Readers Share Ways to Get Experience in IT

We’ve gotten a lot of feedback to out post How to Overcome the Catch-22 of Finding a Job with No Experience.

That’s where MJ Shoer, the president of Jenaly Technology Group, suggested breaking into IT by finding helpdesk position “geared to people with no or a very few years of basic experience.” 

I’d take that one step further and suggest a lateral transition at your current job. The thing about getting hired cold is the employer doesn’t know if you can do the job, or even if you are worth hiring.  In a lateral transition, you’ve at least answered the second question.

But I digress. On to the comments:

One user suggested that volunteering at a local non-profit is a good way to gain experience. It doesn’t put food on the table, but it will provide you with the opportunity to solve real world problems, and help build up a resume.

Another wrote:

Here is a strategy I am beginning to implement. There are many open source technologies that are in demand. My focus in on Web Development/Design. So, these technologies include HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, SQL, MySQL, etc. As I teach myself these skills, I update a website I created to demonstrate knowledge and initiative. This leads to side projects that demonstrate these skills, which ultimately leads to a job utilizing these skills. That’s the theory, anyway.

Here’s another idea: Set up a virtual lab. It may not be good for the resume, but it will go a long way toward giving you experience. You can read about deploying an antivirus package via ManagSoft all you want, but you won’t come to understand the obstacles until you actually do it. Today, you can build a lab on your PC with free software.  When I first started out I used four-year-old physical PCs to build a domain controller, an SQL server, a print/ storage server and a workstation. Today, those could all be hosted on a laptop. And with VMWare, you can throw in a firewall DHCP box as well. Most software comes with a 30-day free trial. When it expires, re-image and start over.

There are a lot of ways to get experience to complement your certifications, but all require determination, since you’re competing with many techs who are also looking for work.

– Dino Londis

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