1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Looking for a foot in the door

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by Andy L, Dec 22, 2007.

  1. Andy L

    Andy L Bit Poster

    27
    0
    12
    I graduated from uni last summer and applied for numerous graduate/entry-level desktop support and networking jobs, as I'd prefer something more hands-on than a helpdesk role. When applying to companies directly or through the local graduate employment scheme (i.e. not through agencies or internet job sites), I haven't had too many problems getting interviews (and second interviews in some cases), and I've been told that my interview technique is fine, but I always seem to fall short at the final hurdle due to lack of experience.

    Since June, I've been doing part-time web design/development for a friend, who's passing me work on a freelance basis. But my artistic skills are far too limited to be a designer and I definitely do not want to be working freelance at this stage in my career. After the company we share an office with invited me for an interview for a programming role, it made me realise that I'm not a programmer either and that I should get back to doing what I enjoy most and what I'm best at, which is IT support.

    After that interview, I've started doing voluntary work at a community centre where I've been helping to fix any problems with the computers there, reinstalling drivers, removing spyware etc, and also advising the centre manager on how the network can be improved. But to be honest, there's only so much I can do because there isn't a great deal wrong with the system they already have in place. The manager has recommended me to other centres in the area, but I haven't heard anything back yet as he's been away ill.

    Any advice as to where I should go from here? I've attached my CV in case it helps - should I just keep going as I am now? I'd like to do an MCSE once I have some experience under my belt, but would it be worth taking an A+ or N+ first, even though my problem is my lack of experience rather than my qualifications? And are there any books which would be worth buying? I've been looking at Mastering Windows Server 2003 and the Windows Server 2003 Administrator's Companion.

    Thanks for any help you can offer!
     

    Attached Files:

    • CV.doc
      File size:
      52.5 KB
      Views:
      94
  2. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

    1,479
    54
    112
    Hi Andy,

    I'm a couple of steps further down from you, as I was a graduate a couple of years ago with a degree in Physics and IT, and to put it simply, you can't run until you you know how to crawl and can show others you can.

    A help desk role is not only going to be the best place to start at (as most, if not all, are entry-level) but it demonstrates customer experience which is used and is valuable at any level in the IT industry, from helpdesk, to project manager and CIO and everywhere in between.

    You need to build up reputation with a company, either climbing the ladder within one company or by showing new employers that you're old ones were saddened to let you go.

    I spent 8 months on a helpdesk, and while it bored me to tears sometimes, I learnt lessons, how to deal with stroppy high-up end users, and learnt about the network as a whole. I've now been 2nd line desktop support for just over a year and been with 3 different teams doing the same job in my area (London) for the same client and I have not found a single other person that knew as much about the business, their plan and how all the different client sites fit together - that could have been taught, but the actual experience was invaluable.

    Your other point was about certificates/qualifications. Unlike a degree, an IT cert is supposed to show that you know your stuff and have EXPERIENCE in using it - doing an MCSE is great on paper, but if you can't piece together all the pieces of the puzzle to find out what is causing the problem, it's not worth anything. Microsoft, Cisco, Comptia et al all advise that their certificates are those with a rough minimum of amount of time under their belt - its supposed to show you have a cert saying you can do the job, and not getting a cert to get you a job - thats my personal view, their has been some debate recently on the forum, if you care to look around.

    On the A+, N+, MCDST - I've worked with people in the last year, some of whom have over 15 years experience - on many occasion I've solved the problem simply by using the content of the A+ that no-one else even thought about. These certs are considered entry-level, ideal for someone trying to start out in the IT industry, for me they've been great and I've spent over a year now passing my A+, getting 1 out of 2 exams for the MCDST - before the end of 2008, I hope to get the full MCDST and N+, and I probably won't consider others until at least I get a good solid foundation.

    That's just my view on your situation - get a helpdesk role, get your A+, N+, MCDST and then you can be a contender for higher roles - getting the first step in is said to be the hardest.

    Good luck - and we're all here to help - in any way we can!
     
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
    WIP: 70-293
  3. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

    10,190
    296
    319
    The advice from derkit is sound.

    Just to add I graduated with an MSc and found it difficult to get a full time IT job. I started on a helpdesk, stayed for 9 months and then left to be the in-house IT support for a software development company.

