Career fast track:
Profile of a Win2K entrepreneur
Fast tracker: Oriya Pollak, 20, cofounder, vice president of network operations, iNYC.com, a free DSL services start-up, Brooklyn, N.Y.
NT Credentials: MCSE NT 4.0, September 1999; MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer), February 2000
Resume: Interned for a Web site development start-up in high school; got the A+ PC Technician Certification after graduating (January 1999) and began working on NT MCSE certification; took small consulting jobs to gain experience; founded iNYC in May 1999.
W2K Plans: Studying for the certification upgrade.
Additional certification plans: Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert and Red Hat Certified Engineer. "Each certification you get means you can charge more per hour and shows people you can work hard. But the difference between books and real life is apples and oranges. You have to get hands-on experience. Certification helps you explain things to clients, but it doesn't mean you know it all."
How I got to where I am today: "When I'm studying something new, I try to understand ... how it works versus how to make it work.
"I'm not a genius. I've failed a lot of tests. But, I'm really dedicated. I work 18 hours a day. When we first started iNYC, I hardly left the office for eight months. I worked from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. and slept there. At first, I was the only IT person, and I had to be the network architect, the network administrator and the help desk."
W2K career advice: "Get the certification; go for the W2K upgrade. You're working hard, and on the weekend you want to go out. But study. And don't delay your test. Take it right after you study, and if you fail it, take it again the next day and study all night. You'll never know everything, but you'll know enough. And, branch out beyond NT. Know about Cisco routers and TCP/IP and other operating systems."
IT career advice: "Don't do what you don't like. Don't take Cisco certification just because it pays $250 an hour. If you prefer Linux administration, take that and work for $80 an hour because if you like it, you'll work more hours. Focus on what you like and try to be the best at it. Give yourself a timetable -- two weeks for this, four weeks for that. Write it out."
Future plans: (1) Go to college, "not for a career but because I have a lot of holes in my brain that I'd like to fill with the arts and humanities. You can't talk about NT on a date." (2) Continued entrepreneurship. "More dot-coms. I love this business, and I'm so happy that I have my whole life ahead of me to be able to do this."
Leslie Goff is a contributing editor based in New York.