The Bitter  Network Administrator

A Website Dedicated to Computer Professional...and some not so Professional

What Should you Really Expect when you have a Certification and No Experience?

By Doug Chick

Schools and junior colleges are doing a disservice when they lure students in with the promise of a high paying career in computers once you become certified. Unless you are very determined and eat, breathe and sleep computers, a certification is only going to compliment your eagerness--a certification is not enough on its own. When trying to fill a position a network manager or IS Director is always looking for experience. Experience is product knowledge and what typically remains after you achieve a certification is nothing more than a product overview. Iíve helped many people become certified in either Microsoft products or Cisco, and some scored perfect 1000 scores, but retained so very little after the certification was over that they couldnít perform the simplest of task. The reason for this, I think, is because when you are in test taking mode, itís garbage in garbage out and then moves on to the next test.

I must have received a thousand e-mails from an article I wrote last year called Paper Tigers, where I talked about giving paper MCSEís a chance. Most of those e-mail where from networkers complaining about MCSEís with no experience coming into the company with attitudes, expecting high salaries and lacked to simplest of abilities. Another complaint was from those that have been working in the field for years without an MCSE finding they have to compete for jobs with those that have never even held a computer job, and being past over. And of course sadly, I also received more e-mails with resumes attached.

I'm not suggesting that if you have no experience that you should give up and not even look for a job. In fact, the first network administrators job that I got, I didnít know what the hell I was doing. But I learned fast, and studied everything that I could get my hands on. I remember going into the menís room with a book so often to look something up, that people where starting to suspect I have a bladder problem, or worst. I think the point that Iím trying to make is; a certification if for your resume. Experience and knowledge is what you must work for after you get the job. As any computer person will tell you; the program is constantly changing and you never stop learning.

Experience is all those times you looked down in the corner of your monitor and realized that it's 2AM and you've been working the last seven hours, not for this job, but for your next.