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ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma

Jack of all trades - Master of none

I'm going nowhere in my career right now. My position is getting outsourced within the next twelve months. I need to find a new job, but my general experience and education isn't really enough to take any steps forward.

Background - I've got an Associate's in Network Administration. Graduated in 2001, but haven't done much with networking since 2002. Went back to school in 2009 (stupidly in retrospect) and finished a Bachelor's in software development. It's mostly paper, though. The most impressive thing I worked on in school were tip calculators/etc in java that you have to run from command line. Did some JSP, visual C#, ASP, but I could whip up jack if I had to right now. I know my way around html, php, and css, but I'm not particularly awesome at it. I'm 32 with a family to support, haven't seen a pay increase since 2008, and I need to find a way to kick start my career again.

I'm supposed to be the backup IT admin at my current job, but the IT manager is of the "Do everything my specific convoluted way so they can never fire me, and not teach my backup how to do anything or even give him access to any of the systems." If he gets hit by a bus, it would be my job to get everything up and running, but I don't even have local admin rights to install on my machine. Hell, I can't delete icons from the desktop. If anything really happened to the guy, my job would be to watch everything go up in flames for three weeks while I rebuilt the entire infrastructure from scratch/watched them hire someone else to do it. So, this great experience I was supposed to get with sysadmin/exchange/practical networking/db administration never happened.

My job currently is this: I import data in the morning from a 20 year old flat-file DB, and format it for another system, reconcile, and post it. Then I handle random tasks that come up throughout the day. I help coworkers, as long as it doesn't actually require any sort of rights. Then I get to apologize that I can't fix what I'm supposed to and see the "I know, and I feel sorry for you" look in their eyes. Then I do work on the company's websites; posts to the blog, updating documentation, pulling data from said ancient system, and side projects. Right now I'm designing an inventory control system, since we don't have one, and a new section for the website.
My boss has been rather cool about my job disappearing (She has no say in the matter.) and has agreed to help me with references and what not, and also said she'd find a way to justify paying for some classes or something, if I needed it.

That sounds, great, but I have no idea where to go. There doesn't seem to be any emerging trend in positions in my area.

I've got enough random machines and equipment laying around my basement. Do I built a pointless office network just to get experience in Active Directory/exchange/web servers and go the sysadmin route? Do I double back on programming? If so, what the heck language do I specialize in? (That's kind of the reason I didn't pursue it after graduation.) Do I fully devote myself to webdev/design? Security? Back to netadmin? Some sort of db admin role?

How did you decide what you were going to become an expert in?
--
Blogsaus "Everyone bows to something. Everyone answers to someone. Wherever your treasure lies, there your heart will be also.

Who do you belong to? " - Andrew Schwab

guppy_fish
Premium
join:2003-12-09
Lakeland, FL
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
said by ProtusMose:

How did you decide what you were going to become an expert in?

Having a BSCE is a good degree, it will get you past the human resource filters, that's about it.

Most programming and IT jobs are catch 22, they want very specific experience, but won't hire off the street and train to meet their specific needs.

One thing there is a need for is C#, if your company will pay, I would suggest you get your .net ( application and web ) MS certifications ( they have boot camps in most major city's ) that with your degree will get you an entree level position as a programmer, then you have to though it out for 3-4 years to have verifiable enterprise programming experience.

The other is Java, again get the Java certification from Oracle ( OCA, OCP ),

Good luck!


thender
Screen tycoon
Premium
join:2009-01-01
Brooklyn, NY
kudos:1

2 edits
reply to ProtusMose
I would follow the money.

I spent years working in audio. I spent a lot of time interning for free at several top notch studios, working with the best staff techs and independent techs in New York. I learned a lot from this experience, and eventually after two years of low end work or working for free I got good enough that I could walk into a place and charge $75/hour just to repair gear, recone amazing speakers, repair broadcast console modules. It was great. But, time and time again, I would be cockblocked by a dying music industry, and the dying high end studios. One amazingly famous studio I won't name called to cancel a $500 day of repairs because Con Edison had turned their electricity off.. great. The places with the $500,000 consoles couldn't pay their bills, imagine what the tech budgets were of the unprofessional places!

