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Hi guys,

Years ago (10 to be exact) I studied Computers at Uni. After Uni I fell into a succession of other jobs (non-IT related). I always felt that I should have been working in IT, seeing as I'd studied it.

I was recently made redundant and had come to a bit of a dead end in my last job so now seems as good a time as any to make that shift (besides the global recession!).

As my education was so long ago I'm looking for entry level positions only. This seems to consist of IT Support or IT Technician roles (if anyone knows of any others I'd be interested). I'm hoping my previous knowledge will come back to me more so when I'm working or at least help me to learn faster in the job. I'm in no position to go back to Education (due to the cost).

Ideally I'd like something where I'm a bit hands on, so IT Technician seems ideal to me. The only problem is there seems to be less of these jobs available so I'm trying for IT Support positions too.

My questions are:
1. How do I get a job without having experience (everyone wants experience)?
2. What is it like working in IT support (boring? satisfying? fun? etc...)?
3. What is the career progression (where do I go after: 1st line, 2nd line, 3rd line, manager)? Also is it possible to move into other roles (like programmer)?
4. Is it worth paying for a Microsoft Certified Qualification (if so which one?)?
5. Is there anything else I can do to improve my chances?

Thanks for your help!

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Last Post by jephthah
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Sorry, I've just realised this is probably in the wrong section.

Also I'm UK based (London) if you were wondering.

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BTW I've just had an email about a distance learning MCDST course for £400. Do you think this would be worth it (would it increase my chances of getting a job)? Or is it better to wait till I have a job and make the employer pay for the training.

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IT industry is worst affected by recession , management is removing 2-3 people and dumping the work to 1 person and asking him to work 20-24 hours per day to make sure the deadlines are met.
Stay away from distance learning courses.

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IT industry is worst affected by recession , management is removing 2-3 people and dumping the work to 1 person and asking him to work 20-24 hours per day to make sure the deadlines are met.
Stay away from distance learning courses.

Hi, thanks for the reply.

Thing is all industries seem to think they're hardest hit and I have to work somewhere. Although I'm not suggesting you're wrong but I will say that where I live there is next to no building work going on at any of the developments so I'd say construction has taken a pretty hard hit and is usually one of the first industries to go under (being as most workers are freelance its easy as no redundancies).

I will broaden my search though and look for work elsewhere (at least till the recession rides out a bit).

I thought distance learning would be ok seeing as its a microsoft certified course. Or are you saying that any course is bad?

Thanks again.

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Ok... here we go...

1. How do I get a job without having experience (everyone wants experience)?

Yeah, this is the ultimate Catch-22. Fortunately, you studied computers in school, so you have that added advantage. Is your degree actually in something computer-related, or was it a minor? As far as experience, one option to start building a history would be to volunteer your time working with computers. I understand that income is a consideration, but this would at least allow you to add some experience to your resume.

Another option might be to go back to the industry that you were working in, but instead of applying for the work you were doing, apply for an entry level IT position. Companies might be comforted enough by your knowledge of their industry to give you a little bit of a break on the experience front, especially since you studied computers in school.

2. What is it like working in IT support (boring? satisfying? fun? etc...)?

Just like any other job, it's all of those things and more. Some days are a real drag, some are a lot of fun. Some and intellectually challenging, some are boring. I can tell you that I find helping people with their issues pretty satisfying, especially when I'm able to do something unexpected and helpful for them (such as automating a tedious process). In all, I would say that if you enjoy interacting with and helping people, working in IT should be a very enjoyable career path for you.

3. What is the career progression (where do I go after: 1st line, 2nd line, 3rd line, manager)? Also is it possible to move into other roles (like programmer)?

There are several unique paths in the computer world. Technician would be one, administrator another, programmer a third. There is some overlap between a few, but in all they tend to be exclusive, skills-wise.

It can be somewhat broken down like this: producers of technology and utilizers (didn't like the word "consumers") of technology. Producers would be programmers, hardware architectures, chip manufacturers, etc. Utilizers would be hardware repair techs, IT helpdesk support people, server administrators, etc. The first thing you'd want to do is decide which of these two directions you're most interested in.

After that, career paths can vary, but typically for a "producer", it would go something like junior developer to senior developer to team leader to software architect. For the "utilizer" you would follow something like helpdesk technician to helpdesk leader to system analyst to system administrator. Also on the "utilizer" side of things lies network design and engineering.

4. Is it worth paying for a Microsoft Certified Qualification (if so which one?)?

Well... it's tough for me to answer this question without offending anyone. First, I want to say that I'm sure there are plenty of qualified MCSE's and MCSA's out there. It's just that I've never met any of you.

Personally, I feel that there are many, many other certifications that are far more worth your time than the Microsoft certifications. A+, Network+, Cisco, just to name a few. The Microsoft certs tend to be narrow-minded (obviously focusing on Microsoft products), while the others are more broad.

My experience on certifications is this: the employer will typically tell you what they're looking for, and a lot of times they'll pay for you to get certified. If I were you, I'd start with A+ on your own, and see how far that gets you employment-wise. I'd also state in any interviews that you do that you're willing to take on any certification they require.

5. Is there anything else I can do to improve my chances?

Be open to anything. You're looking for a foot in the door, and any crappy little IT helpdesk job is a line on your resume. Remember that we IT folk do hop jobs, so you're really just looking for a starter position to tell your next employer about.

Good luck! Keep us posted on your progress!

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certifications are mostly a waste of time, except perhaps Cisco. in any event, dont waste your own money on them.

that said, an entry level IT support is not going to "make the employer pay for" 3rd party certifications.

one option would be a 1-year program at a local community/tech college or whatever the parallel is for that in the UK

get an entry level job testing software somewhere. play up on your education. deflect any questions about specific experience with what you did at university: "i don't have specific industry experience in _____, but at the university I led a similar project building _____ "

definitely brush up on your coding basics in whatever language you feel strongest in. you likely will be tested.

if questioned about languages you don't know, acknowledge your lack in that area and again deflect: "I dont have specific experience with _____ language, but i have built projects using ______ language" and elaborate on the end results.

take any job you can get that will allow your foot in the door -- even at lower pay than you hope --- then learn your primary job as well as you can and repeatedly volunteer to take on new projects, or help others with their projects, or just learn what they're doing. become invaluable on one or more activities and within a year or so, force a move up to a higher position within the company or secretly apply for higher positions elsewhere using this new experience

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