accounting, economic.....and bunch of GE classes.

The question is, with those experience will I be able to do what the employer expects in an internship for Tech support or similar position?

That's the education facts. About the employment experience, I worked in the school library for 3 years, being at the front desk. So, I believe that my customer service skill needed for tech jobs is enough. The only thing left is technology skill.

So, questions:
1. Has anyone got a tech support or similar internship? During what year of college? What do they expect from an intern? With those experience, am I qualified?

2. Should I just focus in school and take classes that help to boost my tech skill before looking for any intern?

3. Besides the B.S. degree, what certifications will help me increase the chance to secure an entry-level position right after graduate? (ex: A+?, CCNP ?....?)

4. System Admin, Database Admin, IT security specialist, which one is better? (Just an opinion question, I know each has their own good and bad)

Thanks all, I appreciate any advice, comment, criticism.
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:00 AM   #2
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You should look for a job as soon as possible. Neither certifications nor degrees are required to get started in IT.

Don't limit yourself to internships. Take any IT position you can find... including tech support jobs at your local BestBuy.

1 -
My degree is in Chemistry. I went into IT after I discovered that employers wanted chemists with Masters degrees... my Bachelors wasn't enough. I had messed with computers for 18 years by that point.

You'll need to look for an entry-level job. An entry-level job is one in which you enter the career field, so you won't be expected to know everything. Of course, the more knowledge you have, the better.

At the moment, you don't have what employers consider "experience". You have book knowledge and a bit of hands-on experience at home. That's certainly better than nothing, though... and very well might set you ahead of much of your competition.

2-
In my opinion, you should get experience as early as possible. Every day you don't have an IT job is another day of real-world IT experience you aren't getting.

3-
Entry-level certifications include the A+, Network+, and Windows client certifications. I would recommend that you get experience first before pursuing any certifications beyond those. Certifications beyond entry-level are designed to show an employer what you ALREADY have experience with, NOT what you want to get a job doing.

4-
Far, far too early to be worrying about specializing... particularly since you won't likely be doing any of those things starting out. Those are all jobs that you work up to (especially security administration... you can't hope to secure what you haven't administered... and you can't hope to administer something you've never worked with in a business IT environment). Take it one step at a time.

Your degree can actually make it a bit harder to get an entry-level IT job. That's why I recommend that you get an entry-level job NOW, not after you graduate. Further, when you graduate, you'll have college loans to pay back... and entry-level IT salaries can catch a new graduate a bit off guard. I've lost count of the number of graduates who expect to be making big bucks right out of college, get frustrated at the low salaries offered, and give up.

The bright light at the end of the tunnel is this: although everyone starts at the bottom, you don't stay there forever. Not if you have an ounce of motivation and a desire to succeed, anyway. With experience comes increases in responsibility... and that responsibility usually brings increases in salary, if not with your current employer, then with a new one.

Hopefully this advice will give you some perspective from the "other side". It's not meant to discourage you... instead, I hope it gives you a dose of realism so you can be well prepared for what to expect out in the real world. :)
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:40 PM   #3
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Wow, thank you very much for taking you time to write for me a decent advice. I find no discouragement here. I wanted a realistic view of the real world, so I can expect what's coming. I need more stories and advice from guys like you. That helps me boost my confidence level and take on a job.

1. May I ask why my degree will give me a hard time finding entry-level jobs?

2. I can see that too early to worry about specialization now, but do all IT jobs I mentioned start off with Tech Support position? For example, with database administration, what would be the entry-level job for it? Just want to know so I can expand my search for jobs, not limiting on just Tech Support.

Once again, thank you, BosonMichael, for the advice. It means a lot to me.
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:27 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by WayneLau View Post
Wow, thank you very much for taking you time to write for me a decent advice. I find no discouragement here. I wanted a realistic view of the real world, so I can expect what's coming. I need more stories and advice from guys like you. That helps me boost my confidence level and take on a job.

1. May I ask why my degree will give me a hard time finding entry-level jobs?
For the same reason you don't see people with degrees flipping burgers at McDonalds: it's not necessary for the position.

