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8 Projects That Can Open the Door to a Future in Tech

January 21st, 2021

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Entry level software developers average $63,000 to start. Entry level network administrators start at an average of $45,800. Pay for desktop support techs averages $42,000.

With starting salaries above the national average of $40,200 (according to Indeed) and strong employer demand, what's surprising is there aren't more candidates clamoring for a job.

What holds back many otherwise skilled individuals is the lack of work experience and the computer degree so many hiring managers demand. Although employers are loosening the degree requirement, they still want to see evidence the candidate can do the job. And the usual way is to review past work experience.

That’s a conundrum for entry-level job seekers. If you have to have experience to get a job, how do you get it without having a job?

Computerworld says there’s a way around that. “In IT, hands-on experience can often be acquired using tools on your own computer or accessible through your current job before you try to get the new job.”

Working in tech support may be a rung or two removed from developer or admin, yet it can be a gateway job. You get hands-on work experience and plenty of opportunities to demonstrate the skills to move up. And the requirements are looser.

Computerworld has a series of projects it says provide “real hands-on experience." Mastering them will give you experience you can point to when a hiring manager asks. And since most businesses run on Windows, these projects, at the beginner, intermediate and advance levels, are perfect for tech support positions.

At the beginner level, the Computerworld article demonstrates two essential Windows tools and provides an introduction to text commands.

Current tech support professionals will find these three projects a good reminder, if rudimentary. It’s at the intermediate level that the projects get more interesting. Here, Computerworld shows how to manage remote computers and mobile devices including Android, iOS and Mac. Another project goes into some detail about administering a Windows server.

The two advanced projects are even more challenging. They build on the intermediate server project to set up a domain network adding Active Directory Domain Services. The 8th project involves cloud services and managing user access via Azure Active Directory Domain Services.

None of these projects directly involves writing code (or at least not much), nor administering a live network. Instead, they offer the opportunity to learn and to demonstrate new and improved skills. It’s a chance for existing workers and prospective ones to show initiative and willingness, even eagerness, to learn. That, and having the basic skills to do the job, is the key to opening the door to a tech career.

Photo by Matthew T Rader

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