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Self Study, My 3-Year Plan

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by ginge, Aug 22, 2005.

  1. ginge

    ginge Bit Poster

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    Hi,

    As you’ll see from my introductory post, I’m an ex-lawyer! Bound to make me unpopular, I’m sure, but I’ve seen the error of my ways. Now, I want a career in IT.

    Right now, I’m a house-husband, looking after my 6 month old daughter. My partner works, and after her giving birth, we agreed that she should return to work, and that I should stay at home with the baby, until she is at least 3 years old, and therefore old enough to be at a day nursery.

    I contacted and had a meeting with a Computeach representative a few weeks back, because I saw it as a route into a career I want. It seemed damn expensive for what it was though, and a quick Google brought me to this site. I wasn’t too long before I decided that Computeach were not going to do much more for me than take around five grand from me and put me through some exams. Not only that, but I had to travel to Dudley to use their labs. Now, I’ve been to Dudley before, I don’t plan on returning in a hurry (no offence intended to anyone who calls that place their home).(and, I already have 1 desktop PC plus 2 laptops, with room for 1 more desktop soon I hope, so I don't need their labs, do I?)

    So, I’ve decided on the self-study route. But what route? The Computeach guy, after assessing me, said I’d make an ideal programmer, and wanted to enroll me on the MCAD. I think his reasoning was that I consider myself a creative person. It seems that a lot of people on this site are more geared towards the MCSE route of certification. To tell the truth, I’m still undecided about which way to go, it seems to me that the MCSE would be a clearer career path for me. Any thoughts on this? Obviously, you don’t know me too well, so I can’t expect you to plan my life out for me, I’m just curious to see what peoples thoughts are on either option, and whether one or the other (or something else) is more suited to self (home) study.

    Like I said, I have got about 3 years (possibly more) to get myself some certificates and to learn/gain skills that will help me into this career. Is this a realistic time scale to gain MSCE or MCAD or something else similar?

    With such a certificate, but no industry experience, am I going to struggle to find a job? I’m not expecting to walk into a really well paid job in 3 years time (though it’d be nice) and I don’t mind working my way up the ladder, but I’d like to use the time I have at home to at least jump a couple of rungs, if that’s in any way possible. Is there anything else I can be doing with my time at home that is going to make me more attractive to future employers? Obviously, I have lots of experience doing legal work, and have completed about half of a law degree, thus, I would say this about myself: educated to degree level ;) , excellent communication skills, confident, but not afraid to ask questions if I get in above my depth. I’m also hardworking, and very willing and capable of learning new skills.

    One last thing, are there any books that anyone can recommend for an industry n00b like myself, maybe general background reading, as well as anything specific to either of the qualifications I’m considering. I’m considering a look at Meyers A+ book, just to see if this would be a good starting Certificate. Would the A+ have any relevance for a programming career, or is it just part of/relevant to the MCSE and Comptia route?


    Thanks in advance.
     
    Certifications: none (yet)
    WIP: A+ (soon)
  2. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    First of all, what do you think about a career as a programmer? Have you ever written any code? You have to really have the right personality for it. I've dabbled but am no good at it. Drives me nuts. I can't figure out PHP for the life of me. :tongue

    You might want to google something like "free programming tutorials" so you can at least see what programming is like without having to make a financial investment in books and software.

    The A+ probably wouldn't figure into a career in programming but most programmers I know are able to open up a PC and work on it so it is a useful skill.

    I tend to lean towards networking myself but that's just how my personality goes. If you have absolutely no technical background, I'd recommend getting the Meyers book and learning basic PC maintenance and repair. Knowing how a computer works will help you understand how programming is executed (if you indeed decide to go the programming route).

    Regardless of how some outside party assesses you, always go with what you are good at and most of all what you are interested in. My brother-in-law graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Computer Programming but he hated it and was never very good at it. He now owns a company that produces texts on how to learn various software applications and he's terrrifcally successful.

