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General Chat Thread, Starting out advice? in General; I'm sorry if this is in the wrong forum/thread, but I thought general sort of covered everything. Okay here I ...
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    Starting out advice?

    I'm sorry if this is in the wrong forum/thread, but I thought general sort of covered everything. Okay here I go.
    So I'm 20 years old, I have completed a BTEC National Diploma in Interactive Media (and gained a C&G Key Skills 2 in ICT), and then I went onto to do a Foundation Degree (same as a HND) in Contemporary Art Practice; so as you can tell, I steered down the art path.
    It took me moving out down to university last month to realise I didn't want to go down this route any more, and that I wanted to do something in which I was good at; IT. Now, preferably I'd like to be a primary school IT technician, and I was just wondering how I would start this?
    Is it best to go back to college level and study, or volunteer at schools, or just go for it and apply everywhere? What would you people recommend? Thanks!
    Also editing to say, obviously being my age, and already having studied to a high level, I'd have to now pay all of my course fees.

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    Hi.

    One of the difficulties you'll run in to, I think, is that primary schools can only really afford one person for their IT. As a result of that they will hire someone with some experience, so if you don't have any you'll find it very hard to find that sort of work.

    You might be better off looking at secondary/grammar/public schools/colleges/universities which have larger teams and which train people from the ground up.

    Having done an MSc in Computing Science and had it do me no good whatsoever finding a job (in 1999/2000) I would say that in IT experience is everything and that you'll only get that experience by starting work. Even if it's just volunteer work it will help your CV and help you to decide whether or not you really want to work in IT in education. You may find that you prefer a professional environment instead of an academic one.

    IMO the salaries are pretty shoddy in IT. When I started (back in 99/2000) a level 1 IT tech who was new to the game was earning about £13,500. Ten years on it's about £17,000. That's a real-terms drop in salaries. Most of the geeks I know supplement their income with side work, fixing friends' or neighbours' PCs. Don't let me put you off - I've been self-employed fixing computers for 8 years and I never get up in the morning wishing I did something else. But I'm not rich and I'm never going to be.

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    Jenni (20th October 2011)

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    crazytechnician's Avatar
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    I am a technician in primary schools and I have to agree with flatpackhamster. I have just moved to a company who provide ICT support to primary schools but previously I worked for the local council looking after 5 primaries. They do only tend ot have one technician so as already mentioned, it can be very hard to get into. You may be better looking at companies who provide that sort of support as they will be more willing to take on someone with less experience as they have back up and the resources to train and support you.

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    Volunteering in any IT department will do you good. Whilst doing this, apply for junior roles. Flat mentioned £17k, to be honest if you get your first job in IT on £17k you're doing well!

    While doing both of the above, you should try some self studying - starting with CompTIA A+ and N+. These will give you good knowledge and understanding in IT and employers will recognise them.

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    I would apply anywhere & everywhere. The pay in schools for entry level techs is quite low so it is unlikely you will be up against candidates with both quals & experience. However, it would be good for you to get some experience in a school environment and this could be done on a voluntary basis while you are applying for work.

    As has been said techs in schools (not just primary) are often a "one man show" and as such having a range of skills can make you more employable than being an expert in one area. Getting experience in any working environment can help you broaden your skills.
    Last edited by penfold; 19th October 2011 at 04:20 PM.

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    Hi,

    I did EXACTLY what you did. I went to uni for a year realised it was not my thing and decided I wanted a career in IT. After 6 months washing dishes and serving chips I got an apprenticeship, this is by far the best way to do it imo!

    If you wanna talk to me about my experiences or ask me any questions drop me a PM.

    Cheers.

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    Go for it and apply everywhere. If you don't take a shot, you can't score a goal. If you don't buy a ticket, you can't win the lottery. if you.....uhhhhh.......run out of metaphors or whatever they are.

    Good Luck.

