From Cook to Sys Admin: My Experience

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    • #8706

      Backstory: 2 years ago I was a basic hardware geek who had been building/breaking computers and SOHOs for most of his life. However, my only adult professions were far from IT (cooking, landscaping, warehouse management, etc.)

      I decided to make a career change because cooking, while fun, has very little room for growth. So I decided to try my hand at a few courses and quickly got my A+ certification. I landed a job at a solar company as an in-house tech and have worked my way through numerous projects, from a full physical network deployment (over 100 ethernet drops) to a full company email host migration (150 users/workstations).

      During my time, I have learned a lot, and I have also taken advantage of numerous CBT courses and figured I’d give my two cents for anyone out there looking to make the same change I did (or just upgrade your skills a bit).

      TestOut: I first experienced TestOut when I attended WGU for a short period. They helped me towards my A+ and provide a very convenient web-based experience. It is very cohesive and rigorously structured. They provide a good amount of content in a variety of ways. Specifically, the courses consist of video lectures/white boards, note sheets (summaries of the lectures), and virtual labs. I also took my Network+ and MCITP courses with TestOut through one of their packages. I began to notice some bothersome trends in their material. Their instructors were extremely boring. They reminded me of the cliche, socially-inept geek and it seemed as though they only gave these guys a single take for the video cuts. Their examples and explanations of concepts were often quizzical and their white-board diagrams were so confusing as to be almost detrimental to the learning experience. I will say , their virtual labs were pretty cool, but were not as numerous as I expected considering it is what they are known for. The note sheets are a life saver and provide tons of content, though you’ll spend a lot of time just copying notes and trying not to fall asleep to the professors.

      CBT Nuggets: These guys get a lot of praise, and you’ll see why. I am currently a subscriber because I love using their video lectures for as refreshers. The teachers are not only highly proficient in their trade, but they are engaging to the listener. They teach things in a way that is easy to grasp and each chapter seems specifically designed to flow into the next. Now, they don’t have any Virtual Labs or note sheets. Your looking at lectures – nothin’ but. However, the content they provide and the way they provide it (imho) out does all the bells and whistles of TestOut.

      Professor Messer: Similar to CBT nuggets, Messer is a gold mine of professional grade knowledge delivered in an up-to-date and easy to grasp format. Messer’s explanation of binary conversion gave me the light bulb which both TestOut and CBT Nuggets failed to instill in me. Not to mention it’s free and there is a good community of students on his forums to source.

      Treehouse: Both these classes are specifically designed for designers/programmers. I just began trying these courses out as I am working on developing my design and python skills. So far as I am concerned, they are both great sources for education and skills. Treehouse its most definately designed for novices in the field. They spend a lot of time explaining each concept and provide intermittent quizes and projects to instill the code. There is also a solid community of other students and forums where you can actually interact with the teachers themselves.

      Code School is more geared towards the intermediate/advanced students. It is a lot more hand-on training, less lecturing. There isn’t a huge community, but the teachers are top-notch and it provides a great platform to hone your skills. I would say start with Treehouse and work your way up to Code School.

      In the end, I would say that personal projects helped me more than any online training. Build yourself a cheap file-share server, setup a home domain, trick out your home network. Try to land a job as an in-house tech (you’ll start off getting paid scraps but its worth it for everything you learn in the first 6 months). Keep an ideas list and always be working on something.

      Good luck!

    • #53837

      Good write up, thanks for your contribution. I think this will definitely help new people to the field. What are your goals?

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