After the only place I was on staff at went out of business in 2008 - the place I RELIED on for a salary when freelance jobs weren't making me money - I was close to giving up. I was working on a session, on the side(I was a tech, not a recording engineer) for someone I knew, and I wanted to finish it for them. I didn't have a mac, but the session was in Logic, and I had noplace to work. So, I bought a Macbook Pro on eBay. It arrived broken, and the seller gave me $200 off. I found a screen for it for $60, put it in. A month later I no longer need it. I actually had it go up in smoke(long story), and it still sold for more than I paid for it. Wow.

I tried buying another one, and fixing it, and made over $220 in 20 minutes. Here I was fighting an uphill battle to make a living doing what I was trained to do - doing what I wanted to do, when this easy opportunity right in front of me that a toddler could do was making hundreds of dollars in MINUTES! I know, sounds like a cheesy infomercial. This happened due to a complete fluke; an accident. I said I never wanted to make a living doing break/fix computer crap, but I couldn't ignore the fact that there was real money in it.

I found an ad for someone who does repairs that I thought I could never compete with, offering Y service for X price. Someone told me that ad is a lie, call it and they will tell you something else. I called, and they wanted X * 2!! He was right. I made an ad that says and when you call, X price for Y service stays the same, and it can be done in under a day! Tons of people called in and were elated to hear this, and I had business! They didn't want the price to go up, and didn't want to wait a week. I helped one person, when it would be really easy to have lied and taken a lot more money. She wound up being a WSJ reporter, who included me in a story she wrote. This drove me so much business that I had no time to visit #dslr or any of the sites I loved anymore. Later that year with business booming, I have problems finding parts. I talk to some people who are in the same industry about it, start a parts supply company, and have more money to work with. One year later, a company I outsource to is driving us nuts with one service we are utilizing them for, they fuck up XYZ every time! Apparently everyone else has the same problem. I do some research into offering this service. I advertise that we offer it without XYZ, and tons of people send their products in for us to fix, for their own customers. I used to live with my parents. I got a shitty apartment, then a decent apartment, then a nice apartment, then a $3000 stereo for the nice apartment, then a $600 bike to ride around when I went out from the nice apartment. I opened a store in a nice neighborhood. I hired a staff, I opened another one, when 3 years before all of this I thought I was going to spend my life enslaved to a profession I would never make a steady living in. Here I was raking in more than I knew what to do with - off of something I told myself I would never want to do for a living!

I started out with a vision of what I wanted to do with my life, and tried to make it a reality. It was only once this was broken down into thousands of cracked pieces that I was able to start doing something with my life. I did not envision that I would be where I am today, doing what I am doing today. It grew one step at a time. I did what someone else wasn't doing; or wasn't doing good enough. One step at a time, until it got me somewhere. I stopped focusing on the career I wrote down on a piece of paper everytime I was asked what do you want to do when you grow up? in school, and started following the money. From the moment I started doing this - not caring what I was doing, as long as it made me money, my life changed for the better.

And it sucks, that there's no way to repeat this. That happy accident that showed me there was real money in something - then the person who pointed out the exact weaknesses in the competition I could exploit to drive a client base to me - those were happy accidents. I think you have to find your own happy accidents, and I truly wish I wish I knew how. I'd milk it and write a book. And make more money.
--
Macbook Screen Repair



Macbook LCDs for sale.


Nightfall
My Goal Is To Deny Yours
Premium,MVM
join:2001-08-03
Grand Rapids, MI
Reviews:
·ooma
·Comcast
·Callcentric
reply to ProtusMose
said by ProtusMose:

I've got enough random machines and equipment laying around my basement. Do I built a pointless office network just to get experience in Active Directory/exchange/web servers and go the sysadmin route? Do I double back on programming? If so, what the heck language do I specialize in? (That's kind of the reason I didn't pursue it after graduation.) Do I fully devote myself to webdev/design? Security? Back to netadmin? Some sort of db admin role?

How did you decide what you were going to become an expert in?

I guess it depends on what you want to do. You threw out a lot of different options, and from the looks of things you have time in the next 12 months. This next path you take could be a good one if you had an idea of what you wanted to accomplish.

Take it from me, I was also a jack of all trades, and despite what people will tell you they are still valuable. Small to medium sized companies would rather hire a JOAT than someone who is specialized in something.

