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Which certification?

Also, network-installation options. Career Advisor hed: Which certification? dek: also, network-installation options. by Molly Joss

Q: I’ll be a high school junior in the fall. Recently I acquired A+ certification, and now I am studying to get Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. In the meantime, I have been trying to find an entry-level position as a PC/networking technician, or some kind of an internship. To my amazement, the IT industry is really against 16-year-old kids trying to find a job! I have been turned down many times, but I am determined. Maybe you have some suggestions for me? I really want to start my career now.

A: You’re on the right track. Now all you have to do is be a little patient while you’re being a little innovative.

You’re right that you need to keep going on the path you’re on, but you also need to do well in school and get yourself into a great college. The trick is to do enough computer work to help you keep learning, while at the same time focusing on the academic side of your education.

Believe it or not, it’s tough all over for IT workers who are trying to get a new job or make a career change. Even people in their 20s and 30s are finding it harder than they thought it would be. The solution for everyone, including you, is persistence combined with out-of-the box thinking.

You need to find an organization or school–for you, most likely a nonprofit one so you can do some volunteer work–that needs the kind of help you can give. They might not know they need someone like you, but that’s where the persistence comes in.

You need to show them how you can help their cause. You can offer energy, enthusiasm, and a desire for experience. Plus, you’ve got some credentials to show that you know something about computers. It’s going to take some digging, but every community needs people like you.

Q: Is there any way for someone without a lot of interest in computers–by that I mean no interest in the back-end aspects of how they are put together and how they work-to get involved in the computer industry? I am in my midforties and have worked for years in manufacturing management. I see the world economy shifting away from making stuff into making and disseminating information and ideas. I want to get involved. How do I do this?

A: Sounds to me as though you might be interested in something called content management. This is an umbrella term (one of several) for the idea that we have all this stuff (ideas/images/text) in digital form and we ought to be able to make the most of it. If you are interested in making ideas instead of physical goods, I suggest you learn more about the business of content management.

There is no one book or Web site I can suggest that will help you learn what you need to know. Given your background, you don’t need a primer on managing anything.

The best way for you to start would be to find a conference on content management that has a large number of exhibitors. Go, listen, and collect handouts on the companies.

You can also learn a lot by reading information on the Web. Search for the term content management to find sources of information. I also suggest visiting the Web site of Content Magazine, which is affiliated with the Content World trade show and conference.

Q: I am a secondary-school teacher, and I love my job. But I am getting really frustrated with the limits the school system imposes on teachers when it comes to using technology, especially the Web, in the classroom. I would like to get some kind of job helping to change the system and the perceptions I see. What kind of job would that be, and how would I find out more about how other schools are using the Web in the classroom?

A: Don’t quit your job just yet–we need all the teachers we can get who love their jobs. Some school systems are ahead of the curve, though, when it comes to using the Web as a teaching tool. If your interests aren’t fulfilled at the school you currently work for, you may find another school in your area that is as interested in technology as you are.

People who help schools make the best use of technology are sometimes called technology coordinators (TCs). Sometimes TCs work for a school system and sometimes they are used as third-party experts when a school system wants to evaluate its use of computer technology.

Use the Web and your school holidays to find out more about TCs and learning-related technology. While you are doing that, you may find a school system in your area that’s more in tune with your interests. You may end up teaching there and helping them explore further the uses of technology in the classroom. Or, you may end up modifying your career into teaching educators how to use technology or even working as a TC yourself.

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