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No real experience, huge gap in education.. Fast track college studies?

This is a discussion on No real experience, huge gap in education.. Fast track college studies? within the Certification & Career forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hi all, I have wasted a better part of my life doing nothing. And recently I think I have finally


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Old 06-26-2013, 12:55 PM   #1
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Hi all,

I have wasted a better part of my life doing nothing. And recently I think I have finally awaken from doing nothing and in need of some advise.


I have completed a 9 months "fast track" training in Microcomputer and Networking Systems with 8 week Internship back in 2005. I was hired by the company but was dismissed within 3 months due to cut backs.

Since then I was affected by prolong family issue, and being way too lazy/laid back I did not really had a real job that can be placed on my CV(university/part time/ on call/ owner in an unrelated field). I also have a 3+ years gap(2010-2013) which is completely empty.

Right now I am looking to restart, although it's been 8 years since I had my last education I did try to keep up with what is popular such as newer windows server product, xen/vmware, asterisk, mostly in testlab/home environment. After finding an interesting job posting that required A+ I went to a test centre next day and passed it. Sadly I was not able to hand send in the app in time(and not like I will guarantee an interview).

Right now I am a little bit stuck, I know I can score an entry job without much hassle, but without basic microsoft/cisco/citrix cert my goal on server administration field does not seem possible. Especially without University or any 2 year + degree.

One of the option is to enroll in another fast track program in local college, but it seems like repeating 50% of the course seems waste of money + effort? There are other options such as database, programming but they seem to barely related to what I know at best. I really doubt one can code stuff properly with only 9 months of training and no prior experience.

One thing I know is the hiring rate is decent, I managed to confirm with a few students that completed the course years ago. At the same time I wonder would those resource be better spent on banging my head on self study and certification exams?

Sorry for the walls of text and thanks for reading.
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Old 06-26-2013, 01:37 PM   #2
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Without experience, getting a bunch of Microsoft server, Cisco, and Citrix certifications aren't going to do you much good. Companies aren't going to hire someone without any IT experience to administer servers, and neither certifications nor degrees are considered by employers to be valid substitutes for experience.

That's not to say that your goal of becoming a server administrator is unattainable... it is simply something you will need to work up to. And to do that, you need to get IT experience.

What you need to do is to score an entry-level IT job so you can start building real-world IT experience (not home lab or school lab experience). You've got the A+, which is good. If you want further certifications, you should target the Network+ and Windows client certifications.

Eventually, you will be given the opportunity to do light server administration. Afterwards, you can use that server administration experience to secure a full-fledged server admin position.

There's no need to attend structured courses to get certified. Self-study is a great, low-cost option... I highly recommend it.
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Old 06-27-2013, 07:48 AM   #3
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Thanks for your reply, I do agree it is unlikely one will go straight from fresh to server admin(I certainly won't let one touch it unless I know him/her for a long time and know what he is capable to do). I just find it would be somewhat hard if one can transition from desktop support to server. Seems like most desktop support have 0 interaction with server level, as most other work are probably forwarded to admin to follow up.

I am going to try for entry job as suggested. I have seen a few CV that is very different to the normal CV... Where they have included what their computer Proficiency are. From server, router all the way to 100's of software they may have interacted. Is that necessary? To me it seems a little bit overkill. At the same time I am afraid my CV may be a little bit too empty with merely an A+(which TBH I am not sure should I bother putting it in).

One last thing, for self studying is there anywhere one can find if a book is good for certification study? Should one start at MTA, MCITP? The new Microsoft certification seems to be a little bit confusing.
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Old 06-27-2013, 08:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belinik View Post
Thanks for your reply, I do agree it is unlikely one will go straight from fresh to server admin(I certainly won't let one touch it unless I know him/her for a long time and know what he is capable to do). I just find it would be somewhat hard if one can transition from desktop support to server. Seems like most desktop support have 0 interaction with server level, as most other work are probably forwarded to admin to follow up.
Thing is, I did exactly that. As a field service tech, I was allowed to help administer user accounts at the home office. When I gained my supervisor's trust, I was allowed to do server maintenance at client sites. Eventually, I was bought out and hired by one of those clients to be a systems admin, doing both server and desktop administration. I shadowed the senior admin, who taught me many things (including a good bit of network administration). In my 15 years in the industry, this is typically how I have seen people progress up the IT career ladder.

