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 Post subject: Computer IT job tips
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 4:55 pm 
8086
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Well, this seemed the most fitting place for a post. I am about to graduate (at the end of the this week actually) with a degree in Computer Networking and Information Systems from my local Community College. Well my stepfather works at the local sheriff's office and their tech guy that is over three offices and all sheriff computers and systems turned in his two week notice.

I know several of the higher ups in the internal affairs department and some of the commanding officers. I have been told that if I want the job it is mine. Little scared and a little worried since it is my first major job (I am currently at Circuit City in their pc department doing sales and tech work). I have been told this guy didn't know much about computers and was extremely disorganized. He has back work orders months old. I will be playing a lot of catch up to get work done.

I have to use my own vehicle to drive between the three offices but get re-embersed at about 45 cents a mile. Starting pay around 20k a year. State benefits, health insurance, retirement, paid vacation and comp time also.

Any of you older members have suggestions for a tech just getting his feet wet working for an organization. I have done personal tech work and ran my own small business for years, but nothing of this magnitude. Just a little set aback working 8-5 and getting something just so quickly.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer IT job tips
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 9:51 pm 
Willamette
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screamsalvation wrote:
Starting pay around 20k a year.


Where do you live? 20k just about anywhere is almost poverty. With your degree, you shouldn't settle for less than 35+/year.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 6:36 am 
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Mississippi. The Tech sector down here is a little over saturated at the moment and the county doesn't pay much starting off anyway. I'm looking at it as more of a stepping stone into other positions. The guy before the current one knew how to properly tech and repair things and now he is making 100k a year through contacts he met at the Sheriff's office. With all the benefits I thought it was pretty nice for a 21 year old straight out of college who is currently working at Circuit City, lol. Don't get me wrong, I know computer repair and run my own small business doing it; I have just never taken on something of this size.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 7:51 am 
8086
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Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 6:29 am
Posts: 55
Location: Boomtown, Texas
Admining three offices for 20K??

That seems way low. With your Degree, you should expect at least 30,000 for something like that. I would also get in writing performance based raises at periodic intervals.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 8:55 am 
Moderator
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Yeah 20k? :lol: They're kidding right? 3 offices by yourself? Yeah you are just starting out, but that's nut. I wouldn't settle for less than 35k myself in that position.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 6:29 am 
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1. When entering a system where "everything is a mess", it is an opportunity to redesign everything yourself based on what you have to work with and what the needs are.

2. You would be smart to immediately contact the ISP (probably your local telecom/phone company) that is providing the MAN/backbone services between the offices. Tell them you're the new guy on the block, find out what devices they are using, find out what the contracts provide in way of bandwidth, services, and support. If they can provide some utilization information, that would be great too. If you can develop a relationship with those guys, you will be off to a good start. Most network engys have multiple interests too, so they might be good sources for info on any issues you might run into. Depending on their ages, they may be into LAN gaming, be linux/unix nerds, or you could invite them out for drinks to develop some friendships. This could also lead to future employment (hint, hint).

3. Prepare yourself a testbed. This will require power (UPS & maybe generator), servers (3 or four), computer clients (junk PCs that work are fine) cables, switches (unmanaged layer 2 is fine, but Cisco layer 3 is "finer" ;) ), and perhaps routers. You need to construct this test bed to test your design and see if everything works the way you expect it to (it won't, don't worry...which is why you get paid).

4. Outline ahead of time what services you need/want to provide and what you are going to use to do it. I would suggest that you use Linux for servers, since it is inexpensive, you can get online support from linux communities, and the server daemons get updated frequently. You'll probably be handling; DNS/bind, mail (Postfix, not sendmail please), security/firewall (look at the bastille-linux site, Jay Beale's firewall frontend is excellent), HTML/Apache, and some other stuff.

------------------------------------------------------------

Basically, you have a huge task in front of you, and you are being very underpaid. However, this opportunity will be a HUGE learning experience for you and will give you invaluable experience and a wide ranging skillset. Most likely, you will have a large amount of pressure (constantly hearing, "So-n-so used to do it this way, and we never had any problems..." and everything will become your fault) and be overworked as well as on-call 24 hours a day. Lots of study, and working things out in your lab/testbed will get you to where you want to be. In the end, you will not even realize how much valuable experience you've gained, and you will be ready to jump into some big money (>$75K) within about 3-5 years with what you will learn. I've found that certificates don't mean nearly as much as experience to your potential employers, but they make a company look good (for bids on jobs or to your manager for his team evaluations), so don't worry about that too much. If you do need/want training or certificates, get the county to pay for it (just tell your boss that you need it). Local governments are very good about paying for such things, as long as it doesn't become abusive.

