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Getting experience when you have no experience

I am currently about halfway through my MCSE 2000 study course; I passed my networking essentials exam with flying colors. I really enjoy and love working on/with computers, especially networking. I have no other IT experience though. What else can I do/learn to get my first job in IT? And how do I get my foot on the first step, so to speak? I would be grateful for any help and advice you could give. Thank you.

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Your question might be restated as, "How can I get some experience when nobody will hire me unless I have experience?" That's a toughie, all right! This doesn't mean you shouldn't try for entry-level networking jobs, though. But it also means you should look for volunteer (church, charity, nonprofit, school, or other institution with more IT needs than budget to pay staff) or temporary work to help you get that foot in the door while you're seeking more meaningful employment. On your own, I urge you to scrape together enough money to buy a second computer, network interface cards for both machines, and other gear you may need so you can set up and play with a network at home. A 2-node network ain't much, it's true, but you'd be amazed how much you can learn from working with one. Give it a try.

Good luck!


This was first published in June 2002

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