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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Discouraged, need some career advice

    Hello,

    I am less than a year away from a BS in Information Technology. I currently hold the Comptia's Network+ and MCP certifications. Shortly I will have the A+ certification. I am working towards one of the Java certs also. I have ZERO on the job experience. I have surfed many job sites and all I see is that word "experience" By the time I finish I will have about 7 certifications. I am so discouraged. I know a lot of people are where they are because of who they know. I am firm believer in hard work leads to advancement. But that seems not to be the case anymore. I posted my resume on Monster.com just to see what kind of offers I would receive. (0) I even contacted a few temp agencies who deal with the IT field, even they wanted experience. I must say I am in love with IT. I think I finally found one of my nitches in life. But all this education seems to be for naught. How in the world will I get any experience? Another lil problem. I have been a clerical asst all of my working life. As boring as it is, I have reached a certain level of pay ($16/hr - just above poverty). From what I have seen as far as jobs in IT with no experience, starting pay is no where near that. Maybe someone out there can tell me something that will help lift this discouragement.

    OneLuv

  • #2
    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    We could tell you things to lift your discouragement but that would mostly be lies.
    Firstly, if you think $16 an hour is poverty, then you are very luck to have never been poor. Perhaps you're unaware of the minimum wage ($5.45 for wisconsin iirc) - thats poverty, in the UK we're not even allowed to pay children that little.

    It seems to me that you've wasted a lot of time obtaining meaningless certifications. 6 Months experience would have been more valuable than any of them.
    Believe it or not, there is such a thing as TOO much education. A string of certifications and no experience says this person is desperate, they have no focus and they're unemployable. It says this person cant get a job so they do another certificate, they still cant get a job so they do another. This person doesnt know what they want to do with their life.

    I'm hiring at the moment so I've had to look through loads of cvs, this is how I look at them.

    #1. How old are they - sets the tone for the whole CV, I'm not judging on age per se but it helps put the rest of the CV in perspective
    #2. Education: anyone my age +/-5 years - degree almost essential , anyone older than that its a bonus but not essential. Then I look at A levels (exams taken at 18) and how they relate to the choice of degree or subsequent line of work, I've seen CVs with A levels in political history, geography and economics etc go on to do comp sci degrees - again suggesting a lack of focus and falling into the trap that theres big money to be made in IT. If they dont have a degree, glance at the other qualifications but really just skip down to experience and look for related work experience, if theres nothing there then move on to the next one.

    Now that all might seem a bit harsh but thats the way it is, interviews take time away from work so you have to limit the number you give, if you have a stack of CVs you set your criteria and bin any that dont meet it.

    You say you're in love with IT and want to get a job in it, well first IT is a HUGE umbrella term, be more specific, if you're really serious about a career change then you have to focus on what you want and go for it. Otherwise your cv will end up in the bin just like everyone else who fell into the money in IT trap. Only include the most relavent certifications on your CV and creatively word your work experience - I'm not saying lie, but in your clerical duties you must have used computers in some way - focus on those elements of the job and any others that are related to the job you're applying for, even if that means having several different CVs.
    Do whatever it takes to get that first job and that almost certainly will mean a drop in pay. But remember as an older person with no experience you will almost always be at a disadvantage compared to straight out of uni/college candidates - they have an excuse for having no experice and they're also easier to boss around

  • #3
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    Thanks a bunch!

    Thank you for being honest. I should have put LOL after the hourly pay statement. True there are those making minimum wage, but my rent is $1000/month, that wouldnt cut it for me. I shall say that at 36 this is my 3rd stint in college. First time outta high school someone was trying to kill me...had to leave. Got a job made too much money for financial aid...couldnt go back right away. Had a baby waited until she was school age, went back to college. Suffered a back injury and now 3 yrs later, im back at school again. As far as the certifications...wasnt my idea. When I entered school I wanted a BS in IT- Network Management. They changed my degree mid way, now it includes what I consider all of these unnecessary certifications. (Seeing that I want to deal with Networking only). That might change, Im taking a Java class now and I truly enjoy it. I would never choose a career based on money, that is the losers way out. It has to captivate and hold my attention or its a waste. This was one of my interests that is ever changing. That is why I chose IT. As far as clerical duties, yes I have lots of computer experience there Was in on the implementation of our counties online court information site. blah, blah, blah,

    Thanks again, truth may hurt, but only the truth repeats itself. And I can live with the truth.

