Occasionally, I like to jump in on MCPMAG.COM forums and try to help my future colleges out. Here is a post I looked into:
I have an Associate's degree from a two year community college and I want to get an entry-level job doing help desk or tech support, etc. and then eventually move into network administration. There is a one-year program at the local community college which supposedly prepares students for exactly this, but it doesn't start until next fall (six months from now). My question is, can I realistically prepare for the certifications on my own? And, if I manage to do so, will my AA degree in conjunction with the certs be good enough to get a job of some kind? Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Its good to hear that you are developing a plan. 9 out of 10 people never bother making long term plans. That might explain why most people are not millionaires. You can get into the technology field with and AA and certs. Like any industry, that first job will be the toughest one to get. I have a good friend in the US Navy. Several years ago, he completed his BS in Computer Science and is also an MCSE on Server 2003. He was recalled to active duty and spent a year in Kuwait. I emailed him a few months ago and found him back in Kuwait. His reason was the job market in his area was too bad for him to get that first job.
Moral of the story, be ready for a tough fight.
Certifications can set you apart from the crowd. Many people are retooling for IT in the wake of this recession. Certifications can help make you stand out. If you have the time and resources, I would highly recommend taking an instructor led course. You can prepare for the exams without setting foot in a classroom, but will you be prepared to actually execute your duties once on the job? Instructors can provide a greater insight into the actual products and give you guidance and experience that you will not get from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com.
Below is a link to Microsoft's Virtual labs. This is another way to get your hands on the product and practice your future trade.
Finally, you might want to check into your schools computer center for any open student positions. This is how I got my start in IT. The director took me under his wing and got me going on my career. Even though I did not graduate with honors, those who did had to wait for me to turn down job offers before the jobs were offered to them. The difference, I had experience before leaving college. Look into it. By the way, about 40% of my students do not have a college degree. You can do it.
I hightly encourage others out there to mentor people when you get the chance. Your years of wisdom can help save someone years of mistakes.