As long as you don't plan on having a social life and keep your nose to the grindstone, you will come out WAY ahead. This is just a stepping stone, but it sounds like an excellent opportunity.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 1:21 am 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000
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Crud. Lost the post. Lemme try again.

Yeah. People are hissing and spitting at the base pay.

Some considerations.

1: State job. Damn near impossible to get fired from. Lots of security. This is part of the tradeoff. You have lots of security, but lower pay than the private sector.

2: Mileage reimbursement. This can account for a GOOD chunk of change. Think about it. If you have a gas guzzler that gets 20mpg, that's still $9/gallon of reimbursement. If you require lots of commuting, this can add up FAST.

3: Comp time. ESPECIALLY with the backlog of work, you can build yourself up a lot of comp time.

4: State jobs tend to be fairly generous about paid vacation time and paid sick time.

5: With #3 & #4 in mind, you have the potential to build up a large "bank" of time off (with pay). My advice? Unless you're in a situation where it's "use it or lose it" (see: Mandatory Paid Vacation), and it's not a pre-planned vacation, you want to use the time like so:

Use it to "add" to events. Stretch 3 day weekends into 4 day weekends. Put a "buffer day" on vacations. Take "half days" (come in "late" on Mondays, leave "early" on Fridays, etc).

6: If you happen to be lucky enough to be living at home and not repaying school loans, your monetary needs right now are relatively light.

7: You probably want to talk with the outgoing guy a bit. Gather some info on the setup (to avoid getting thrown into a nasty situation that you can't work your way out of). Also, subtly pump him for other information (like how much he made there, etc).

Reason: If you're starting off at $X, and when he left, he was making $X+Y, and doing a piss-poor job, this gives you some ammunition when your inevitable 6/12-month review comes along. While your base pay may suck initially, you can use this knowledge, and the good job you're doing, to help close the gap between what you started at and what the other guy was making.

Additionally, it never hurts to simply ASK for more, right at the outset. If you don't ask, you don't get. The worst that can happen is that they can say "no".

8: The state job, immediately following school will look good on your resume if you ever decide to strike out for richer jobs.

9: There are probably other side-benefits to the job. Tuition reimbursement, compensation for other educational endeavors (like certs, etc).

10: Social networking. Get to know the officers. If you're ever in a jam, it's always nice to have the police on YOUR side (just don't expect carte blanche).

11: Government Health and Dental is usually pretty damn good. Even compared to the private sector.

12: Compare the pay and benefits on this job to the pay and benefits at your current job.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 7:01 am 
Java Junkie
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20K works out to a bit more than 9$/hr. That is pathetically low, IMO.

HOWEVER ... it is a start and it is a job in your field. It'll give you experience, build your resume, and put food on your plate while you look for a better job.

I would ask yourself: can I leave this job in 6 months if / when I find something better? If that is not possible due to family connections, etc. (ie., people would be pissed if you ditched after 6 months), then I would turn the job down. If you can leave, though, I would take the job until you find something better.

Getting paid to learn > flipping burgers.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:50 am 
8086
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Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 5:24 pm
Posts: 15
Location: Tampa, Fl
skiless - that post was god-like.

well said

I think taking that job and gaining that experience will be vital to future jobs.


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 Post subject: Not really a bad option
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 8:35 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 8:16 am
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I would recommend asking for a contract for a set period of time. Then talk about a shift into a permanent position then. That way, you can reasonably expect to be hired based on your abilities, not on their need. A contract also frees them to pay more with no benefits/comensation, Just pay. It will work out good for you if you don't need the medical. You will also have demonstrated your abilites and work ethic.
With your degree, you really don't have a lot of experience and this would be a great place to get your feet wet. 20K is not a bad starting salary in MS. If you can stay with your parents and mooch for a while, that will be a decent salary. That's what I'd recommend. Use this position to build your resume. Nothing more, not a lifetime career, just a rung on your career ladder.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 1:34 am 
Team Member Top 100
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uummm...i work at ccity in cali, and i make $10/hour as a new hire salesman...thats ALL i do...that right there is $20,800/year before taxes...plus i pull a lot of ot...*sshhh...corporate hates it...lawl* so, i am probably making around $25k per year before taxes...i understand that different states have different "monetary value", although, it is a little bizarre that you will be taking the job for that little...if i were you, i would ask for min. $15/hr=$31,200/yr, if i were offered that job for 15-20/hr, i would take it in a heartbeat...im only 17, and that is one place i want to be in the near future...a sys admin/something...whatever happens tho, i wish you luck, and happiness... :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 11:38 pm 
Coppermine
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20k seems awfully low for the responsibilities that you will be assuming. I would say your best option is to hang around for a year or so then see what kind of merit raise they give you. After you have a full year of system admin under your belt and if you decide that you are unhappy, you should shoot your your resume out and see what bites. At this point it seems that your only weakness is your experience level and you can ramp that fairly quickly.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 11:34 am 
Little Foot
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Joined: Sun May 06, 2007 4:38 pm
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Location: Orlando, FL
All I can say is based on my history, with no degree (though I'm 2 semesters from finishing my BSBA). I worked in the Metropolitan NYC area (so the pay is naturally higher).

