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Hands-on learner

How can I find hands-on experience I can use at work?

Dear Molly: I have decided to pursue a career in Unix System Administration. My strength lies in the SUN Microsystems Solaris version of Unix. I have been looking at the SUN curriculum as well as the programs from Learning Tree International, Global Knowledge and Xincon. The SUN program is too expensive but I am concerned that most of the private and public institutions offer a program leading to a certification. I am more interested in acquiring practical — and not theoretical — knowledge. I want to get hands-on experience that I can use at work. Please provide your concise and informative advice.

Molly says: I gather from your comments that you think certification programs involve a lot of classroom lectures. That’s not always the case, so if you’re a hands-on kind of learner then I would make sure that you find a certification program that incorporates a lot of hands-on programming and computer lab work.

Sun offers an educational counseling service that you can access via its Web site ( It’s meant for executives and managers who are looking for custom training solutions for their employees, but I have a hunch the folks behind the site would help you figure out what kind of training would give you the most practical experience.

Sun also employs people as interns, mostly college folks, I imagine, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask the company about those kinds of opportunities. Just asking might help you come up with some real-life training.

You could also contact the organizations that match up computer folks with organizations that need volunteer computer help. Here are a few of these organizations:

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. To ask a career-related question, reach her at [email protected]

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