My Education: BS, Psychology
My Prior Experience: I have been in IT for 26 years since graduating college.
My Company: IT services provider.
Job/Career Overview: I work in Information Systems remotely managing Microsoft servers (for e-mail and databases) and Cisco telephony servers. I support the day-to-day running of these servers and trouble-shoot the problems that arise. We also apply security and other fixes as needed to address security exposures and software bugs. We service mostly mid-size and large companies and have a global presence. We have a majority of engineers that work out of Bangalore and other locations in India. We have recently opened operations in China and Europe and will soon have a presence in Central America. I assist in the interviewing/recruiting of new engineers for these sites. Our work is primarily driven by a ticketing system that classifies problems and routes them to the right group. The group I manage, for example, handles any servers issues, not only Microsoft, but also LINUX and possibly other operating systems.
More Insights: When I started in the IT field 26 years ago it was all mainframes and I worked in a group in the bowels of a building and ha very little interaction with the rest of the company. Back then technical skills were all that mattered. Nowadays, I interface frequently with other departments in my company as well as with customers, so personal skills too are now required in this field. Technical skills alone will not get you by.
I rate this career 8 out of 10.
The best part of my job is I enjoy the technology I work with. While I support many 'older' systems, I also support newer systems running on the latest hardware which keeps me up-to-date. There are many times where I have to learn something 'on-the-fly', even during critical outages for a customer. This can sometimes be a bit stressful but if you keep things in perspective it makes it easier to deal with these types of issues. Another thing I really like about my job is I have a lot of flexibility, coming into the office pretty much when I want for how long I want, and even working remotely from home occasionally as needed.
The thing I guess I don't like sometimes is I am on-call a lot and occasionally I get those 3AM in the morning calls due to a customer's critical systems being down and I have to get up, log on and attempt troubleshooting. It is better than earlier days when I not only had to get up and accept the call, I actually had to hop in my vehicle and go to the customers location!
1. Get as much hands-on experience as possible. One issue I had cracking the IT field was I had good grades in college in my computer minor (a computer major was not available at the time), but potential employers were looking for someone with experience. It was kind of a catch-22. How was I supposed to get experience if no one would give me the initial break to enter the field?
2. I also like the idea of internships or even better a coop program such as that offered by some colleges. These are two excellent ways to get around that old catch-22.
3. I believe hands-on experience is more important than certifications later in your career. Certifications are important when you are breaking into the field but after that I would hire an individual with a lot of real world experience over someone with a lot of degrees. Unfortunately, in many cases certifications have just become another revenue generator for companies and have little validity. In many cases, you can attend a short-term 'boot camp' that essentially guarantees you will get the certification you desire.