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My Plan. Your thoughts?

Discussion in 'A+' started by mcrilly, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. mcrilly

    mcrilly Byte Poster

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    Greetings,

    Firstly allow me to thank you for an absolutely excellent forum. I've been looking for somewhere to verify these Compuscam style companies, and now I've found it ;)

    My Situation
    OK, so here's my situation and what I plan on doing about it. Firstly, I work full-time and a total of 37.5 hours per week. I currently work as a 'Customer Servies Professional' for a telecommunications company. I get the majority of my weekends to my self and I can probably study for a good 15+ hours per week, especially seeing how badly I want to move away from the current line of work I'm in.

    What I Want
    I'm seeking to move away from customer services and move into an I.T. position. What I don't want from the said position, is to be sat at a desk answering calls from individuals who have locked themselves out of their PCs. I want to acquire the:
    1. A+
    2. Network+
    3. MCSE
    4. ...and then finally my CCNP

    certs throughout my new career.

    What I Currently Know
    I feel my knowledge in computing grants me the (self adorned) title of 'advanced computer user' and as such, I think I should be able to handle the A+ cert. The very computer I'm typing this message on now was built by me (Pentium-D 940 3.2GHz; 2048mB of DDR PC5300 RAM; internal 80GB SATA II/3.0 HDD and finally an nVidia 8800GTS 320mB) and currently runs Windows Vista Ultimate and Fedora 8 Linux (dual-boot, of course), both of which were installed by my fine self.

    With regards to networking, I have a good grip on how networks work. I've gone as far as to do a bit of socket coding in C ;) I know what a router is; I know what a switch is; I know what a NIC is; I understand what a protocol is and how they're implemented; I understand how a packet is constructed; I understand the theory behind software ports used by applications for communication across a network, etc...

    My Setup Here
    I've already listed my PC specs above and stated that I run both Vista & Fedora 8 Linux. Within Vista, I was thinking of running VMWare Workstation so I can run a virtual Windows XP/Vista to play around inside of, so I won't need a spare/extra PC.

    And what kind of time frame am I expecting to get all those certs done in? I'd like to get them done in about 5 years, starting with the A+ in the next 6 months, if at all possible(?)

    I'm looking at the various links in the resources section of the forum for books etc, but there are so many. Should I stick with the Mike Meyer stuff? Do I just need the one book for the A+ cert.? Is there anything else you feel I need?

    Thanks in advance for all replies.
     
    Certifications: CCENT
    WIP: CCNA, RHCE, & VCP
  2. Sparky
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    The time scale is realistic for the certs (actually take the CCNP out of the list and it is) but you may start with a helpdesk job that deals with password resets so be prepared to take *any* job in IT just to get some experience. If you really don’t want to do that then you are limiting yourself in regard to what entry level job you could get.

    For the A+ I used the Mike Meyers book, worked for me! :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  3. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    Hi and welcome to CF!

    I too would go with the Mike Meyers book for A+. It comes with a set of practice exams, so you will see just how much you really know, compared to how much you think you know! :p

    I'm not trying to put you down, but most people find stuff in that book that they didn't know!

    If you know your stuff you could pass the A+ in two months, as I did.

    Harry.
     
    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  4. Luddym

    Luddym Megabyte Poster

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    It all seems very realistic.

    Unlike some people that want in to the IT industry for money, it seems like you have a real interest in it which is a great start.

    You are also putting very realistic targets on the plan you have set out, in regards to your cert plans, which is also something that is a breath of fresh air.

    I wish you luck in your new chosen path, but as you seem nright and eager, hopefully with a bit of perseverence and willpower, you won't need luck.
     
    Certifications: VCP,A+, N+, MCSA, MCSE
    WIP: Christmas Drunkard
  5. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Unfortunately, starting out in IT very well COULD mean that you might be unlocking users accounts and resetting passwords. Don't turn your nose up at it... ANY experience in IT is worthwhile. Getting your first IT job is likely the most difficult job you'll get - competition is fierce. It's a LOT easier after you've gotten some real-world experience.

