Looking for some IT career advice (25U about to ETS from Army)

ck86ck86 Member Posts: 62 ■■□□□□□□□□
Hey guys,

I'm new here to the site and it seems to be a pretty solid and helpful community, so I figured I'd fish for some helpful advice. A little about me, I'm currently a soldier in the US Army. My job is a Signal Support Specialist (commo for any ex-military guys). My job responsibilities for two deployments to Iraq now has included a lot of basic tech support, position is called IMO (Information Management Officer). I've run/troubleshooted phone lines, built and maintained networks, and troubleshooted everything under the sun with Windows XP, printers, basic hardware issues, etc. In addition, I have worked with multiple tracking systems (FBCB2, MTS). Pretty much have been the go-to guy for any trouble people have with their personal/work computers. I have always had a knack for computers (was learning QBASIC at age of 12) and messed around with a bit of web design during high school (learned basic HTML, flash, CSS). I have also built upwards of 30 PCs for friends over the past 4 years and try to keep pretty up to date on newest hardware and tech. I like to consider myself a pretty smart guy, quick learner and great tester. I very rarely met another soldier who had a higher GT score (not a gloat, just competency reference). So, basically in summary I am a jack of all trades (very loosely) in the IT field, but do not have a deep knowledge of anything specifically.

My question is, what would those of you that work in the IT field currently suggest as a top notch career to work toward right now? I'll be out of the Army in 4 months with a full ride to college and right now my plan is to pursue a 2-year Network Engineering type degree and with that focus on getting a handful of certifications. Is this a good plan, or should I consider first finding a company and catering my education to their requirements and going from there? I have also considered getting my B.S. in Business Management and doing IT with that (AAS + certifications almost appears to be more worthwhile than an IT B.S. degree)..

Anyway, there seem to be a lot of options and different ways to go in the IT field and honestly my interest isn't in anything specifically - I just am under the impression Network Management/Security/Engineering is a good path. Nearly 24 years old and trying to get into a solid career path as soon as possible and not waste any time BSing or chasing the wrong thing. Any advise or insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Edit: Also figured I'd mention that currently I'm studying for CompTIA Security+ certification and plan to do Network+ after. I also have an active SECRET security clearance for another 5 years.
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Comments

  • Northbr1dgeNorthbr1dge GXPN, GPEN, GCIA, GCIH, RHCSA, SSCP, AWS SA, AWS SysOps, ECES, Security+, Network+, A+ Member Posts: 62 ■■■□□□□□□□
    What's up brother. I'm over here in the VBC. I'll be getting out next year also, as a 25B10.

    I think either pursuing some Cisco certifications and getting an Associates in Networking seems to be something that's more geared towards you, especially since you're getting your Security+/Network+ soon and you have your Secret clearance.

    If you like programming, and would like to make the (giant) leap over to something involving code, then use the post-9/11 and get yourself a Bachelor's in Comp. Sci. , or an AS dealing with programming. Some community colleges have EXCELLENT programming curriculums.

    You're pretty much a prime candidate for Federal / DOD jobs, man, especially with DOD 8570.1 out of the way with the Security+. How much time will you have left when you re-deploy?
  • ck86ck86 Member Posts: 62 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Ahh a fellow 25 series soldier at good ol' VBC - just a 30 minute convoy away. My company is over there, I was very happily attached to a different mission up here in the IZ. I consider myself a 25B pretty much this deployment. Last time ('06-'07 was at Al Taqqadum) I did a lot more Army "commo" type stuff (radio/sat comms), and with IMO things the whole network infrastructure was extremely different and didn't have to jump through as many hoops to get things done. :)

    In regards to the programming comment, I honestly have learned that it doesn't seem to exactly be my cup of tea. I think I could learn and comprehend it with enough effort, but I think I would prefer the networking route long term.

