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What technical skills are essential for an entry level IT Support Professional entering the field?

Veteran

Christian Phanardzis Staten Island, NY

I am seeking guidance as I pursue a career in IT, since I am new to the field. I am looking to transition into an IT Support role. Open to plenty of suggestions and advice.

28 May 2020 16 replies Mentoring

Answers

Advisor

Deb Yeagle Tampa, FL

Christian,
Thanks for your service! As one of the earlier answers suggested, there are a lot of specializations to consider in IT. To help you wade through them all, here a several links to websites which offer resources for Veterans seeking to begin a career in IT. Some of the specializations that these organizations help you focus on are coding, cybersecurity, SAP, and cloud computing.
Good luck!
Deb

https://vetswhocode.io/

https://www.operationcode.org/

https://www.sans.org/cybertalent/cybersecurity-career/vetsuccess-academy

https://www.fortinet.com/corporate/careers/vets

https://ns2serves.org/about/training-course/

https://vetsintech.co/

https://aws.amazon.com/education/awseducate/veterans/

10 June 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

Tye Smith Peoria, IL

Hey Christian,

Thank you for your service! This is an excellent question and one that a lot of people have. I've seen some great responses in this thread but wanted to highlight some things that I feel are important when making the transition to IT. First, I think it's important for you to do some research on which particular IT field interest you the most. This will then allow you to focus on building the skills for that particular function. I would then suggest building your professional network through LinkedIn and reaching out to the connections to gain more insights about their experiences and getting feedback. I'd also suggest working on obtaining any possible IT certifications that are available in the field you're interested in. This shows that you are committed to growing your skills.

One of the issues you may find is that if you don't have previous IT work experience you may be getting overlooked for job opportunities. It is important to find creative ways to get the experience. That can be done through attending workshops, internships, doing the work on your personal time or even volunteering for a nonprofit that is looking for IT help. You will want to be able to show some type of working knowledge on your resume.

13 July 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

Olivia Friedman Huntsville, AL

Hello Christian:

As CIO of the Year Award 2020 Candidate, I must say you have great answers to your question already here on this board. However, have you considered checking out a free yet powerful resource that gives you;

1. Several options as entry points into IT Including cyber, cloud computing, coding, etc, and

2. Saves veterans AND their spouse from the need to pay for fundamental yet reputable IT training and instead, receive FREE training thus preserving your veterans VA education benefits, And

3. To attend courses that are online and provide you an actual paid internship within corporations once training is complete, to obtain and add to your resume real life experience in the field, making yourself all the more marketable.

Here’s a resource to helo you achieve thst which you see.

“Seek and you shall find.”

https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/76292/free-training-veterans-spouses-npower/

9 July 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

Melinda Long West Des Moines, IA

Thank you for your service! :)

Please send your resume: Melinda.Long@wellsfargo.com

I can get your info over to our military team for guidance. It's a team of military recruiters within Wells Fargo and depending on what you want to do within technology or the skills you have today we can help guide you in the right direction for potential positions within Wells Fargo.

Also check our website for positions that interest you: https://www.wellsfargo.com/careers/

8 July 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

nancy ouellette Cary, NC

Hi Christian! Thank you so much for your service!!

This thread has already been tremendous, so I will attempt to not redo much of what has already been said, but there are some wonderful paths already for guidance. The fundamental piece of "IT support" you need to figure out is which path you want to take within this vast realm. There is specialized support which can reach into specific areas at a very granular level (e.g. infrastructure, equipment, software, security, etc.) as well as what I will consider the "softer" side of IS which is more people engagement. It really depend on what kind of support you want to give. If you like to get your hands dirty, maybe you're the type that will just want to be in hands on with equipment, if you like to engage in discussion and work with users, maybe it is some sort of call or desk side support services, or even business engagement, where you take technical requirements and ensure that the technical personnel understand the needs appropriately. There are a ton of directions you can go with IS SUpport, so you are exploring an amazing space that is always in high demand!

To not go down a path too far repeating some of the other advice, I'd highly encourage the following to aid you in your education/direction:

1. ITIL
2. Softskills training - written and verbal as this tends to be a difficult area for most technical people.
3. Updates to your LinkedIn profile to polish it up, along with your resume

I too would be happy to review resumes, Linkedin profile, etc. Feel free to email to info@nancymouellette.com if you want another perspective.

