Middle ground after Help Desk

MooseboostMooseboost Member Posts: 778 ■■■■□□□□□□
I've been poking around to see what is out there and maybe it is just my area but - I don't really see jobs that function as the in between from entry to senior. So I am left wondering, what is in between that new guy and the old guy? I currently work for provider X providing Help Desk for our fiber/copper services and while I don't hate my job - the room for growth here doesn't really exist. Outside of outages the job is pretty easy going and I manage to get some study time in during down time. I've gotten my CCNA while here and may stay here while I work on the CCNP. I learn a good bit from our uppers. I always offer our IT guys and senior networking guys lunch whenever they are around just so I learn a bit more about them. I think if a position came up I would get the offer but, the problem is those position don't open up very often in a smaller provider and they brought on 5 NOC guys before I came along. So sadly, nothing will be opening anytime soon short of a miracle.

The problem I have is I don't want to stay here for five years. Not because it is not a good job but the level of work simply doesn't provide me with that next-hop experience. How can I apply for a Networking Admin position when all I have experience wise is telling old people to reboot their router? This is the problem I see when I look to see what is out there - everybody wants either a fresh out of the box or 5+ years experience with a degree. Is there not a middle ground? I want to stay within the R&S world, as I really enjoy the technology and work, but I wouldn't mind branching out a bit more to get additional experience.

Right now I have 3 years PC repair (Mom and Pop), 3 years MRO Purchasing (Unrelated to IT - industrial sales to major companies like Daimler, GE Aviation, etc), and 6 months Help Desk with CCNA. I feel like the gap between my PC repair work and my help desk would hurt so I don't include that in my IT experience (consider myself 6 months in IT). There is no rush for me to move, it is not like I am looking to jump ship tomorrow - just wondering what sort of things I should be moving onto later so I can start working toward those. Most of what I see in my area is Networking Admin jobs but the experience they are looking for usually doesn't make them intermediate position (Lists as NA, but reads like senior). I live in the Charlotte area of NC.

I've been considering going to college heavily. WGU seems like a pretty good option. It would have to be online with my current position as we rotate schedules very frequently that wouldn't allow for in-person classes. I've seen some pretty good WGU stories here (as well as bad), enough to inspire me to look into. College should help me fill any gaps.

To make a long post short: What did you move onto after help desk? How long did you stay?

I would absolutely love to hear how you guys have gone down your career paths to end up where you are.


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    mjnk77mjnk77 Member Posts: 164 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Maybe look at jobs at a NOC or Data Center. That may be more beneficial for you if you are tying to get you CCNP.
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    techMLtechML Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 41 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I'm assuming with the CCNA you're geared towards networking? Maybe try looking for a network technician gig in your area. Indeed is really good for job search. If you're geared more towards systems, look for a Jr. Sysadmin position. They are usually have help desk type stuff and half server stuff. You'll be able to get your hands on DHCP, DNA, OUs, GPO's, exchange, ect.
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    bpennbpenn Member Posts: 499
    In regards to school, I recently got offered a sys admin job for a defense contractor. But because I only have an associates degree, they could only offer me so much. What they offered was less than what I make now and I do help desk/information assurance work. After that, I was fed up and gave myself an ultimatum: get enrolled in school this year. So I did. I start in September.

    It sucks that one piece of paper is holding me back but it is what it is. With how competitive the industry is nowadays, you would be unwise to bypass obtaining a degree.
    "If your dreams dont scare you - they ain't big enough" - Life of Dillon
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    MooseboostMooseboost Member Posts: 778 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Thanks for the replies!

    @mjnk77 - I have been looking for NOC jobs, but it seems most of them want 3-5 years experience. I am not sure what qualifications I would need for a Data Center. Maybe I will start applying and see what happens. Some of these job description/qualifications seems crazy. I see a lot of junior positions with senior qualifications required. Is it suppose to be like that?

    @techML - I would like to learn more towards networking. If a junior admin job presented itself I would take it but I would rather with the networking equipment.

    @bpenn - This is exactly why I am looking into a degree. In the Walgreen world I would find a job that comps tuition. That piece of paper is very important!
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    LeBrokeLeBroke Member Posts: 490 ■■■■□□□□□□

    Apply anyway. Most of it is HR being HR and hoping to get a CCIE level guy for $35k a year. Or they simply don't know what the qualifications mean.

    Chances are, if you meet 50% of the requirements, you'll probably get at least an interview. Either your experience, or CCNA by themselves are often enough to land a lower-end NOC job. Together, you have a decent chance at a low-mid range gig.
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    kurosaki00kurosaki00 Member Posts: 973
    LeBroke wrote:
    Apply anyway.

    ^ This.
    Previous Job was a NOC, requirement was two years experience. We hired every now and then people with no technical knowledge what so ever (but they were good @ customer support/softskills). Apply anyways.
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    ImThe0neImThe0ne Member Posts: 143
    I used to see Jr. Network Admin positions all the time in Charlotte, I would think that would be something that is on your radar?

    My original plan was to be a Network Engineer, until I started working with it on a daily basis and determined that it couldn't hold my interest enough. Now I take an "A" level Cisco cert every couple of years just to keep them up-to-date.

    The mid-way portion is tough unless you know people. My path was this:
    - Completed A+ a few months after high school graduation
    - First IT job, 8 months as an "IT Field Technician" for a small Mom & Pop IT shop, we luckily provided many different types of IT services for local businesses, ranging from network design, install and support, to hosted mail services for them, as well as server support, cable runs, head end installs, etc. So I got my hands in a lot of different technologies, very quickly.
    - From there I was contacted by a recruiter for a large insurance company for the position of "Internal Helpdesk Specialist". I was there for 8 months as well, I didn't get the same exposure that I got from the previous position, but I was making double the pay, so I wasn't complaining too much. I did basic helpdesk stuff, troubleshooting PC issues, resetting passwords, setting up new access, etc.
    - My previous manager from the mom and pop shop got a new job running the IT department for a large dental organization, once they approved him to hire another person he came to me and offered the position of "Systems Administrator". I worked on anything and everything, telephones, servers, desktops, network devices, etc. It was here that they paid for me to get my CCENT, CCNA, CCNA Security and CCDA. We deployed a multi-site MPLS network as well as converted 300 PCs to thin clients using Citrix Xendesktop to deploy there OS. Things kind of went south here when they decided we know longer could spend money, so stuff continued to go down as we needed to expand the server clusters but they wouldn't allow money spent, so we got blamed and fussed at for that. I was there for about 1.5yrs before I decided I had enough.

    I am now currently a "Server Engineer" working strictly on Wintel based servers, doing VMware virtualization, hyper-v virtualization, citrix deployment, data center up keep, etc. I have been here for about 1yr and 4 months. I see myself staying here for a while. It is working with a large hospital management organization and the pay is reasonable, but the benefits are good. I get roughly 6 weeks of vacation/sick time each year, so it's easy to take a step back when stuff get's overwhelming. I don't ever touch anything networking here other than to plug my server data cables in, but I honestly don't think I would change it, especially after doing a large amount of work in both "concentrations" now.

    It really helps to fill in the blanks with people you have worked with in the past and made impressions on, that is the main reason I was able to get out of the Helpdesk position and go straight to a Sys Admin roll and got to skip the whole "Desktop Support" crap, which I hated.
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