Someone please tell me this could work.
As technologically challenged person, I have a great appreciation for IT professionals. Their talents keep computers, phones, networks, firewalls, and businesses working. Without these gifted, hardworking people, the world would come to a standstill (or, rather, a crash followed by a blue screen of doom).
Given the increased demand for IT professionals, it’s no surprise that IT is a desirable career path for transitioning military members as well as their spouses. Although there are many IT positions that require you to be on site, remote positions are also available.
Have you been thinking about a career as an IT professional, but lack industry experience? Check out these tips to break in to the field.
A degree in computer engineering or cybersecurity would be a great start, though it’s not essential. If you’re able to get a degree, make sure to check out the scholarships at your disposal—there are scholarships for women in technology, as well as cybersecurity and general IT scholarships.
If you don’t have the time, funds, or stable location to get the degree you want, your IT dream isn’t over. You just need to change your focus and think about certifications.
- Microsoft offers a wide variety of certifications, ranging from data management and analytics to app building. While the price for each certificate will vary, most can be procured for around $125-$150 each.
- CompTIA certifications are widely recognized in the IT industry. Most IT jobs will require these three: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+. These certifications are extremely valuable, which means they aren’t cheap! Prices range from $211-$330 per certification. However, these are the skills you’ll need to get you in the door for any IT job.
- Onward 2 Opportunity in partnership with Syracuse University can help qualified military spouses offset some of the costs for CompTIA certifications.
- Cisco certifications add validity to any IT resume—they show you know computer networks. If you hope to build and maintain system networks these are the certs for you. They aren’t free, but they are important.
Once you’ve obtained some (or all) of these certifications, the real work begins!
You need experience to get a job.
No one wants to hire without experience.
(You run around in circles and fall over, and someone still asks your prostrate form about experience before they offer to help. It’s rough out there.)
When it comes to the IT field, employers expect some experience even in entry-level positions. It’s not hopeless, you just need to figure out how to leverage your new skills in your current situation.
Put your knowledge and certifications to work on your systems; offer services to friends and family. Seek out opportunities to volunteer—small businesses and non-profits will jump at the chance to have a free IT professional on speed dial.
Pursue internship programs to expand and build your experience under a more recognizable name. While internships don’t come with a guaranteed paycheck or job with the company, you’ll have a good line for your resume and references in your field.
Once you have your certifications and some experience in hand, it’s time to start networking. You can start small—scour LinkedIn® for other IT professionals to help build your network. Engage with your connections, this will increase the likelihood that your profile will be viewed and will drive hiring managers to your account.
When you’re ready, get out there and mingle with IT professionals. Attend local events and research IT conferences; they are a great opportunity to stay up-to-date on industry trends and to make connections with leaders who know the job market.
Whether you’re still moving based on the needs of the military, or are working to find your footing now that the days of PCSing are done, IT skills are in demand and a wise investment. If you’ve been thinking about pursuing a career in this field, the time to wait is over. Get out there, find what your interests are, and do the work to make your dreams happen!
Story by Amanda Marksmeier