    That said, nobody said you have to stay at that level forever. Once you get noticed for your knowledge, aptitude, and attitude, you can gain more responsibilities and perhaps, a promotion (Side Note: if you end up at a place that DOESN'T offer advancement opportunities, get as much experience as you can, then switch to an equivalent or better position where you CAN advance).

    You have a good base of knowledge, but there are a lot of people out there with similar skillsets who are looking to get into IT. That said, with your current knowledge, once you get some experience, you should be able to advance relatively quickly. You wouldn't believe how many people have no motivation to advance. It looks like you've got that motivation, and a pretty good plan.

    There's a pretty big gap between the Network+ and the MCSE. After Network+, I'd recommend that you pursue the MCDST. And until you've got experience, I'd stop certifying after the A+, Network+, and MCDST.

    After you've got some experience, you should consider pursuing the MCSA (Microsoft recommends 6-12 months administering a 250+ user, multi-site, multi-server network - not 6-12 months in IT, but 6-12 months doing that job). Once you've started touching Cisco routers at work, pursue the CCNA.

    With the MCSE and CCNP, it's the same: get a bit more experience, then pursue them.

    Is 5 years realistic? It could be. It was for me. But everyone's career is different. Might take you only 3 years... might take you 7 years or more. But that's OK. Do them so that your certifications match your experience level, and you should be able to climb right up the IT career ladder. :)

    Welcome to the forums!
     
    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. mcrilly

    mcrilly Byte Poster

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    I guess I will just have to bite the bullet and accept the fact I'll have to start off on a helpdesk somewhere. It just annoys me because I can't understand how you can gain any experience at all sitting there taking the before mentioned calls? I mean, with an A+ and a Network+ cert., surely I can find a job where-by I'm building systems or fixing them in a call centre or something?

    Sugesstions?
     
    Certifications: CCENT
    WIP: CCNA, RHCE, & VCP
  7. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    If you want to avoid the call-centre route then start applying for jobs with local retailers/repair shops.

    You will start out with highly technical jobs such as making the tea until the owner sees you can be trusted with the coffee machine. :biggrin

    But if you are any good you should be able to move on to actualy dealing with problems.

    Harry.
     
    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  8. mcrilly

    mcrilly Byte Poster

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    Can you define, "any good" for me? :)
     
    Certifications: CCENT
    WIP: CCNA, RHCE, & VCP
  9. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Because you can learn how to help people with their computer problems - that's an important skill. Just as importantly, you'll see how IT works in a business environment.

    Sure you can. I'm simply suggesting that you keep your options open to increase your pool of job opportunities. :)
     
    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!
  10. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    Hm - considering there is a smiley there...

    How about: Adaptable, knowledgable, easy to get on with, trustworthy, punctual, presentable, patient, ....

    In a small shop environment you usualy need them all as you may be dealing with the public as well as your boss.

    Harry.
     
    Certifications: ECDL A+ Network+ i-Net+
    WIP: Server+
  11. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Making the tea not too weak and not too strong. :twisted:

    You're overthinking this. If you're "any good", you'll likely get noticed at some point and be given additional responsibilities, typically when others move up or get fired.

    Simply put yourself in the employer's shoes - what would you like to see from an employee to determine if they're "any good"? All employers are different... but if I were the employer, I'd want an employee with a good attitude, who helps customers/users out with their problems in a timely manner, and does whatever is asked of him/her. If you do that, I'd consider you to be "any good". ;)
     
    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!
  12. mcrilly

    mcrilly Byte Poster

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    If I do what, answer the calls in the manner you've suggested or make the tea right? ;)

    I know what you're saying, and perhaps I am over thinking things. The best thing for me to do is simply get my A+; find a job and then once in a position, start working on my Network+ - OR - Get my A+ & Network+ (I like this option better, what are your thoughts?) and they try and get a job. I like the latter route better as with two certs, I feel I'll have a better chance of getting a better, less-phone-based job... yeah?

