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Software: A Career In The IT Industry

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This is a question for all those on this forum who work in and around the IT industry. I graduated last year with a degree in Computer Science. Within a couple of months I had got a job as a computer technician / remote helpdesk. Now this kind of work definitely does not require a university degree and really is not overly challenging. It is more of a supporting role, rather a creative one. As an Objectivist this saddens me, as I seek a well payed creative role to further my abilities and myself as a person. This also practically limits me, in terms of buying cars, houses etc..

Now I have a couple of career paths in mind. Web Development or Database administration. The latter will probably require me to pay out a fair amount of money to sit Oracle database courses. The money does not seem to be in web development or programming anymore, but Oracle DBA's are still well payed.

I guess my question is, can anyone here offer advise/tips on the best ways to make a break into this industry?

- David

(Edited title capitalization-sNerd)

Edited by softwareNerd
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I own a small ISP; I love to do network engineering and UNIX system administration.

I can imagine several ways one can increase one's value in the industry, but let me simply relate what I did.

I initially was a programmer. I came into the industry without a degree and quickly discovered that in order to get a higher-level (higher-paying job) I would need experience.

So what I did was: I approached every programming job and every interview with the idea that I would work for practically nothing in order to get the experience. A small company with a tight-wad of an owner liked the idea of getting a cheap programmer and hired me. I was young and didn't need much money to support my lifestyle, so this trade worked out very well for both of us: he got his cheap programmer for a few years, and I got the valuable programming experience for my resume.

My next job started me at more than twice the salary as the first only a few years later, and I was able in a few months to save up for a down payment on a house.

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That probably is quite a good idea TomL. I guess it just frustrated me to see young mech and chem engineers coming out of uni straight onto twice the salary I am on, when I have also put in the time at uni.

I guess there are many ways to become successful. Anymore ideas are appreciated.

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All three options (tech-support, software-development and DBA) can offer decent salaries after you gain some experience, depending on the route one takes. As a very rough rule of thumb, the more specialized you are, the more you will be paid. (Though, you do run a certain risk, if your specialization is no longer wanted.)

The first question you need to answer is which of these options you will find most interesting.

You mention tech-support not being challenging. Have you considered specializations within that field: UNIX expert, Network expert, Security expert, etc.? Also, of the other two, do you have any ideas on which one you would find interesting? Do you understand the day-to-day activities a programmer or a DBA performs?

The second question is where you want to be 10 years from now. Do you seriously think you'd like to start your own business? Do you think you'd like to transition from a technical role to a more managerial role? Does any particular industry interest you: retailing, banking, etc.?

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Thanks for the advice.

I guess at the moment I am slightly unsure about exactly what I want to do in the industry. I just know I dont want to be doing what I am at the moment!

I am looking at viable options for making money in the future, security would be one, as we will always need people to administer security in systems. It seems unlikely Oracle will lose there large market share anytime soon either.

I have an offer for a role in a server team at the moment, just means a 3.5 hr round trip each day! But may be a decent opportunity to get my foot in the door.

I guess I have some serious thinking and research to do. I also want to use this income to fund stock investment, which I have been learning about for the last year or so.

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I have an offer for a role in a server team at the moment, just means a 3.5 hr round trip each day!

Sure sounds like a way to do two things:

1) get a taste of the job (and foot in the door, if you like it)

2) listen to a lot of lectures during the commute

Even within the roles of Software development and DBA, there are different sub-roles.

For instance: A Software Dev role could have a high amount of new development or it could have a high amount of "maintenance" work. A DBA job is typically a "staff/support" type of role, but there are variations. Some DBA roles are "maintenance" oriented: ensure that existing systems run smoothly. Others have a larger "development" component: make this query run faster, help design a database, etc.

As for Certifications. They usually help if you do not have enough experience in a particular area; because a prospective employer might view it as a proxy for experience. If you have a few months of Oracle experience and a Certification, it should be easier to get a job closer to home!

Good luck.

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Do you know anyone(family, friends) in any field that owns a private business? Of any kind...

Offer to code their websites, database software, manage their networks... anything you can get your grubby fingers on...

Make an offer they can't refuse, do your work for little to no money. Continue to work your current slave job.. In your free time code their software... You probably won't have time for a social life over the next year, but who cares... You don't have to take the courses if you illustrate that you are competant... This is especially true with the tech field. You need to demonstrate your abilities as well as your motivation. They will not care that you have accomplished small-time jobs as it will illustrate how motivated you are aswell as your flexability/ability..

I know people making six digits that did not graduate from college.

TomL is not the only one to do this...

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  • 6 months later...

Thought I should probably update this thread. I finally landed the programming job I was after a couple of weeks ago. I am basically the sole programmer/scripter that looks after the programs/scripts for the desktop team in a large corporate environment (3500 machines).

It is a fairly free role in that I can research and implement technologies as I see fit as long as it fits into the basic vision of where the programs should be going. It really has been quite challenging so far as the previous coder did little to no documentation for most of his code, so I have had to learn and adapt very quickly.

For any of the other VB.net/6 programmers out there, if you know of any good tools for planning and maintaining VB code it would be good if you could chuck links to them in here! thanks.

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