    Hope some of this helped.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  3. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    Welcome
    what are your hobbies?
    its all well and good being creative, i'm creative, i can pull an imaginary story or poem out of anywhere, tell me i have to sit infront of a computer writing and debugging code 360 days a year and i will tell you where to go though :)

    A career in networking is more akin to something like a mechanic, constantly tinkering, constantly balancing 5 projects at once, getting your hands dirty configuring many different bits of equipment to work as one,
    traveling the world to fancy places like new york and hong kong to type 'ip routing' or /etc/init.d/sshd start
    (ok so those days are gone really)

    thats the path of the MCSE, if you like that side of thing, its probably the best route, creative or not
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, VCP
    WIP: > 0
  4. ginge

    ginge Bit Poster

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    Well thanks for those replies,

    Creative means, for me, playing bass guitar, making music on a PC, and trying to draw (albeit, badly) and trying creative writing (even worse). Oh, and I lied about being confident too :D

    Many, many years ago, I wrote some code, on an Acorn Electron (BASIC, I think), and I recently got a C++ book from the library, and while I got about a way through, I was a tad confused by this point, and thought that maybe I'd jumped in the deep end a bit. I don't remember anything about the BASIC.

    Just remembered actually (after what Phoenix said), I'm pretty interested in Linux. I'm no expert in it, but I've had a play around with it, and think it's something I could get really into.

    OK, lets say for the sake of argument that I didn't mention programming at all, I'm into the networking side of things and want to go that route. Is my plan a feasible one? A+ a good start? And what comes after that?
     
    Certifications: none (yet)
    WIP: A+ (soon)
  5. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    Maybe it's just me, but I would think that a solid foundation in understanding how computers work is necessary for anything in computing, including programming.

    Programming is creative, but it's also many hours of poring over code looking for typo's, etc.... Do you like minutia? To be a good programmer you've got to love it from what I've seen about programming, but I'm not an experienced programmer. It's just what I've seen from people I know who are.

    Most good programmers are very good with languages too, for learning to program is about like learning a foreign language so you can explain, in exact step by step detail, to a computer what you want it to do, and if you miss a step the computer is too stupid to figure it out on its own so it crashes.

    The other thing I've found is that to be good at programming you need to understand algebraic logic very well as programs are one form or another of logarithms, or combinations of them. Logic and excruciating attention to detail are very necessary in programming. If you don't enjoy such things then programming may not be your cup of tea. However, to really know for sure you need to take a programming course or two from a local college or buy a beginners book or two on some programming language and see how you do working with it, whether or not you enjoy it.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  6. ginge

    ginge Bit Poster

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    Yes thanks ffree..

    I was good at languages in school (French and Latin), but I didn't like maths and algebra. This was one of my concerns that I raised with the Computeach guy, and he told me "no, there's no maths or algebra involved", which stood at odds with the little bit of C++ I'd read in the book, it seemed like a lot of maths and algebra. So what you say is extremely helpful and indicative of the direction I should be taking, i.e. not programming.

    Helpful stuff so far, people. A lot more helpful than an hour and a half with a salesman.
     
    Certifications: none (yet)
    WIP: A+ (soon)
  7. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    thats the result of spending 5 minutes with techs over an hour with someone pining for your cash :)
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, VCP
    WIP: > 0
  8. d-Faktor
    Honorary Member

    d-Faktor R.I.P - gone but never forgotten.

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    networking? as in routers, ip trafficing, subnetting, protocols and stuff? then your route should not really be mcse either. it would be more network+, ccna and ccne.
     
