, so I thought I would suggest 8 things that I did in order to increase my knowledge and my skillset to become a Systems Engineer in the Information Technology field. I tried to make them general enough so that it encompasses more than just network and systems engineering. Enjoy!!!
1. Hang with the geeks.
By this, I mean seek out others who are also interested and passionate about I.T. Don’t be afraid to engage with others just because they may seem “geeky.” The term “geek” is overstated nowadays anyhow. We are not the pocket protector wearing, high water pants, never interacting with members of the opposite sex people that we are portrayed as being in movies. There are “geeks” everywhere. You’d be shocked as to who is a fellow “geek.”
2. Get a computer, break it, and then fix it.
Nothing beats hands on experience. Reading a book is good for theory, but some of the real world problems you will encounter are not in any books. Do something wacky to the computer then learn how to fix it. Build a lab!!! Google the errors if need be. Remember, Google is your friend.
3. Learn the basics, then move on to bigger things.
You can’t understand some of the more complex verbiage, theories, etc. if you don’t understand the basics. I suggest starting off with learning hardware and operating system fundamentals (installation, file system structure, how hardware interacts with the OS, etc.) before you move into more complex areas. The A+ certification exam is a good start for most. It teaches you about hardware and operating system basics. Network+ is a good certification for those wanting to move into the network/systems administration/network security side of I.T.
4. Learn TCP/IP.
Since the fundamentals of networking rely and use TCP/IP, I suggest learning as much as you can about it. I am learning new stuff about it every day. TCP/IP is the networking protocol, language and the building block behind the internet and networking as a whole. Learning the TCP/IP protocol stack is key in understanding networking and how networks communicate.
5. Find out what part of I.T. you want to focus on and bust your butt to learn it.
I started out with a plan to get into networking. I started out getting my A+ certification, my Network+ certification and moved from there. The people I hang with are Linux enthusiast and because of that I became one. I eventually received my Linux+ certification and wanted a more well-rounded skill set. I studied for and received my CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certification to enhance my knowledge of networking. I am constantly reading books in order to strengthen what I know and to fill in any gaps about stuff I don’t know. If you think you might like systems administration, then I suggest experimenting with some server Operating Systems such as Windows Server 2003, or any number of Linux distributions. If you like networking, try and get your hands on some Cisco switches and a good CCNA book to start. Use as many online resources as possible (there are plenty out there).
6. Get a job working as a technical support analyst (in some form or fashion).
This really helps in learning how an I.T. enterprise infrastructure works, as well as honing your basic troubleshooting skills. If you can’t land a job as a tech support person, consider volunteering your skills. There is always a community organization that could utilize free technical support, and you get free experience in the process.
7. College education.
Although a college education is not a prerequisite for getting into I.T., it does help you get your foot in the door. A lot of colleges offer internship programs that can greatly benefit a person just getting into the technology field. The experience that you gain and the mentorship you receive can be invaluable. College is also a plus if you are looking into going into an I.T. management position. The business classes that colleges offer are really beneficial to a management career.
8. Last but not least, PASSION AND DEDICATION.
You have to want it in order to gain it. Dedication played a big part in my climb up the I.T. ladder. I am not the smartest but I work hard to know what I know. I am passionate about what I am doing and I think it shows in my work. There are some that I have worked with who years later are still at the same level simply because they weren’t dedicated and determined enough to expand their abilities beyond what they had already knew. If you are not dedicated in this field you will be left behind. This career is a constant learning field.
The 8 steps outlined really helped me become a better overall Technology professional and I hope that it helps you as well. Be passionate in what you do, dedicate yourself to what you would like to learn and you will be well on your way to making it in the I.T. sector.