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HELP! Need career direction!

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by Rockets34Life, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. Rockets34Life

    Rockets34Life Bit Poster

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    Hello, need help in direction of my career path. Sorry for the post being too long...

    Here's the breakdown.

    - Graduated with Management Information Systems and Marketing Degrees in 2001. Also worked in my last year of my degree at the university doing help desk for a year.

    - Right after my degree, in 4 months, I found a full-time job. Worked there for close to 8 years doing Help Desk/Desktop Support. Left company because I was handling a lot of internal software and not working with anything non-proprietary. Another downfall was they never paid for certifications or didn't want to advance my IT skills. I felt like I knew everything there and I wasn't going anywhere unless you knew someone/slept your way to another position.

    - Left company above and got hired on as IT Field Engineer. I was on a team of 4 and by myself, my position consisted of supporting 15 clients. I had to drive all over the city to these clients for on-site, remote and off-site support. I handled all IT for each client (help desk, desktop support, server admin, network admin, consultant of their hardware/software, etc.). Position was overwhelming. I was supporting each client day and night. On-call was for 1 week per month with no extra pay. Definitely was not paid for the amt. of work that I did for that position. Eventually, because of company cutbacks, my position was eliminated. They gave me the option of doing help desk, which I declined and left the company. Unless you are desperate for a job, single, and have no life, I would not recommend anyone doing a field engineer position.

    The one thing lacking other than my bachelors' and my 9 years experience are certifications. Before my decision in September to go back to school, I looked for jobs. But all I could find that would fit were low paying, crappy help desk jobs. All the desktop support jobs I searched for were needing more qualifications that I had.

    So I just finished my A+, Network+, and 70-290 classes at the school (haven't got the certs yet). Next week, I'm starting the 70-291 class. I'm currently working on a specialization at the school for MCSE.

    My 70-290 instructor told me to pursue my A+, Network+, MCSA, and 70-620 Vista and go for my CCNA. He thinks that's the best route to become a Microsoft server admin along with getting experience with some network admin work. Is he right?

    Unfortunately, before going to school in September, I had taken some CCNA courses at the same school. I had some horrible teachers for my 1st two classes, so I was turned off and had no clue about CCNA. So I moved onto the Microsoft side.

    Overall, I'm trying to get away from this persona of being just help desk/desktop support and move on to becoming a Microsoft server admin. But last week, I talked with a job recruiter who gave me thoughts of becoming a database admin.

    With my background and what I'm currently doing, which would be the better route - server admin or database admin?

    If database admin, what certs/classes I should take to become a database admin?

    TIA.
     
  2. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    You don't need to rely on your employer to advance your IT skills. Rely on yourself for that! :)

    It may be stressful... but you can get a LOT of experience working as a field engineer. Sometimes you have to pay those dues to enable you to rise to the next level.

    Depends on your experience level. Certifications do not automagically qualify you to be a server admin.

    If you've got 6 months of server admin experience, then the MCSA is worth doing.

    If you've got ANY real-world, hands-on Cisco admin experience, then the CCNA is worth doing.

    If you don't have that experience, then the certifications on their own won't count for much. Certification isn't designed to show an employer what you WANT to be doing... it is designed to validate to an employer what you ALREADY have experience doing.

    Same advice as above. Taking a bunch of database administration courses isn't going to automagically make you a DBA.

    Let's say a DBA position opens up, and you apply for it because you've gotten a brand new database administration certification. Your competition has actual DBA experience but no certification. Who do you think will get the job?

    Hope this helps clarify your thinking a bit. :)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  3. Rockets34Life

    Rockets34Life Bit Poster

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    True that. I should of realized it after my 1st 5 years at the company. It started going from taking care of the employee first then the customer to customer first and maybe we'll help out the employee. They didn't believe in rewarding promotions, position upgrades, paying for certs, etc.

    You're right, but if you haven't done the position before, especially me coming from a help desk/desktop support environment, it's pretty overwhelming.

    You're right. But I wanted to get the certs to at least help me in the direction of server administration. I'm trying to remove this label off me as a help desk person. Do you think I should apply for desktop support positions after getting my certs and then migrate within the company to server administration?

    I have 3 months of server admin experience. Should I still continue with MCSA, MCSE and/or MCITP?

    I would love to go for my CCNA, but I might either have to go back through the classes at my school or go through a crash course video-wise, books/e-books, or brain dump class.

    Experience is the downfall in my resume. All my experience consists of help desk/desktop support. I've got to start somewhere moving away from help desk/desktop support, so why not do certs? It's very rare nowadays for any company to put time, training, and money into a Jr. Level server admin position.


    Like I mentioned in the above comment, since my experience is all help desk/desktop support, the only thing I can do to at least sniff server admin or DBA work is doing certs. I know certs isn't going to get me a DBA job, but it's a start. What certs do you recommend for DBA work?
     
  4. Rockets34Life

    Rockets34Life Bit Poster

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    BosonMichael, can you respond to my above reply?
     
  5. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Sorry, must have missed it. Will respond... give me a sec. :)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  6. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Well, to be honest, their mindset SHOULD be taking care of the customer first. After all, the customer is the reason you even have a job. IF they take care of the customer, they will have money to take care of the employees.