1997 - Quit walmart and started doing "at home" service calls fixing laptops & PCs for Dell & Compaq. I was 20 and made $31k/year

1998 - Quit that job and went to work for a small (400 employees) family owned company as their "junior" admin. I was 21 and make $29k/year

2000 - My boss/IT director quit to do his own business and I was promoted to IT director. I was 23 and made $75k/year

2001 - We were growing fast & I renegotiated my pay as I was working like a dog (I had a cot in my office, no joke). I was 24 and made $90k plus up to 20k in annual bonuses.

2002 - Moved to Orlando, FL for personal reasons. Got a job as a Senior analyst over e-commerce with a huge company. I was 25 and made $72k

2005 - Was promoted to Product director of Capacity Planning and Availability after completely re-architecting their 1200 server global monitoring system when it fell apart. I was 28 (now I'm 30) and I make $90k with about $15k in annual bonuses.


LESSONS LEARNED:

-- Paycuts are not always bad. If you have a great opportunity (mine was in 1998) don't be afraid to cut the pay a bit. My reasoning was my boss was the single best mentor I've ever had. Literally went from a desktop tech to a CCNP/MCSE/MOS in two years under him.

-- Immerse yourself in technology. Play with everything, read as much as you can, and just really "get into it" Go to IT mixers. Talk to people. GET INVOLVED in message boards.

-- FIND A GOOD MENTOR!!! "nuff said about that one.

-- Certs are good if you are starting out. Once you get tenured a bit they lose their value pretty quickly

-- Don't limit yourself. I always thought I was a "Windows Admin" - then I started getting into networking. Cisco, Juniper, Bay, Extreme, etc.

-- Don't be afraid. I had to install an exchange server (we were using POP email from earthlink for 200 users :shock: ). I had never even seen exchange before but I knew it would be a huge win. I worked overnight, got it up and running and yeah it was problematic and scary but guess what - after a few months I "know exchange"

-- Set goals for learning. It's easy to get stagnant.

-- STEP UP WHEN YOU NEED TO STEP UP. I'm a big proponent of work/life balance - but you know what, there are weeks I work 90 hours (like when I was redoing their monitoring system from the ground up). Seize the opportunity and you'll usually be a) noticed b) rewarded c) tired (lol)

-- Don't neglect your professional and personal skills (soft skills). A professional demeanor will get you far.

Don't know if that helps, but remember it is a long road and you just have to work it out. Sounds like this could be a great experience to learn for you. USE IT! Suggest things you don't know how to do - and then figure them out (of course don't be stupid and overextend yourself). Good luck! And remember - most successful people spend 90% of their time working and 10% looking for other opportunities.

:)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 8:21 am 
Little Foot
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Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 6:22 pm
Posts: 183
Location: good question
Don't listen to these guys that are saying 20K is low. Although it is low at your age you should forget about that. The more important thing is experience. You probably live with your parents or in a cheap apartment. In any case it is unlikely you have a lot of expenses. It is a perfect time to get your feet wet. i.e. when your married have a house and kids you can't afford a job like this. Jump at this job stay for a few months than start looking for something better.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 9:19 am 
8086
8086

Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2007 10:23 am
Posts: 49
Location: Kansas City
Are you just supporting the PD's PCs or are you actually doing forensics work? If you're working with evidence and such you'd best attend some forensics classes. I've been an IT Security Analyst for years now and Chain of Custody is tricky business. Everything has to be done perfectly or you're going to negatively influence the outcome of cases. Personally I wouldn't touch computer evidence without formalized forensics training. Look into it if that's the direction you're heading. Additionally if you're doing forensics work, look to your local FBI office as they might have resources they're willing to assist you with.


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