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    Jenni (20th October 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flatpackhamster View Post
    IMO the salaries are pretty shoddy in IT. When I started (back in 99/2000) a level 1 IT tech who was new to the game was earning about £13,500. Ten years on it's about £17,000. That's a real-terms drop in salaries. Most of the geeks I know supplement their income with side work, fixing friends' or neighbours' PCs. Don't let me put you off - I've been self-employed fixing computers for 8 years and I never get up in the morning wishing I did something else. But I'm not rich and I'm never going to be.
    I don't think the salaries are shoddy, I think it depends where you are and how they value you. Schools are more likely to recruit someone with less skills for retention with the exception of a NM - even then they may drop standards to keep someone for longer, each recruitment drive costs money and it's difficult with each changeover of staff.

    When I first left uni, first thing I did was make bang out my CV to anyone that would take it. I was very lucky to get a role at 3m straight away, need more than ability - but you'll find work, even if it takes a while and the more interviews you have the stronger you'll be
    Last edited by dwhyte85; 20th October 2011 at 08:41 AM.

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    I started off doing NVQ IT Level 3 (after doing NVQ Admin Level 2). These gave me real working experiences, I was actually a part of an IT System supporting Users/Fixing problems, this gave me experience which in turn turned in to a job as a Technician. The course work on the NVQs were very easy and the down side is the fact it is treated like a job - 9-4:30 mon-fri.

    Be warned though treatment of IT people isnt the best in education

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    Quote Originally Posted by mthomas08 View Post
    Be warned though treatment of IT people isnt the best in education
    True story! Then again, no matter where you go you'll get that. Either people or scared of IT or think they can do IT, not sure which is worse!

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    wow guys, thanks for all the replies!

    I will definitely take on board all of your advice, sounds like you are all telling me to go for it; but I understand about how it would be hard to go into a primary school if there's only one person behind the scenes, I mean it doesn't have to happen straight away, I can get experience somewhere else, or maybe I will like it in a different environment! I'll start asking around for people willing to take on trainees, or volunteers, as I don't think I'm anywhere near experienced as someone who has studied IT. When next year rolls around I may enrol onto a college course and study IT, and the college I was looking at even has a Microsoft Academy, so it seems good.

    Also a thing about the apprenticeships is I actually can't start one; well I was told I can't by one woman, and another said I can but it's extremely hard, because I have already studied way past the level of apprenticeships, the only thing I can do is volunteer or just start a job unfortunately.

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    Jenni, if it helps I have plenty of slides and training manuals that would be of good use so you can have theoretical knowledge for some of the stuff you will come across in daily life at schools - Mainly office, XP, 7 and Windows Server 2003 / 2008 based . Pretty much troubleshooting slides and how to's but believe me, they are handy to have and if you are volunteering, one thing you may be able to do is offer to teach this stuff to the staff at a reduced instructor rate (say £20 an hour) and offer to do it a couple days a week for a term or offer to fit it around their twilight sessions.

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    X-13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nephilim View Post
    Pretty much troubleshooting slides and how to's but believe me, they are handy to have
    ~Raises hand~

    Ooh, Ooh! Please, Sir. Mr. Nephilim, Sir!

    Can I get a copy of those please?

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    Yeh, I will zip them up and drop them on my sky drive this evening

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenni View Post
    wow guys, thanks for all the replies!

    I will definitely take on board all of your advice, sounds like you are all telling me to go for it; but I understand about how it would be hard to go into a primary school if there's only one person behind the scenes, I mean it doesn't have to happen straight away, I can get experience somewhere else, or maybe I will like it in a different environment! I'll start asking around for people willing to take on trainees, or volunteers, as I don't think I'm anywhere near experienced as someone who has studied IT. When next year rolls around I may enrol onto a college course and study IT, and the college I was looking at even has a Microsoft Academy, so it seems good.

    Also a thing about the apprenticeships is I actually can't start one; well I was told I can't by one woman, and another said I can but it's extremely hard, because I have already studied way past the level of apprenticeships, the only thing I can do is volunteer or just start a job unfortunately.
    This seems like you have been fed a line here! I know it is rude to ask a lady how old she is but.... how old are you?

    I have a friend who did her degree then got a catering apprenticeship so I see no reason why the same can't be done with IT.

    Though the volunteer advice is good advice. When I was doing my apprenticeship I got a Saturday job in a little computer repair shop as the counter guy which added to my experiences so little things like that are good to look out for as well.

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