    I should be back stateside in April and my current ETS date is early July, have been damn stop-lossed since last June. I'm eligible for the full Post-9/11 GI bill or can use the old GI bill (with kicker) combined with some other stuff supposedly being that I am a Texas resident/veteran.
  • Northbr1dgeNorthbr1dge GXPN, GPEN, GCIA, GCIH, RHCSA, SSCP, AWS SA, AWS SysOps, ECES, Security+, Network+, A+ Member Posts: 62 ■■■□□□□□□□
    kasel23 wrote: »
    I'm eligible for the full Post-9/11 GI bill or can use the old GI bill (with kicker) combined with some other stuff supposedly being that I am a Texas resident/veteran.

    I'm assuming you're talking about the Hazlewood Act for Texan residents? Isn't it great? ;)
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    Welcome to the forums! I'm a former 25 series as well. I was a 25N/25F/31F (so many changes) so I worked with mainly Cisco stuff while I was in. I spent some time at Victory and what was then the Green Zone and now the IZ in 03. Spent 15 months in Taji my second time over. Some good times!

    I think you have a good plan there to get some certifications and start on a degree. I was kind of in the same situation as you, stop loss in Iraq and got out right after getting home. It was pretty stressful, but I was able to find a job no problem with my military experience. Just stay focused and work towards what you want and you won't have any issues finding work after. I'd suggest you start working towards the CCNA if you want to do network related stuff. The CompTIA certs are entry level and with your military experience you shouldn't have to come into a place at the very bottom.

    Good luck and let us know how it works out for you!
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • ck86ck86 Member Posts: 62 ■■□□□□□□□□
    networker050184, thanks for the reply.

    I will look into the CCNA certification since you mentioned it. I'm not sure how much I am going to be getting done as far as the testing while I'm still active duty, but I am going to be studying and setting up a list of priorities. It's great to now have a resource like these forums (should have been doing this for the last few years). Also thank you for the encouragement, hopefully the transition goes well.
  • jemisonjemison Member Posts: 11 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I too was a 25 series soldier 25L (cable dawg), from DEC 2000 to SEP 2008. I think you should pursue certs and degree. I personally am studying for my CCNA. I am currently in the IZ as a contractor working as a cable tech. Continue your professional development, there will always be work. Welcome to the community, and thank you for your service.
  • brad-brad- Member Posts: 1,218
    I wouldnt bother with the AAS. Your experience says more.

    Instead of the AAS, I would consider doing 1 of 2 things.

    1 - If you can give your time to a degree, do it. Use your GI Bill to the fullest, dont waste it on an AAS (my opinion). The certs will ALWAYS be there when you get ready...but your window of opportunity to complete a BS is more narrow, particularly if you want a family, or find yourself in a situation where you have to go to work full time.

    2 - If you cant, find a course (not an AAS, just a technical course) and specialize in something that interests you. Networking (CCNA), database admin, development/programming...there are plenty of certs to work towards and you can get your resume competitive in about 6 months of hard work.

    I used my GI Bill to get my degree, and I would advise anyone that can do the same to do so.
  • rage_hograge_hog Banned Posts: 42 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I would advise you to not plan on living on the GIBILL while you go to school as they seem to have a real problem making payments on time. You must also notify the school VA rep 45 days in advance of the intended quarter, each quarter or you will not see payments on time. Also, sign up for federal aid 2010-2011 ends in June 2010, so sign up now.
    Dont waste $$$ on college classes as you will be taking a bunch of crap that has NO IT VALUE. Instead, focus on certs. That is what is going to pay out with your experience and move you along your path the fastest.
    Remember OPSEC friend, there are people here, including CIV ISO and CID.


    -94E
  • ck86ck86 Member Posts: 62 ■■□□□□□□□□
    jemison wrote: »
    I too was a 25 series soldier 25L (cable dawg), from DEC 2000 to SEP 2008. I think you should pursue certs and degree. I personally am studying for my CCNA. I am currently in the IZ as a contractor working as a cable tech. Continue your professional development, there will always be work. Welcome to the community, and thank you for your service.

    Wow man, small world. Are you up at Union III? Thanks for your input on this.
  • ck86ck86 Member Posts: 62 ■■□□□□□□□□
    brad- wrote: »
    I wouldnt bother with the AAS. Your experience says more.

    Instead of the AAS, I would consider doing 1 of 2 things.