    Sure, you need good employees, and you need to pay them fairly. But the customer HAS to come first.

    Yep, it can be. It can sometimes be a good idea to be an in-house tech for a while, supporting your own network... then go out and be a tech for an IT services company to get "overwhelmed" for a bit... then switch back to being an in-house tech before you burn out. It's certainly not a good idea to be a job hopper... but it won't do much for your morale if you're either stagnating in the same-old network day after day OR if you're stressed because you're overwhelmed. Unfortunately, those are the two extremes you'll often face.

    Well, you don't HAVE to migrate within a company. It is sufficient to be a desktop support guy who helps out or shadows the server admins whenever possible, and then after you've got enough experience, jump to another company to be a full-fledged server admin. In my opinion, this is the most surefire way to naturally progress from desktop support to server admin, by gaining the experience as you go.

    Sure, you can get certified and try to get lucky by getting a server admin job without much experience... but in this job market, you will be competing against others who DO have experience. And from what I have seen in IT in the past few years, experience trumps all.

    Opinions vary on this. It is my opinion that certification without experience isn't terribly helpful in the grand scheme of things. The reason for this is because people used to certify all the time without the experience to back it up. Employers would hire those individuals and come to discover that the "certified tech" didn't know how to do the most basic of tasks. Over time, this led to a devaluation of certifications, as employers figured out that certification doesn't necessarily mean that the tech can do what they say they can do.

    The proliferation of braindumps has added to the problem. Braindumps are illegal collections of REAL test questions that you can find or buy on the Internet. However, this is considered cheating by the test vendors (Cisco, Microsoft, etc). These braindumps enable you to pass an exam before you're ready to hold the certification. And like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, employers would hire these cheaters and find out that they don't REALLY have the real-world experience to do the job. Ultimately, the employers decide to not use certification as a primary criterion for hiring, favoring experience instead.

    This is why I recommend you get experience before passing these certifications... not because I don't think you could pass them without experience - it is quite likely that you CAN pass them - but because the certification won't be that useful without the experience to back it up.

    Microsoft recommends 6 months of real-world server admin experience before starting the MCSA, and 12 months for the MCSE. Opinions vary, but I'd recommend getting a little more experience. But ultimately, the decision is yours to make. I simply offer you the logic why certifications aren't likely to magically open doors for you.

    Don't get me wrong - I think certifications are great. If I didn't, I wouldn't currently write IT certification practice exams for a living. But certifications alone won't do it. Certifications PLUS experience is the key to advancement.

    Yeah... as I explained before, you don't want anything to do with braindumps. They can get you decertified for life.

    Basically, if you need braindumps to pass, you're not ready to hold the certification... and if you are ready to hold the certification, you don't need braindumps to pass.

    Because certification is not experience. If you want experience, get experience. If you cannot get experience in your current job, I would recommend taking a similar position in another company where you CAN get that next-level experience.

    You don't HAVE to be hired for a "Jr. Level Server Admin" position. You just need to be a highly motivated support tech who desires to help out with server administration.

    Know where you can get that experience? In small-to-medium-sized companies with a handful of techs, all of whom get to wear multiple hats. My 1st job was as a Field Service Tech (there were 4 of us), going to company sites to fix their PCs, printers, and on rare occasions, servers. My employer liked my work, so he allowed me to help manage the NT4 domain controllers and Exchange server. One of our customers also liked my work, so he hired me to be a systems admin, where I could assist the senior tech with server and network administration. From there, I became lead tech at a small telemessaging company, then the senior systems admin at an IT services company. At each step, I gained exposure to new technologies as I was allowed to do more and more things, until eventually I became the senior network admin for a mid-sized healthcare company of about 500 employees.

    But doing certs isn't going to let you sniff real server admin work. The knowledge is certainly useful... but it's not experience to an employer.

    I don't personally know anyone who became a DBA without first doing a good bit of server administration. Said differently, I don't know anyone who became a DBA solely on the merits of having a DBA certification.

    I know this isn't really what you want to hear, Rockets, but I promise you, it is the truth... at least, based on my experience of seeing myself and others succeed and fail in IT over the past 12 years. I hope that what I said makes good, logical sense to you. :)

    One step at a time... you will get there!!!
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  7. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    That's about as good and comprehensive answer you are going to get Rocket. Totally agree with BM.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  8. Jonny70

    Jonny70 Bit Poster

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    I would agree that on the ground experience is absolutely essential to successfully getting a DBA position where you can flourish; however, this is not to say that certifications along the way aren't a great added benefit. Someone questioned if you had a certification but no experience and were pitted against someone with experience whether you or they would get the job. To extend the logic here if you do put in the work and time and get some experience AND a certification then when you are matched against and equally experienced but uncertified party you may have an extra edge. That's just my .02 I've been doing a bit of thrashing around in my career lately as well so I can empathize with your situation.
     
  9. tomshawk

    tomshawk Byte Poster

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    WOW, Excellent answer Michael

    ;)
     
    Certifications: MCSE/NT4, MCP/2K3, MCP+I, CCNA, Net+, A+

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