Ten Easy Ways to Start a Tech Career
"Ten Easy Ways to Start a Tech Career
by Allan Hoffman
"Where do I start?" That's an obvious question when you're considering a technology career. Should you get a technical certification? Learn a programming language? You'll hear a seemingly endless variety of answers, largely because the technology field is so vast, with numerous paths for jobs ranging from database administrator to information architect.
For those just starting to consider a technology career, it is best to avoid the temptation to jump into a potentially expensive, time-intensive training program, unless you know it's the right program and career path for you. Instead, explore the field online and select from the 10 mix-and-match steps below to get a sense of the technology job world and what you're likely to find fulfilling.
Knowledge of the Web is quickly becoming a key skill for technology professionals, whether they work in tech support or as database architects. Learning HTML, the language used to display Web pages, is a first step in becoming Web savvy. Look to Builder.com and Webmonkey for tutorials, or buy a book like Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 4 in 21 Days by Laura Lemay and Denise Tyler.
Read Computer Books
Visit your local bookstore and head to the shelves with computer books. If it's a megastore, you'll find hundreds of books, many with obscure titles and topics. Simply perusing books about the industry and specific topics (like programming and networking) will help you explore the variety of jobs in the technology field. Depending on your interests, consider High-Tech Careers for Low-Tech People by William A. Schaffer, UNIX for Dummies by John R. Levine and Margaret Levine Young and Learn to Program with Visual Basic 6 by John Smiley.
Write a Program
Take an Online Course
A Web-based course can be a fast, cost-effective way to gain an understanding of a particular technology. A special offer with InstructionSet allows you to take free courses on topics such as Linux and HTML. Other spots for exploring course offerings online include Hungry Minds and SmartPlanet.
Talk to Technology Professionals
People working in the industry's trenches can provide lots of guidance to people getting started. Ask friends and colleagues for contacts in the industry. Schedule short phone conversations or meetings geared toward asking questions about technology careers. What do they do in a typical day? What skills do they need to know? What advice do they have for newbies like you? You can also check out Monster.com's Technology Job Q&As to get a sense of what technology pros do at their jobs.
If you install the Linux operating system, you'll accomplish a number of things at once. You'll learn about the open source software movement, and you'll also have a crash course in an OS that's considered a threat to Windows NT and Windows 2000. The book Running Linux will help you get started, as will the company's Web site.
Attend an Industry Organization's Meeting
Making contacts is essential, both for your job search and for finding mentors who are willing to assist you as you embark on a tech career. At Yahoo!, you will find a list of professional groups for technology professionals.
Volunteer Your Services
You say you're a newbie? Not anymore. At the least, you'll be able to find someone -- an older relative, maybe -- who needs computer assistance. This will test your ability to communicate clearly about technology, an essential and often overlooked skill for tech professionals. Nonprofits, religious organizations and other community groups may also be in need of individuals with computer expertise, however newly acquired.
Enroll in a Workshop
Community colleges, universities and technology training centers often offer weekend or evening workshops with entry-level instruction in programming, Web development and networking.
Build a Web Site
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<Note from JobFairy.com: Excellent advice. Especially the part about installing Linux. If you can assemble your own PC from parts, or can install and use Linux, chances are you're well on your way to being as geeky as you wanna be.>