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General Chat Thread, Planning for the Future in General; Hi everyone this is my first post on EduGeek, I come seeking advice I have recently graduated from University with ...
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    master_geek's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Planning for the Future

    Hi everyone this is my first post on EduGeek, I come seeking advice I have recently graduated from University with a first class hons degree in Computer Science. I have been lucky enough in this economic climate to land a job in a local high school working as a ICT Technician.

    Now I have finished my education and have my degree I am left wondering 'what should I do next' I feel as though I need to be planning for my future. I know that my current job is a good stepping stone in building a foundation of experience for future progression. But I'm left wondering where do I want to go, and what do I want to do and most importantly how am I going to get there!

    As I am a newbie to the working life, I would be grateful for some advice on any qualifications which I should look at taking, or any ideas on how to progress my career from where I stand at the minute.

    Maybe someone who has been in the same boat as me, you could share your experience and point me in the right direction


    Thank-You for reading my post

    I look forward to your responses


    Master_Geek

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I am into my 3rd year of Working in IT in schools. I have recently doing the same thing as you and i am planning on going to university. I have no other qualifications apart from my GCSE's.

    On how you want to progress career wise only you can answer. What would you like to see yourself doing?

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    garethedmondson's Avatar
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    I'm in a position to employ technicians (although not at the moment) - but I would be looking at experience. A first is good but can you do this, this and this (whatever is relevant to my network).

    I'm sure any here would say that experience is often more important than qualifications.

    Good luck - reading and leeching the information in here is a good start. The wealth of knowledge people on here have is amazing.

    GJE

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garethedmondson View Post
    I'm in a position to employ technicians (although not at the moment) - but I would be looking at experience. A first is good but can you do this, this and this (whatever is relevant to my network).

    I'm sure any here would say that experience is often more important than qualifications.

    GJE
    I agree, i know 2 schools that have employed someone just out off college and uni who couldn't actually do the job well despite the exam results.

    The good thing you have a job now, you have your foot in the door. You can use this to prove yourself.

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    garethedmondson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-GM View Post
    I agree, i know 2 schools that have employed someone just out off college and uni who couldn't actually do the job well despite the exam results.

    The good thing you have a job now, you have your foot in the door. You can use this to prove yourself.
    This happened to me with an NQT that arrived at my door a few years back. 2:1 in Comp Sci. A good PGCE pass teaching secondary ICT - but not a clue how to operate in the classroom.

    As FN-GM has said - you have your foot in the door. I hope you get a good line manager who takes you under his wing.

    This may sound rude but don't go pushing your degree in people's faces (I know you haven't done that). I've met some who think they know it all just because they have their degree - but the truth quite the opposite.

    GJE

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    FN-GM's Avatar
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    I hope you get a good line manager who takes you under his wing.
    Be never afraid to take on big jobs and ask questions that seem daft, its one big learning curve. There are people on here who have been work with IT for years and are still learning new stuff all the time.

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    garethedmondson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FN-GM View Post
    Be never afraid to take on big jobs and ask questions that seem daft, its one big learning curve. There are people on here who have been work with IT for years and are still learning new stuff all the time.
    .....Holds hand up.....

    GJE

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    Quote Originally Posted by garethedmondson View Post
    This happened to me with an NQT that arrived at my door a few years back. 2:1 in Comp Sci. A good PGCE pass teaching secondary ICT - but not a clue how to operate in the classroom.

    As FN-GM has said - you have your foot in the door. I hope you get a good line manager who takes you under his wing.

    This may sound rude but don't go pushing your degree in people's faces (I know you haven't done that). I've met some who think they know it all just because they have their degree - but the truth quite the opposite.

    GJE
    I know, I just wanted to state that I have a degree, and to see if this could assist in the advice which I am looking for e.g doing a masters, and/or other qualifications. My line manager and my colleagues are all brilliant! they have looked after me since day one.

    Coming into this job I didn't feel overly confident as most of what I know has only ever been 'Theory' based at University. However I did participate in some Voluntary work at another school closer home.

    Nonetheless, I appreciate your comment and advice.
    Thank-You

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    My advice? Go on every training course the school offers, even if its not strictly relevant to your job. If you can get to learn the schools MIS system (most likely SIMS) then thats a big help in expanding your job role.

    Any opportunity to train with other companies (RM, Microsoft, whomever) should also be taken.

    But most of all, learn as much as you can about everything you can, and don't be afraid to try new things. Once you find something you really enjoy (scripting, GPOs, deployment, network infrastructure, databases, reports, design work) then explore that field and try to help the school while you do it.

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    garethedmondson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simpsonj View Post
    My advice? Go on every training course the school offers, even if its not strictly relevant to your job. If you can get to learn the schools MIS system (most likely SIMS) then thats a big help in expanding your job role.

    Any opportunity to train with other companies (RM, Microsoft, whomever) should also be taken.

    But most of all, learn as much as you can about everything you can, and don't be afraid to try new things. Once you find something you really enjoy (scripting, GPOs, deployment, network infrastructure, databases, reports, design work) then explore that field and try to help the school while you do it.
    Ask your Line Manager if you can have a few older machines and a switch and create a test network - try setting things up.

    You could find out who works in your local schools and ask if you could go out one day a week to work with another technician. This is one thing I did when becoming a teacher in an ICT department.