An employer hiring someone for an entry-level job (which, remember, is a job that doesn't require experience) will look at your resume and assume that you're going to be more expensive than someone without a degree. Plus, you're more likely to want to move up out of that entry-level position soon (as you should). Sure, that's great for you... but bad for the employer, especially if they know there's no position they can promote you to. Sooner rather than later, you will likely find a better job... leaving the employer to find, hire, and train someone all over again.

So put yourself in the employer's shoes: who would you hire for an entry-level job?

That said, an employer who DOES have the ability to eventually promote you MIGHT be more likely to hire a degreed candidate. Still, a degree isn't necessary to get into IT. A degree will be more useful to you later in your career, particularly when you are being considered for management or supervisory roles.

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Originally Posted by WayneLau View Post
2. I can see that too early to worry about specialization now, but do all IT jobs I mentioned start off with Tech Support position? For example, with database administration, what would be the entry-level job for it? Just want to know so I can expand my search for jobs, not limiting on just Tech Support.
Most IT admin jobs start out by doing some form of basic tech support, whether on a help desk, doing PC repair, or if you're lucky, doing desktop administration in a corporate environment (possibly where you can start learning how to do light server administration, giving you experience to move up to the next rung of the IT career ladder).

Sometimes people get lucky and fall into an IT position where you do more than tech support, but it's rare. Consider - if you were an employer, would YOU hire an inexperienced newbie to administer your mission-critical network and servers, particularly when experienced techs are looking for work? A company who will hire an entry-level tech to do more than entry-level IT work is usually a company that doesn't truly understand IT... which can sometimes cause workplace problems and stressful situations.

By all means, apply for all sorts of IT jobs... just don't set your sights ONLY on the more-advanced, higher-paying, interesting-sounding jobs. I've seen MANY people do that, either because they think they're "too good" for entry-level tech work (typically college graduates who assume a degree is a valid substitute for experience) or because they can't/won't afford to take the low pay offered by entry-level jobs (typically by college grads and career changers). Take things one step at a time. If you're bright, you're motivated, and you have the right mindset and attitude (attributes that you seem to have), it shouldn't take you long to start moving up the IT career ladder.

There's not really an entry-level job for database administration. Most people end up falling into the position, usually by administering database servers, starting out by doing light database administration, then specializing in it (either by desire or by need).

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Once again, thank you, BosonMichael, for the advice. It means a lot to me.
Anytime, Wayne. Pick my brain whenever you want. I wish I had had someone mentor me when I was getting my Chemistry degree... I would probably have done things differently. Still, things tend to work out the way they should... I'm exactly where I should be. ;)
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Old 07-10-2014, 12:40 AM   #5
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Thanks, now I see why it's hard to get entry-level jobs after graduating. No, I'm not picky or narrowing my search just on high-paying jobs, at this point, any job with experience that contributes to my career is valuable to me.

I have seen many friends of mine changing their majors from times to times. I guess the more mature you are the firmer decision you make ( or we just too tired to change again haha). I am lucky that I found my career goal early. But, who knows I may change later :D. Don't be sorry for the Chemistry degree, maybe if it wasn't for that, you could have done something else, not the position you have now. Things happen sequentially . Goodluck on your way, thank you for showing mine.
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Old 07-14-2014, 05:58 AM   #6
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Thanks, now I see why it's hard to get entry-level jobs after graduating. No, I'm not picky or narrowing my search just on high-paying jobs, at this point, any job with experience that contributes to my career is valuable to me.

I have seen many friends of mine changing their majors from times to times. I guess the more mature you are the firmer decision you make ( or we just too tired to change again haha). I am lucky that I found my career goal early. But, who knows I may change later :D. Don't be sorry for the Chemistry degree, maybe if it wasn't for that, you could have done something else, not the position you have now. Things happen sequentially . Goodluck on your way, thank you for showing mine.
Possibly... but I had messed with computers since I was a kid, back when few people had computers. I was in a good position to make the change. I didn't want to make my hobby my career, but I had to out of necessity. :)
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Old 07-22-2014, 07:20 PM   #7
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Just an update. I went to apply for Copy and Print Center at Staples, but eventually they put me on EasyTech technician, which is a good thing for me. The position is not all about tech, there are sales and other stuffs too. However, I think I have to start from somewhere anyway, right? Hope I will learn some from the position. May I ask what was your 1st IT job? Can you tell some 1st experience you had with it when beginning the 1st step in IT(if it's not too personal). Thanks.
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:07 PM   #8
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Just an update. I went to apply for Copy and Print Center at Staples, but eventually they put me on EasyTech technician, which is a good thing for me. The position is not all about tech, there are sales and other stuffs too. However, I think I have to start from somewhere anyway, right? Hope I will learn some from the position. May I ask what was your 1st IT job? Can you tell some 1st experience you had with it when beginning the 1st step in IT(if it's not too personal). Thanks.
Yep, as long as you're getting some technical experience, it's worth doing. After you've gotten a little experience, you can move up to a better position, perhaps administering Windows desktops in a domain environment.