So with that in mind, what is it that you want to do? As soon as you answer that question, then you will be able to carve a path for yourself.
--
My domain - Nightfall.net


ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
I wish I knew what I wanted to do. I can only say something stable, good pay, not tech support. Other than that, I'm open. That leaves me stuck on "Go." without any direction to head out in.


djtim21
It's all good
Premium
join:2003-12-22
Lake Villa, IL
said by ProtusMose:

I wish I knew what I wanted to do. I can only say something stable, good pay, not tech support. Other than that, I'm open. That leaves me stuck on "Go." without any direction to head out in.

Your quote above IMHO is part of the problem. This is the same problem I see on every resume that I've reviewed for the last month. I've seen some impressive credentials, did school at bla, Worked at Bla for Bla years - yet when that person is phone screened, can't even do some basic troubleshooting or solve a simple problem.

You must crawl before you walk. Part of that may be taking an entry level position (Help Desk, Support, Call Center). The roll you outline in your original post is more of an office admin verses any type of tech admin.

I will honestly say, your resume may get past HR with your education background, but as soon as you were to hit the technical screening, you would be passed up. Setting up AD at home, setting up networking gear at home only gets you so far. You need to have honest time in the chair working issues and gaining that experience from other tech people if you are looking to go in the route of systems/network/tech admin.
--
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” - Edmund Burke


Nightfall
My Goal Is To Deny Yours
Premium,MVM
join:2001-08-03
Grand Rapids, MI
Reviews:
·ooma
·Comcast
·Callcentric
reply to ProtusMose
said by ProtusMose:

I wish I knew what I wanted to do. I can only say something stable, good pay, not tech support. Other than that, I'm open. That leaves me stuck on "Go." without any direction to head out in.

That it does.

I have always believed that you should be passionate about what you do in order to make the biggest impact. To just throw a dart at a dartboard and pick your career like that really isn't going to give you the best career.

For instance, I can program in Java, but I hate it. I prefer to stay in the hardware/server side of things. VMWare, Exchange, SQL, and so on are favorites of mine. Am I a true Exchange engineer? No, but I have worked with exchange for 12 years and could probably pass the test.

Once again, I would implore you really look at what you want to do and what you want to accomplish in your career. Find something that you can really enjoy doing. Money is just a means to an end. If you enjoy what you do, you will never work a day in your life.
--
My domain - Nightfall.net


ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma
reply to djtim21
That's my current role, but I've had a number of other jobs in the past 15 years. I've done tech support for too many years. I was in charge of an 8 building MAN with thousands of machines, and all the networking therein. I ran a small helpdesk. I've got years of actual tech work on my resume.

i2Fuzzy

join:2009-02-25
Fort Worth, TX
How far is Bellevue from Omaha?


ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma
Just across Harrison St. It's a suburb.

Right now I'm driving all the way around the city from South East of town to North West of it. I'm going to end up murdering the lease mileage. (The company moved after I signed the lease.)


Kilroy
Premium,MVM
join:2002-11-21
Saint Paul, MN
reply to ProtusMose
The bigger question is what do you want to do? Trust me, money isn't everything and doing what you enjoy will make you a much happier person.

Like you I'm a jack of all trades. It is what I enjoy. I know quite a bit about a great many things, but I wouldn't enjoy doing being an "expert" in any one thing. As a jack of all trades I can see how the pieces fit together.

You say you don't know what you want to do, do you even want to be in IT or did you just think that's where the money is? Maybe it is time to head in another direction.

“No wind blows in favor of a ship without direction.” - Seneca
--
“Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.” ¯ Robert A. Heinlein

i2Fuzzy

join:2009-02-25
Fort Worth, TX

1 edit
reply to ProtusMose
Try this out. I work here as a Network Security Engineer. If you're interested, let me know so you can put me down as your referral

»www.paycomonline.net/v4/ats/at-a···048&jpt=

That was just one position. There are others. Here's where you can get the full list in case there's something else there you're interested in or fits your expertise better.

--
Ali
Check Point Certified Security Expert


ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma
You know, I haven't really given security much of a thought, since I don't have anything but an academic and home-setup experience with it, but in reading the job description, that actually does spark some genuine interest. "Yeah... that sounds like it could be fun/interesting."

