Check out the Computer Information Center online and this Atlanta-based MCSE study group for more leads. 5/8/01 Finding IT study groups Check out the Computer Information Center online and this Atlanta-based MCSE study group for more leads.
Dear Molly: I live in the Atlanta area and have been a faithful reader of your column for a while now. I realize that you can’t recommend a specific IT training school, or even comment on one, but how do I find out about a school’s reputation? And are there any online study groups for people just getting started in IT?
Molly says: The best place to start gathering information about an IT training source, whether it’s an independent school or part of a private or public college, is at the school itself. Here are a few simple requests to make of the school. If they won’t honor them, move on to the next school on your list. Take a tour of the learning facility that you will be learning in. After you sign up is not the time to find out that the state-of-the-art computer labs pictured in the brochure are for advanced-class use only.
Talk to recent graduates from the program you are considering and ask them their opinion of their experience. Find out if they have gotten a job in IT yet. Find out if the school offers any money-back guarantees; if you start the program and realize early that you’re not happy or in over your head, such a guarantee is a real money saver.
Then, visit the online computer forums for computer user groups and post a message asking for feedback about the program and the training source. Even if you ask about a local community college, someone might be familiar with the organization. If it is a national chain of schools, you might get feedback about a training center in another city, but every little bit of information helps. To find a lot of user groups in one place, surf on over to The Computer Information Center Web site and check out the user group links.
As for finding online study groups for people learning about IT, that’s a good question that no one has asked me before. It’s a good idea to partner with other students when you are learning anything–doing so can help get you going and keep you moving. Here is an MCSE study group in Atlanta that has information about several major certification study areas, including Netware and Oracle. You don’t have to live in Atlanta to take advantage of the information on the Web site, but the group does have local meetings. Since you are in the area, I thought this would be a good group for you.
Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]