Starting a high-tech career: Part 2
© Douglas E. Welch 1997
Last week we talked about some general guidelines for starting
a high-tech career. Now let's talk about how to gain the experience
you will need to get that first or second job.
Every computer worker needs to be versed in the "Big 3" operating
systems and the software that runs on them. Most of us don't have
the ability to go out and purchase a computer of each type. The
best way to learn these systems is to start selling yourself today,
as a freelance computer consultant/troubleshooter/helper or whatever
else you can think to call yourself. Another is to immerse yourself
in the world of computer trade magazines.
Teach in order to learn
It has been said that the best way to learn about something is
to teach it. This has been true in my career and will be in yours.
It may sound a bit backwards, teaching before learning, but, in
learning a computer system well enough to teach it, you learn
it much more deeply than just a casual user.
Start offering to help family members with their word processing
or neighbors with their spreadsheets. If you are still in school,
help your classmates or even teachers. You might even be able
to land a job working or volunteering in the computer lab. Nothing
will teach you a system more quickly than having to help others
solve problems. This also gives you exposure to many different
types of hardware, software and operating systems. The world becomes
your training center and, in some cases, people will be willing
to pay you to learn.
Read, read, read
Another great asset in your career preparations is getting into
the habit of reading industry publications. These can include
consumer publications such as ComputorEdge, PC Magazine, Windows
Magazine and others. More important though are the industry specific
magazines (trade magazines) that focus on the computer industry
itself. These include Infoworld, PC Week, Network World and many,
Most of these magazines are controlled circulation, meaning that
they are sent free to qualified members of the industry. Often,
your college or local library will have subscriptions to these
publications. If not, have your librarian request them. You can
also borrow them from someone who already receives them. Make
friends with the IS people at your part-time job or even with
your parents co-workers.
Reading these magazines is more important than how you gain access
to them. They contain timely, in-depth information about the computer
industry and automatically give you a step up. You can gain an
understanding of systems you may never have seen and help you
see where the industry is headed.
Next week I will show how to form your experiences, both paid
and unpaid, into an impressive resume for your first interview.
Remember, experience is experience, regardless of whether you
were paid or not.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant
in Van Nuys, California. While he cannot answer every letter directly,
he welcomes questions and suggestions. Douglas can reached via
email at email@example.com or http://home.earthlink.net/~dewelch/