Breaking into Information Technology (one approach)

By | November 10, 2010

Was talking with my wife about the “good ‘ol days”. Small apartment, going to school, trying to make ends meet.

Those were the days shortly before the dot com bubble burst. At that point I was fighting against being in I.T. because EVERYONE was going into the field. Oddly enough every  job I got at the time was either website work or server work. And I had a knack for it.

It’s got to be even harder now for graduates and beginning computer professionals. Most businesses I know of want that 4 year computer science degree plus experience to even get your foot in the door. Back when I was starting if you knew how to create a spreadsheet in Excel you were considered a computer genius.

Now if you don’t have experience in whatever niche software the company happens to be running you might as well not even apply. Forget about it if you’re a hardware guy looking to get VM experience with a large server farm.

It’s quite easy to gain experience in the open source software like PHP/Postgres/etc. Simply set up a home server and have at it.

While it’s true that there are many companies that run on the LAMP stack, or use Linux as their desktop OS most traditional businesses are using the big names like IBM, Microsoft,and¬† Oracle.

I remember the big hurdle for me was to just get my hands on this bigger and higher-cost technology. How do you do it? Barring buying your own license (or getting the software from more ill-reputed sources) how does one get experience to get in the door?

The answer I kind of stumbled into was to get a job in government I.T.

There are many entry-level positions in government and most cities and counties run the big name systems. Sadly compared to the private sector these jobs usually don’t pay as much.

However, given the job market stability with government, potential for on-the-job training, and hands-on experience it’s a great arena to “cut your teeth”.

In my three plus years now in government I’ve already seen people gain the experience and transition back into the private sector making the large salaries.

So, if you’re trying to get your foot into that junior level position give your city or county a look.

Most are dying for new blood, and fresh skills and ideas. Plus, as an added bonus, you’re helping your community.

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