A very interesting and useful post. Repped
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Thought I would make this post to give people the feedback about my first year in IT. As this is rather a large subject covering a variety of areas, I have attempted to break these down into smaller segments with timelines.
Pre IT CV & Interview Preparation – Approx Two Weeks
I had always been involved with IT during my previous job roles, however IT was never my main role and probably took up anything between ten and twenty five percent of my time, depending on what project I was working on. I did have a good solid understanding of basic things and would say that my knowledge was equivalent to a first line support person.
When I decided to make the change into IT, I drastically amended by CV as I knew I would be looking for first line work. Pretty much I took out all of my main achievements and removed anything non IT related and then expanded on the IT elements. I therefore ended up with a CV that had the same job roles but they appeared more IT focused. I also expanded on my customer service experience as I knew this would be paramount in securing my first role.
I did not have any IT qualifications but did add the key line ‘Working Towards Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician’ to my CV.
I then amended my CV over the next two weeks with feedback from family members and friends. I then applied for lots of jobs and received a phone interview.
The phone interview was pretty straight forward, asking things such as:
- How to change a password using Active Directory
- What is a PST file
- What would you do if you cannot ping a PC?
I then had the face to face interview which was consisted of a test and then a chat. I was then offered the position later that day.
Overall, it took me around two weeks to find my first position as a Helpdesk Analyst.
First Line Role – Two Months
When I started in the first line role, one of my initial questions was ‘what do I need to learn to get a position in second line?’ I was given feedback from my Team Leader which boiled down to IT skills, MCSA would be preferential, but more importantly are your willingness to learn, attitude and aptitude.
I knew from the moment I had finished my initial training, that I was different to the normal bread of Helpdesk personnel. Rather than spending my time surfing the web, I had my head in a book reading and learning.
I also vetted all of my calls as if I was second line (even though I wasn’t). This did ruffle a few feathers, but I cleared it with my Team Leaders first and also made sure that a second line person approved my comments, before it went to third line. The feedback from my Team Leaders was it showed initiative and willingness to learn.
Second Line – Seconded Then Permanent – 10 Months
I was given the opportunity to be seconded to second line, due to the commitment I had shown at this point.
I was given exposure to Cisco Call Manager, BlackBerry Enterprise Server and Citrix Presentation Server.
During this period I my knowledge has grown exponentially, and I quickly grew into a person that was able to advise other second line staff on how to vet calls.
Quickly I became the person who also dealt with the highest priority issues which was dealing with VIP’s and also global issues (IT issues that affected everyone across the domain) that required further vetting or information before being passed to third line.
I was then involved with other work which lead to project work where I would test images, and new deployments e.g. 3G Wireless Access.
During my career progression, I constantly updated my CV with information. So when I achieved something new or had learnt a particular area, this would be placed on my CV straight away.
I started to apply for various jobs over the last six months, having a total of four interviews before I secured my new position. The first interview I had was with a private school and they where pretty crappy with me after I called to re-arrange my interview due to being snowed in! When I had the interview, I did want the job, but didn’t get it.
I then had an interview with another a college which was bizarre, the Tech Test consisted of questions, that you didn’t even need to be in IT to answer! There Second Line had less knowledge than our First Line. They also stated to me that there was no career progression.
I then had an interview with a small company, and it just felt wrong. The guy who interviewed me was about as interesting as a wet fish and the company seemed like it was struggling.
I then applied for the position that I have taken. This was a third line role and I thought I wouldn’t even get a response let alone an interview! I was called within three hours and was told that they where really keen to see me the very next day.
The interview was with a panel of two, and I wasn’t asked any IT questions at all. It was more of a chat and a question and answer session. I walked out, thinking I really want to work here, I can only relay it to when you buy a house, you walk in somewhere and get a feeling. This opportunity gave me that feeling and I was lucky enough to offered (and accept) the position.
