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Job Advice and College

override367override367 ALL minionsRegistered User regular
edited October 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
So I'm going to be graduating from community college in December with an associates program in IT Support

My plan has been along to go to UW and get a Management of Information Systems bachelors degree, but I'm not so sure anymore. I've been working for 2 years now here at school helping people learn software (mostly MS Office) and I'm really good at teaching people and really enjoy it.

I can't find any reliable statistics online about the career outlook for being a help desk guy (and I'm probably insane for wanting to do that for a living), and I really give no shits about how much money I make (as long as its enough to live on). The thing I'm really struggling with, right now I have less than ten grand in student debt, do I want to quadruple or quintuple that in a dubious job market?

I know a MIS from UW has a pretty good job outlook, but "pretty good" is relative when I'd have to pony up $500 a month for student loans. I know I can do the coursework (and actually having courses that I couldn't pass the final on from the first day would be refreshing), but it's a really tough decision. I don't see the economy frankly improving for at least the next 5 years with this congress actively sabotaging it, but I have to make a decision now.

3 years more of college and a mountain of debt or go off looking for work on a meager associates degree, I'm more unsure of how to proceed than I ever have been

override367 on

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  • Evil_ReaverEvil_Reaver Registered User regular
    I think it says a lot about you in that you're asking questions before you jump in to anything. This is a pretty big decision and researching/asking questions is the right thing to do.

    Personally, I think you should work your ass off over the next 1-2 years, save up a ton of money, and then decide if you want to go back to a 4 year school. Doing this accomplishes 2 things:

    1. You save up a ton of money and can lessen the amount of loan money you take out; and

    2. You spend some time figuring out if this really is what you want to do.

    There's no reason why you can't eventually go back to a 4 year school.

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  • godmodegodmode Southeast JapanRegistered User regular
    So I'm going to be graduating from community college in December with an associates program in IT Support

    My plan has been along to go to UW and get a Management of Information Systems bachelors degree, but I'm not so sure anymore. I've been working for 2 years now here at school helping people learn software (mostly MS Office) and I'm really good at teaching people and really enjoy it.

    I can't find any reliable statistics online about the career outlook for being a help desk guy (and I'm probably insane for wanting to do that for a living), and I really give no shits about how much money I make (as long as its enough to live on). The thing I'm really struggling with, right now I have less than ten grand in student debt, do I want to quadruple or quintuple that in a dubious job market?

    I know a MIS from UW has a pretty good job outlook, but "pretty good" is relative when I'd have to pony up $500 a month for student loans. I know I can do the coursework (and actually having courses that I couldn't pass the final on from the first day would be refreshing), but it's a really tough decision. I don't see the economy frankly improving for at least the next 5 years with this congress actively sabotaging it, but I have to make a decision now.

    3 years more of college and a mountain of debt or go off looking for work on a meager associates degree, I'm more unsure of how to proceed than I ever have been

    Prospects vary by location, but I think you can start off with that degree making anywhere from $25k-$40k annual. I would not look for a job labeled as "help desk", though. Instead, try for jobs as "network tech", or "junior network tech". They are similar work, but help desks tend to be call centers paying hourly about $10-$12. You can easily find a related position with regular hours that will allow you to take more college courses in your off time, if you wish. I would also recommend earning some certifications. They are worth a few more Benjamins, each, on your resume, and are easily attainable by self-study and paying for a test for the cert itself.
    I would not be too concerned about the state of the economy. You see, everyone needs computers nowadays, so as long as you don't mind some competition with all the other fellas that are trying to break into the field, your skills are invaluable to someone. Just make sure you keep on learning. Always work on familiarizing yourself with new things, because every system or program or whatever you learn is worth money.

  • ToxTox I kill threads he/himRegistered User regular
    edited October 2011
    Ask yourself this: If you're working 40-50 hours a week, will you continue schoolwork in whatever spare time you may have? Even just 1-2 classes a semester?

    Help Desks have largely turned into call centers these days, and they're centralized. If you're lucky, there'll be one in your region (within commuting distance). I'll second godmode on not looking for that, though. See if you can get directly into something specific. Network administration, system administration, whatever subfield of IT/IS you enjoy most, start there, and branch out as needed until you get a bite. Start looking now, and if you don't have any guarantees by enrollment time, go ahead with your 4-year.

    College is a one-semester-at-a-time thing. You can always transition from school to work, if a job opens up. Once you have A degree, ANY degree, your best bet is to start looking for work related to your field. If you can't find it, press on with education play B, and keep looking. If you can get a job by the end of your first semester at UW, transition to that, and keep going to school part-time (this will help stave off loan repayments, too, allowing you to just pay the interest) as you're able. If you finish that semester, and there still aren't any jobs, do another semester.

    Don't look at it as a multi-year commitment, because it isn't. You have a degree under your belt. As long as you do everything in your power to continue to work on your desired degree after you're employed, there should be no shame in dropping from full time to part time at the end of any semester to take a full-time job.

    At least, that's what I plan to do.

    Tox on
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  • 3lwap03lwap0 Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    ....3 years more of college and a mountain of debt or go off looking for work on a meager associates degree, I'm more unsure of how to proceed than I ever have been

    Hey there - I found myself in a similar situation a few years ago, but wound up there due to burnout. Anyways, within the IT world, a lot of guys in the industry don't have degrees. I don't have hard figures for you - but an informal survey of my IT shop reveals that only about 30% have degrees, and many of those aren't in IT. A lot of guys 'fell' into the work. But I don't want to project that degrees aren't needed in IT - I think they are. Degree's are just part of a successful IT guy in today's market, but they aren't the complete picture. A lot of industry certifications carry solid weight in the workforce, as well as on the job xp.