    GJE

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    IT is a constantly evolving industry. having a qualification doesn't mean much as often there vendor specific and/or out of date. but what they show an employer is that u can apply knowledge to a task - having multiple qualifications like A+, linux+, MCSE, CCIE, would show you can apply knowledge across the board at many levels and to different areas of the industry. also depends if your aiming for project management/manager or foot soldier. A+, network+ are good to have - as is an MCSE. (which can be used as a pathway where you become MSDST, MCP ect along the way). having a network qualification line the CCNA is also helpful. but it depends on where u want to be. and exams arnt everything. sometimes just showing u can do something by doing it is good enough ie - set up a web server and leave it online and show them that during the interview.... experience is key!

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    Quote Originally Posted by master_geek View Post
    I know, I just wanted to state that I have a degree, and to see if this could assist in the advice which I am looking for e.g doing a masters, and/or other qualifications.
    I did a taught masters (in Information Systems Engineering) after my computer Science degree, with most of the cost of the course funded via a competitive grant from EPSRC. The masters' students with a CS background felt that the course recovered a fair bit of the material we'd already done (although we didn't grumble that much, we did have grants), so strictly from a learning point of view a taught masters in computer science might not be worth spending lots of money / another year on. It does look good on your CV I guess, though. You might be keener on a research masters or a PhD - you have a first, so you're good at the academic side, go do some research. You could also go and do a non-computer science masters - an MBA maybe, although you generally need some work experience (and lots of money) first for an MBA.

    Bear in mind that the purpose of computer science education, especially at what the US would term the more "liberal arts" kind of institution, is to produce well-educated computer scientists, not to provide training in specific vendor's tools. Your education is valuable, but you'll probably need a year or two of experience to translate and filter it a bit to match current industry best-practice. This is how it should be, but again I'm starting to see the advantage of the US-style 4-year degree with time for a couple of internships along the way. Working in a school for a while will provide excellent experience.

    Do make sure that you figure out industry best-practice - the thing that will probably surprise you most after university is the amount of people around who do odd things for odd reasons, or slow things for odd reasons, etc. You've just spent three years thinking about computers and systems, but most people have other stuff to think about in their jobs - this is especially true in schools, where few other members of staff want to think about IT details or strategy, they want to be teaching children.

    Being young, you might have various advantages that the slightly older of us here wish we still had - energy and enthusiasm, no family / spouse / property to tie you down (I could be assuming wrong here, of course), and you can still pick up new knowledge easily. Working at a large, bureaucratic workplace can soon beat the energy and enthusiasm out of you, so avoid them for the moment (schools are pretty okay, in general). You can wander off to a new town / country, get a job and rent a cheap room, and if it all goes wrong you can easily go home to your parents until something else comes up.

    You could, of course, get together with some others from your course, start your own company and run your own website, software development shop, or whatever you can dream up.

    --
    David Hicks

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjs_mjs View Post
    IT is a constantly evolving industry. having a qualification doesn't mean much as often there vendor specific and/or out of date. but what they show an employer is that u can apply knowledge to a task - having multiple qualifications like A+, linux+, MCSE, CCIE, would show you can apply knowledge across the board at many levels and to different areas of the industry. also depends if your aiming for project management/manager or foot soldier. A+, network+ are good to have - as is an MCSE. (which can be used as a pathway where you become MSDST, MCP ect along the way). having a network qualification line the CCNA is also helpful. but it depends on where u want to be. and exams arnt everything. sometimes just showing u can do something by doing it is good enough ie - set up a web server and leave it online and show them that during the interview.... experience is key!
    Matt, thank-you for your post. Your advice is inspirational, as I am fresh out of university I haven’t had a lot of experience in a working environment other than voluntary work and a private PC repair business which I ran while at University.

    I will look into the qualifications which you have mentioned in further detail towards my long term goal. I would like to one day hold a management position either at a school, or in industry. I think I will make the most of what opportunities may arise along the way, as like you said, after all’ experience is key and I am willing to work hard in getting there.

    Thank-you for your advice

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    It's only my 2p, but I think you could do a lot better than schools technicians posts with a first in CS. That's a fantastic result that I'm sure you're proud of, and high-level development/engineering/research (or many others) employers will snap you up and really stretch you. Cleaning kids mess off keyboards will drive you potty in about six months time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    It's only my 2p, but I think you could do a lot better than schools technicians posts with a first in CS. That's a fantastic result that I'm sure you're proud of, and high-level development/engineering/research (or many others) employers will snap you up and really stretch you. Cleaning kids mess off keyboards will drive you potty in about six months time.

    There are many thousands of graduates with decent degrees doing jobs that are well beneath their capabilities, working in call centres, retail, admin with many more on the way this summer. Employers want experience and are generally unwilling to spend time training people, especially in the current economic climate.

    For many of these students getting the first 'relevant' job is the hardest, so well done to master_geek for having achieved that. A couple of years working in a school while the economy sorts itself out will mean he is well positioned to move onto more lucrative roles in the future. My advice would be to grasp every opportunity to continue to learn. Don't be afraid to ask for help, look for tasks where you can assume responsibility and ownership (always looks good on CV).

    As others have said before, the IT industry is in a state of continuous evolution; I have worked in IT for 36 years now but still learn something new almost every day..... my worry these days is forgetting more things than I am learning

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