View Full Version : How to get into Network/IT

01-30-2010, 10:54 AM
OK so some of you will remember I was going back to a tech school to get some certs and try to get a job in IT.

I was on a VOC Rehab program through the VA which they saw I had some experience at the telephone company working on Frame Relay/ATM circuits and paid for 8 months of school.

During that 8 months the school had me get the basic A+, Network+ and I was also able to get my CCNA. The CCNA was no joke, but I have it now.

So, the VA program dropped on Jan1 and my room mate sold his home and it should be closed in a month or so and it's time to get a job. I have dropped my resume to just about every help desk/noc/network jobs out there but from what I understand there are CCNPs out there who are willing to take the lower paying jobs so I'm not sure I will land work in the Bay Area or Sac.

Part of the VA deal is they have a person who is contracted with them to help guys like me find Fed jobs and when I was talking with her she said if I was willing to move she could find a job no problem but IT is broken down to Silicon Valley and she never really said the other parts but after looking at Dice and other places they are TX and places on the east coast.

I have 2 sons here in CA and get to see them as much as I want so moving doesn't sound all that great but I may have to do that.

Any ideas for a new guy? Do you really need the B.S. in IT? Seems like they all want a college degree.

01-30-2010, 5:35 PM
It is really tough right now for IT in the Sac area. The bay area is much better if you want an IT job. In 2008 I got laid off(company was sold to a competitor who laid almost everyone off) and I was out of work for 4 months before I found this job(and I had 11 years of IT experience behind me).

This job will likely end end a month or so(customer is moving everything to the east coast) so I'll probably be looking again soon. More and more companies are moving out of CA. In fact if I include this job, 3 of my jobs have moved out of state(2 to Texas).

With the economy worse now than it was in 2008 I am expecting to be on unemployment for at least a year unless I get lucky. A couple of my former co-workers have been out of work since March of 08.

If I can't find anything by the one year mark I will consider renting a small studio in the bay area and work there during the week and come home for the weekends.

If that doesn't work then I may consider selling my house and moving my family to a free state like Texas or Viginia that also have a decent amount of IT jobs available.

01-30-2010, 6:11 PM
**** the college degree, and a pox on those HR weenies that demand them on their job postings. Sorry. That's a sore point for me. A bachelors is never going to hurt your job search, but there are very, very, very few programs that will actually give you any skills you can use in IT. The best bet is a business major, IMO.

Finding a gig in IT can be a very difficult proposition. You really need a good network, and you also need to stand out from the crowd. You've got your certs, but what makes you more desireable than the the guy next to do? THAT is what you need to think about in order to get ahead. For me, it's always been the extra-curricular stuff (such as 2600, defcon, ISSA, OWASP, and so forth) which has allowed me to point to specific items that 99% of the competition didn't have. Attending stuff like that will also get you some great contacts, which is probably the best way to get a job.

I wish I could say there's something magical you can do to get a job *now*...but I don't think there is. You need to build up your network, and work on getting your resume to stand out. Having the certs is good, but not having the professional work experience behind it is going to hurt you badly.

Having a home lab to screw around with also helps a lot, but since you don't have a job currently, affording one might be tough.

All I can say right now is check Craigslist, apply for any jobs that look halfway decent, and spend a lot of time getting your resume/cover letter in order. If you'd like to PM me either or both, I'd be happy to take a look and give you some feedback.

01-30-2010, 6:43 PM
PM sent Mike:)

01-30-2010, 8:03 PM
I'm in the IT business myself and have a couple of suggestions.

Get involved in local computer/networking clubs. There was a very active Novell users group in Sac. Great for networking, and offer to assist on projects "just to get some experience." The reality is, nobody will let you work for free. You show your abilities, get experience, and make some gas money.

And, find a local non-profit and donate your time doing IT functions, or even training computer users on the basics. Great contacts (most of the local business "movers & shakers" are heavily involved in non-profit/charity work), and it can lead to work. You never know how a job offer will come to you from someone you made a favorable impression on.

I'm in Lodi, if I can be of any assistance to you PM me. Good luck, and stay focused on your goal.

01-31-2010, 11:33 AM
There's bound to be a Cisco User's Group nearby, great way to meet people. Often there will be a couple VAR's that attend, and they are required to have certified people on staff to maintain their partnership with Cisco. They'll also frequently know of customers who are looking to hire. As a benefit you also get to learn about technologies that businesses are adopting! Great way to keep on top of things while you're job hunting.

Keep pounding away at Monster, Dice, etc. Make sure your resume looks good, my experience in regards to cover letters is mixed.... I'm not convinced that it does much good when looking for a technical networking position. A good cover certainly never hurts, but a poorly written one can kill an opportunity quite quickly. Don't just search the postings, but make sure your resume is posted online. Hiring agencies have an ability to query and search those resumes without posting their jobs online.