Some of it depends on where you end up. If you do happen to end up in an entry-level job with no chance to progress, you should make a lateral shift to a position where it is more likely that you will be given that opportunity.

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I am going to try for entry job as suggested. I have seen a few CV that is very different to the normal CV... Where they have included what their computer Proficiency are. From server, router all the way to 100's of software they may have interacted. Is that necessary? To me it seems a little bit overkill. At the same time I am afraid my CV may be a little bit too empty with merely an A+(which TBH I am not sure should I bother putting it in).
Yeah, you definitely want to maintain a balance between "too full" and "too empty". I obviously don't list all the software packages I have administered... but I do highlight a few important ones. I don't list every Windows platform I have administered, but I do say that I have administered Windows platforms. You just want to make sure that you can get the reader's attention within 15 seconds. You won't be able to do that with a wall 'o text. If you can get them interested enough in 15 seconds, they'll put your resume in the "keep" pile and review it in more detail later.

Of course, if your resume is sparse, add in relevant information to beef it up. Use bulleted lists, which are easy to scan through. Be truthful, but play up your strengths. And don't feel like you need to add every little detail - those can be brought up at the interview.

Example: I don't list every firewall package I've worked with. When I get an interview, they might ask me if I've worked with the one that they currently use. The key is that listed that I can administer firewalls, which got them interested enough to give me an interview.

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One last thing, for self studying is there anywhere one can find if a book is good for certification study? Should one start at MTA, MCITP? The new Microsoft certification seems to be a little bit confusing.
Books are as varied as the authors who write them. For CompTIA, I tend to like the All-in-One books. For Microsoft, Microsoft Press can be dry, but the material is there. For Cisco, Cisco Press are usually good. For a secondary reference for all three of those, Sybex is pretty solid and an easy read (Disclaimer: I wrote a Sybex book several years ago).

The new Microsoft certifications ARE confusing. They abandoned the MCP and MCSE, replacing it with MCITP, and now they've brought the MCSE back again.

I would recommend that you pay less attention on the acronyms and pay more attention to the job roles that the certification focuses on. By that, I mean if you want to certify on Windows 7 administration (which you will likely do as an entry-level tech), take a look at certifications that deal with administering Windows 7. It has been a while since I looked at the new tracks (I deal mostly with Cisco these days) but I'll take a look and help you target some if you can't find what you're looking for.
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:41 AM   #5
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Thanks for the detail reply BosonMichael. Your experience definitely cleared up majority of my issues.

Rebuilding my CV atm after going to 2 head-hunter agency recently. Both told me I have 4 years of experience(I wrote oncall) in the field and 2+ years in management from the look of my CV and think I should not look at anything lower then 42-45k.... I thank them for their time and did not send in my CV for them to process....

I will probably just register to take network + exam... quick look at the scope just now I am quite convinced I can pass like A+. After that I think I am going to reach out to windows 7... Will probably try Sybex as I hate Microsoft press(almost threw it out the window as I find it very difficult to adsorb the material.)
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Old 06-27-2013, 03:13 PM   #6
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Glad to help! Hey, if for some crazy reason you decide to take the Vista exam, I know a good book... ha! ;)

Keep us posted on your progress, Belinik!
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Old 06-28-2013, 04:36 PM   #7
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Glad to help! Hey, if for some crazy reason you decide to take the Vista exam, I know a good book... ha! ;)

Keep us posted on your progress, Belinik!
I have that book somewhere, I forget one of the Authors names, oh yeah it was you :)
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