    1 - If you can give your time to a degree, do it. Use your GI Bill to the fullest, dont waste it on an AAS (my opinion). The certs will ALWAYS be there when you get ready...but your window of opportunity to complete a BS is more narrow, particularly if you want a family, or find yourself in a situation where you have to go to work full time.

    2 - If you cant, find a course (not an AAS, just a technical course) and specialize in something that interests you. Networking (CCNA), database admin, development/programming...there are plenty of certs to work towards and you can get your resume competitive in about 6 months of hard work.

    I used my GI Bill to get my degree, and I would advise anyone that can do the same to do so.


    Considering going with the first thing you said. With the post 9/11 GI bill, being a "full-time" student is best use of it overall. 4-year degrees get you paid more, and it would give me plenty of time to get all of the certifications I need while doing part-time for connections/experience.
  • SephStormSephStorm Member Posts: 1,732
    Another 25 series here, 25B in training at Ft G. I concur with the previous statements, choose a path and charge down it. I got out of my first enlistment with three certs, personal experience, and in the end, no IT job icon_sad.gif As much as I hate to admit it, unless you have a. a inside contact, b. a lots of experience in the area you are applying for, and/or c. a really good job market where you are at, you could have some trouble.

    My suggestions, 1. use what time you have left studying and preparing for CLEP/DANTES exams. It sounds like knocking out a few General Ed classes won't be to difficult for you. 2. Start looking for an educational program with a 4 year degree. A popular one here is WGU see this thread.

    http://www.techexams.net/forums/jobs-degrees/30564-western-governors-university.html

    3. Start working on your resume NOW! Get on LinkedIn and start networking, between the TechExams group and the Army groups, you should have a good foundation, for making connections.

    4. Look for government jobs. Several military units have/are/will open this unit in the cyber arena and i'm sure that they will civilians.

    5.You can also look at the reserves as a supplement to your income, and a opportunity to get more training and leadership experience.

    Good luck. Remember me when you make it big.
  • tpatt100tpatt100 Member Posts: 2,991 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I was a 31F am in a 25N slot in the Guard. I am currently spending the next three months at Ft Riley, KS getting certified officially as a 25N. Been working in IT for a while now.

    I would imo pursue some certs and get a job in the field NOW and go to school at night. Reason being your clearance is active. I would recommend going Signal in the Guard to keep your clearance active but most of my unit is in Afghanistan and I doubt you want to get out and end up back in the Middle East......

    But Signal now a days blurs the lines in IT and ambitious soldiers can easily make the transition to IT in the civilian world.
  • jemisonjemison Member Posts: 11 ■□□□□□□□□□
    kasel23 wrote: »
    Wow man, small world. Are you up at Union III? Thanks for your input on this.

    Yes I live in Union III, and I work at the J6 CSO. I am currently on leave, but fly back this Sunday coming. Where about in Prosperity do you live/work? What unit are you in?
  • ck86ck86 Member Posts: 62 ■■□□□□□□□□
    tpatt100 wrote: »
    I was a 31F am in a 25N slot in the Guard. I am currently spending the next three months at Ft Riley, KS getting certified officially as a 25N. Been working in IT for a while now.

    I would imo pursue some certs and get a job in the field NOW and go to school at night. Reason being your clearance is active. I would recommend going Signal in the Guard to keep your clearance active but most of my unit is in Afghanistan and I doubt you want to get out and end up back in the Middle East......

    But Signal now a days blurs the lines in IT and ambitious soldiers can easily make the transition to IT in the civilian world.

    I've considered Guard/Reserve, but like you said, getting picked up (and with my luck I will) to do yet another deployment would kill it for me. If I did that I feel like I might as well go over as a civilian for 2-3 years, make a stash of bank, and go from there.

    My thing about working immediately, considering the Post 9/11 GI bill, you only get the full BAH amount if you are a full-time student. Do you still think it would be most beneficial to be working full time and doing school on the side? Just don't want to sell myself short and potentially follow a lower-end career when having a higher education would have allowed me to potentially be more successful. But, I suppose that as long as I do eventually get the schooling done either path has the same end result.
  • ck86ck86 Member Posts: 62 ■■□□□□□□□□
    SephStorm wrote: »
    Another 25 series here, 25B in training at Ft G. I concur with the previous statements, choose a path and charge down it. I got out of my first enlistment with three certs, personal experience, and in the end, no IT job icon_sad.gif As much as I hate to admit it, unless you have a. a inside contact, b. a lots of experience in the area you are applying for, and/or c. a really good job market where you are at, you could have some trouble.