The new role is going to be supporting Small and Medium sized Enterprises over the phone. Working with SBS 2003/8, Server 2003/8, Exchange 2003/7, ISA, Cisco, Citrix, Vmware etc with full Domain/Enterprise Admin rights. Naturally any calls that require on site work will be passed to Field Engineers.
I think the best advice I can give to anyone is to have the attitude, study, have a willingness to learn, update your CV and apply for jobs that you think might be out of your reach, as you never know what might happen!
Professional Qualifications – Twelve Months
I started off working towards the MCDST as I thought this was probably the best thing to have on my CV whilst looking for a first line role.
Once I had my first position, I was then given the objective of passing the MCTS: Vista for my review six months later. By the time my review cam around I had passed my MCSA. Feedback from my Team Leaders was that people normally don’t even meet there objectives, let alone surpass them.
I felt that the MCSA was a poor MCSA as I was using Vista and the MCDST as electives, and we use Exchange at work, so I upgraded this to MCSA: Messaging.
Work then set me the objective to get my MCSE, and I would be rewarded with some more money. So naturally, I took them up on the offer and passed the MCSE. The last exam being within one week of one I first sat the 70-271!
So how did I do it? Well I spent every day studying, with a minimum of two hours per day. At work, home, lunch break, even on holiday etc, I was putting the time in. Be sure to read my study guides for a more in depth look at each exam I have passed.
When I got into IT, I knew what I wanted and what timeframe I had in mind to achieve certain things and one of the biggest attributes you have to have is discipline.
For example I have been abroad twice and on both occasions whilst on holiday I studied every day.
I was also on Jury Service so again, rather than see this as down time, I used it to pass ITIL v3 Foundation as we had a lot of down time, just sitting around.
You might call me crazy, but the proof is in the pudding, to summarize I have:
- Gone from First Line to Second Line
- Achieved MCP, MCDST, MCSA, MCSA: M, MCSE and ITIL v3 Foundation
- Start in Third Line in less than a month
- Increased my earnings by £8K
What does the next twelve months hold, well I have a plan and it includes CCENT, CCNA and a VCP as I need to think about an area to specialise in.
Well I hope this helps people out who are thinking about getting into IT. If you put the hard work and effort in, the opportunities are available even in this economic climate.
A very interesting and useful post. Repped
Well done Craigie, you've done great for yourself. I've said it before and I'll say it again, being Keen and showing initiative really sorts the men from the boys. Like you say mate, proof is in the pudding
So did you get your MCSE within one year? I only ask as I'm working through mine now and I'm not sure how long its going to take, started off flying but the baby keeps me busy so I'm not as quick now
The hardest part was getting the 70-291 and 70-284, pretty much after that its much easier. As you are going over old ground again and only some of the information is new for example the 70-297 is just recap of 70-290, 70-291, 70-293, 70-294.
Oh just to let you know I have a young daughter who is 21 months old and a very understanding wife
I totally know what you mean, I've failed 291 once so now I'm going on the official 2277 course for it. I passed 270 and 290 straight away pretty easy but 291 was a bit of a shock. Fingers crossed. I've got Security+ and two MCTS's before I kick 291's teeth in but I must admit, I'm a bit scared
Hey ence, how you getting on with your 291 studies? I've put mine on the back burner to get a few other certs but I'm on the official Microsoft course for 291, 2277 so if you haven't sat it by then I'll let you know how it went. Cheers, Jim
Thanks for the input craigie, you put in a lot of hard work and it paid off, you deserve it!
Very inspirational to those new to IT. You have worked very hard and deserve it for sure!
Thats one hell of a first year, hope your bosses are keeping an eye out, if you keep going at this rate you'll be running the company by the end of year 2!
I think I need to up my study rate...
Well done and thanks for sharing as we can all glean from your experiences
Thanks guys, any questions, please ask.
Start the new job on Monday, will post and let you all know how it is.
Still think it is a phenominal Achievement mate. You should be really proud of what you have accomplished.
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