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Career in IT

  1. Feb 9, 2009 #1
    Right now I'm majoring for a BS in Information Technology at a 4-year university. This is kind of a risky major since it's new and pretty much a watered down version of Computer Science, I think. Anyway, I'm not sure where I want to go with my career. There are many branches to take in IT like software, databases, and networks. Ultimately, I think I would want to be a System administrator.

    What programming languages and technologies should I have a good understanding of? I know the basics of Java and C up to linked lists, searching/sorting techniques, threading, etc. I'm not good at coming up with complex algorithms and I know just the basics of calculus so I don't think I would be a good programmer, although it is fun to solve problems!

    What kind of certifications should I be aiming for? I know there are many Microsoft certifications, and if I was going to start there, where?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2009 #2


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    It really depends but I would say that C/C++ as well anything in the .NET family are good solid commercial languages and platforms to know.

    Being a system admin you would want to be comfortable with a few platforms like Windows and Server environments as well as Unix/Linux environments. You would probably need to know about scripting on top of the normal admin type knowledge like policy configurations, services configurations, account setup etc.

    It would be handy you knowing programming because you may have to customize tools or do something requiring you compiling code to a binary form although I think that a lot of admin work would make use of heaps of scripting and dynamic runtime environments.

    You could get into the area of organizing and helping to analyze and find solutions regarding the flow of information in a business. It would be like a role where you work with say an architect or a systems analyst and you basically help translate business system data and process requirements into a working IT infrastructure. This area requires more working knowledge of software development and programming than an admin obviously but does not require the same amount of working knowledge as a normal developer and is often more managerial than technically focused, so perhaps some food for thought.

    For an admin I think something like say Python or Perl would be more of an advantage than say something with .NET.
  4. Feb 9, 2009 #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    So should I be learning some C#, VB.NET, and ASP.NET? Can I get an understanding of services and group policy settings in Windows Server 2008? What Linux O/S do most enterprises use, Red Hat?

    What kind of scripting language would I need to have an understanding of?

    Are there any certifications I should get?

    Basically I'm trying to build a resume for an internship.
  5. Feb 13, 2009 #4
    I don't know how committed you are to your IT degree but I would say get a more foundation degree in Computer Science or even a real Science or Engineering field. The stuff you learn in the IT program will be out of date before you even graduate. As long as you have gained the ability to problem solve and think analytically learning the details of how this system or that system work is trivial.

    I am sort of bias in this matter, I started out pretty similar to you. Worked a few year in IT, infact am still there part-time, and learned it is a thankless and tedious job. Decided to go for a CS degree and figured out that a typical CS degree is as much a technical degree as IT and that your job options are typically as tedious(only a lucky few get jobs actually working at interesting software companies). So now I've decided to spend my life studying the fundamental nature of the universe and maybe never even leave academia.

    As someone who spent some times in the depths of the IT world, I can tell you whatever you think it is it probably isn't. Much more political wrangling than actually doing the stuff you initially thought were fun( which won't be fun anymore anyways.) I don't mean to discourage you but definitely do some soul searching before committing to IT. I was as zealous about it as you were starting out but once I saw how things actually operate, I ran for the hills.

    ps. what does calculus have to do with programming?
  6. Feb 13, 2009 #5


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    It's sort of a catch 22 situation. Companties always want someone with years of development experience, good communication and management skills and what not.

    The languages I mentioned are common in commercial development environments but by no means is it complete list. If you're going to learn them you also want to prove to your potential employer that you know your platform, the associated language and its intrinsics inside out.

    Learning say .NET is not wise until you learn some fundamentals first. Thats usually done by studying a degree at uni which teaches you the fundamentals first. Picking up the .NET framework and developing with it is not as bad as you think although being aware of the environment and its intrinsics can take a little while to get the hang of.

    I'd recommend that you work on some project while doing some recognized form of learning such as through a university or a technical college. When you are aware of how computers work from the inside out, then you should start picking an extra project which you can show off to potential employers. Pick a niche somewhere and use to show your expertise

    I would definitely recommend you get some sort of work experience somewhere though to find out what you're getting yourself into. Like another poster said IT can be very draining and very boring so just be aware of this. But it also can be a rewarding experience so don't let that deter you if this is what you really want
  7. Feb 13, 2009 #6
    As I sysadmin I doubt there is much use for learning anything besides perhaps a scripting language, see perl or python. If he's is into actually learning some programming either .net or java. But let's not forget how much of everyhing is moving to web based apps so maybe learning a web framework like Ruby on Rails or Django would be a good idea too. IMHO, if you do want to go into IT you want to be a programmer and not a sysadmin. Most sysadmins can get by with a few IT certificates to do what they do, don't waste away a university education on that kind of crap. Learn something that will stay with you in be relevant for a good chunk of your life, I think computer science would lay a better foundation for you to advance in the IT world.
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