Before I got my first IT job, I was an Operations Analyst for a telemessaging company for 6 years, where I was also the unofficial go-to computer guy. My first "real" IT job was back in 1998 as a field service tech, going out to small businesses and residences and fixing PCs, printers, and on rare occasions, servers. They also let me help administer the inhouse server. One of my customers liked me so much that they negotiated with my employer to hire me directly as a systems engineer, doing desktop support and server administration. While there, the network engineer taught me how to do network administration.

That's how you do it... one step at a time, gaining experience as you go, which will help you take the next step. Unofficial IT guy -> field service tech -> systems admin -> senior systems admin -> network admin -> senior network admin. The length of the path and the job titles can differ... but the overall concept remains the same.
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Old 07-24-2014, 08:38 PM   #9
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Wow, the time when a customer decided to hire you to be a SA was a great turning point in your career. I wonder, in one of your 1st experience in the field, what would you do if you are working on site to fix a computer issue of a client or customer and you do not know how to fix the problem? Do you google the problem? If so, doesn't it take a long time to research on site? Have you ever been complained as inexperience when you cannot solve a problem?

I am looking for more hands-on experience in the field, so do you happen to know any place that I can volunteer to work on fixing, helpdesk to gain more knowledge?

Thanks for spending your time to answer and chat with me.
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:28 AM   #10
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Wow, the time when a customer decided to hire you to be a SA was a great turning point in your career. I wonder, in one of your 1st experience in the field, what would you do if you are working on site to fix a computer issue of a client or customer and you do not know how to fix the problem? Do you google the problem? If so, doesn't it take a long time to research on site? Have you ever been complained as inexperience when you cannot solve a problem?

I am looking for more hands-on experience in the field, so do you happen to know any place that I can volunteer to work on fixing, helpdesk to gain more knowledge?

Thanks for spending your time to answer and chat with me.
Google is a tech's best friend. :) Experience will help you not have to Google as much (though I still use it, daily!), and when you do have to search, experience will help you to search on Google faster. You certainly want to try to minimize the amount of time spent researching, but priority one is to fix the problem, so do what you need to do.

To my knowledge, I have only ever had two customer complaints. The first was when I was a senior systems admin. The customer complained that I was on the phone while supporting their systems; however, I was speaking with the senior network admin the entire time. The second was when I was a senior network admin. The customer's only server was completely down - failed hard drive, and the mirror wasn't coming up. The owner was impatient, so after only an hour, he called in another tech (Randy) he knew. It didn't take long for Randy to confirm that the problem was indeed a difficult one - and he let the owner know that it wasn't due to a lack of experience. The two of us worked all day on the problem, eventually restoring all of the data. Since then, Randy has called me to help with several problems, including taking over ALL of his support calls while he was on vacation for a month.

You can sometimes volunteer at churches, charities, and service organizations. However, don't be upset if a company or organization turns down your offer for free services... they might already have someone who is providing those services. Plus, even though you aren't charging them money, your services still come at a cost. They usually won't just let you loose on their computer systems... at the very least, someone will have to bring you up to speed on what their procedures are.

If you can fix computers on the side, that's great. I do on-call after-hours support for two eye doctors. I got my first offer about 15 years ago. I was at my eye appointment and the staff was having a problem printing. I told the eye doctor, "I can fix that." The doc gave her permission, and I quickly fixed it. She then told me that she was having another problem that her tech support company couldn't fix. I solved the problem in minutes. I've been her tech ever since. Even better, she told an eye doctor friend what I had done, and he started using me too. They don't call often (their systems remain up and working for a reason! ), but I enjoy the extra cash when they do. :)
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