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Getting off the fence

Not sure if a computer career is for you? Read, volunteer, and temp to find out. 6/1/01 Getting off the fence Not sure if a computer career is for you? Read, volunteer, and temp to find out.

Dear Molly: I want to find out if I have what it takes to have a career in computers. I know I like to work with them and have had some experience doing that, but I’m just not sure enough to spend money for the training. I also have a good, steady job outside the computer field–it’s not exciting, but the money is good. How could I check out the computer field and my interests in it before I made some decisions?

Molly says: Earlier this week I talked about trying out temporary work or getting an internship. Either will allow you to sample the world of IT before you take the plunge, if you have time to work at least 30 hours per week. If not, maybe you would like to do some volunteer work locally to check out your interests. Most volunteer jobs do not require you to work more than a few hours per week, so you could fit such a job into your existing schedule with a little juggling.

Start asking around the nonprofit organizations in your area to see if you can help them with their computers. Some communities have also started organizations to help coordinate information about open volunteer positions, so also look for such a clearinghouse in your area.

You should also learn all you can about the computer industry–read computer-related sites such as this one daily, as well as major business papers such as the Wall Street Journal. If you can afford it, a trip to a major computer show such as COMDEX is also an educational experience.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]

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