Best of luck!

30 June 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

Jeff Brownell Titusville, FL

If you are interested in Networking and programming:

Cisco DevNet
https://developer.cisco.com/startnow/
https://developer.cisco.com/certification/exam-topic-associate/
https://www.netacad.com/courses/networking

Python is a popular powerful programming language used to build software applications, work with data, network automation, build games, and so forth. Some primers:
https://nostarch.com/pythoncrashcourse2e
https://automatetheboringstuff.com/2e/chapter15/

Search at the following sites with a lot of content for very little financial investment:
https://www.udemy.com/
https://www.udacity.com/

These are scratching the surface but will let you explore with little to no money to see if it is for you.

26 June 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

Kathryn O’Brien

Hi Christian,
I would be happy to discuss IT career paths with you and to work with you to formalize your resume.
Kind regards, Kathryn

14 June 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

Andrea Bryant New York, NY

Hi Christian,

Thank you for your service, and thank you for your question! There are several avenues to go, but it seems you have narrowed down generally what you would like to do in the IT field.

My first question would be - have you applied for an ACP mentorship? Even if you are not interested in pursuing a yearlong mentorship just yet, you can speak to an Operations Associate about your career goals, and depending on circumstances, may be able to set you up on an informational phone call.

Another area to explore as you narrow down your specific career path and the required certifications, is Onward To Opportunity. They have a partnership with Syracuse University to offer a free certification course to veterans, to include those in IT. You can learn more about the courses they offer at:

https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/programs/career-training/learning-pathways/

Please reach out here again if you have any further questions, or feel free to send me a direct message!

Best,

Andrea

29 May 2020 Helpful answer

Veteran

Tyler Perkins Waterville, ME

I have seen some great advise from others on this thread. I would like to reaffirm some of them from my personal experience.

LinkedIn and networking is by far what I have found to be the most important. Attending networking events if you can but also always have some networking cards in your pocket to pass out. Vista print is cheap and you never know who you will bump into.

There are many resources out there to take advantage of. Im currently using O2O for AWS cloud computing.

If your MOS got you a clearance those are very valuable, but you would need to find a job to transfer it too before you officially leave the military to maintain it.

Many IT jobs require CompTia Sec+ so I would start your study in that area. Also do not be afraid to look higher than an entry level support job. Many companies will train you on what you need to know if your work ethic and personality are a good fit.

For resumes the person looking at it looks for an average of 6 small seconds. Fold up your resume in half, if that top half does not have enough to sell you it will probably be passed by. 2 pages is the longest it should be as well, not stapled.

Good luck!

24 June 2020 Helpful answer

Veteran

Timothy (Tim) Mollock Virginia Beach, VA

Christian,

I am walking #mytransitionjourney with you...so this is just from my experiences.

1) Get on LinkedIn and connect, connect and connect! Look me up and I will connect you!
2) Get your Resume and Cover Letter completed. DO NOT PAY! There are so many incredibly credible professionals who are more than willing to assist. Again, I can connect you.
3) Look up a/the job(s) you are interested in. You can do this through LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, Vetjobs, VA, etc... You will see the skills required for that job and quickly notice that most of the skills are similar in nature.
4) Find as many mentors as you can, get involved with your industry, join/watch webinars, etc... Basically, learn everything you can now...prior to parting ways with the Army.

17 June 2020 Helpful answer

Veteran

David Beall Ashburn, VA

Christian,

I applaud you for reaching out. Many Veteran's (myself included) believe that they can do it all on their own during the transition process.

To answer your question I will echo some of the other responses. You will need to narrow it down to a more specific IT field. I currently work for an IT Department in a Government Agency. Within our department we have a "Portal" team that focuses on SharePoint development, a Service Desk team that fields tickets and pushes updates or patches, a Desktop Engineering team that receives updates and patches from Microsoft and other software companies and prepares them for publishing to the network, a Network Operations team that focuses on the network being up and troubleshooting when there are outages, and then there is me. There are more sections but I won't try to make this too extensive of a response.

