Online Degrees and CLEP and DSST Exam Prep Discussion
Help! - Printable Version

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Help! - carlosamador2006 - 01-04-2008

I am at my wits end Sad - Here is my situation I want to work in the IT field but how do you get in when everyone wants experience. I studied hard and got certified as an Oracle DBA and I have my MCDST which was more about me just wanting to understand some basics. I was able to complete my Associates (not specialized) and I want to keep moving forward with my bachelors but even with my AA and those certifications I can't get into the field - WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? I was so motivated and enthusiastic but I really just want to give up. Please any feedback would really be appreciated.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Help! - gcalvin - 01-04-2008

I have been in the IT field for about 20 years, and I have conducted many employment interviews as part of a team. You are right that we tend to want experience, even more than training, certification, and degrees. But there are ways for you to build some experience in order to get your foot in the door.

First, you should design and build a few applications for your personal use. The tools and languages don't matter as much as the coherence of the finished product. And even that doesn't matter as much as getting it done. Wink Next, put up a web site with a database back-end. Do it to support some hobby or community group you're involved in. Try getting involved in some community open source project -- look at for ideas. Choose a relatively high-profile and mature project to start (it will be better organized than a new start-up) and contribute in small ways. Write some documentation (this is something that almost always needs doing). Find the list of bugs that need fixing, and pick out some to try. Don't be discouraged if your fixes don't get accepted the first time -- keep trying. While you're doing this, study the code in some of these projects. Endeavor to understand it -- why did they do it that way? Read the developer mailing lists. Spend most of your time reading and "listening" but actively. Pick out some details to focus on and understand thoroughly.

Next, try to get involvement and feedback with people who are currently working in the field. You can join users' groups, online forums, or just start going to lunch with the IT people where you work now (or go to school or whatever). Pick people's brains about how they got into the field. Find out some more ways from them to get involved in projects and get some experience.

After you've built some experience in those ways, change your resume to a portfolio style. Prepare print-outs of the most interesting parts of your code, and be prepared to discuss how they represent your skill. Be prepared to tell some stories in your interview -- how the toughest challenges presented themselves, and how you overcame them.

If the activities I've described don't sound like fun to you, then to be brutally honest, you have chosen the wrong field. Your competitors are already doing all of these things, not to make more money, but because they love it. If that's not you, then you would certainly be happier doing something else.


Help! - carlosamador2006 - 01-04-2008


This was exactly what I was looking for - I actually enjoy these types of things very much - while I was studying for a particular exam I would put whatever it was I was doing so I was practing on that box - I just didn't know about such open source projects - well I knew of them just not contributing to them. I love the ideas you suggested.

I am actually pretty psyched not so much about the work that lays ahead but because this makes so much more sense. I sincerely appreciate your help.

Have a happy New Year!!

Many thanks,


Help! - BMWGuinness - 01-05-2008

Another way to bridge the gap is through College Internships, have you looked into Internships?

Help! - Chebasaz - 01-11-2008


One of the reasons I love the IT field so much is for the very reason that Gary pointed out - Degrees are important, certifications are important, but when I look at resumes, it's all about the experience. As someone just coming into the field, that may seem like a downer, but it's not that bad. The certifications you have show prospective employers that you've got the drive to study and learn new things, an extremely important attribute to have in IT.

I noticed you had your MCDST as well, which isn't a bad beginner cert to have. Are you looking to get into the software side along with what Gary is suggesting or the hardware side? Or does it even matter? The MCDST is primarily meant for Help Desk folks, which is a great way to break into the IT field. Even though many wouldn't consider it a prestigious position (though I know people who wouldn't trade the job for anything else), it's still IT experience. Even if your end goal is to be a DBA, it's all about getting some experience to put on your resume. Be on the lookout for anything dealing with IT. There's alot of crossdecking that goes on, and once you get into an organization you stand a much better chance of moving into a desired position than someone off the street.

I don't know your flexibility to move to different locations, but get online and check out - Job search for Technology Professionals. (It's for IT.) When I left the Corps, it was through Dice that I found my first job. Are you prior military by chance? If so, there are other options out there as well.

I've been in the field for about 10 years, and started as a Help Desk operator answering phones, then moved to a Field Tech, then moved to Sys Admin work, and then into management. It's a crazy field, but an exciting one full of opportunity. All you need is to get a foot in the door and the whole field opens up for you. Don't give up!

Help! - ctumbleweed - 01-17-2008


Keep us up-to-date on your entry into the IT field and please don't get discouraged. The other posters have given you some excellent tips on getting into the field.

I would like to share with you my experience entering the IT field and hope that it offers you some encouragement. I decided that I wanted to be a programmer and really enjoyed the training I received to earn a Certificate in Programming. After getting an entry level coding position, I found that I did not like it mostly because I felt so isolated. Please don't let me discourage anyone from pursuing programming! This is just my personal experience. Boy, was I discouraged after I spent all of that money for training and then didn't like the job. But my old company took me back and I soon started working as a Network Administrator after the company installed a new network and I volunteered to help. After that, I accepted a position as Help Desk Analyst at another company (great tip, Chebasaz, it certainly worked for me!) which was definitely the stepping stone to my current position in the Information Assurance field which I love.

Here's another example of how one of my friends entered the IT field: One of my good friends had a Bachelor's in Business and was a Car Salesman when he decided to enter the field. He started out installing hardware (again, Chebasz, great tip!) to get his foot in the door and eventually moved up to a Sr. Engineering position designing huge network infrastructures to now running his own very lucrative government contracting business.

Once you enter the field, continuing education is important, too, since technology changes so fast. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement which you should take advantage of if you can. In my humble experience, the continuing education and certifications certainly helped me. I'm still working on a Bachelor's like you are. Like gcalvin said, most employers look for experience, but certs and degrees can help and are sometimes required (such as a CISSP for my position). Hey, Carlos, your Oracle DBA and MCDST may get you some credits towards your degree. Have you checked into that with your school?

I hope that my experience and my friend's gives you encouragement. I wish you all the best in whatever area of the IT field you choose.