Most high quality network jobs go through a recruiting process using outside firms or sometimes an internal recruiting organization. If you get in contact with a recruiting firm you need to call your recruiter at least weekly, if you're not calling they'll think you got a job elsewhere. The whole squeaky wheel thing applies here. They should also give you feedback on your resume and cover letter.

The idea of contributing time with local non-profits sounds like a great way to network. On the flipside, I'm not sure how valuable Craigslist would be for this type of job search.


01-31-2010, 1:36 PM
"I'm not sure how valuable Craigslist would be for this type of job search"
Exceedingly valuable.

Maybe not if you're trying to break into the giant corporations, but there remains a wealth of opportunities on CL.

Corbin Dallas
01-31-2010, 4:56 PM
I hate to break it to you, but without at LEAST a bachelors degree, you're up against people who have YEARS of experience AND a degree in the field you're trying to get into.

If the hiring manager has YOUR resume and a resume of some with experience and a degree, you can bet your last dollar the resume with the degree will get the position.

I do NOT have my certs, but I have years of experience and a degree. I still get passed over for senior jobs because I don't have that piece of paper that says I'm a bookworm.

01-31-2010, 5:39 PM
I'm glad I'm out of the IT business. I had 8 years of unix and db experience and a computer degree. Its a tough market out there. We are a dime a dozen especially here in the bay area. I remember I was told I was one of 300 applicants for a network position. Most of the time you never hear from the employer. Sucks!!!

Networking out will help you get a job since most jobs are "hook ups" from people you know. Since you are new to IT, I suggest you find a internship. I know many who got into there first job from it. The bad thing is normally you get internships from colleges. And yes a college degree helps.

Quit IT and get into the medical field like me. Most people who work in the medical field are certifications like nurses, techs. Only doctors have degrees. Most certification programs are like one year to two years. That would be the best way to go and money is good. Lots of OT.

02-02-2010, 7:42 AM
(Me: 16 years of IT experience) Important areas I look for when hiring IT staff are expierience (Put the time in, either through paid consulting gigs or volouteering for clubs and charities, which also looks good on the resume and helps you get the hands on you need to master your craft. Know your stuff. Certification are good and may get you a second look, but knowing your stuff can set you apart if you do get an interview. The market is flooded with people trying to retool with PAPER certifications.

Experience and knowing your stuff will set you apart

Fay BUddha
02-02-2010, 8:42 AM
Everything everybody said was good info but to add my own 2 pennies ... have you thought about joining IEEE? The student cost is $40 to join and you get the opportunity to network with others in the area.


02-03-2010, 2:29 PM
Glockguy hit on it, UG's are a great place to meet and greet with those in IT in an informal environment. Check out Pacific IT Pros, VMware User Groups, even TiVo user groups etc. I know you are looking for the Cisco stuff, that's not my area of expertise but I'd bet there has to be one near Sac. Just remember that the UG's are informal, but you are being evaluated the entire time. Be yourself, but be and dress professional.

02-03-2010, 4:26 PM
Just a quick update:

I had some suggestions from members about my resume and was called within a few hours of fixing it. This is a 1099 job doing a cut over on pre-config Cisco gear but I'm hoping to get to talk with some other people about more work.

Its a very small job (2 days for 4 hours a day) first day is installing hardware and the second day for turn up. At least I will be able to add this to the resume when I'm done.:)

02-03-2010, 4:28 PM
For me as a hiring IT manager, your hands on experience and personality
(attitude) is WAY more important than your education and certifications.
The less the company needs to train you, the more appealing you'd be.

Until you find your job, I'd suggest you spend at last a few hours a day
doing/playing/trying something IT related at home. Coming up with
a list of tasks you'd likely encounter in the positions that you'd be applying for.

e.g. Desktop support
- install/fix/configure apps
- install/fix/configure printers
- OS install
- home access (vpn, dial-up etc)
- access to file server
- virus/trojan
- anything security

- server up/down/slow
- network up/down/slow
- service up/down/slow
- process/procedure (SLA, notifications, troubleshooting, maintenance,
change control, documentation)

- how to talk to a less technical person
- how to talk to a non-technical person
- how to deal with idiots
- how to deal with irate idiots

good luck!

02-03-2010, 6:07 PM
+1^8 to what lazyworm said,

Also, offer to volunteer for a group or cause you like, and see how you can help in technical (and other) ways. That really builds your personal network, which is where the offers will await.

02-03-2010, 6:47 PM
As what everyone said is correct. The hardest part is getting YOUR resume on the hiring managers table. Your resume also needs all the keywords so HR will pick it up.

Network network network.!!!!!! Its who you know thats get you the job.

I think you should be ok in finding a job. I find it harder for someone with years experience to get a job. Its cheaper to hire someone who is new and willing to do all the hard work cheap.

