Stuck on where to go from here...any advice will be helpful!

bhankins000bhankins000 Posts: 15Member ■□□□□□□□□□
Looking for some advice on where I should take my next step in my career and a bit stuck...

Background: I started as a help desk technician 8 years ago. I did helpdesk work for a year and a half (6 months for a company and a year as a gov't contractor) and then joined the Army as IT. After spending 4 years in the Army I didn't really do much except I taught basic networking and security+ to DoD and re-imaged machines. (Not sure how good I was at teaching and I did love it - everyone said I was really good but I doubted my own knowledge). Other than that I studied many, many months, mostly reading Shon Harris AO1 book, for the CISSP but was never sure on taking the exam. Honestly, I'm scared of that exam! (I didnt know 'what' I wanted to do.) I flipped over to studying a little for CASP, then SSCP and MSCE but realized I had very little experience in any of this other than what I did years ago on the helpdesk. I dont want a paper-weight for a certification. I got out of the Army, and currently taking classes at community college but its mostly gen-ed classes and a couple programming classes - thought I try that but dont like programming. I currently work for a company as an Security Admin and it pays really well but it's boring. My title is fancy but really I just do account management (create accounts, delete accounts, etc) and not really much security. I guess you could consider is some form of access control management on the software side but that's a stretch. I fear trying to get another security related position that this experience really wont do me much good as its a dead-end. I currently hold Network+ (expired), Security+ (grandfathered from years ago so no CE), HBSS 4.0 Admin (just took the class and the test in the army but no hands on exp.)

Question: Where should I go from here to get a better security job? Preferably one that one would meet my goals (read below) I really don't have much technical hands-on experience in corporate IT. I have never been on a networking team, server team, database team, etc.

My associates degree would be in Liberal Arts with an IT emphasis. However, having a family, working full-time and doing these classes is such a struggle every day..I have over a year left until I would get my A.A degree.

I took the advice of many other threads and I read various job descriptions on websites and feel as if I have none of the requirements for a majority of these jobs. It's like I'm stuck in the middle. I want to stay in the corporate world and not go into the government sector.

Goals: Eventually be in management IT making a difference in a companies. Make $85+/yr salary (I live in the Midwest so the cost of living is low compared to areas around the country). Then eventually teach it for a college, company, etc.

I feel as if I've been doing this for a while and even though I make good money I want to take my career for to the next level but dont have any experience or direction in doing that. Help I'm in a rut!

Comments

  • GuistinoGuistino Posts: 11Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    you should take a look at western governor's university. I'm looking into it myself.
  • bhankins000bhankins000 Posts: 15Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    I looked into WGU and tried a semester of it. I didn't like it.
  • GuistinoGuistino Posts: 11Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    can you give some details since I'm looking into it myself?
  • bhankins000bhankins000 Posts: 15Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Guistino wrote: »
    can you give some details since I'm looking into it myself?

    This is sort of off topic of the question I asked but I've been there....

    There is probably a ton of other posts on here that could give you more information on WGU. A lot of people like it, but I didnt care for it. A brief overview on my experience:

    1. You didnt take all IT courses. There were a few classes (like on leadership or something) that was just really hard to get into and boring to read. See below on why...
    2. You are given a pre-test for a course. (Save that pre-test! It's your guide to which area's you will study). After your pre-test you look up the sections that you failed on and study those sections. Easy right? Not really..I found that questions I guessed on in the pre-test I didnt know either, so I would read the material and be lost from the previous sections of the book. So then I wasn't sure how far back in the book I should read. I began flipping back and forth between all the chapters and wasted more time looking to find out what I had missed than actually learning. (Ever try to Google something you have no idea what it looks like, what its called, how its spelled? Yeah, much like that.)
    3. With self-paced and paying every six months you almost strive to do each class quickly which leads to a lot of "holes" in your knowledge. After one semester I felt burned out by just trying to work and learn as fast as I could. This was even more frustrating as for an IT class I didnt have any knowledge in..I had to practically read the entire book. All the while, your mentor is pushing you to take an exam or something because in order for you to stay enrolled in the school you must show progress.
    4. Your given a mentor (as said above), a class mentor, and an over-whelming amount of resources to use plus the text book. This made things confusing as I wasn't sure what to read or where my knowledge in that particular subject was lacking. Your mentor will call you once per week and most of the time she will just refer you to contact your class mentor for any issues - they weren't much help to me.