    So picture a triangle with job xp, certifications, and a degree at the three respective points. When you combine job xp, and certifications, and a degree, you usually get the money on the inside of that delicious triangle. But a lot of guys don't have much of one or two of those points - maybe just job xp, or certifications, or whatever - a well rounded IT guy is gonna have all three. Two of those things you can buy - a degree and certifications. Yeah, I know, you work for them and they take time, but money gets you in the door all the same. Job xp, on the other hand, is tougher to come by, and can't be bought. It takes actually doing stuff to get good at it of course.

    So, if you jump ship and go looking for a job, what do you have to work with? Your associates degree means dick all to an IT recruiter or a shop. They care if they can sell you on a contract - that means OTJ, or certifications - the associates degree could help, but won't seal the deal. So you can try and grab a call center position, or see if anyone is looking for an off-the-street help desk spot, but those can be rare and how can you distinguish yourself from other candidates?


    tl;dr - So, the way I see it, you have a few options. Quit school, go find a job, maybe land something. Quit school, pass some certification tests, go find a job (better). Or stay in school, get certified on a few basic things, continue to work your current job, and then graduate (best). You have the three things you need - job xp, a degree, and some certs. That's a winning combo, and fresh out of school, you'll do well in the workforce.

    3lwap0 on
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Alternatively, can you get a position with your current degree AT a local university? Most state and private institutions allow their full time employees to take a certain amount of coursework each semester for free. A lot of tech people I know did this to get both their bachelors and masters degrees without paying for anything but textbooks.

    Takes a while, though. And you pick your courses last in most cases.

  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    Sh
    So I'm going to be graduating from community college in December with an associates program in IT Support

    My plan has been along to go to UW and get a Management of Information Systems bachelors degree, but I'm not so sure anymore. I've been working for 2 years now here at school helping people learn software (mostly MS Office) and I'm really good at teaching people and really enjoy it.

    I can't find any reliable statistics online about the career outlook for being a help desk guy (and I'm probably insane for wanting to do that for a living), and I really give no shits about how much money I make (as long as its enough to live on). The thing I'm really struggling with, right now I have less than ten grand in student debt, do I want to quadruple or quintuple that in a dubious job market?

    I know a MIS from UW has a pretty good job outlook, but "pretty good" is relative when I'd have to pony up $500 a month for student loans. I know I can do the coursework (and actually having courses that I couldn't pass the final on from the first day would be refreshing), but it's a really tough decision. I don't see the economy frankly improving for at least the next 5 years with this congress actively sabotaging it, but I have to make a decision now.

    3 years more of college and a mountain of debt or go off looking for work on a meager associates degree, I'm more unsure of how to proceed than I ever have been

    Shouldn't you be able to transfer in wig at least some credit from your associates degree?

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  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    Surprisingly, very few! Almost none of my IT coursework transfers, since it's all related around diagnostics, project management, troubleshooting, data recovery, that kind of thing. I'm not a programmer, certainly have hands on with networking from my internship last year though, and I tutor people in introductory Cisco classes (which I took in my sophomore year of high school in the days of yore).

    Thanks for the advice guys, I'm just really depressed. I've known since I started that a technical diploma was about as worthwhile as something I manufactured in MS Paint, but I mean it's kept me employed for 2 years and essentially paid for itself already so it doesn't really matter, university on the other hand... I just have so many friends being crushed to death under the weight of their debt it makes me really apprehensive.

    It sucks having wanted to help bridge the gap between computers and people since I was 9 years old and have it be such a flooded field with people who saw ITT tech commercials.

    override367 on
  • ToxTox I kill threads he/himRegistered User regular
    Start with a community college. That's what I did.

    My local CC offers not only two-year Associate programs in IT stuff like Network Technology (my program), but they also have a "transfer" program, which is a full blown Associate's degree that is 100% guaranteed to transfer completely to any accredited 4-year school in the state. So I'm taking the NT program now, and when I finish, if job prospects don't look hot, I'll go back for the transfer program. After that's done, if jobs still aren't lined up, I plan to transfer and complete a 4-year.

    That gives me quite a bit more time to plan. And as I mentioned above, once I have my Associate's in Network Technology, I will be considering school a commitment I make one semester at a time, depending on how job prospects look at the end of each semester.

    If you can't find work, your best bet is to at least try to invest in your future. Yes, the thought of having a fuckton of debt ten yeas from now really sucks, but would you rather have a lot of debt and a home, or be debt-free and living on the streets?

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  • Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    I'm doing basically the same thing as Tox. I work full time and then am in a CS transfer degree program at a community college which is guaranteed to let me transfer into VCU as if I had taken my first 2 years there. They work with the 4 year school to set a specific curriculum which you must take and the 4 year school agrees to accept. It's still not cheap, but it's a lot cheaper than paying for the 4 year school the whole time. I would definitely check to see if there is something like this where you are.

  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    Actually it looks like my entire degree transfers to UW-Milwaukee! Spiffy, didn't really want to be a computer science major but saving myself a year of tuition costs (roughly) is probably worth it

    override367 on
  • ToxTox I kill threads he/himRegistered User regular
    What do you mean you don't want to be a Computer Science major?

    Do you mean that's the specific degree they'll transfer you into, but it's not really the degree you want?

    If that's the case, well, frankly a degree is a degree, and you went the tech school route, so you're going to have to start somewhere. Any computer related degree is sufficient, really, especially if you have certificates and diplomas for other programs. Most places just want that shiny piece of paper that says a school thinks you're "smart" enough for them to take all of your money.

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  • JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    Honestly, there can be a lot of other benefits the school can give you beyond the degree. Once I graduate, there's a place on campus that will help me find a job for the next ten years- and even help place me, for crying out loud. You might want to see if you can get something like that, too.

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