As what lazyworm said, personality is key. When I interviewed, I looked for if you had the attitude to learn and hard working. You can hire someone with years of experience but was lazy and slow.

02-03-2010, 8:38 PM
lazyworm speaks the truth.

Start small. Build relationships. I started working for CompUSA in 95 learning the back room sales side. That really got me interested in he technical side. I signed up for the HOT MSCE (NT 4.0) class, hated it and got my cert on my own. I worked @ earthlink as a support tech supporting both Macs and PCs. This also got me VALUABLE customer service skills. Learning how to deal with irate customers is KEY. When the customers are having a meltdown, they remember who it was that go them up and running, as well as lent a sympathetic ear.

Take as many contracting jobs as you can handle. This builds experience. Even if it isn't the money you want. It has been my experience that contracting companies will give you crap jobs with crap customers just to see what you do. Once you build those relationships, they give you the better paying long term gigs. I still have contract companies calling me years later.

Also don't just look at the money. I took my current gig that payed 5K less than another job, just on the possibility of getting a transfer to TX. Looks like that is happening this year. Next week I am taking a company payed (1500) Mac cert class.

02-05-2010, 12:52 PM
the only positive thing i see going into IT is that network/unix admin jobs/database admins are the top paying IT jobs (non-mgmt and for technical). but.... it's hard to get work as a permanent employee. almost these kind of jobs are outsourced. the "physical" portion of the network IT stays local because you need to do physical things, i.e. configure routers/switches/run cables/etc. ux admin/DBA/etc. are offshored mostly these days.

the bay area ain't that much better than sac when it comes to IT. hell, I've been trying to get out of IT and go to marketing or something and use my double emphasis mba.

p.s. there aren't that many IT places are are still golden to work for. but there are a few in the bay area i'd jump IT to IT jobs.

02-05-2010, 3:57 PM
If you have programming skills I can talk to my parents old neighbor and see if they are hiring. He works for the DoD Navy base here in Norco (Southern Cal) That would be a sweet gig if you could land that.

02-09-2010, 3:24 PM
Not sure how your job search has been going or if youve found a spot. I do hope so as its rough out there!

Danito I think was spot on... dont put too much into the certs they are nice and will get you looked at but IN THE INTERVIEW now your ****. Up, down, left and right. Dont be afraid of doubting and asking questions of the interviewer or calling them out on something thats wrong.

We interviewed LOTS of CCIEs and many of them couldn't troubleshoot their way out of a flat network! we always had our resident team of CCIEs ask questions and state WRONG info.. FR packet size, ATM cell size, simple L2 and L3 switching and routing stuff. 3/4 of the people didnt question the info just because just came from a CCIE.

Paper on gets you so far... if you need some older cisco gear to play on PM me. promise it wont be ebayed and youll pass it on when done and its yours.

02-09-2010, 3:41 PM
i got into the IT field in a quick hurry one i finished up school.

while i was in school (online) i did breakfix work. dell, ibm, xerox, samsung. warranty repairs, no diagnosis to begin with was through RCM Recuiters. i was in that job for 6 months till i completed my degree. after that i got into a consulting gig with BT/INS http://www.globalservices.bt.com/ (try looking them up always a great company to work for,)

with that job it introduced me to many people in the networking industry for many huge companies. i had a consulting gig (AD Remediation and Exchange 2003->2007 migration) with a nice company. while there i heard they were in need of a sys admin/user support for a local office.
after the consulting gig was up and i moved to a different gig through BT/INS, i contacted the company i just finshed doing the remediation ans exchange migration and applied.

BAM! great in and almost 3 years with them now.

02-09-2010, 8:28 PM
Lazyworm is right on, most of the posts have been real good, I would encourage you to do some volunteer work for your local school district, if you have grandkids or kids in the school it is usually real easy to get in. Schools tend to have older equipment so it is a great opportunity to practice on older platforms to help you in rounding out your experience. No doubt it is attitude not skills that get you a job, skills get you gigs. Guys with mad skills are usually legends in their own minds and are tolerable for length of time to finish contract - 2 days. In a typical k-12 school if you can make a printer work you are in the top 5%. Education has one of the oldest workforces going so there aren't a lot of technical natives there, you can rise up pretty quickly. Good luck!!

02-10-2010, 2:46 PM
after that i got into a consulting gig with BT/INS http://www.globalservices.bt.com/

I worked for INS before they were bought by Lucent and then BT. Great company to work for but things got a little hairy when Lucent came into the picture so I jumped ship just before INS got acquired. I still know someone who works there back from the early days. Think he is in Texas now.