  • #4
    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    Maybe you need to write a better CV.
    Dont mention the 2 previous college attempts, murder, babies and back pain might make a great novel but they dont set the right tone for your CV.
    Dont include the certifications in your CV unless they're relevant to the job you're applying for. Definately mention that you're studying for your degree.
    The issue I see here is that I'm assuming you have a full time job and are studying part time and you have a daughter - doesnt leave a lot of time for getting part time work experience. Obviously you cant quit your job and networking isnt really something you can freelance. You say you're really enjoying java, that might be a better option for you but I'm not sure what the career opportunities are like for java programmers. But with something like java you always have the potential to knock their socks off with a stunning piece of portfolio work that could make up for the lack of relevant job experience.

    But definately play up the counties online court site, and any other related stuff from your job. Remember, everyone exaggerates on their CV and all employers expect it and compensate accordingly

  • #5
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    A couple of thoughts...

    Have you considered freelancing? Starting your own business, although far more risky than employment, might be a good option. Especially considering that you're looking for more that $16 / hour. I know networking consultants that charge in excess of $125 / hour with ease and they're still turning down work.

    If you go the freelancer route, you'll also drop alot of the, what I call "bogus paper" requirements. Client's usually don't care about your education, they care about your abilities and your service. Sure, you'll get an occasional client that will ask, but in general if you can get the job done on time and on budget, with a smile on your face, you're going to be golden.

    Also, don't plan on big hopes right off the bat. Start networking now. Does your local school / library / church / etc need an IT professional? If so, volunteer. EVERY FREELANCER I KNOW started out with volunteer gigs. Ask freinds or family if they know anyone that might need an IT professional. I started out moonlighting at a company that paid only $10 / hour. Doing something like this will give you some real world experience. If you've already got a job, I would probably consider moon-lighting for a few months to build up your network.

    If you're dead set on working FOR someone, then you'll probably need to moonlight to get some real entries on your resume anyway.

    Good luck in your career.

  • #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarl314
    If you go the freelancer route, you'll also drop alot of the, what I call "bogus paper" requirements. Client's usually don't care about your education, they care about your abilities and your service. Sure, you'll get an occasional client that will ask, but in general if you can get the job done on time and on budget, with a smile on your face, you're going to be golden.
    I agree

    Quote Originally Posted by bcarl314
    EVERY FREELANCER I KNOW started out with volunteer gigs.
    Yep. Thats definetly the route to start getting some experience and some good contacts. Hard work can lead to advancement but also as important as it is to be good at your job, IMO is knowing people. You do that quick little volunteer gig to setup some little small office network and do a good job people remember. Then when they are talking to someone and they are like "we need someone to fix our network" they'll go "you know what, you should give such and such a call" Then if you do want to get a job working for someone you'll have some experience even if it is just volunteer.

    If you are wanting to do networking, I'd say you should also pick up learning VBScript if you plan on doing a lot of Windows networking, it comes in very handy in doing quick little things in Windows so you'll benefit from knowing it.
    Last edited by oracleguy; 05-10-2006 at 02:58 AM.
    OracleGuy

  • #7
    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    I've never worked for free in my life (not even for my parents, in fact my parents even paid me to tidy my room) but it is a good way to make contacts and get your first job.
    As I said before, I think you have an issue of time, with a full time job, part-time study and a child you are sure to burn out fast if you try to add freelancing on top of that (especially free work)

  • #8
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    What's a CV? I've been in the tech biz for over twenty years but that's the first I've heard that term.

  • #9
    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    CV is the abbreviation for curriculum vitae which is latin and translates to something like "the course of life" - even I know that and neither english nor latin are my native languages. Usually if you apply for a job you show a sheet of paper with the education and experience you've got in your life (relating to the job you're applying for) written on it - that's the curriculum vitae.
    Last edited by VIPStephan; 05-10-2006 at 02:57 PM.

