Advice needed: When to look for entry network job

rogue2shadowrogue2shadow CISSP, GXPN, OSCE, OSCP, OSWP, eMAPT, CEH, CNDA, A+, Network+, Security+Member Posts: 1,501 ■■■■■■■■□□
Hi everyone,

I guess this will serve as my hello to those I haven't said hello to yet lol. I do need advice though icon_lol.gif.

I'm 23 with a bachelors of arts in criminology and criminal justice from a state school. I currently hold a couple industry certifications and have decided to go back to a branch of that state school for a bachelors degree in cybersecurity starting in August. Though I have basic roots in IT, the criminology and criminal justice degree has somehow always caused the validity of my skills to be questioned, even with excellent references. I often get the "why are you in IT?" question in interviews. The program I am enrolled in is allowing me to complete my second bachelors in about a year's time (end of 2011). I plan to get my CCNA (and maybe CCNA Sec) before the end of the year and have plans to take the Cisco/InfoSec route over the course of my career (as can be seen in my signature :P). I know InfoSec will be a lifelong learning process, and I am the type of person who is driven to succeed and never backs down from a challenge icon_cheers.gif

Work experience wise, I have a year doing federal helpdesk work and 2-3 years of experience doing the whole "geek squad"/sales thing. I looked through and went to several defense intelligence job fairs but was unable to snag an internship in the end.

I have a couple questions:
1) Should I start looking for entry level networking jobs during January of 2011 (mid way through the program) or should I wait to graduate first? Both summer 2011 and fall 2011 will only consist of two courses each.

2) I will continue to keep studying for Cisco exams but should I not take CCxP exams until I actually have a decent job? I have read some threads and articles about some issues with having professional level certifications without experience in the field in that arena.

3) To hiring managers: Would still being in school hurt my chances more than help me?

Thank you for your time and thanks in advance,

-r2s

Comments

  • loopnutzloopnutz Registered Users Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    If you can handle work and school at the same time you should definitely get the experience by getting an IT job.
  • phantasmphantasm Member Posts: 995
    From my experience, married with a kid and a full time job and being a full time student was hell. If you can handle then go for it, but the road will not be easy. I've had many sleepless nights and other issues creep up that dinged my GPA, but nonetheless I am done with my BS as of this past Monday night.

    All the best.
    "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -Heraclitus
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I don't think your undergraduate degree is that big of a deal. I know many people in the industry that don't have an IT-related degree. Mine is in psychology. I just tell people that I can teach myself IT, I found psychology to be interesting, and I wanted to broaden my horizons and be well-rounded (all of which is true). You could say something similar. Maybe you're interested in forensics and incident handling and felt that would be a nice compliment to your IT skills.

    Is there any reason you're doing a second bachelors instead of a masters? I think a masters would do more for you. Many graduate programs let you transition over even if you don't have a related undergraduate (some may require you to take a few additional classes to make up the differences).

    I'd hold off on the pro-level certs until you get a position where you know they'll be useful. I had planned on starting to gather a bunch of those, but I'm finding it difficult to even study for the CCNA: Security since I rarely do any hands-on work with Cisco devices. I still page through professional and expert-level materials from time to time because I want to be able to discuss some of the topics at a high level, but it would be a waste of my time to get certified in all that. I think it would be foolish to invest that much effort and money into a technology when you don't know if you'll even end up working with it.

    It sounds like you're going to be pretty busy with school and certs. I wouldn't work unless you were sure it wasn't going to negatively impact your grades or your sanity/well-being. I wouldn't stop looking entirely though. Maybe you can let the cert studies slide if a fantastic opportunity arises. It's difficult to give advice without knowing your financial situation either. Food are shelter are important too, so working may be a necessity ;)
  • rogue2shadowrogue2shadow CISSP, GXPN, OSCE, OSCP, OSWP, eMAPT, CEH, CNDA, A+, Network+, Security+ Member Posts: 1,501 ■■■■■■■■□□
    dynamik wrote: »
    I don't think your undergraduate degree is that big of a deal. I know many people in the industry that don't have an IT-related degree. Mine is in psychology. I just tell people that I can teach myself IT, I found psychology to be interesting, and I wanted to broaden my horizons and be well-rounded (all of which is true). You could say something similar. Maybe you're interested in forensics and incident handling and felt that would be a nice compliment to your IT skills.

