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I have been a longtime reader of Stack Overflow but this is my first time posting. I have been struggling greatly with respect to my future and I have decided to ask the huge community here.


I am about to enter my 4th and final year as a Computer Science major. Currently, I am working as a summer intern at "some company." Unfortunately, I have discovered that I do not enjoy programming as much as I thought I did. There are times where I love to code and other times where I cannot bring myself to start coding.

However, coding is not the only thing I do at my current internship. I am also required to setup several laptops, fix problems, setup networks, etc. It is this part of my job that I absolutely love to do. Whenever I am unable to fix something I go to the IT guys at my company and they are usually able to fix it.


I am here to ask the community for more information about Information Technology (IT). It seems like what I enjoy doing is part of an IT's job description.

-What other responsibilities do they have?

-Also, if I were to pursue a career in IT, how should I go about learning the skills/information required of that position?

-How would I go about looking for a job in IT once I graduate?

I am looking for any advice from people who have worked in IT, are working in IT, or just know what it takes to work in IT.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 13 '10 at 18:21

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

I think you want to be over on ServerFault. –  Kalium Jul 12 '10 at 21:35
...or careeroverflow.com –  Paul R Jul 12 '10 at 21:45
I guess I posted on the wrong site. Woops. –  Anonymous Jul 12 '10 at 21:47
There are many questions in your post, but this should help serverfault.com/questions/9766/… –  Kara Marfia Jul 14 '10 at 12:10
@Kara Marfia. Thanks, this is definitely very helpful. –  user48284 Jul 14 '10 at 22:04

6 Answers 6

Sounds like what you enjoy more is the support/sys admin side. Your degree is still good for that - you will probably be looking at lower paying entry level jobs however. If you enjoy that side of IT, go for it. The critical thinking and logic skills you got with your CS degree will come in very handy.

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+1, Give it a try. My 2 cents though, if you haven't setup a home network with a little server by the time your a college senior, you're probably not the type the loves network/system administration. Just a thought. –  Chris S Jul 13 '10 at 18:37
@Chris S "if you haven't setup a home network with a little server by the time your a college senior" - I really hope that you will spend some time thinking about this and will realize that this is totally wrong. –  halp Jul 13 '10 at 19:38
@halp, I've thought about it, and I don't know any system admin worth his/her oats that hasn't put together a home server (or whatever workstation) on their own before they got into a formal role. I don't think I'd hire a network admin who hasn't put some kind of networking in their own home. I suppose there's the rare occasion people learn later in life; but that's not the majority by far. –  Chris S Jul 14 '10 at 2:35
@Chris S, you obviously never lived in a very poor country, where just one computer was a huge luxury not so many years ago, computer geeks had to learn computer stuff by reading books and could afford to buy their first own computer after saving for a couple of months from what they were earning at their first computer related job –  halp Jul 14 '10 at 23:37
@Halp, SysAdmins probably aren't in as high of demand in poor countries. I suppose you're lucky you could afford books as well. –  Chris S Aug 12 '10 at 3:16

IT is made up of various skill sets including: - System Admin - Desktop Support (Help Desk) - DBAs - Developers - QA/Test Teams - Security Teams - Business Continuity - BAs - Project Management ...

There is something for everyone.

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Yea, it's like asking someone how to get a job in Medical. –  Ed B Jul 12 '10 at 21:45
Also, there are variations in IT in different industries, albeit more subtle. Working in gov't/finance/retail/law/dotcom although basically the same, but enough differences to merit looking into. –  Steve Jul 13 '10 at 17:18

IT is a vague notion, used to cover a whole bunch of areas mere humans don't understand. Forget using the term IT, except perhaps as part of a job title and focus on real things.

From the sounds of it system administration just might appeal to you, although it's just a little more complicated than setting up a couple of laptops. It's an immensely broad area with many specialisations, as well as generalists.

Rather that having us try and describe our roles you should look around for an internship as a sysadmin if possible, helpdesk otherwise. Preferably some place that deals with more than just one operating system. Your whole career can go sour by getting locked into something too early. Try everything for a while until you discover what you really enjoy working with.

BTW, you'll find that most sysadmins do code as well, although less so in the Windows world, which tends to favour point-and-click.

Just remember, that if you get caught in a job you really don't enjoy - get out. Life's too short and there are really are plenty of other opportunities for those prepared to look and move around, although they can at times be difficult to recognise as such.

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Thanks for the advice, I didn't realize when I asked this question that IT was such a broad term. After reading some of the responses I realize it is. I do not mind coding things such as automating simple tasks (which my internship requires me to do). I will look for an internship as a sysadmin during the school year. –  user48284 Jul 13 '10 at 22:39
@py89: Forget using the term IT, but understand what "they" and "the pointy-headed bosses" mean when they say "IT". Understand what your role is, and what your role is not. –  Stefan Lasiewski Jul 13 '10 at 23:15

Don't forget to think about this in terms of what you want to be doing in five, ten, or twenty years. Are the things that you're doing right now things that you want to be doing in a decade? Will you get bored?

What possible career growth paths do you see yourself following from IT? Setting up laptops and (simple, I assume) networks probably isn't the end of the line for you. Do you want to be a network engineer? Manage IT? Infrastructure architect? What you do in the next five years may well affect what you do in 20.

On the flip side of this, the one thing I've learned from the last 25 years in the computer industry is that you don't always follow a predictable path. I started out basically as a programmer for fairly simple stuff, took a detour through system administration, did QA and development for embedded control, managed the testing department for a computer game company, did a bunch of QA, accidentally became director of operations (oops!), did a bunch more QA, and now have an operational/monitoring/troubleshooting job. Some people follow a very linear career path, and others tend to jump around.

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I get a lot of insight into the way IT functions in different regions and types & sizes of companies through the questions and answers posted here on SF. User support / helpdesk is a pretty common entry point. If you love that, chances are you'd be happy with it for a year or two, until you started to get bored, and wanted to specialize. At that point, your company would ideally help you to progress up the department, rather than lose you to someone who would.

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You need to either be a jack of all trades, or highly specialized in an area that is hot. One of the big issues right now IMO is that large organizations are consolidating their IT operations, especially for roles like server admins as virtualization has become prominent and the quality of software has improved (particularly databases and Windows)

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