If you want to work in technology, but have no meaningful prior experience, a certification will help to some degree, but perhaps there are better credentials to pursue than the MCSE. According to www.mcpmag.com, as of May 31, 2002, there were 470,906 MCSEs certified in this world. That's an awful lot of people -- many of them will have some experience to go with their MCSE, and many of them will have more meaningful credentials to bring to bear as well.
If you view certification as part of your pathway to employment and success, you might be better served by pursuing a specialty like security, protocol analysis or something with greater perceived value in the marketplace.
Also, I can't stress the importance of experience enough, either. Do some volunteer work, get a temp job, find ways to volunteer in your current position (if you're working right now) -- do whatever it takes to get some experience -- fast! Not only will it help you decide what you want to get certified in -- and if you decide you really want to be a Windows network administrator, then an MCSE might indeed make sense for you -- it will also make you a more credible job prospect in the future.
This was first published in September 2002