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Recent college graduate looking for advice on career path / certifications. Thanks.

This is a discussion on Recent college graduate looking for advice on career path / certifications. Thanks. within the Certification & Career forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hey everybody, My name is Mike and I'm 27 years old. I attended two different technical community colleges (Wake Tech


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Old 07-17-2013, 04:30 PM   #1
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Hey everybody,

My name is Mike and I'm 27 years old. I attended two different technical community colleges (Wake Tech & Cape Fear in North Carolina). The two associate degrees I received were in Web Technology and Networking Technology. I also have extra credits from nearly finishing an associate in music performance. I now live in Berkeley, CA-- so I'm only about a 30 minute commute into San Francisco, and not far off from San Jose / Cupertino.

I'm a pretty quick learner, but I really feel like with all the schooling, I didn't really specialize in anything... I can do a little of this and a little of that, I feel like a jack of all trades computer guy and I'm not sure which direction to go in. I can do some web design (CSS/HTML/Drupal/Wordpress but not hand coding everything.. I mean, I understand the languages and I can change things pretty quickly, might take a second on Google). I dabbled a little in MySQL, PHP, Java, C#. Definitely nothing special though. I know a little about networking (Subnetting, protocols, LAN's/WAN's, wireless and wired connections. I can also repair and fix computers, and build them from the ground up. I worked a little bit with linux commands, not too familiar with mac. I'm familiar with all of Windows OS's, active directory, etc etc.

Anyway, as you can see I'm not too specialized in anything, and I'm pretty sure I could find a desktop support job soon (which I'm currently looking for). I just finished working at UC Berkeley Optometry as a Receptionist.. I was led to believe that I would get into the IT Dept, but that was a bunch of bull.. So now I'm collecting Unemployment and trying to get my bearings back. I feel like pursuing MCSA / CCNA certificates would be the way to go, just to get something else on my resume and improve my job prospects but I'm not sure.

I'm only about 15k in debt with school loans which are being deferred, so I don't have a problem going back to school, or even finishing a bachelors-- but I don't know what I would do it in if I were to go back. And to be honest, I don't even know if the computer field is right for me. Maybe I'm discouraged because of lack of experience and it seems like all my schooling was for nothing--- or maybe I'm just being to hard on myself. I have been leaning towards more of a hands on job because I really don't want to spend year after year staring at a computer all day every day, and the most fun I've had with computers was actually assembling them.. Regardless, I really need to get the ball rolling. I've got unemployment for months to come, so this is kind of a grace period for me.

If anybody has any suggestions on a career path, or certain job options it would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-17-2013, 04:34 PM   #2
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Certifications are fine but without the work experience it may not get you far. I would suggest trying to get either an entry level service desk job or something at Micro Center/Geek Squad doing service and repair. Once you have some experience it should be easier to find a job. Once you have work, take training they offer or study on your own to get some entry Microsoft certifications.

If you're unsure this is the career for you, find something else. It's not for everyone.
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Old 07-18-2013, 12:25 AM   #3
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First off, let me address the jack-of-all-trades comment: I'm a very successful jack-of-all-trades. You don't have to specialize in order to be successful in IT. Small-to-medium-sized companies LOVE hiring techs who can wear multiple hats; they don't want to hire one person to manage Exchange and another to configure routers and another to do basic PC troubleshooting... they want someone who can do it all. Besides, doing one thing day after day would drive me crazy... so I rather enjoy being a jack-of-all-trades.

Now with that out of the way... :D

Certifications are designed to reflect the experience you have... not to show employers what you want to be doing. Entry-level certifications, such as the A+, Network+, and Windows client certifications, are designed for entry-level techs - people without experience who are entering the IT career field. So these are the certifications you should focus on.

Certifications beyond these aren't going to help you become more employable; they're simply going to make you overcertified. Employers with entry-level jobs don't need someone certified to administer servers or routers... so having an advanced certification is likely to make you less attractive to these employers, thereby generating an effect opposite to what you want. And employers with server admin or router admin jobs aren't going to hire someone with a certification and absolutely no IT experience.

Degrees are great, but a degree is NOT required to get started in IT. A degree will simply open up opportunities later in your career (such as supervisory or management roles) that would be otherwise unavailable to you.

I think the reason you aren't sure whether IT is right for you is because you haven't done it. My advice mirrors JMPC's: you need to get an entry-level job (perhaps on a help desk, as a desktop support tech, or at a BestBuy/GeekSquad) where you can start getting the one thing that ALL employers desire: real-world IT experience.

Hope this helps. :)
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Old 07-18-2013, 03:45 PM   #4
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Hey guys, thanks for the responses. I do have -some- experience working under my dad for years on fixing computers/printers/laptops, setting up in-home networks (LAN's, or wireless networks as well). And it's a legitimate business, so I was able to put that on my resume, along with some IT work that I did do for UC Berkeley. I think you may be right that I'm only discouraged because I have not had much experience lately. As for geek squad, that feels like I would be underplaying my abilities. I've seen that before... pretty lame, and most of the stuff I've seen was child's play. I am quite confident I will land an entry level help desk/desktop support position any day now. It's nice to be in the bay area.

A better question that I could have asked would have been... what certifications should I work on first that would be of most benefit? I have no certs at the moment. Thanks much.
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Old 07-18-2013, 04:27 PM   #5
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For service desk positions, CompTIA A+ would be a good start.
CompTIA A+ Certification

From there the entry level Microsoft Certifications:
Windows Operating System Fundamentals
MCSA: Windows 7 Certification | Microsoft Learning
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Old 07-18-2013, 05:50 PM   #6
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Yeah that does look good. I went through a sample test and surprisingly did fairly well, and with a little studying I think I could pass it fairly soon. What do you guys think about skipping a TIA A+ or CCERT and going straight to a CCNA?
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Old 07-19-2013, 06:05 AM   #7
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It might be "child's play", but it is still valid experience. Still, you might be surprised at what you learn at a place like that... troubleshooting and diagnosing problems you never would have imagined.

In addition, probably the worst thing you can do at this point in your career is to declare ANY IT job as beneath your skills before you've worked a day in a real IT job.

Regarding the CCNA, I'm going to suggest that you re-read my previous response regarding advanced certifications carefully. The CCNA is about 2 or 3 steps up from entry-level tech work.
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Old 07-19-2013, 01:07 PM   #8
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I'll go ahead and finish off the CompTIA A+. You say I should also look into Network+? How's that versus taking a lower level Cisco certificate such as the CCERT? Trying to find a good order to knock these out in. Do you have any other suggestions for entry level certifications? Appreciate all your help and input.
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Old 07-19-2013, 03:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjames27 View Post
I'll go ahead and finish off the CompTIA A+. You say I should also look into Network+? How's that versus taking a lower level Cisco certificate such as the CCERT? Trying to find a good order to knock these out in. Do you have any other suggestions for entry level certifications? Appreciate all your help and input.
Yes, Network+ is an appropriate certification.

There is no such thing as the CCERT. Despite its misleading name, the CCENT is NOT an entry-level (nor a lower-level) certification. It bears repeating one more time: employers with entry-level tech jobs do not need someone who is certified to administer routers (for the same reason McDonalds doesn't need burger cooks who can butcher their own meat or who can analyze the chemical composition of the secret sauce - it's simply not something the company needs them to do).

A good order to knock them out in is the order I gave them above: A+, Network+, Windows client certifications. Then get experience. Afterwards, certify on what you have experience working with.

I would not recommend waiting until you are certified before pursuing an entry-level job, because entry-level jobs don't require certifications. Certifications just make you look more attractive. Start applying NOW. Add certifications to your resume as you achieve them.
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