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Computer Information Systems Degree without professional experience

Veteran

Chris Kaye Houston, TX

I served eight years in the Marines and was honorable discharged as a Sergeant. Come May 2018 I finally graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelors in Computer Information Systems. Since then I have applied at numerous places, and even had four in person interviews. However, without any professional experience in the Computer Field it seems impossible to get your foot into the door with a company. I am starting to get worried now as it has been six months since I graduated, and I have yet to find a career path that would allow me to utilize and expand my knowledge in the industry. It seems the only people who want ‘recent college graduates’ are companies that invest more training into you (I believe pay you $8 an hour during this) then lock you into a two-year contract and ship you to wherever they need (East Coast) to do work for companies that are their clients. From what I have heard it is not the best gig and if they find any reason to kick you from the program you owe them some ridiculous amount of money. I have two daughters and too many bills for this to be financially possible for me and feel the amount of training I have received is adequate to be a contributing team member in a professional organization. The main platforms I have applied though is Zip Recruiter, LinkedIn, USAJobs.gov, Monster and Military Hire/Hire Purpose. My question is if this is common for most people, one thing to add during my College years I was not active with the VA or any college sponsored networking events. I drove to class and came home right after. Looking back now I should have been more involved but anyways any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Respectfully,

Chris Kaye

24 December 2018 16 replies Career Advancement

Answers

Veteran

Ashely John Lowell, MA

Hello Chris,

I was in the same boat as you. I was a mechanic in the Army and when I got out switched to IT. You are caught in the catch 22 you need to gain experience and most of the people looking for people with experience. It took me awhile to get a job in the IT field. Like a couple people have noted developing your professional network. People are more likely to hire someone that is vouched for by a current employee.
Also you can develop your experience at home. Setup a lab at home. Turn your home into your own small business setup. Setup firewall, switch, router, spin up some VM's. It may not be much but when you go in for the interview it shows that yes you do have some experience with a network and you have some initiative.

I am going through the same issue as you here in Boston and I have 4 years experience. The market is tough out here.

If you have any question. You can reach out.

Advisor

Michael Conway Huntsville, AL

Chris,

When I got out of the Air Force, I made the career switch from loadmaster to cybersecurity. Two things helped me out in that switch. My professional network and that I had gone out and picked up two necessary certification for working in cybersecurity, Security+ and the Certified Ethical Hacker. My network got me in the door and my degree got me the pay level but getting the certs is what got me the job. As the guy who hired me put it, he was impressed that I went and did the certs on my own dime and that showed a willingness to learn. So like Lex said above, look at federal jobs and get a cert or two. And I would add to that, don't limit the area you look in for a job.

Good luck!

Veteran

Charles Smith Manhattan, KS

Chris,

Turner does something similar to Comcast for training vets. They are looking for vets with just a working knowledge of the IT realm. I applied with the program and got an offer. They are looking to place SOC analysts or pen testers in Atlanta. The salary is much higher than 8 bucks an hour.

Let me know if you want more details.
Charles.smith07@yahoo.com
9192800335

Charles

Advisor

Neil Serafin Sequim, WA

First....be flexible on leaving Houston. 2nd and 3rd tier markets....the Colorado Springs, CO and Salem, OR size towns.....keep in mind IT goes bad in recessions.....for long term employment, lacking experience....try my old biz....Comcast....they have jobs program for VETs....they are headed for 5G deployment at the OS1-3 level....they need you for above that level.

Advisor

Scott Gagnon Winthrop, MA

My $.02 - If you are not set on living in Texas and don't mind some cold weather, the Boston area is crying for IT talent. Take a look at the online job boards in the Metro Boston area. You may be shocked at what's available. Boston has 12 Universities and Colleges in the city and these graduates come out with NO experience but land nice roles in great companies. take a chance and a leap of faith. Lastly, Boston is a very Veteran friendly city. It's where America started with the blood of the Minutemen and Patriots.

Veteran

Calvin Ward El Paso, TX

Chris, at the end of the day, of all the answers presented, Lex Levin's advice is probably the best here and I am going to cosign with him. I have a very good friend who works for the Department of Homeland Security. They are aggressively looking for qualified individuals. I am recently transitioning and I have looked into the IT pathway because I used to do communications as a first MOS or job int he Army. I have found that there is a free Google IT program that are looking for Veterans to qualify and get the newly created Google IT certification. This program is totally free and can take 8 months to certify, but some complete it in 3-4 months. This certification is an introduction of the CompTIA certs of Network +, Security + and others. This, in my opinion would be a great start. It is also free.

My next recommendation would be to encourage you to look into the Texas Workforce Commission, create an account, and connect with representative. They will connect you with programs to get you certifications that can help you as well as help connect you with employers int he state of Texas.

You are in Texas, and Texas has a slew of programs to help veterans. Also, I would connect with the USO. The USO has a program where you sign up, and they assign you someone to help you prepare, get trained and help to find you employment.

Additionally, you can also connect with the SFL-TAP (Soldier For Life - Transition Assistance Program) that is located on the nearest Army base close to you. Though you are a marine, the services are open to veterans and you can still take advantage of the veteran services. They also host a job fair every Friday, as well as an annual job fair. There are two job fairs that I know of that will be right here in El Paso within the next month or two.

I can definitely connect you with some people if you would like. I am not a mentor here, but I wanted to assist as much as possible. From my experience, employers will want those certifications. However, if you know that organizations, such as the department of homeland security is aggressively looking for individuals, you should try to find a connection and see if you can get an entry level position. It gets your foot in the door and gives you a paycheck as well.

You need to get paid.