    My suggestions, 1. use what time you have left studying and preparing for CLEP/DANTES exams. It sounds like knocking out a few General Ed classes won't be to difficult for you. 2. Start looking for an educational program with a 4 year degree. A popular one here is WGU see this thread.

    http://www.techexams.net/forums/jobs-degrees/30564-western-governors-university.html

    3. Start working on your resume NOW! Get on LinkedIn and start networking, between the TechExams group and the Army groups, you should have a good foundation, for making connections.

    4. Look for government jobs. Several military units have/are/will open this unit in the cyber arena and i'm sure that they will civilians.

    5.You can also look at the reserves as a supplement to your income, and a opportunity to get more training and leadership experience.

    Good luck. Remember me when you make it big.

    Thanks for the info! Hope you're enjoying your time at Gordon. Personally I'd rather spend 2 more years in Iraq than do AIT there again. icon_lol.gif

    I'm already working on final drafts of my resume and looking at potential jobs. Connections definitely do come easy in the field, hell, look on here how quickly I met two people who are within 20 miles of me here in Baghdad. Who would figure.

    I have been looking for a place like this WGU. Working full-time while doing online classes seems a lot easier of an option than juggling full-time local schooling+work. I know that my benefits kick in as long as I take at least one local class, which shouldn't be too hard combined with WGU online courses. Looks like they have great programs that gets straight to the important stuff and not a bunch of pointless credits.

    Thanks again for taking the time to reply and help me out. You guys are really clearing up the confusion I had about what to do. Very much so leaning toward the Network Design & Management B.S. offered through these guys, seems like the perfect way to go while working.
  • SephStormSephStorm Member Posts: 1,732
    No problem, I would also contact the VA, find out how long it is taking to process payments, and get a general idea of how soon you need to apply ahead of you starting school.
  • RouteThisWayRouteThisWay Member Posts: 514
    No real advice from me. Just wanted to say thank you for serving. icon_thumright.gif

    And to everyone else as well ;)
    "Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture." ~ Vaclav Havel
  • bellheadbellhead Member Posts: 120
    If it were me I would do this...

    Enjoy getting your education. By this go to school at a state school or at one where you choose to live at and study IT. With the new GI bill you get full tuition and a housing allowance to boot. I would knock out my 4 year degree, join the reserves for the weekend money and pick up certs when you have time off from school. Also you can take a job on campus doing IT work there. You will never have the chance to be 25 again and be able to choose life at its max.

    Or if you want you can just go work at corporate America right away but you will have to get the degree on your own at night.
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    Wow, small world..lots of 25 series here. I'm an active 25B.

    SephStorm, where are you at in FL? Are you active/guard? I'm at Macdill.


    To the OP:
    I have very rarely met a soldier with a high GT score who didn't want to tell everyone about it. The GT score is a combination of math and reading comp- nothing else. So, if you're great at reading, average at math, you up with an average GT score. Doesn't mean someone is more or less qualified to work in IT. Infact, it's not even a good measure of anything other than math skills, IMO..most people do well on the reading section.

    I would get your degree. The post 9/11 GI Bill is a great deal for those wanting their degree. I would do it sooner than later, so you don't lose motivation. In the meantime you can work on certs if you'd like, but you have the experience, so backing it up for formal education would be a great thing for you.
  • brad-brad- Member Posts: 1,218
    Mrock4 wrote: »
    I have very rarely met a soldier with a high GT score who didn't want to tell everyone about it. The GT score is a combination of math and reading comp- nothing else. So, if you're great at reading, average at math, you up with an average GT score. Doesn't mean someone is more or less qualified to work in IT. Infact, it's not even a good measure of anything other than math skills, IMO..most people do well on the reading section.
    Lol so true! I remember after I did mine, and the recruiter told me how awesome it was, I thought I could own the world. I guess thats just part of being young though.