Not sure if I can get the boss to get $1-3K for a CISSP course/test.

i2Fuzzy

join:2009-02-25
Fort Worth, TX
Security+ is a great start while you start reading up on it on your own. Send me a PM if you get interested and we can talk.
--
Ali
Check Point Certified Security Expert


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to ProtusMose
said by ProtusMose:

How did you decide what you were going to become an expert in?

Where the money was... back in the day it was in hands-on repair, when people were buying their first computer for $3500 and paying exorbitant markups for what seemed to be easy work on our end. Back in those days slapping together a good PC with good parts was a fun, rewarding experience and great money. I think I made $60k a year back in the days of vesa local bus.

Then that career fizzled out so I went out and I wrote every + exam there as a joke since I received a pile of free vouchers and I became certified for A+, Server+, Security+, etc., etc., even the useless Internet+ for good measure... those certifications were about as useful as a pet rock and no one cared.

So then I went out and wrote every Microsoft exam and even certified myself as an MCT and taught for a bit since it seemed like something new and interesting.

While doing that, I certified myself for Cisco and that was the only (marginally) useful certification and even then it was more of a, "oh, okay, whatever, as long as you can do the work."

Then I heard about these legal IT certifications and decided to do some mind numbing, over paying IT work for lawyers where you basically sit around while imaging drives and finding data for people that praise you despite you downplaying "no, this is pretty simple stuff".

While doing all of the above simultaneously, I happened to be at the right place at the right time and the right person asked me to do an interesting job and my life changed and that was that.

Basically, you have to push yourself if you want to better yourself, pay attention to trends and ensure you have skills where they're needed then pound the pavement proving to anyone that'll hear you that you're willing to work your loyal ass off if there's room for promotions.

Who knows, maybe you'd be decent in management, either people or project? Perhaps get a certification for project management and apply for different jobs you've never worked at before?

i2Fuzzy

join:2009-02-25
Fort Worth, TX
Details about the mind-numbing legal IT work, please. I could probably put that knowledge to good use somewhere.
--
Ali
Check Point Certified Security Expert


The WeaseL
Premium
join:2001-12-03
Minnesota
reply to ProtusMose
I am similar, Jack of all trades skill set.

I had success as a systems engineer for an small IT consulting company. Having a wide skill set was good because the clients I worked with had limited at best IT skills on staff. That might be a direction you could look at.
--
How lucky am I to have known someone who is so hard to say good-bye to.


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to i2Fuzzy
said by i2Fuzzy:

Details about the mind-numbing legal IT work, please. I could probably put that knowledge to good use somewhere.

Not sure how it works in the US but here in Canada you get a few certifications and use programs that do the same thing as Ghost / True Image / etc. but advertise itself as a 'forensic' legal specialty application that shows your bitses 1:1 cloning with pretty imagery while you have read-only dongles attached.

Basically a bunch of lawyers, defendant(s) and sometimes third parties sit around in a room and wait for this task to complete. Since there's a bit of procedural rules in coming and going from these rooms, it can sometimes take many, many hours especially if one of the drives has a bad sector.

If people weren't sitting around watching, I'd allegedly use ghost -bfc -fro rather than go through all the required rigamarole as it was more reliable than the bullshittery you're supposed to go through in the event you do have drive issues.


Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19
reply to ProtusMose
Are you willing to move and do you know anything about Linux?


ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
Reviews:
·ooma
More willing than I was in the past, but it would have to be a magical opportunity of wonderment and compensation to convince the rest of the family.

I don't know as much Linux as I should. I've used redhat and Ubuntu, but I have to look up any terminal commands I need to run. Just don't use it enough to have anything committed to memory.


Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19
Alright, so, perhaps not Linux. Would you move to be paid a fair salary for an opportunity to acquire real skill sets that could eventually lead you to the peak of a technical field, like Networking, VMware, etc.?
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK


ProtusMose
Immortal. Eternal.
Premium
join:2001-10-03
Bellevue, NE
kudos:4
PA?


Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19
I'll send you a PM.