  • #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by VIPStephan
    CV is the abbreviation for curriculum vitae which is latin and translates to something like "the course of life"
    aka Resume
    OracleGuy

  • #11
    The fat guy next door VIPStephan's Avatar
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    What irony to translate a latin term in the english language with a french term... but well, that's the word!

  • #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by VIPStephan
    neither english nor latin are my native languages..

    WOW! A non-native English speaker and you've mastered the neither, nor agreement. I can't tell you how ANNOYING it is when I see NATIVE ENGLISH speakers get that wrong. Kudos to you man!

    Also, unless you live in the Vatican, I don't think there's too many native latin speakers anymore

  • #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarl314
    WOW! A non-native English speaker and you've mastered the neither, nor agreement. I can't tell you how ANNOYING it is when I see NATIVE ENGLISH speakers get that wrong. Kudos to you man!

    Also, unless you live in the Vatican, I don't think there's too many native latin speakers anymore
    Well, as a web designer I occasionally have to deal with the poor English language skills that some clients have, and they are all native speakers of American English! I recently created a header GIF image with a slogan for a client's website, which read something like this (altered from actual text to protect their identity): "The web's number one source of industrial lights." As soon as the client saw this, he wrote an email back to me saying that the word "source" needed to be followed with the word "for". I wrote back to him saying no, the rules of the language require the word "of" when using the noun "source", and mentioned to him that he could look it up in the Webster's dictionary for confirmation.

    The next thing I knew, he wrote me back with a list of examples. They were similar slogans copied from other websites, but every single one of them used the phrase "choice for" instead of "source of"! After pointing that out to him, he asked me to just remove the slogan from the website because he couldn't get used to the wording in the slogan!

    Of course, at this stage I didn't want to stir up any problems so I simply let it go and followed their request to remove the slogan. All this proves once again the old adage that the customer is always right, even when they are dead wrong! And that goes for employers too!!

  • #14
    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iWebQuality1
    Well, as a web designer I occasionally have to deal with the poor English language skills that some clients have, and they are all native speakers of American English! I recently created a header GIF image with a slogan for a client's website, which read something like this (altered from actual text to protect their identity): "The web's number one source of industrial lights." As soon as the client saw this, he wrote an email back to me saying that the word "source" needed to be followed with the word "for". I wrote back to him saying no, the rules of the language require the word "of" when using the noun "source", and mentioned to him that he could look it up in the Webster's dictionary for confirmation.

    The next thing I knew, he wrote me back with a list of examples. They were similar slogans copied from other websites, but every single one of them used the phrase "choice for" instead of "source of"! After pointing that out to him, he asked me to just remove the slogan from the website because he couldn't get used to the wording in the slogan!

    Of course, at this stage I didn't want to stir up any problems so I simply let it go and followed their request to remove the slogan. All this proves once again the old adage that the customer is always right, even when they are dead wrong! And that goes for employers too!!
    I dont see why you couldnt just use the wording they wanted? It is after all, their company and their website. I would NEVER refuse to give a client what they wanted because of minor grammatical quibble. I certainly wouldnt respond to a client with that kind of attitude. The customer IS always right when the customer is talking about what the customer wants. If I feel a client had made a bad decision in regard to the website that they want, I will ofcourse advise them of the potential pitfalls of their idea and try whereever possible to offer an alternative but at the end of the day, they're paying for it and they should be allowed to have what they want.

  • #15
    Regular Coder harlequin2k5's Avatar
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    although I r a produkt uv da nu yawk ejukashun sistum, there is nothing I hate more than someone not using proper spelling and grammar - I do get a little shaky with commas, semicolons, and colons sometimes but there's really no excuse for poor spelling (especially when most softwares come with a spell checker!!! - it's not a catch all because to, two, and too and there, their, and they're are all spelled correctly )

    I was having a little fun with VIPStephan the other day with guten mittag and guten arbeit - but I would not have done it if one of my guys here at the office wasn't German and couldn't spell it for me...


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