Did I get good career advice?

NalsetNalset Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
I am in the midst of a career change and have no IT experience but am looking to begin a career in networking. I hope to overcome my lack of experience by volunteering. I just got my A+ and Nework+ certifications. I was planning on attempting the CCNA next, but in talking to a career counselor, he suggested that I should get my MCSA instead of the CCNA. He said something about the MCSA better preparing me to work at smaller companies. To start, I just want a job....any networking job.

What do you all think?


  • twodogs62twodogs62 Member Posts: 393 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I would work on the route you want to work in.
    if wanting to do networking then work toward ccna.
    keep applying for any IT job such as desktop support to get experience.
  • thatguy67thatguy67 Member Posts: 344 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I would agree with the career counselor. Smaller companies are more likely to give you a chance if you have no experience. At a smaller company, I can almost guarantee you will never touch a router (Except perhaps to plug it into a switch). Most smaller companies will not have the budget for a Cisco switch...you will likely see Netgear or Dell, maybe HP. If you're just starting out, they aren't going to just let you work on switches unsupervised.

    I think the only way you would put a CCNA to good use is if you are hired specifically to configure routers at an ISP. I would be surprised if everyone with a CCNA and no experience can walk into a position like that.

    It's fine to study what you want to work in. The reality for most people is that they start in desktop support or helpdesk, and the MCSA will immediately aide you in studying the skills required for those roles. An MCSA (I am assuming in Windows desktop) will teach you most of the stuff you'll encounter on day 1, like a user forgetting his password). The vast majority of small companies will run some form of Windows.
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  • NalsetNalset Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□

    Sorry for the late reply. That helps very much. I was a little confused as to what the purpose of MCSA was. While I want to get into networking. I am realizing that I will probably have to start at a help desk. So I am thinking I might just have to knock out the MCSA as well. Or at least try.
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    In a small company (I'm thinking single site, under 100 employees), the network is usually not terribly complicated and CCNA would be overkill. Network+ would likely be sufficient. But they will still probably have a server or two running a few services (DHCP, DNS, File/Print sharing, Active Directory Domain Controller, is probably minimum).
    The MCSA is about managing that small infrastructure of servers, network and desktop. There's multiple flavours of MCSA, but generally it will mean MCSA Server 2012 (or whichever server version is current). The MCSA Server will get you familiar with all the main services in Windows Server, and some of the soft skills in design and lifecycle management. It also includes some networking, so you aren't ignoring it entirely.

    Small companies are a great way to build a breadth of experience, both in the technical side, and also from the business side. Often you are less removed from the hierarchy, so also get some insight into business strategy and tactics and how IT can fit into that world. What you are less likely to get is depth of experience in technologies and exposure to good IT management (ITIL, project management, governance etc). You are also often trusted with a lot more than you would be in a larger organisation so you can learn more and direct yourself more. Often there won't be anyone stopping you from breaking the network up into multiple VLANs or installing internal firewalls and routers or setting up VPNs, as long as things keep running that is.

    So even in a generalist role like that, you'll have some opportunity to grow your networking skills. Good generalists make better specialists, too.

    I think it is a good option to consider.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    MCSA 2012 is a good idea however finding a position where you apply the knowledge with no experience might be difficult. I was hired for a support position that's basically full blown admin but they wanted to pay support wages. I don't mind as it's filling the resume but a lot of companies seek a few years experience for admin roles. Everything mentioned here about being the one of a few IT guys in small businesses is spot on.

    CCNA without experience might help you land a NOC tech position which is likely to be shift work or at least third shift to begin with. It would likely start off as monitoring networks which can be really boring but gives you study time. Moving out of these roles is hit or miss but if given the opportunity ask how to solve the issues and ask engineers if there's anything you can help with.

    I'd suggest looking for local entry level positions and see what certificates they are looking for before deciding which to pursue. In my experience the 2 CCNA tests are easier than any of the 3 MCSA 2012 tests.
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  • NalsetNalset Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for your input, I will for sure take it into consideration. As I mentioned in my original post, my ultimate goal is getting a job in networking. However, I am slowly getting the gist that without any experience ,I could have 20 IT certifications and still not get a job. Since I have no experience I am thinking that maybe getting a help desk position would be my best bet to start out. Would the MCSA Windows 7 or 8 place me in a better position to get a help desk job? I thought the A+ might get me a help desk job, but I haven't even sniffed an interview. Is the MCSA 7/8 significantly more in depth than the A+?
  • Dakinggamer87Dakinggamer87 Gaming Tech Expert Silicon Valley, CAMember Posts: 4,016 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I would also make sure to look into freelance and volunteer opportunities. They can help fill in gaps and add to your experience on your resume while you obtain certifications or degrees. Opportunities at your local church, library, or a school usually have openings often or can use extra help. ;)
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  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Nalset wrote: »
    I thought the A+ might get me a help desk job, but I haven't even sniffed an interview. Is the MCSA 7/8 significantly more in depth than the A+?