Drex
Beer...The other white meat.
Premium
join:2000-02-24
Not There
kudos:1
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
reply to ProtusMose
Initially I thought being a jack of all trades-master of none was a bad thing. But I've come to realize it can certainly be a good thing. I've been in a similar position. I saw the trend towards virtualization and made every effort to learn what I could...eventually becoming certifiable...no wait, certified in VMware.
Am I where I want to be? No, I don't think so. My problem now is I lack drive. I've become complacent. Unfortunately, I'm limited in what I can do based on location and my responsibilities. Maybe that's just my excuse...
--
I'm actually not funny, I'm just really mean and people think I'm joking.


chlen
Ethically Challenged
Premium
join:2001-01-16
Saratoga, NY
reply to ProtusMose
I used to be a Java programmer (Oracle back end stuff). I did this for 6-7 years and hated it. You have to be extremely good, and it took me a while to get there after a BS and MS in CS and IS. I jumped from project to project and had no time to learn anything new, you had to bring your A game all the time, while watching everything else get outsourced to half-ass programmers.

So our Net Admin retires and I tried my hand at it. I loved it and started getting promoted because I was not known as the "only guy who can code for JBoss correctly". Now I am one of the head admins overlooking 300K customers. I am a net architect.

My suggestion if you can get around AD/DNS/Routing/Switching is to get your CCNA and VMware. Everything is being virualized everywhere. I worked with Deloitte, their push is consolidate and visualize.

If you can work up to a CCIE, you should be pretty much set, but even before that you can live a good life and since you are needed onsite you will never be sourced out.

I still code for my own little LLC (making a decent buck assisting on phone apps), but I make my money in VM and Cisco.

Food for thought.

You dont need much cash to get CCNA, a few books will do you fine, and VM requires you to sit through the damn class but the test is a joke.

Problem I found in programming is that you hit your ceiling quick and nobody wants to let you go. Since I hard to replace they offered me just enough to not leave, but I saw other people get into management and have teams... Programmers and especially DBAs get pigeonholed.
--
This is not the greatest post in the world, no, this is just a tribute!

-


tubbynet
reminds me of the danse russe
Premium,MVM
join:2008-01-16
Chandler, AZ
kudos:1
said by chlen:

If you can work up to a CCIE, you should be pretty much set, but even before that you can live a good life and since you are needed onsite you will never be sourced out.

this, but with a tweak -- go into deployment/architecture.
i've worked for almost 7 years as a post-sales deployment engineer, program architect, and solutions architect for a very large cisco gold partner.

companies/governments are always wanting someone to come in and "consult" with them on networking, network design, and roadmapping future state based on required business goals. from there -- they will need help implementing those decisions.

working for a var will get you exposure to many networks, many designs, and what to do and what not to do. also, you can get exposure to some newer technology and you can acquire a rapid set of skills really quickly.

q.
--
"...if I in my north room dance naked, grotesquely before my mirror waving my shirt round my head and singing softly to myself..."

BosstonesOwn

join:2002-12-15
Wakefield, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to ProtusMose
Im working as a security admin and senior sys admin. After being a JOATMON

Linux and security my friend are the place to be at the moment.

Not enough talent in the pool and even the outsourced talent is not up to snuff to keep the world secure.

Im hoping to move into the security research slots around here, or next step is IT Director/CTO for start up.

Keep Learning and pushing for more and you will do fine
--
"It's always funny until someone gets hurt......and then it's absolutely friggin' hysterical!"


cpsycho

join:2008-06-03
HarperLand
Reviews:
·Start Communicat..
reply to ProtusMose
Never hurts to run stuff at home and learn. I am a JOAT and run my own business serving small and mid size businesses (I do have one very large business). Some of the mid size businesses are migrating to Linux at my suggestion and are loving it. I am not a expert in Linux yet but I do run stuff at home and my day does not end when I get home from work.

Start looking at all the open source projects that can replace MS software, this will help. Pick up a server, nothing too crazy like an 8 core machine with 32 gigs of ram and start to learn some virtualization. Esxi and virtual box are a good start. VMware has a nice alternative to Exchange server, Zimbra. There are a couple of projects dealing with AD and seem to be coming along nicely.

Yes I would say Linux is where you skill set should be taking you. Personally I want to be a JOAT of a Linux environment. I also love what I do so that helps.