  9. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I suppose it depends on how you define networking. I agree with your definition d, but managing active directory for an enterprise also takes some knowledge of how things are networked. jmho.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  10. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    I agree, but it's probably more accurate to say an MCSE is more "system" oriented than "network" oriented in that, as d-Faktor pointed out, the MCSE track really doesn't touch on "networking" as such. It's more to do the the network as a "system" from the standpoint of servers, users, desktops, etc... than routers, protocols, switches, and the like. They really are two different specialties.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  11. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    they are different this is true
    however unless your a specialist in either field, your going to have to know both to a proficient level
    thats the way most normal size companies work atleast
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, VCP
    WIP: > 0
  12. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    I agree, but that's not how they are taught. MCSE exam books only lightly touch on "networking" as such. From the amount of time spent on it in the MCSE track you'd think it wasn't important at all.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  13. ginge

    ginge Bit Poster

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    Sorry guys, I used the term because of what Phoenix said:


    I wasn't expecting a debate :D


    My next question was/is: if I go down the route and get an MCSE, Network+, CCNA or CCNE, but don't have any industry experience, am I going to be employable? Remember, I'm working from home, looking after the baby, and I can't go and get a job for a few years at least. Is the qualification in itself something that will get me a job, and if not, is there anything I can do about it in the meantime that will help?
     
    Certifications: none (yet)
    WIP: A+ (soon)
  14. zimbo
    Honorary Member

    zimbo Petabyte Poster

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    im not sure if im jumping into this forum a little late (only seems to be going for a few hours old :( ) anyway let me add a few things... i did a diploma in computer science (programming) but before i did that i did an A+ and from what i compared between the two "hardware" and networks pulled me more!! i learnt pascal, visual basic,c++ (data structures aswell :cry: ) and if you want to include SQL!

    Programming is very tiring you spend 10% actually writing and 90% looking for errors and problems!! you have to be patient cause bugs could take weeks to find!! creativity is another thing... what i suggest you do is buy two books:

    Mike Meyers A+ All-in-one Complete
    C++ For Dummies

    I used the later myself and it takes you through visual c++ which is a good start... give yourself some time look through the books and see which of the two is your best liking.. you dont want to go buy books for MCSE or MCSD lets say and suddenly say oh this isnt for me lets try the other...
     
    Certifications: B.Sc, MCDST & MCSA
    WIP: M.Sc - Computer Forensics
  15. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    It depends on your approach to certs. If you approach certs as a way to learn about computing you will learn a lot of very useful, relevant material. A cert is a vehicle to use to learn computing, not an end in itself.

    Do research on Google about anything you wonder about. Don't restrict yourself to just exam books. Buy books on fundamental concepts so you understand how and why everything works the way it does. (I've got a library of 90+ books accumulated over 3 years.)

    Set up scenarios in your head and then set them up on your computers. Break things so you can fix them, software wise not hardware wise. Experiment, experiment, experiment. Play with it. Have fun with it.

    Learn everything of interest to you that you can even if it seems irrelevant at the time. It will pay off in the end. I can't tell you how many times a stray thought has entered my head when I've been learning something and I've explored that avenue of thought, and a few months later found out just how useful that seemingly irrelevant-at-the-time bit of knowledge turned out to be.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  16. Pete01

    Pete01 Kilobyte Poster

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    My suggestion would be to check out the open university. You can get an entry level foundation course that will show you many aspects of computing to help you make your decision.

    If you spend 3 years learning networking getting yourself certified in MS and Cisco you'll need some hands on experience to get you a job, hands on is paramount for networking IMO. Having lots of certs but no experience is not good for a networking career, of course everyone has to start somewhere but if you're going to put 3 years into gwetting qualified you'd be better off ending up with the qualifications and some work to show for it.

    I'm currently trying to figure out how to get into networking jobs when I get my CCNA as I've spent all my career doing software/hardware IT support. If I was a good programmer I could make myself a really good website displaying my work. If you go the programming route you can get your certs, learn your programming language and also get your hands dirty at home. You can even produce some professional work and put together a portfolio without stepping outside your house. Of course hands on experience in the work place with other programmers is useful but not as much as it is for networking.

    This is just my opinion, an A+ course will help you in either direction as you need to understand how computers work to be able to fix them when they go wrong and to write software for them.

    Look at the open university courses, you don'y need to do a whole degree but there are some excellent courses that will help you decide and give you a good grounding

    http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses/classifications/information_technology_and_computing_main_page.shtm
     
    Certifications: MCP (NT4) CCNA
    WIP: 70-669, Learning MSI packaging
  17. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    We love a good debate around here. Some of the "sidetalk" can be very educational. However, back to business.

