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30, moved into helpdesk job last year, what's my next step?

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by onthewayout, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. onthewayout

    onthewayout New Member

    Hi all, I've taken the plunge into IT support, and now looking for advice on my next step. Currently working in a casual helpdesk job near London and taking OU courses, and I plan to study for CompTIA A+ over the next 2 months (as advised in my first thread here - thanks!). I'm not so sure what to do after that.

    My options are fulltime university in Scotland, looking for a fulltime job (probably in London) and putting my degree on the back burner, staying in my current job and doing more OU modules, or running away somewhere sunny to be a TEFL teacher. Srsly :)

    I'm 30 years old, and I have 1 year's experience on the helpdesk. Left school under a bit of a cloud having barely passed A-Levels (three Ds in unimpressive subjects), and have no further qualifications so far. Before last year I was a library assistant - which was actually great for my customer service skills, but since "librarian" is a masters-level job (and hugely oversubscribed at that), I had no career prospects in that sector.

    I really enjoy my helpdesk job and would like to stay in IT, but not sure where to go after the A+, in terms of study, jobhunting or actually moving away. My bosses have said they're really pleased with my work and would give me a great reference, but it's a casual job with no immediate prospect of going either fulltime or permanent. Depending on how a departmental reshuffle goes, that *might* change in 6-9 months.

    University (in Scotland to avoid fees; as an "independent student" I just need to have a job there 2 months before my course starts, and I've got relatives there) does sound like fun, but I'm worried I might be wasting another few years when I could already start a good career as a non-graduate. I'm thinking of a computing degree at Strathclyde, if they'll have me. Already taken an OU maths module and found it easier than expected, so hopefully I can keep up..!

    A professional helpdesk job seems like a better bet, but only if I can get one with no degree and 1 year's experience. I honestly have no idea how realistic that is, or how I should prepare for it. Googling the subject just seems to turn up overpriced "training" scams. If I'll be stuck on poverty pay forever unless I get a degree, then university makes more sense in the long run. What sort of money might I actually make in London (or anywhere else)?

    If I stay in my current job, I can just about live on the hours I've been getting, and I have time for my OU studies. If the permanent jobs do ever appear (at a level I'm competent for) I'm told they will be paid at roughly £23k, which is a lot more than junior support roles on jobsites seem to get. But that might never happen, and finishing my whole degree with the OU will take so long I doubt it would help much. I've already lost a lot of time.

    Finally, if everything IT-related falls through, I've got friends living in Germany and Hong Kong who both offered to put me up while I find an English teaching job. Seems like that calls for a 1 month intensive CELTA course costing about £900, which I could manage, but again, presumably graduates would have an advantage in getting the better jobs. There must be some call for TEFLers who take it seriously though, as opposed to new grads just dossing about on a gap year?

    All comments much appreciated, and if you're an experienced IT manager or HR person who could give me in-depth advice, I'm prepared to pay for your time. PM me if you're interested (and serious).
  2. shadowwebs

    shadowwebs Megabyte Poster Forum Leader

    give the A+ a go, you can do this on a self-study basis and then just pay for the 2 exams required to become a certified IT Technician. Professor Messer is what I used to get me through the cert.
    Certifications: compTIA A+, Apple Certified Technical Coordinator 10.10 (OS X Yosemite, Server and Support)
  3. onoski

    onoski Terabyte Poster

    Ultimately you are the one that can make the appropriate choose on how you want to progress career wise. Best wishes:)
    Certifications: MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003 Messaging, MCP, HNC BIT, ITIL Fdn V3, SDI Fdn, VCP 4 & VCP 5
    WIP: MCTS:70-236, PowerShell
  4. Monkeychops

    Monkeychops Kilobyte Poster

    What is it within IT you ultimately want to be doing?

    It's a tough one with regards to the degree as to what to do, in the long (possibly very long!) run it's not a bad thing, but will depend on what it is you want to end up doing.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  5. SimonD

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

    I am going to be a little controvertial here, I left school at 16 with virtually no qualifications to speak of, I then spent 10 years in the Army and still failed to get any further scholastic qualifications. I didn't go to College, let alone University and to be honest with you it hasn't held me back at all and I don't view my lack of college or Uni to have had any adverse affect on my career choices or decisions.

    Unfortunately I would suggest that going back to Uni at your age would probably be somewhat detrimental to you in the future whilst trying to get a job after the course (you will after all be competing against people 10 years younger than you by that point and with no real world experience (apart from the year or so you would have spent doing this casual role you're doing now) you will find it very hard to get your foot back on the ladder.

    If I were in your shoes I would stick with the idea of doing some more courses\exams and doing the OU.
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    WIP: VCP6-CMA, VCAP-DCD and Linux + (and possibly VCIX-NV).
  6. Monkeychops

    Monkeychops Kilobyte Poster

    I was trying to find a way to say something similar that didn't come across as being bluntly saying 'you're too old' as you're never too old to do things you want, however from a relatively short term career view I don't see going back to uni as a great thing.

    As you say that's 3 years out of the loop work wise really, and then you'll have to start at or near the bottom anyway, you've really got to weigh up will it benefit you enough in the long run to justify it.

    I have a not particularly great academic record, whilst I did go to uni it's only been a factor in getting one of my jobs (my first one), after that it hasn't mattered.

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