    Is there any reason you're doing a second bachelors instead of a masters? I think a masters would do more for you. Many graduate programs let you transition over even if you don't have a related undergraduate (some may require you to take a few additional classes to make up the differences).

    I'd hold off on the pro-level certs until you get a position where you know they'll be useful. I had planned on starting to gather a bunch of those, but I'm finding it difficult to even study for the CCNA: Security since I rarely do any hands-on work with Cisco devices. I still page through professional and expert-level materials from time to time because I want to be able to discuss some of the topics at a high level, but it would be a waste of my time to get certified in all that. I think it would be foolish to invest that much effort and money into a technology when you don't know if you'll even end up working with it.

    It sounds like you're going to be pretty busy with school and certs. I wouldn't work unless you were sure it wasn't going to negatively impact your grades or your sanity/well-being. I wouldn't stop looking entirely though. Maybe you can let the cert studies slide if a fantastic opportunity arises. It's difficult to give advice without knowing your financial situation either. Food are shelter are important too, so working may be a necessity ;)

    Thank you all for your advice. I'm doing alright financially; I'm still at home for the time being; no major bills. In one sense I really want a job so I can take the pressure off my parents (even though they're okay with it), but like others have said working and schooling could prove dangerous. I don't know maybe its the nobility in me. icon_lol.gif
  • thenjdukethenjduke Member Posts: 894 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Thank you all for your advice. I'm doing alright financially; I'm still at home for the time being; no major bills. In one sense I really want a job so I can take the pressure off my parents (even though they're okay with it), but like others have said working and schooling could prove dangerous. I don't know maybe its the nobility in me. icon_lol.gif

    I believe you can do it. I am working fulltime, have two kids which are 6 and 4 and are very demanding for my attention which I give them, and still study for certifications, and going to school online fulltime. Yes I do have sleepless nights too but my GPA has not been effected and my wife is a huge help. Do it now while you still young and not married. When I was originally going to brick and mortar school I was paying my way through college, working fulltime, was in fraternity, and had a girlfriend and still my GPA was not effected. You just have to apply yourself at everything you do.
    CCNA, MCP, MCSA, MCSE, MCDST, MCITP Enterprise Administrator, Working towards Networking BS. CCNP is Next.
  • rogue2shadowrogue2shadow CISSP, GXPN, OSCE, OSCP, OSWP, eMAPT, CEH, CNDA, A+, Network+, Security+ Member Posts: 1,501 ■■■■■■■■□□
    thenjduke wrote: »
    I believe you can do it. I am working fulltime, have two kids which are 6 and 4 and are very demanding for my attention which I give them, and still study for certifications, and going to school online fulltime. Yes I do have sleepless nights too but my GPA has not been effected and my wife is a huge help. Do it now while you still young and not married. When I was originally going to brick and mortar school I was paying my way through college, working fulltime, was in fraternity, and had a girlfriend and still my GPA was not effected. You just have to apply yourself at everything you do.

    I think I might actually be able to. As dynamik said, if a great opportunity shows itself why not! I'll wait till' January post the CCNA.

    @dynamik I'm taking the bachelors as opposed to the masters for now because the coursework will give me a stronger foundation in terms of the basics in security and network infrastructure. When it comes to things like Windows Server, the only experience I have is typing in "dcpromo" lol. This is the quickest of the two routes and will also help me meet the "must have a BS in IT" requirement I commonly see on job postings around here. I will definitely join up with the masters program in the future when I have more experience.

    My fall schedule is going to look like this:
    Network Security (Sec+ which I will have already taken)
    Ethical Practice of Intrusion Prevention and Detection (C|EH)
    Windows Server (MCITP 646)
    Information Security Ethics
    Interconnecting Cisco Devices (ICND2 essentially)
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Oh, after dcpromo it's just next > next > next > finish. You've got nothing to worry about ;)

    That sounds like an interesting program. Where are you attending, if you don't mind me asking?
  • rogue2shadowrogue2shadow CISSP, GXPN, OSCE, OSCP, OSWP, eMAPT, CEH, CNDA, A+, Network+, Security+ Member Posts: 1,501 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Np! University of Maryland University College

    http://www.umuc.edu/
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,746 ■■■■■■■■■■
    dynamik wrote: »
    Oh, after dcpromo it's just next > next > next > finish. You've got nothing to worry about ;)

    That made me laugh... icon_lol.gif

    @Rogue2Shadow: Good luck tomorrow with your Security+ exam!
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