    I've been working in customer services now for four years for various companies. I've gone from corporate credit control and dealing with phone bills in excess of £1m, to consumer credit control, telesales both cold and warm, inbound and out and back around to customer services. As a result of this experience, not only do I feel I can cope with an IT based telephone job, but I feel I'd excel at it. After all, based on the job I'd be getting, I'd be dealing with internal calls from internal departments - I won't/wouldn't be customer facing (I
    d imagine?)

    I've ordered the 6th Edition of Mike Meyer's A+ cert. Once I'm getting close to the end of this, I'll order the Network+ book(s).

    Thanks for all the replies by the way :)
     
    Certifications: CCENT
    WIP: CCNA, RHCE, & VCP
  13. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Whatever is asked of you... including the tea. ;)

    In my opinion, you should start looking for a job NOW, and start studying for the A+. If you get the A+ before you get a job, then add it to your CV and keep looking. Then, start on the Network+. If you get it before you get a job, add it to your CV and keep looking. Thus, you're in no worse of a situation than had you waited until you got your A+ and Network+ and THEN started looking... and there's a chance that you may even GET a job before you get your A+ and Network+, you know?

    Plus, the interviews you get along the way will also be valuable learning experiences.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing is more valuable to an employer than experience. Not degrees, not certifications, not anything. Get that experience as soon as you possibly can... starting now.

    Yes, your customer service skills will be quite helpful. And if you excel, you're more likely to be noticed.

    In any case, experience is experience, and even if you're not promoted in the company you start working for, you can leverage your experience you gain to get an even better job with a different company.

    There are help desk jobs where you deal with internal calls from internal departments. But there are also many help desk jobs where you deal with calls from customers where you are assisting them with their problems. For example, you could work for a computer manufacturer, a hardware or software manufacturer, or an ISP.

    The Sybex Network+ book by Groth is excellent.
     
    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!
  14. mcrilly

    mcrilly Byte Poster

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    Excellent reply. Some good advice, except the tea part... make your own :P

    OK, here's one for you then. How should I word/design/implement a cover letter and a CV that shows the knowledge and skills I have with Computers at present and don't have any certs. to prove? If I start applying now, I need a way to convince these companies/employeers that I can do the job.

    I await your reply Sir BosonMichael ;)
     
    Certifications: CCENT
    WIP: CCNA, RHCE, & VCP
  15. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    No problem there. I'm a Yank; I drink Coke. :usa

    There are entire books written on crafting a great cover letter and CV that would work for your particular situation. I don't think I could answer the question sufficiently well within a forum post. The best I could advise is that you spotlight what you know how to do. No, you don't have real-world business IT experience... but you do have IT knowledge and personal IT experience. Use that to craft a CV that sets yourself apart from your competition.

    Bottom line is this: you don't have to prove you can do everything in the world. You simply have to be better than your competition. Include as much as you can - sell yourslf - but be honest about your skill level; a good interviewer can spot the "puffed up" portions of a CV just by asking a few questions during the interview. :)

    Certifications don't prove that you can do a job. In truth, they don't prove anything other than you know how to pass an exam, and you potentially have the "head knowledge" to do the job. And this advice is coming from a former network admin who currently creates certification training products for a living!! It would be to my advantage to tell you, "Get as many certifications as you can! And oh, by the way, buy my product." But that wouldn't do YOU any good... because that's not the purpose of certifications. Certifications merely give you an edge over your competition, provided experience levels (and other factors - personality, salary requirements, etc.) are generally equal. So certifications ARE worth getting... just don't fall into the trap of thinking that a certification proves that you can do a job.

    So how can you prove to an employer that you can do a job? Without experience, you cannot... or, at the very least, it is difficult to do so. You can simply convince them that you are the best candidate for the job... that they should take a risk on hiring you than take a risk on hiring someone else. How do you do that? A well-crafted CV and cover letter, certifications that match your experience level, your head/theoretical knowledge, a positive attitude, a good personality, and reasonable salary expectations. Simply make yourself more attractive than everyone else. :) THAT is how to sell yourself! 8)

    If the Queen wants to knight me, I'll be right there! :kngt
     
    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!

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