    A+ with something else would help, that's for sure. For helpdesk roles, probably the MCSA trumps the CCNA, but either path might work. The best place to find out is to look at current job listings - the essentials and desirables. You might find that A+, Network+, and CCNA will get you a job.

    MCSA Windows 7 and MCSA Windows 8 are both being discontinued at the end of November, so if you want to take that path, I would hurry. The Windows 7 exams seem like they will still be offered, but only with the MCTS certification offered. The Windows 8 exams will be retired on November 30. A Windows 10 stream is in the works, with at least one exam in beta testing, likely it will be available in final form in November or December.

    Having said that, if you started studying towards Windows 7 or 8, a lot would carry over to Windows 10 when it is released. And a lot of organisations still have Windows 7 (and icon_cool.gif.

    The MCSAs are more in depth than A+, and focus much more on configuring and set up of the client and how it integrates in the enterprise setting (eg imaging machines, deployment etc), so the skills are relevant to helpdesk positions. But your A+ and Network+ are good ground to build on, and some of the content you will already know.

    There does exist an upgrade path from client to server in at least one limited context. If you pass 70-680 and 70-686, you can upgrade to Server 2012 with 70-417.

    You will get confliciting advice about experience, but I do think that if you have experience in a home lab or volunteer or fixing family/friends computers that is still worth something and something worth mentioning in the interview. I also think it is legitimate to put down on a Resume if you have done something in whatever context eg set up small LAN with multiple VLANs, servers, and static and dynamic routing. Some experience is better than none, and initiative and having a genuine interest in the field and "playing" with technology are all things I think are good to have.

    If you really want to go into networking, then the logical path does seem to be get whatever IT experience (ideally paid) you can now (and get the minimum certs to get that job), and study for the CCNA and then start applying for NOC jobs.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • NalsetNalset Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you again,

    I did note that MCSA 7/8is retiring. I am not at all familiar with window 8 or 10? Should I rush and try and get this MCSA knocked out before they retire it. I am guessing for the next few years I will still for the most part be encountering windows 7? Or do you think the upcoming Windows 10 MCSA type certification would prepare me for any Windows 7/8 troubleshooting I might encounter in the workplace, assuming I get a job.
  • techfiendtechfiend Member Posts: 1,481 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Windows 7 should be around for at least a couple more years. MCSA 7 isn't a bad idea but I'm guessing the 10 MCSA is going to be significantly different and more difficult. If you think you can get MCSA 7 by December go for it! It's much sought after for help desk and desktop support positions.
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  • NetworkingStudentNetworkingStudent Member Posts: 1,407 ■■■■■■■■□□
    1+ Dakinggamer

    I volunteered, study for certs, fixed computers as a contractor, and did an internship at a computer repair shop.

    I would see if you can volunteer or get an internship.

    For certs I would get the Security+. I saw you already have your A+ and Net +/

    To answer your question regarding MCSA vs CCNA.

    MCSA will be valuable in all environments, however this cert is usually pretty hard to obtain.

    CCNA isn't valuable in all environments.

    I think either cert would benefit you.

    However, I think the CCNA would be easier to obtain, since there are two tests and you already have the network +.

    Also, I suggest reviewing you customer service skills. Having these skills will help when working with customers.
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  • newinew54newinew54 Member Posts: 13 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I recommend if you can -- go to a few head hunters, polish your resume and look for an entry level help desk IT position.. and at the same time look for a traditional university where they take experience and cert towers a BS degree. Stay at help desk for about a year.. study for CCNA and get that Cert.. at the help desk position you should be able to get the basics of the IT industry.. in a year, get an entry level Networking job.. keep pursuing a BS.. once you get a BS... proceed to an MIS. I know it is not easy but a BS and MIS is a great thing to have.
  • NalsetNalset Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Aside from the a+(which I already have) and the mcsa(wont have time to study for it before it retires in dec!), can you all think of any other certifications that might aid me in getting a help desk job?
  • barberj66barberj66 CCENT, 70-680 Windows 7 configuring, ITILv3 Foundation United KingdomMember Posts: 86 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I think having a can do attitude and a willingness to learn will give you a big advantage. One thing you will encounter in an entry level job is you may be asked to absolutly anything, even sometimes in my own expereince things which you wouldn't think are part of your job or job description but let all that go over your head and get stuck in and you will get recognition for going the extra mile.

    Brush up on general application skills such as Office, IE etc as you will get asked "how do I do xyz in word".

    One other bit of advice I'd give is embrace it, it may only be an entry level job you get but you may find you will learn more in your first few years in IT then you could from a book. Ask more experienced people questions, ask to help out if they are busy and if you are ever sat with nothing to do ask for more work. Your manager may think you have enough to do or are plodding through your jobs but he may get a suprise if you say I'm all done what else can you give me. Most of all enjoy it!
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