What Experience Do You Have?So… you want to get a job in the IT world? You’ve heard the buzz about Cyber Security or becoming a network administrator and  how much money these jobs are paying!

The BIG question is… how do you get the job! More so how do you get the training for the job?

That ends up being the big issue. With some many areas of focus where do you start?

Regardless of what area in the Info Tech world you want to go into, the below suggestions will get you ready for all of them! You just need to put in the time.

So two BIG things!

  1. Education/Training/Certifications
  2. Experience

It is the classic CATCH22… you can’t get the job because you don’t have the experience, but how can you get the experience if you don’t get the job! Aghhhh very frustrating.

After I was in the work force and got my hands dirty, troubleshooted live problems etc…  I knew that I knew more than anybody coming in off the street that had  certain certifications or degrees and no real on the job experience. But on the flip side getting the certifications shows that you have the knowledge and the understanding to figure out specific certification oriented issues. Employers want to see those certs and hear those BUZZ worlds!

Regardless of what certifications you may have, is someone going to hire you to run an 500 user Exchange Server or become a Network Admin for a 100+ user company? Most likely no!

You also can’t expect to get a big job like that coming right out of school or after getting some certs, so keep that in mind. Now don’t get depressed here! It will all come together for you.

I Talk About All This In The Video Below If You Don’t Feel Like Reading

OK So What Do You Do?

  • Over the years I have talked to a lot of people in the industry. Heck there were guys that were in my Tech School class that didn’t have jobs 6 months after we got out and I did! These guys were wayyy… smarter than me, but I focused and did what I am going to show you below and I can honestly tell you I am one of the top 3 successful people out of my class.

Here are a handful of things you can do that will put you in a better position you for a job in the long run whether you are in school or thinking of a career change.

Education: Now pay attention… take notes here…

If you are just deciding your career and have not been to college, then you are better off going to some sort of technical school that will be focusing solely on your career path. I went to a 4 year college because I had the opportunity and got my BA in Communication, which had nothing to do with my current career…. because honestly I had no idea what I wanted to do. Sure I am glad I went, but I literally graduated college, then went to CHUBB institute of Technology full time for 5 months and learned more there then I did in college… because I actually paid attention 😉

  • So a technical school does a few things for you…. it gets you hands on experience and you dive right into learning! It also puts you  around people that are obviously doing the same and studying the same things, so you can really immerse yourself in the work and bounce ideas/get help from other students.
  • Depending on the particular niche you are studying you will want to start thinking about what certifications you should get. I think CompTIA exams are a great way to get your feet wet.  As soon as I finished CHUBB I went right after my A+ & Network + certs. Now… I went into school basically knowing nothing about computers, networks, security etc… I was good with them, but had no knowledge. If you already have some knowledge you might be able to bang out some of those certs while you are in school or whenever you want.
  • Get the certs! When you do land the big job be sure to look into continuing education and if the company allows it then get more certifications and get them to pay for it 😉

Experience: Think outside the box… I did and it paid off!

Ah the tough one! Again you need to remember that the first job you get might not be that Network Admin or Security Admin job…. in fact I pretty much guarantee it won’t! This is where you have to think outside the box and create opportunitiesdon’t wait for  them!

  • Start a blog on your niche…. “you can do this while at school” write about what you are learning… problems you are solving… and post about problems to see if others can help you. This goes on the RESUME! A potential employer can look at this and see the value in your information… just make sure it is actually good 😉 Oh and hey now you are a webdesigner/blogger!
  • Start an LLC… it doesn’t cost much. Check out LegalZoom and set yourself up. Why do this?
    • First off it shows initiative and you are now the CEO of your own company! Go out and get some clients… it is not as hard as you think
    • This is exactly what I did… I was building computers for people, setting up their home networks, securing their wifi… and oh Good Lord help me… updating their Windows XP to Service Pack 1 via dial up!! Agh… you learn a lot waiting for hours lol!
    • Seriously though, it all goes right on the resume! This also allows you to have some solid references. I must have had a dozen references I could give a potential employer to call and each one was super happy with my services because I made their lives easier! It is a win win!
  • Get an internship or even a low paying, maybe even volunteering/tagging along job with someone who knows what they are doing! That is worth its weight in gold! When you surround yourself with people who deal with the real world situations in IT you are going to learn a lot real fast. You are also going to learn what matters and what doesn’t and how half the stuff you learned in your classes and getting your certs are never like real time experience 😉
  • It can be tough, but you have to put yourself out there… visit the local computer shop and see if you can hang around or do some busy work for them like installing operating systems or resetting routers etc… whatever it is get your foot in the door and make those connections. All of this is resume material that will put you one step closer to your dream job.