    It really doesnt mean much IMHO except that you have an education and paid attention.

    In addition, I often call out my wife who was proud of her 28 score on the ACT, while I only scored a 21. Im pretty much just average intelligence, if that test is any indication. I dont think you really NEED to be smart to work in IT, you just need to be trainable and hard working...just like most other professions.
  • SephStormSephStorm Member Posts: 1,732
    Mrock4 wrote: »
    Wow, small world..lots of 25 series here. I'm an active 25B.

    SephStorm, where are you at in FL? Are you active/guard? I'm at Macdill.

    I'm active currently in Ft. Gordon. No idea of future duty stations. How did you get to MacDill? You in the reserves?
  • tpatt100tpatt100 Member Posts: 2,991 ■■■■■■■■■□
    kasel23 wrote: »
    I've considered Guard/Reserve, but like you said, getting picked up (and with my luck I will) to do yet another deployment would kill it for me. If I did that I feel like I might as well go over as a civilian for 2-3 years, make a stash of bank, and go from there.

    My thing about working immediately, considering the Post 9/11 GI bill, you only get the full BAH amount if you are a full-time student. Do you still think it would be most beneficial to be working full time and doing school on the side? Just don't want to sell myself short and potentially follow a lower-end career when having a higher education would have allowed me to potentially be more successful. But, I suppose that as long as I do eventually get the schooling done either path has the same end result.

    True I guess you could go to college full time with the new GI Bill. I was just thinking how much hiring of recent vets with security clearances that is happening around the country.
  • Timber WolfTimber Wolf Member Posts: 90 ■■□□□□□□□□
    One more 25b here. I just got out of FT. Gordon last April. Currently doing my drill weekends with my unit though as im Guard. Also going to school.

    What company are you in SephStorm?
    WGU BS IT - Security
    Need to complete: CSV1 BOV1 RIT1 BNC1 KET1 TPV1 MGC1 CJV1 KFT1 CNV1 SBT1 RGT1
    Completed: CUV1 CTV1
    Transferred: CVV1 DJV1 IWT1 IWC1 BVC1 QLT1 DHV1 HHT1 GAC1 DFV1 INT1 INC1 CPV1 AXV1 QBT1 LUT1 LAE1 CLC1 BBC1 AGC1 WFV1 CQV1 COV1
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    SephStorm wrote: »
    I'm active currently in Ft. Gordon. No idea of future duty stations. How did you get to MacDill? You in the reserves?

    Nice..Ft. Gordon..AKA TRADOC Hell, haha. I'm supposed to go to BNOC there in August..I might see you. I'm not looking forward to being back there. I reclassed, so I got a good taste of gordon for about 7 months. Got another buddy there right now, though he's deployed at the moment.

    I got to macdill on as a nominative assignment. I contacted a lady at the secretary of the army, and she got me nominated for a special assignment, and it ended me up here. I'm active duty. Definitely a lucky assignment. Before here I was in Hawaii for 2 yrs, although I spent 1 1/2 of those years in Iraq..so I can only say I saw hawaii for 6 months, unfortunately. Either way, for most active duty Army, Macdill is a dream assignment. For those of you who hate your current assignment, you're the one in control, believe it or not. I couldn't stand my old unit, and it only took one e-mail to the right person to change it all. I PCS'd a year early from my old station, to the dismay of my old unit.
  • ck86ck86 Member Posts: 62 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Wow that's pretty crazy about your assignment. I have been stuck at Bragg (stationed in Iraq, deployed to Bragg a couple of times :)) my entire enlistment. The one time I tried to change places my branch manager said you can stay at Bragg, go to Hood, or go to Drum. Those were my "only options".

    Thanks for the additional input as well, guys. The GT score comment felt like a bit of a sucker punch, but I can see where you're coming from. I've maybe had it brought up a couple of times in my five years, usually a response to someone attempting to one up. I just wanted to use it as a reference if it mattered at all for my future. I see a lot of "unqualified" soldiers doing jobs and honestly it has given me an overall poor impression of Army work ethic and I like to try to keep myself above that.