    So I was going for Sys Admin and the first IT class was Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW). Being Net+ and Sec+ I skipped the first two parts of that test and focused on the HTML stuff. I've never done any HTML in my life. I was learning it but it always seemed I had to go back to the beginning to find something out I missed. I eventually just started from the very beginning but then life catches up with you and you forget the knowledge and have to start all over. This was just for one of the classes. That's just my experience and my opinion. I have co-workers that have went to WGU and have been successful at it. You just have to remember, if you're not an expert in the IT field your getting your degree, it will take your 3 to 4 years to get your degree at WGU (they will tell you this as well). Yes, you will get the vendor certs and they are paid for but the trade-off is that you will self study. I started in a community college because it was cheaper than WGU and I was guided through a course. But, I'm looking to progress in my career field a little more with my experience and certs rather than taking classes in getting a degree. It's essentially the difference between long term goals and short term goals.
  • NersesianNersesian Posts: 96Users Awaiting Email Confirmation ■■□□□□□□□□
    I work with a lot of ex-military, so I hear some of these same stories day in and day out from both applicants and co-workers. I’m going to break your wall of text down into bullet points. Protip – one of these things is not like the other:

    - I did helpdesk work for a year and a half
    - After spending 4 years in the Army I didn't really do much
    - Never sure on taking the exam
    - I had very little experience in any of this other than what I did years ago on the helpdesk
    - Don’t like programming
    - I really don't have much technical hands-on experience in corporate IT.
    - I have never been on a networking team, server team, database team, etc.
    - Doing these classes is such a struggle every day
    - I want to stay in the corporate world and not go into the government sector.
    - I feel as if I've been doing this for a while
    - I looked into WGU and tried a semester of it. I didn't like it.

    - Make $85+/yr salary

    So if I’m reading this correctly, you don’t want anything to change, but are looking for some sort of secret life-hack to getting an 85k a year job in the Midwest. You should probably be really happy you have a job at this point.

    Here is what you need to focus on in no particular order.

    - Your military experience means jack in the private sector. If you don’t want to go into contracting, then own that fact of life.
    - Focus on one exam – any exam – study for it and take it.
    - Who cares if you don’t “like” college? Go find one you do like, or at least don’t hate. Get enrolled, hunker down and crank out some classes. If you’re a vet in good standing, people are throwing education at you at no cost you big shammer.
    - Hold the job you’ve got and start looking at getting on with a different corporate support team. If you’re not getting the experience you need at your current position, then go get another one.
    - You’re going to need to work your way up based on what you’ve done for that entity specifically. Don’t be a “usta”. (When I was in the military, I used to…/ When I was XYZ, I usta…) Nobody likes low speed, high drag.

    You have a potentially long road ahead of you. You’re making it more difficult by limiting your options.
  • bhankins000bhankins000 Posts: 15Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Nerseian - Thanks for your reply and breakdown.

    I take college courses and have a little over a year for my associates (halfway there) but it's daunting and I never have a social life. Most of the time I get off work come straight home and work on homework until 1 or 2 am, then off to bed.

    So I was looking for some advice on a better route with certifications but I didnt want to be a cert. monger and have zero experience in it.

    I guess I should have mentioned that $85K/yr isn't too far off from where I'm at now so it was more just wanting to advance in IT rather than feel static in my job dead-ended "security" job.

    I'll look into taking your advice though. Trying to pick only 1 cert is always tough though!

    Thanks again!

    Anyone else reading this who wants to input something, it would be appreciated also!
  • hoktaurihoktauri Posts: 148Member
    When I was in school I was also managing a retail store 6 days a week, my day off was spent on campus. You do what you have to do to get forward.

    Have you looked at working towards CCNA/CCNA Security? Can't think of much that wouldn't involve taking a new job with a pay cut but provides OJT.
  • MrRichMrRich Posts: 1Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Nerseian gave you some good advice. One of the things I found beneficial as an I.T. Manager is having experience in a number of different areas: Help Desk, System Admin, Networking, Cyber Security; Linux/Unix and SharePoint (just to name some of the major areas). I don't mean just a cert, you have to really understand those areas. It gives you credability with your subordinates. I.T. people can usually tell if your BSing, especially when it pertains to their speciality. Just my 2 cents.
  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Posts: 1,577Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    So I read your post and it says to me that you are interested but not motivated.

    Sometimes getting a degree takes sacrifice that's why not everyone does it.
    The real value of certs is the learning process not the piece of paper.
    Hands on experience comes from trying new things.

    My advice.
    Keep your job, finish your degree and build a killer lab in your house.
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