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OU IT degree or Microsoft Certifications

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    Hello,
    I need some help deciding what would fit me more. I am a full time working person. I have passed A+, Networking+ from CompTIA and Microsoft 70-680 courses few years ago and I'm looking into BSc (Honours) Computing and IT: Digital technologies and networking pathway degree with OU but I'm not sure if that would be the best choice for me. I'm trying to land my first job in IT and I'm struggling. I have seen posts that some employers are looking more into degrees than certificates and some - otherwise. Ideally, I'd like to get my first IT job as IT administrator/support role, so I could start building my IT profile. Everyone wants that IT person had experience in IT field which is not that easy to get.
    There is another option. I was looking as well into MCSA more direct way getting my first job. It's just 3 exams for MCSA and 4 for MCSE. I would expect to pass all Microsoft exams in one years or so. I'm torn, I have no idea what to do and there is not much time left to enroll to OU.
    Would OU help me with finding a job, could I get hands on experience for my job role? Six years studying at OU or 1+ years by myself?
    Please help.
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    IT is a broad church. Where do you want to go from admin/support?
    Are there many entry-level vacancies you can apply for? Are you getting to interviews?
    No chance of anything at your current place of work?

    I found studying OU IT very different from 'doing' it (mostly uncomplicated database stuff for peanuts) but I'm less interested in the subject itself than how to do things I want/need to do
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    Hi Zenk. Ive been faced with the exact same dilemma over the last few months so in the words on the fresh prince, Id like to take second so sit right just there, and i'll tell you how i will become and I.T geek o yea!!

    Ive just finished prep for my Cisco CCENT certification through the Cisco Academy and I have my certification exam now on Friday. After that, I was planning on doing MS Windows 7 Config followed by MCSA in Server Admin however Ive decided not to go down the certs route to a certain extent.

    As i don't currently work in I.T, I was thinking that doing all these certs would be a good way to get my foot in the door and so something like level 1 support for a year or two and work my way up the ladder like that. Now, although that could work, Cisco and Microsoft certs alike only last for 3 years and although I'll probably always keep up to date but it might not show that i have the technical ability as well as knowledge.

    This is where the OU has come up trumps after talking to local colleges about FS's and HND's etc. Like you, i work full time and i also have two children so attending college or uni full time or even part time just isn't going to work.

    I'm doing the Bsc Hons Degree via the Open degree route. By doing this, I am able to tailor make my own degree of 360 points and not have to struggle with certain areas a normal degree offers in the likes of mathematics and programming. Hopefully it will also help me in getting into a decent role after the 1st year or 2. I'll also be killing two birds with one stone as i can do the server admin as part of my degree as well as my Cisco CCNA at stage two

    My goal is to be a network engineer/Server technician and although the degree is a much long alternative and below is a list of the modules I will be studying to gain my degree.

    Stage 1:

    TU100 My digital Life (compulsory) -60 points
    TM128 Microsoft Server Technologies - 30 points
    TM129 Technologies in practice -30 points

    Stage 1 complete with 120 points

    Stage 2 :

    T215 Information Communication Technology - 60 points
    T216 Cisco CCNA - 60 points

    Stage 2 complete with 120 points

    Stage 3

    This is actually under debate at the moment. Ive emailed the OU to see if i can complete stage 3 and my degree overall with Cisco's CCNP course which totals 120 points but this course is only available as a post grad course. Hopefully however, with my progression over stage 1 and 2 along and gaining certification in CCNA should be enough to show my ability and readiness for the CCNP course.

    If i cant do that however I'll probably do the TM470 & T324, although that's only 60 points so im struggling to find another relevant 60 points - Hence my request to OU.

    To summarise, not only will i be gaining a degree I will also be able to do the certification exams upon completing the modules so really its a win win.
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    (Original post by sputum)
    IT is a broad church. Where do you want to go from admin/support?
    Are there many entry-level vacancies you can apply for? Are you getting to interviews?
    No chance of anything at your current place of work?

    Thanks for all the replies.

    I found studying OU IT very different from 'doing' it (mostly uncomplicated database stuff for peanuts) but I'm less interested in the subject itself than how to do things I want/need to do
    I would like to be network engineer/Server technician after admin/support job roles. There aren't many entry level jobs in Peterborough area, that's where I live. I haven't managed to get to interviews but I've heard I could possibly get a job in a small repair shops or something. I currently work in a warehouse and I'm just hoping to find another job where I could prove myself. My job in mind numbing I can not wait for the 17:00 to get home and do something at least remotely productive.
    Darrenraymond that seems like a good idea to tailor your courses to exactly what you want. I am not sure of having an open degree. For me open degree seems somehow easier obtainable at it probably won't have same value as the "actual" degree but if all your courses are certificates or at least most of them that's a big plus. I think I'll have a look at your chosen courses and choose something similar to your modules.