    In my opinion, no. The term "Paper MCSE" was coined in the 1990s to describe a person very good at passing tests but who had never put their hands on a real production server in their lives. During the dotcom boom, certified people were being hired hand over fist just because of their certifications. Quickly, employers discovered that many of these folks didn't know a server from a switch. IT hiring philosophy has changed drastically since those days.

    At some point in your three year process, you will need to get some sort of experience working with servers and networks. It doesn't have to be huge and it can even be on a voluntary basis (to start anyway).

    I'm not sure how your scheduling will work out. If your partner has a traditional work schedule, that means she'd be free to watch the little one in the evenings. That somewhat limits what you can do for experience but not as much as you think. A great deal of server and network maintenance are done after business hours when the end users aren't at work consuming resources.

    I can't count the hours I've worked evenings and weekends on some sort of maintenance or rollout project as an independent contractor. Lost a lot of sleep but gained valuable experience. I am not sure how programming would work but I assume you can code anywhere at anytime. Of course, you still need to know what you are doing and frankly, working with more experienced people, regardless of their emphasis just can't be beat.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  18. ginge

    ginge Bit Poster

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    @ ffreeloader: yes, thanks, I realise that having a career in IT will be a constant learning thing (same as my last career really), and I'm not afraid of that, I'm looking forward to it, ang I enjoy learning stuff, especially if its related to technology. I do feel, however, that I've got to get some practical knowledge behind me, which is why I'm not really considering a Computer Science/IT degree. As I see it, it would be a great way to learn about computing, and might open up certain doors for me, but its another 3-4 years out of my life, which I can't really afford to lose/use.

    @ Pete01: I have looked at their courses, and they do look good, it's definitely somehting to consider.

    @ tripwire45: exactly as I thought. Law was the same, at Uni, people were so envious because I have "experience", the magic word, which looks fantastic on a CV, and gets your foot in the door. I did a lot of that experience when I was much younger, for travel and lunch money basically. Looks like I'm going back to square one!

    Anyways, I'm going to the library tomorrow to see what books they have that might be useful, but I have my heart set on the A+ I think, it certainly sounds interesting from what I've heard.

    Thanks to all of you who took the time to reply.
     
    Certifications: none (yet)
    WIP: A+ (soon)
  19. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    I understand that. My point was that if you keep working hands on in a home lab you'll be surprised what skills you can develop. Of course we all need hands on in production environments, but that's much easier said than done sometimes and a home lab is probably your best option outside of a production environment. The advice to experiment, build scenarios, etc... was with the thought of making your lab environment resemble a production environment as much as possible. I've designed and built complete AD environments in my lab. Created business structures and made many imaginary employees whom I gave different permissions to so when logged in as them I had the desktop controlled certain ways, they had permissions to only reach certain resources on the network, etc....

    I've made my lab about as close to a business environment as I can. It drives my wife crazy at times because our home network, my lab, is set up so she can't do all the insecure things she does at work. I enforce security policies here. They don't where she works. She is starting to see the benefits of what I do though so she doesn't complain nearly as much as she used to. She even uses Linux on a daily basis now....

    When you do all the things I do in a lab it comes through in an interview. The depth of knowledge does show. I've been told that. Interviewers have been impressed with what I've been able to learn in a lab. Do I still need hands on in a production environment? Yes, but a lab doesn't have to be a distant second. It can be a close second if you put a lot of hard work and imagination into it.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  20. Jakamoko
    Honorary Member

    Jakamoko On the move again ...

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    All I'd say is commit to nothing more than the A+ exam right now - that covers a good few areas. At the end of it, ask the same question again, but this time you will know which areas you enjoyed most during it.

    OK, it wont cover a lot of things in depth (or eg prgramming at all), but you will soon pick up if you like the hardware over the network side, or maybe couldn't be arsed, yet loved the OS stuff ?

    Just my thoughts and 2€ in this.
     
    Certifications: MCP, A+, Network+
    WIP: Clarity

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