With a little focus, this eager overachiever will land an IT career.
Dear Molly: In the past two years, I’ve read everything about the cutting-edge skills needed to excel in the IT field. I’ve taken classes for an MCSE, am interested in designing and building websites, and am going back to school for a degree in communications technologies beginning this summer. A breakthrough into IT doesn’t appear to be there for me, however, because I don’t yet have a degree, and because my skills range from MS Office to Networking using Windows NT Workstation 4.0. How do I show companies I am interested in the field through the initiative I’ve taken on my own? It’s not as if I haven’t tried.
Molly says: You answered your own question! You’re right–you’re not getting anywhere yet because you don’t have the training or experience, and potential employers quickly pick up on that when you apply for jobs. It’s only natural. Who would you rather have cut your hair–someone who has finished beauty school and had three years’ experience, or someone who looks at fashion and hair design magazines and trims the dog’s hair once in a while?
I also suspect you’re not sure which IT career path to follow. Web design is a maybe, but you’ve also worked on an MCSE certification–the two are vastly different. Now that you’ve decided to go back to school, focus on that endeavor for at least the first semester. Get the best grades you can while you read as much as you can about the industry and the myriad jobs available in the broad spectrum of IT. Find something you’re passionate about–not something you’re lukewarm about because someone tells you it’s a good job track. Use that passion to help focus your efforts.
Then, try to find some kind of real work that will help you test your passion. It may be doing a Web site for a non-profit group on a pro bono basis. It may be working with a group of fellow students on a Web site development project. Find something that will help you build an experience portfolio while helping you verify that you really are interested in a particular track. If you find you’re not, don’t hesitate to try something else. Keep trying until you’ve found work that is deeply satisfying to you.
Here are a few Web sites to help you find work that stimulates a high level of excitement in you: The Personality Page, The Keirsey Character Sorter , Review.com’s Top Jobs, and Backdoor Jobs.
Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]