Where to send my resume at this point in my education?
April 9, 2012 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm in community college for I.T. (associate's degree focused on network/sysadmin work, mostly). I have a valuable, but incomplete set of marketable skills at the moment. I have a good handle on how to market myself, but no clue as to who I should be directing my attention to job-search wise . What businesses would be interested in someone who is still in school, but has proven himself capable at an internship and is willing to work for cheap?

More info:
Located in Pittsburgh, PA
Currently working full-time as a line cook making $11.25/hr. That is all I require from an IT job at this point (though I'm not planning on volunteering that information in an interview). I would actually be willing to take a slight pay cut and think of the job like a paid internship.

I have an associate's degree in computer aided drafting and I am 75% through an I.T. associate's degree focused on prep for systems and network admin-type work.

I have been working at an unpaid internship for seven months learning an incredible amount working with a small I.T. department at a nonprofit. I have, with almost complete autonomy, designed an automated deployment solution for Windows 7 that they can use in production when they start replacing their 400+ machines.

Food service is getting old and I want to get out of it. I feel I've reached an awkward point in my education and experience where I could be really useful in the right environment, but could be a liability, or at least a pain in the ass, in the wrong one. There are plenty of places willing to pay someone $36 an hour for the right skills, but have no use for someone without those skills, even at $12 an hour. I want to avoid wasting my energy barking up those trees.

At my internship, when I was setting up a test environment for my deployment server and such, I had to order and install extra RAM and SCSI drives for the old server I was using. Nothing difficult, (though formatting the new logical partition using a Linux console was tricky, and new to me). I can handle little stuff like that without needing my hand held.

So, I'm wondering where there is an overworked IT pro who is saying something like "I have so many more important things to worry about than upgrading these old servers and deploying Windows 7. I wish I could get someone to help with that, but I can't afford to pay them $x." (Although "$x" would be nice)

posted by UrbanEye to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Perhaps I should have said "what kinds/sizes of businesses would be interested."
posted by UrbanEye at 8:04 PM on April 9, 2012

Have you checked with your college's job office? I work at a large community college in Ohio, and I got my FT position here by starting as a student worker. We also have a bank of employers who tell us what training they want to see in candidates, and in return, they hire our graduates. I bet your school has a similar arrangement.

The internship is a great move because you can put experience on your resume, which puts you ahead of a lot of your classmates. Do you have any local IT organizations? That is a good place to get your face and name known, they often have job listings, and you might find you can get a free or reduced price membership because of your student status.
posted by figment of my conation at 9:03 PM on April 9, 2012

I don't know what the job market it like in Pittsburgh, but I assume college campus student IT jobs earn at least as much as line cooks. The trouble is, usually, that you have to be a student with the institution. And managers are lazy; they advertise positions just long enough to get a few decent candidates, rather than go searching for the "best." So you need to keep an ear to the ground, or at least a shell script watching the help wanted pages.

Any decent uni IT dept keeps a stable of student employees. It keeps costs down, fills a funnel when FT positions open up, and the graduation churn keeps the training and documentation up to date. Student sysadmins can be trickier because of "security", but my unit hires a lot of student sysadmins. We try to promote them as interns elsewhere, on the theory that we're better positioned to wrangle corporate donations if their employees know what we do and their HR dept recognizes us as a valuable recruitment / talent pool. Plus we can't hire them all on FT, so helping them alumni be successful elsewhere might translate into personal donations down the line.

Outside the uni, it's a lot harder, but not impossible. Bigger companies tend to use degrees as a can't-sue-us-for-discriminating filter to narrow candidates. Obviously they run internship programs, but I'm guessing you're wanting something off-season and compatible with a student schedule.

So you turn to small companies. There's two kinds of small company IT shops: the lonely sad IT guy, and the local student sweatshop. Sad IT guy has to fix it all, answer pages and irate calls from managers at odd hours of night and generally doesn't have the budget for more hardware, let alone student labor. The local sweatshops I've seen, on the other hand, involve hiring lots of student programmers part time either for clients, or for their own semi-profitable website. You could learn a lot, or just end up spending a semester converting VB to ASP.NET. I don't know of any sysadmin sweatshops, but I bet there's enough datacenters in Pittsburgh that it might exist. These places tend to advertise in the student papers regularly. On the other hand, I've discovered more of these places working as a TA hearing excuses for why homework was late, so maybe you just need to ask professors which companies are responsible for the most dropouts and try not to be a statistic.

One third possibility, I suppose, is to work remotely. I know a guy who's doing grad school in Kansas and working remotely for a company in Maine. You'd probably need to know a lot more Linux to pull this off, but virtualization ala EC2 and Rackspace means you don't have to be physically present to do most tasks businesses care about.
posted by pwnguin at 10:41 PM on April 9, 2012

What does 75 percent through mean? Do you graduate in JUNE?I would apply for civil service jobs. I am an network technician. I have an associates of network administration (also a bachelors of management of it tech). I got my current job as a network tech in a library with my associates. You should atleast be able to take the civil service tests.

Also try insurance companies. they don't mind having techs to do the cruddy things like help desk and windows client work.
posted by majortom1981 at 7:39 AM on April 10, 2012

Graduate in December. But next semester is just two online classes. I can work full-time without any limits to availability.
posted by UrbanEye at 7:47 AM on April 10, 2012

Talk to your local primary schools. They will jump at the chance to get competent IT support for cheap.
posted by flabdablet at 8:07 AM on April 10, 2012

look to web hosting companies locally. in fact, pull up your local chamber of commerce website and visit the member listing- look for IT or tech companies and go down the line one by one visiting their websites, reaching out to their HR departments regarding available positions. that's how i found my first IT gig when i was transitioning from my first career in the mental health industry (i was a counselor). I leveraged a 6 month unpaid internship and experience computer tutoring at the senior center to nail my first entry level IT job at a web hosting company. cable companies or dsl are another option.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 11:58 AM on April 11, 2012

« Older Help my husband and I deal with a nasty divorce...   |   If you liked 'Heart of Darkness', you'd also like... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.