    Thanks again, your comments helped alot.
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    I understand what your saying in regards to it not being as weighted as one that has actually been laid out by the university but I cant really see that being a problem. Some people, including myself at one stage looked upon the OU as a bit of a farce and that it was a money racket but come the end, a degree will be a degree.

    Although my main interest lies within Servers & Networking, the TU100 looks pretty interesting with modules testing a range of I.T abilities and then the TM129 coverS areas such as Robotics, Linux and Networking.

    t215 again covers a wide range of things which should broaden my horizons and give future employers an overview to what exactly i covered throughout the degree
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    (Original post by zenkasas)
    I would like to be network engineer/Server technician after admin/support job roles. There aren't many entry level jobs in Peterborough area, that's where I live. I haven't managed to get to interviews but I've heard I could possibly get a job in a small repair shops or something. I currently work in a warehouse and I'm just hoping to find another job where I could prove myself. My job in mind numbing I can not wait for the 17:00 to get home and do something at least remotely productive.
    I wanted to be an IT tech for years, regular interviews but no dice. The competition was ridiculous (lots of sad-faced tech-boom ex-undergrads and MCSE boot-campers, at an IT HND pitch in 2000 we were all promised walk-in £30k jobs on graduation lol)

    If there aren't a lot of roles to begin with I don't know that either solution will help enough to be worthwhile for that reason alone. There are plenty of frustrated support techs who can't get any further, it's that kind of field (and support can be mind-numbing too) How do vacancies look locally for an MCSA with no experience?

    Snagging a non-IT role with an organisation that has a support dept/does their own IT might be a cheaper option. It will all depend on an employer at some point so find a good one now if you can. I don't know what else to suggest, but you must have many more options than the two you specified.
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    Thankfully the research i have done here in Northern Ireland looks pretty good, especially from a Networking standpoint. Hopefully things will pay off at some point for the both of us.

    Keep in contact sure should you enroll for October.
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    (Original post by sputum)
    If there aren't a lot of roles to begin with I don't know that either solution will help enough to be worthwhile for that reason alone. There are plenty of frustrated support techs who can't get any further, it's that kind of field (and support can be mind-numbing too) How do vacancies look locally for an MCSA with no experience?
    Well I wouldn't even mind to move to the town where I could get a job I'm trying to avoid London but I don't think that will work. I have had a look for entry level IT jobs around Peterborough. There are hardly any entry level jobs going around. Maybe in a different parts of the UK it is different but I don't really think so. I don't know what to do
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    Darrenraymond, did you get a reply about doing the CCNP course at BSc level?
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    Not yet. Waiting word back from the head of I.T program.

    Worth a shot i thought!!
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    I have worked in IT most of my career, starting in a junior role and eventually managing a department of 30 staff. As an ex hiring manager I can tell you that an IT related degree whilst worthy of note, would have very little effect on my final hiring decision.

    Industry standard certification might get you through the door for an interview but then it's purely down to how you perform in that interview. I've been known to hire the least experienced candidates for junior roles, it's more about attitude, communication style and how good you are at thinking on your feet.

    I worked with several graduates and to this day I still wonder how they managed to get themselves dressed of a morning, a degree isn't everything.

    If you have a good CV, sprinkled with relevant certifications then work on your interview technique. It will give you the best return on investment for your time, guaranteed.






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    (Original post by CuddlyDuddly)
    I have worked in IT most of my career, starting in a junior role and eventually managing a department of 30 staff. As an ex hiring manager I can tell you that an IT related degree whilst worthy of note, would have very little effect on my final hiring decision.
    Sterling advice.

    On another note - need any experienced help desk / SQL server Reporting Services people?
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    CuddlyDuddly I think different people hire differently. Some people are looking for a degree others not so much. I'll try to take that into the account though.
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    I'm sure you'll come across many different hiring strategies but from my own experience I've never known any technical hiring manager who specifically wanted candidates with degrees. If you ever plan on moving into management that's a different kettle of fish, here an MBA would be very useful.

    I certainly can't speak for every hiring manager but having hired for one of the largest IT companies in the world as well as a FTSE 50 company, degrees are not a big deciding factor when recruiting.




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Updated: July 27, 2012
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