Lastly, I was also reminded today of USAA. USAA offers a lot of jobs to veterans and they always have jobs open in the interim if you wanted something. USAA might be a great choice to see about interim work. USAA is also a great organization to maybe get any job at first, work while you get the required certifications and then move laterally in the USAA family. From what I hear, they will take care of you.

I hope this info helps.

Advisor

Joyce Stein Santa Clarita, CA

You have received some good advice. One I might add is to get experience by volunteering to help a nonprofit with some automation. Check out: http://www.volunteermatch.org

Advisor

Koert DuBois Fort Collins, CO

Hello Chris,

1) HP Inc recruits at the University of Houston. This is usually around March (it was 1st March last year). I believe it is part of a general job fair. They look for IT, business and engineering graduates.

2) You may want to consider being an intern. HP Inc's internship program provides you with experience and a hands-on look at the company so that you can decide if there is a long-term fit. The link to the HP Inc internship and open jobs list is https://www8.hp.com/us/en/jobs/working-at-hp.html?m802=1&tab=2#!students
Internships at HP Inc are paid positions and vary from one month to a year.

3) When looking at job sites at specific companies (HP Inc included) don't limit your search to only IT categories or with IT in the job title. IT is pervasive and companies have different titles and classifications that hide what is, essentially, IT work. For example "Internal Audit" - you might think that is for CPAs: Not so - a great deal of audit work involves knowledge of IT. Look for things that have "Analyst" in the job title too. A "Business Analyst" title can often hide a job that is 50% or more IT related.

And has been mentioned - don't fall into the trap of having to pay a company to get you a gig. I will be kind in my comments about these folks, but let us say they do not have your career or best interests at heart.

Good luck to you on your next steps, and thank you for your service to our country.

Koert

Advisor

Louis Schwarz Somerville, NJ

Hi Chris, Don't give up on IT, it takes long to get in. Most large companies will not train, they hire consulting firms to do their staffing. Your best opportunity is with consulting firms or a small IT related business.
Yes, consulting firms will move you where they need you, just like the military. When you get further into the IT industry, you will engage these firms, so learn about them and how they work. Austin Texas is a hot IT start up area, try that area. Houston has insurance and shipping and oil and gas. Hard to get in as an individual, since the consulting firms supply those resources. Certification is good, but usually focuses on an operations position.
Try and be flexible, It is hardtop interview or even get one. Try small business to start, and you will make contacts for the future.

Advisor

Bob Molluro Wilmington, DE

Chris I see that you have had four interviews. I train people pro bono on how to become "Killer Interviewers". It takes about an hour. I am batting 100% with seventeen people thus far. Just send an email to ramco1@verizon.net if you would like to speak.
Warmly,
Bob Molluro

Veteran

Jose Hernandez Houston, TX

Hi Chris
Congrats on your degree!

I am by no means an expert in the IT field. However, I do work for one, HPE. If interested, I can make a connection with a marine recruiter within my company.

Not sure where it would lead but anything helps, right?

Best
Jose Hernandez

Advisor

xxxx xxxx San Antonio, TX

Chris. Thank you for your service.

The computer industry at times is hard to break into too. But there are some Programs at companies to look into to break into the market.

If you are still looking for help. I would br honored to help you.

Richard Buck
914 391 3375
Rb2018tx@gmail.com

Advisor

Steve Ruzzini Pittsburgh, PA

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your 8 years of service to our country.

Since you graduated with your bachelors (congratulations!) so recently, have you tried contacting the University of Houston alumni or career center to see if they have any resources they can offer you? These resources could be networking events, resume reviews, job listings, interview coaching, etc. If you haven't reached out to your alma mater yet, I would suggest that as your next step.

Best,
Steve

Advisor

Deborah Carter Owens Cross Roads, AL

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your service and congrats on your recent completion of a bachelors degree in computer science.

First, you're absolutely correct, stay away from any program or employer that wants you to pay them or puts strict requirements and agreements in place as a condition of continued employment.

Second, I see that you're applying to platforms, and while that can be a good way to find a lot of opportunities in one place, I'd suggest doing some research on local companies and engaging with them directly. You can do that by researching when and where they'll have host or attend career fairs and learning more about their hiring practices. When I think of Houston, I think "oil and gas" industry and I'm sure that some of the big names there have veteran hiring programs as well as entry level IT and computer engineering programs.

It will take a little more effort but look for a company that has values and culture where you align since you don't want a job, you want a career.

Good luck!
Deb

Advisor

Lex Levin Ellicott City, MD

1) Look at Federal IT jobs. With a college degree, you can apply to GS-5 jobs. If you had superior academic achievement (GPA of 3 or better), you might be eligible for some GS-7 jobs even. If you have service-related disability, your veterans preference will give you a leg up compared to civilian applicants.

2) Go get certifications! In today's IT field, certs are just as important as degrees, perhaps even more so. Even if you're working entry-level jobs, go get CompTIA, MS, or Cisco certifications, it will up your value as a job applicant.

Advisor

A. Andra Grava Allen, TX

A lot of job search is reactive not proactive. Change that. Texas business is growing and many businesses are looking for good people but they are busy running and growing their businesses. Go on Linked In and search for the businesses you want to work for, are there Marine Vets in positions of authority there or vets period? Are there U of H grads working there in HR or executive roles? Call them and ask if you can visit with them as you need help in developing your career track and finding mentors in the business world for when you ETS. Getting past the gatekeepers may be tough at first but you will be amazed at how much people want to help people. Who knows one may even give you a job or be the referral to a job that you need. Either way don't wait for them to pick your resume out of a stack - get the career you want.
All the best,
Andra Grava

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