    Try and land an entry level IT job and after a few months look around for a different job, you will have way more options. 8)
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  4. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

    3,661
    106
    167
    So far you've been given good advice. I'd say that, if you can afford to, look into talking your way into an internship or doing a bunch of volunteering to get your career started. I'm in my 50's, a career changer, and have some physical disabilities so my experience will be different than your's, but it wasn't until I did an internship that I got my foot in the door. I was hired where I interned, and I'm doing things I'd have never been given a chance to learn or do this early in my new career if the employer hadn't seen my ability and desire to learn new things, my being cautious about making changes so things don't break, and my overall understanding of business needs and computer basics.

    Probably 75% of my job is learning new technologies so that we can implement them down the line, and I get to have a say in how we will use them. This is something I never expected to able to do for a few years. If I hadn't interned and proven myself capable I'd have never gotten the opportunity to move so far so fast. A lot of people on this site would never encourage you to look at an internship, but I will. It's a way for you to prove yourself, and if you do, you have a good chance of actually starting out ahead of most people.

    I spent 6 months working for free, but those 6 months put me into a systems administration position. I completely leapfrogged helpdesk and pc repair on my way to this position. So, were those 6 months well spent? I believe so, as I figured it would be at least 3 or 4 years to get into a systems admin position that's basically a type of senior position because of the responsibilities I have.

    Now, I am with a small company, but once again I'd recommend a small company over a large one for those first jobs as by the very nature of small companies you'll be given much more responsibility much sooner than in a large company, if you can prove yourself. You can then move to those larger companies later if you want to because you'll have valuable experience.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  5. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

    1,479
    54
    112
    Did you have any previous customer service experience before this leap? I sometimes think companies look for that just as much as they do technical ability.
    Whether you did or did not, fair play to you there - nicely done :D

    I'd also agree with this - I ended up with a big company on a helpdesk, it is great as it was an easy foot in the door, but as time has gone on, as the company I'm with is so big the responsibility isn't available to anyone further down, and nor is available to anyone who isn't in the companies main HQ (I'm sat on a clients site!).

    I'm pondering the move to a smaller company - say 200-500 users - get plenty of experience on types of technologies - exchange, web, sharepoint, networks, sys admin, before heading back to the bigger companies to look at project management.
     
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
    WIP: 70-293
  6. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

    3,661
    106
    167
    Experience dealing with the public? Only about 20 years of it. I started out as an appliance tech in 1981 and moved to HVAC service tech in a couple of years because I really liked refrigeration work. I then did that until the end of 1999 when I was forced to quit by back problems.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  7. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

    1,479
    54
    112
    Thought so - thats a good reason not to have to do 1st line - you have that experience in bucket loads!

    Anyhow, I think we've hijacked Andy's thread - sorry!
     
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
    WIP: 70-293
  8. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

    3,661
    106
    167
    Well, at least it's on the same subject matter. It's not like we went off on the price of rice in China. We stayed on-topic, just talked about personal experience some, is all.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  9. Andy L

    Andy L Bit Poster

    27
    0
    12
    Thanks for the advice everyone, your replies have been very helpful. It's always good to read about other people's experiences too! I'll look at helpdesk roles and starting the A+ in the New Year - I'm willing to start at the bottom and work my way up, but now I've got a better idea of where I should be looking to start :)
     
  10. drum_dude

    drum_dude Gigabyte Poster

    1,547
    46
    113
    Good luck Andy - you've been given some 1st class advice here! Don't forget to give us all a progress report of how you're getting on!
     
    Certifications: MCSA , N+, A+ ,ITIL V2, MCTS
    WIP: MCITP 2008 Ent Admin, Server Admin, Exchange 2010, Lync 2010, CCNA & VCP5
  11. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

    1,479
    54
    112
    One thing to remember is it doesn't matter how long you're doing the job at the helpdesk job for. I stuck with the same job for 8 months through situation rather than decision - but was told that if the office wasn't closing and I was a permanent staff member (I was "temping" at the time) then I could have progress to a 2nd line team after about 4 months - nothing has to be forever.

    Another thing is that some people are destined to be network/system admins, others are happy with doing desktop support as their career so people will always move or stay stationary at different levels, just get in, do the best you can, and create chances to learn and grow.