02-10-2010, 11:05 PM
I'm a network engineer at a major university. I started off doing desktop at fortune 500 company and worked my way up. I will self taught, but was very good at what I did and got a good break. You can have all the certifications in the world and a bachelors degree, but if you've never touched a production server or a router/switch, it would be hard to fathom a company would take the risk. My advice to you is get your foot in the door, even if it doing grunt work and start tearing your way through the ranks. You will gain your experience and you'll be golden.

02-11-2010, 5:39 PM
Well I had a 1099 job doing a "network in a box", 1 backup battery, 1 switch and 1 router. I moved the old equipment on the rack around placed the new stuff in there. I was getting an alarm light and had to trace the T1 back to the MPOE and found some issues. It worked in the end and the rest of the cutover happens in 2 weeks.

I didn't bring my laptop thinking I would only need it on the turn up day but the CCIE on the other end told me its the first day it will be needed if at all.

I think all the guys on the other end liked me and the guy in Boston said he will tell his boss I was a good guy. All in all I had fun..better than chasing a pair to manholes located in downtown Oakland or Richmond.:D

I haven't had any other calls and have updated my Dice and Monster resume to reflect the last job...more carpet bombing of the resume I guess.:)

02-12-2010, 8:09 AM
Lots of certs, lots of experience, lots of hours, married to a pager or crackberry.....and get paid a third what we used to from 5-6 years ago. welcome to IT/IS. cant complain tho as it does feed my habit ;)

02-12-2010, 9:46 AM
Equinix - take a look into them

Chris M
02-12-2010, 10:27 AM
At my work, we've got a couple I.T. positions open...one is currently open only internally (til next week), but the other has been open to the public for over a year.


02-22-2010, 11:58 AM
Have you taken a look into a state job in CA? There are currently exams available online for Assistant/Associate Informations Systems Analysts as well as Staff/Senior Information Systems Analysts. You can find the exams here (http://jobs.ca.gov). There is a wide range of jobs within this job description... you can view vacancies here (http://www.spb.ca.gov/jobs/vpos/index.htm).

02-22-2010, 3:01 PM
Have you taken a look into a state job in CA? There are currently exams available online for Assistant/Associate Informations Systems Analysts as well as Staff/Senior Information Systems Analysts. You can find the exams here (http://jobs.ca.gov). There is a wide range of jobs within this job description... you can view vacancies here (http://www.spb.ca.gov/jobs/vpos/index.htm).

I'm not sure why but they say I am not qualified:rolleyes:, about the only job is the software ones. My background is in telecomm with a ccna. :o

02-23-2010, 7:16 AM
Associate ISA's are telecom analysts at my department. Make sure you factor all of your years of IT related experience... you might be falling just short of the requirement threshold. I think 2-3 years is the magic number (I'd aim for the 3).

02-23-2010, 8:04 AM
I seriously think the IT business went to hell because of all these "needed" certifications and requirements. I remember back in the mid 90's when I was on my 9600 baud modem and everything I learned was self taught. It only matters what you know...not what a piece of paper says about you.

02-23-2010, 11:53 AM
I remember back in the mid 90's when I was on my 9600 baud modem and everything I learned was self taught. It only matters what you know...not what a piece of paper says about you.

Unfortunately that piece of paper is what many companies use to measure what you know, especially for people just entering the field. Once you have 5, 10, or 15 years of experience that changes, as that experience can be directly reflected on your resume (and through your network of professional relationships).


03-05-2010, 3:35 PM
Here is a little update:

I started working on the 2008 Microsoft stuff MCTS and server after while I keep looking for work. The MS material was already paid for and I have access to testing material along with some other things to help me through the certs.

I stopped by Travis and Martinez VAs while I was looking at a room for rent and found some good intel on Fed jobs. Region 1 (west coast, Alaska and Hawaii) VA offices are going with Cisco across the board. They are replacing all the other vendors and are working on hiring management/supervisors for this shakeup off all IT type departments.

They dont do things like in the civialian job market and have the telco side separate from the network which is seperate from storage and programming.. They dont have a jack off all trades but they do have help desk but these departments do not cross into other departments and they dont share info and I get the feeling its for self preservation and job security.

I spoke with a guy who said they are moving to VOIP and cannot find any Cisco voip people. The person I spoke to was the telco guy and looked like he had been there for awhile, he said there is no positions open until management spots are filled and he would know more on the 9th.

He was nice enough to give me a card and said I could email him to find out about changes.

I also found out that most of the IT staff started in a clerk/admin spot before landing a IT slot. The younger OIF vet I talked to said he filed paperwork for 2 years before getting his spot. I asked him what he did in the Army and he said Satcom. Seemed like a nice guy and was willing to give me some solid advise on fed AV type jobs.

On the other side (civilian) I have received one job offer for 90/100 resumes/application I have sent out. The network consulting job was installing a switch, router and POE battery in a office with 2 hosts and no printers. I did get a chance to change the name of the vlan on the switch so I can claim some cisco time on my resume.:D