    I really like the difference in opinions from everyone. I can definitely see that possibly just focusing on school is a good option. I look at WGU tuition costs and it almost feels like a waste of my GI bill. The money is provided to me, so I might as well get the best education I can with it and eventually if I want to up to a masters I could use something like WGU. I don't have a family to support, so no huge rush.

    Thanks again guys for the info, and those of you who are just starting your time in the Army be safe and best of luck.
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    kasel23 wrote: »
    The GT score comment felt like a bit of a sucker punch, but I can see where you're coming from.

    Not meant to be, just an observation based on personal experience. You sound like a smart guy, with or without a high GT score, is all I'm saying.

    Either way, you will be fine. Just don't get lazy and do nothing, no matter what. Several friends over the last few years have ETS'd, and I've watched some of them prosper (those who worked hard), and some flop. Whether you choose school, cert, work..it'll work out as long as you make the best of it.
  • rage_hograge_hog Banned Posts: 42 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Dont get me wrong about school now, I have 100+ credit hours myself and still no kinda degree. I'm doing some CCNA homework now in fact. My point is this: Full time is 11-12 hrs right so, some tech class 4-6 hrs + some useless crap 4-6 hrs. Half of your GIBill could go to crap that you will never use. I am in the Cisco Academy (est. $400-$500) and why? I still have to go get the CCNA (est. $500) on my own. I am paying out twice as much as just doing the certs. It is free so who cares right? Wrong.

    I am a GS2210 and certs are carrying a lot more weight than you would think. http://www.techexams.net/blogs/jdmurray/it-certifications-and-dod-directive-8570-01-m/ The part about the VA not making payments on time is from first hand knowledge by the way. We are at the end of winter quarter and I have not seen a payment since 15DEC2009. And this is not the first time. Do not think you will live off your GI Bill. You will get evicted. My buddy lost his car last year because of it. Sure they cut a check for $7k after the repo. To late. Take heed high speed.
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    There has been a documented backlog of VA payments on the new GI Bill, but that is not for everyone. I've got a good friend who just ETS'd living down the street off of his new GI Bill while attending USF.
  • SephStormSephStorm Member Posts: 1,732
    Exactly on the VA issue, I've got five years for them to work through the backlog. I actually just got my certification reimbursement from them after about two months after submission. Planning to use TA to get through BA at WGU, and save the GI bill for either certs or a Masters.
    Mrock4 wrote: »
    Nice..Ft. Gordon..AKA TRADOC Hell, haha. I'm supposed to go to BNOC there in August..I might see you. I'm not looking forward to being back there. I reclassed, so I got a good taste of gordon for about 7 months. Got another buddy there right now, though he's deployed at the moment.

    I got to macdill on as a nominative assignment. I contacted a lady at the secretary of the army, and she got me nominated for a special assignment, and it ended me up here. I'm active duty. Definitely a lucky assignment. Before here I was in Hawaii for 2 yrs, although I spent 1 1/2 of those years in Iraq..so I can only say I saw hawaii for 6 months, unfortunately. Either way, for most active duty Army, Macdill is a dream assignment. For those of you who hate your current assignment, you're the one in control, believe it or not. I couldn't stand my old unit, and it only took one e-mail to the right person to change it all. I PCS'd a year early from my old station, to the dismay of my old unit.

    I should be gone by August, hopefully. The only reason I would willingly stay would be to go to one or two specific units here. Although I am aiming for Maryland.

    While I am here I am planning on applying to a government agency for a position. I am hoping to get assigned there. If anyone has any possible contacts, hit me up on linkedin.

    As far as branch managers go, I hear its near impossible to even get in contact with them. I emailed mine a few weeks ago, haven't heard anything.
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Banned Posts: 2,360
    SephStorm wrote: »
    As far as branch managers go, I hear its near impossible to even get in contact with them. I emailed mine a few weeks ago, haven't heard anything.

    Best thing to do is call. It's hard to get through, but you'll likely never hear back from your branch manager. I had to call several times but you can reach them that way if you persist.
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