    Good luck :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MBCS, BSc(Hons), Cert(Maths), A+, Net+, MCDST, ITIL-F v3, MCSA
    WIP: 70-293
  12. Andy L

    Andy L Bit Poster

    27
    0
    12
    I had an interview for a part-time IT Technician role at a school yesterday and didn't get the job :(

    There were 4 candidates and my interview feedback was all positive, but I was told that I was second best, beaten only by the guy who was currently working in a school and had helped build an IT suite from scratch - there was no way I could match that!

    Because of the voluntary work I'm currently doing, I have a little more (working) experience than I did a few months ago, but I've been trying to get into IT support for 18 months (on and off) now since I graduated and attended maybe 12 or 13 interviews, only to be pipped to the post each time and be told the same things. While I'm still as enthusiastic about IT support as ever, I do sometimes wonder if I'm ever going to get that first job :(
     
  13. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

    10,190
    296
    319
    You will mate, chin up! :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  14. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    19,136
    462
    374
    The first job is the hardest. Eventually, you won't be second best... you'll be the best candidate from among those available, and you'll get the job.
     
    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!
  15. Jiser

    Jiser Kilobyte Poster

    386
    10
    37
    Did you do an Internship year by any chance? That helped me a great deal as I got access to every side of a buissness + citrix + exchange, 2003, 2000, Nfuse, remote support, telephone support, repairs etc.

    Last year I was lucky enough to get a part time school job for two schools, was Interviewed by 3 people and blasted each question, my best interview yet. Also I think because my excellent reference from my employee at the time helped a great deal. I would love to know how many people I beat and get an ego boost due to the number of Interviews I failed before getting my previous I.T. job as I.T. support for my placement year.


    With regards to the jobs:
    Keep looking around on your county council websites/town websites and job boards, if your willing to travel a bit you will find something no problem :) There are allways I.T. jobs going up on my county council job board. I would bet quite a few of those part time I.T. Tech jobs might come up at the end of this school year. Put them all together and you got a nice little I.T. job at schools. Good thing is your pretty much responsible for everything I.T. wize, buying, suggesting, admin of servers, repairs, support, the lot + helping with the kids sometimes. Allthough it varies per school. Anyway good luck, every interview = experiance..

    I failed about 6 interviews when applying for my placement year job and I came 2nd best in the job I actually got, but the 1st choice pulled out so I got it, woop woop! Keep applying and your get that break soon enough, I did but it took alot of effort.

    Have you looked at pchomehelp? Do a search on google. Might give you a bit of experiance specially as your located in liverpool, there may be quite a few jobs about. Also look at volunteering in I.T. You could even try writing to some companies, volunteering yourself to do free I.T. work. Why not try asking your fellow graduates where they are working? Do they need anyone at the moment? Is there any chance of you coming to shadow where there working?
     
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), PGc, MCTS:Win 7, MCSA W7/MCITP EDST, ITIL Foundation, Prince 2 Foundation, C&G: Web Design, MOS 07: Excel, Word, Powerpoint, Outlook.
  16. Andy L

    Andy L Bit Poster

    27
    0
    12
    Thanks for the support guys (no pun intended) :)

    Jiser - thanks for the advice. I didn't do an internship year, but I am currently doing IT support on a voluntary basis at a community centre. I'll look into PChomehelp as well...
     
  17. Andy L

    Andy L Bit Poster

    27
    0
    12
    Well, the school phoned me on Thursday to tell me that the guy who got the job was unable to take it up, so they offered it to me instead :D

    I start on the 20th and even though it isn't a full-time job, I'm so thrilled to get my first break at last - there have been many times when I thought it would never happen! It's going to be me and the full-time tech maintaining a network of 250+ PCs, with all the responsibilities that you mentioned in your post Jiser... I'm really looking forward to picking up all that experience :D
     
  18. sunn

    sunn Gigabyte Poster

    1,562
    24
    79
    Looks like you were the right person, in the right place, at the right time. :)
    Good for you and congratulations on the break. You're on your way now :clap
     
  19. simongrahamuk
    Honorary Member

    simongrahamuk Hmmmmmmm?

    6,199
    125
    199
    Congrats on getting your foot in the door.

    Working is a school will expose you to a whole load of varied challenges (and thats just dealing with the staff!).

    :biggrin
     
  20. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

    19,136
    462
    374
    Congrats!
     
    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!

Share This Page

Loading...