Below I talk about how to put this altogether in your resume, but first here is a quick story about my journey. Maybe it can give you some ideas or at least motivation…

My Climb To IT Greatness… To Me At Least… 😉

So I graduated from CHUBB and of course I expected to get some job making you know like 50K  + job a year… “this was 2001” by the way, but that did not happen.

Now all of the above stuff I wrote about… I pretty much did, I was running my own LLC, I had a few clients… I never did start a website “it was harder back then ;-)”, and I was always just learning. I had my first job interview with a company that was more or less a computer rental company. So a company would need 30 laptops or 30 desktops all with the same set up delivered to them for training or some temp project etc… we would set them up and them deliver them. Well the head guy would set them up… I would deliver them and set them up. So it was 80% delivery and 20% tech, but it was cool. I learned along the way and a lot of times we ran into issues getting them set up and functioning on the networks and I was able to use the skills I learned to solve the problem. Good times…

It wasn’t the dream job, but it was a job! It was better then sitting at home crying about not getting hired like a lot of other people from my class were doing. They were turning down jobs like that! Don’t do that! Go for the interviews for practice, take the job if nothing else is happening, and if another opportunity arrives then take it!

As luck would have it I had a friend who was working for Bed Bath & Beyond in their tech support and got me an interview. I also had a chance to interview for a Fortune 500 company that my mother worked for. She knew the woman who managed the IT department and they had a summer time help desk position available. So… the BBB job was full time, benefits etc… all that good stuff. Mainly learning how to work with their company software and support things BBB specific. The summer time gig was supporting 500+ users with 3 other guys dealing with all sorts of technologies. They also had network admins, sys admins, and exchange admins working there. I was offered both jobs!

Which do you think I took? The full time, more money/benefits job or the 3 month summer help desk gig?

I took the help desk gig of course! It was the best decision of my life! I was surrounded by 3 other guys in the help desk that taught me a ton!! I was around all the other admin guys that were really cool and I got to help them out here and there and pick up a few things. I learned a lot of skills in a lot of different areas. It really helped me see what I wanted to do!

I never got offered a full time job, because there wasn’t a need for one at the time, but I took those skills I learned and made some great connections/references and was able to add to my resume that I worked at a Fortune 500 company.

After that I took a quick gig at a “learning center” actually teaching people computers lol… it was horrible, but it was a job and I literally quit 3 weeks in. I went back to doing my own thing and helping out another guy I knew who ran his own IT company. I was able to help him here and there and in particular with one company. That company decided they wanted to hire a full time IT guy so I jumped at the opportunity.

I was intimidated because I felt I did not have the experience to be the HEAD IT DUDE for about a 30 employee company that had its own exchange server, blackberry server, firewall, and all the other things companies need to run! I would have to be the guy to run it all! It was full time, full benefits etc… Of course I got the job!! 😉

I still remember during the interview I was asked about the position I had at the help desk and what I did. The answers I was able to give them from that experience pretty much locked up the job for me!

So I was there for a long time, did a lot of cool things, streamlined a lot of things, and saw a lot of things change over the years… blackberry server… what?? lol 😉

Anyways I hope that just paints a picture for you and you can see how a potential career in the industry can develop.

OK Let’s Write That Resume

So I have not written a resume in probably 10 years! Yes seriously so as far as formatting and all that fun stuff I have no idea! I have been lucky enough to take my knowledge and not worry about keeping my resume up to date, but here are some things to remember.

  • You need to put it all on there! Depending on the position you are applying for you will of course want to focus on those skills, but list everything.
  • What I mean by that is this…. if you listened to me and started an LLC and had some clients and you happened to secure their Linksys Router or their Unifi Access point then you write on that resume those models you dealt with. If you dealt with specific antivirus or malware removal software list it. If you had to fix or upgrade a Dell Poweredge server then list the exact model of the server.
  • Doing this shows your experience, but you never know… that potential employer might realize they are using Unifi Access points and when they see you have dealt with them that is a win win! Experience pays off!
  • List all those Certifications
  • List that website you built
  • The more detailed you are the more chances you have of the potential employer matching that up with something specific which is more likely to get you hired.

Well.. I know I can be long winded, but  there is a lot of good information here and it is all 100% true! I loved those times when I was learning. I hope it helps you.

If you have any questions or more tips to add please leave them below in the comments section! I would love to hear them and also help you out in anyway I can! Heck I could even add you as an author on the blog if you were interested in writing…. Now you can add Author @cybersecurityportal.com to the resume 😉

Jake Ciber

Jack of all trades... master of none... ABL... Always Be Learning! I love what I do and I love helping people.

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