I think where you would need to start is by asking yourself what area you would like to focus in. Get the certifications in those areas first, then make sure you are visible on a couple of the networking sites (LinkedIn, ClearanceJobs.com, ACP) with a focused profile targeting the specific field you are certified in.

Let me know if you need anything else,
Dave Beall

17 June 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

Robert Lamaster Meridian, ID

One thing to consider... When you say, "IT Support", that can encompass a lot of different things. Most employers in IT want specific skills, and it kind of depends on what your mid-term goal is.

If you keep this broad focus, you would probably be starting out in an IT Helpdesk job. That would require minimal training or certification. Once you have a foot in the door, you can then use the time at that job to learn a more specialized skill.

If you would rather start specializing now, you would spend more time up front learning and getting certification(s), and try to jump into something related to that skill. For example, you can tailor your training/certification at PC repair, networking, security, databases, collaboration (email, etc.), identify management, or just about anything else.

In my case, I took the first path. I started as the helpdesk person for a local school. A year later, I moved up to the district office as an "IT Generalist". I spent nine years learning many different IT disciplines, but found that I enjoyed endpoint (PC) management the most. (Warning... the pay at school districts isn't good, and your opportunity for advancement tops out quickly if you don't have a teaching certificate... but the jobs are relatively easy to get).

After nine years, I decided to join the "real" business world. (I should have done this a few years earlier because my pay almost doubled and the professionalism went WAY up when I moved on). I targeted "endpoint management" (patching, OS deployment, imaging of Windows PCs) since that was the part of my school district work I enjoyed the most. Within a few months, the perfect opportunity came along in a location that I wanted to move to.

Interestingly, in the IT world, you have to have a bit of luck. Short contract work, mergers, acquisitions and outsourcing are very common. For example, I got my first "corporate" job at a company called URS (about 50,000 users) doing endpoint management. URS was acquired by AECOM a couple of years later. A few years later, AECOM outsourced their IT to IBM. Fortunately, I had that bit of luck and got to ride from URS to AECOM to IBM. Same job... different name at the top of my paycheck.

If you want to maximize your stability (raising a family, etc.), you would want to avoid job postings that list a contract term and look for more permanent "on staff" positions. Contract work is common as many companies without large IT departments hire third parties to do major changes. Those third parties hire people to support that specific project. Larger IT service providers keep pools of talent that may move around to support different clients (physically or virtually). So... try to find the positions that have no contract term.

This was long, I know, but I hope that some of it helps you direct your efforts. I wish you great success at finding your path outside the military. Overall, be flexible, learn on the job, and discover what you really enjoy and run with it.

3 June 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

P.S. Syracuse is an exception to my earlier rule, a lot of certifications are at no charge.

2 June 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

Christian,
I would recommend a career research dive and also conduct some Informational Interviews with supervisors and or managers in IT. With Informational Interviews remember you are seeking "help/assistance" in your career transition and are interested in advise in the IT area. Be upfront, every college, training school, or university sees you as a big $$ sign and are looking for advice on what training, certificates would be needed to enter the IT field. You will need to have some idea of what career you are interested in. Without some prior knowledge with your career research you will be more familiar with different levels in the IT field, hence your questions will produce much better ideas for the education/certs/training will be needed. Hope this helps, but honestly know what you want to do and what are some of the basic requirements prior to your school search. The schools are selling education, the more they sell you the more money they make. I believe they take advantage of a number of service members of veterans, who trust them to provide career advice along with the education. Thanks for your service and God Bless.

2 June 2020 Helpful answer

Advisor

Amber Hughes California, MD

Hello, Christian-

A good way to start with an IT support role is to search for help desk, network and/or system administration positions.

A common certification I see as a requirement for entry-mid level IT support specialists, especially with DoD contractors including my organization, is Security +. If you have a DoD clearance (which I assume you do) along with this certification, it will put you ahead of your competition. There are many organizations that provide boot camps to prepare you for the exam and they aren't super expensive. https://www.comptia.org/certifications/security.

Best of luck!

Advisor

Amit Chaudhary San Jose, CA

Other option is to get a regular support position in a medium to large tech company, use it to learn their systems and support does. Remember to promise yourself you will switch departments in 6, max 12 months

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