Career Progression & Qualifications

Hi Level One forum,

I understand this may be a fairly common yet difficult question to give specific advice for however I’ve been such a fan of the youtube channel for some time I figured I’d give it a shot.

First just a small snapshot of myself.

I am 32 years of age living in Sydney Australia and like many here have a possibly not so healthy obsession for pc hardare and consumer electronics.

I was previously working in freight forwarding as a Sea Imports Operator but disliked being tied to a office desk and wanted a caereer that would give me a bit more freedom. I got hit by the buzz of ‘blockchain’ early and could see how useful it would be for shipping liners and logistics vendors for security and automation.

This brought on an early mid life crisis so I left job 2 years ago and managed to find an entry level customer service role in a prominant Australian data centre. From here I managed to work my way up to a facility technicians role doing basic duties such as cross connects, rack and stack, remote hands, AS400 batch processing etc etc. Life is fun.

Where I have come undone however is doing post graduate studies part time via correspondance. I’ve found it incredibly challenging to keep up with the pace of trimesters and have subsequently had to withdraw a few times . So far I’ve only managed to complete introductory courses for python and java and while its satisfying so see minature projects work I cannot say I’m having fun.

Has anyone else experienced a similar situation where they felt that tertiary studies may not be as helpful as they thought in developing their career ? I am confused as to whether I should stick it out or go off to do my own own private studies whilst trying to flesh out a specific career direction.

Appreciate any insights


Hello @Reximus and welcome to the Community.

You are definitely not the only one that has gone through this. I am currently at a crossroads were I am being prodded to go the management route, but I want to maintain as a functional. Unfortunately, I am going to need to go back to school for a Masters degree (would like Doctorate but on my own terms). I am a very good manager because of my functional experience, but I don’t like managing people because it is like herding cats.

That AS400 experience can go a long way here in the USA. In general, graduate school is not at all necessary to land the job that you actually want. If you are not happy with doing the things that the schooling is having you do, what are you actually interested in? There are many bootcamps, and skills training academies online and in person that can help you hone your skills without forcing you to commit to multiple years for a piece of paper.

Only you can answer that one, but if you give us more to work with on this front, there are some other neckbeards here that can give you their opinion based on their professional experience.

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Wow that was a quick response.

I can certianly sympathise with the ‘managemnt dilemma’ as I’ve witnessed many talented individuals who were real asstes to my workplace begrudgingly take management roles due to financial incentives and persuasion.

I think the hardest thing to admit is that I am unsure as to what my direct path should be. I originally believed that after completing my studies I would go back to a forwarding company and work in software development integrating customer systems like SAP into EDI / Cargowise. However based on my very limited experience I can see how I may have romanticised the concept of software development and realised it may not be for me.

I have been getting some exposure to basic networking which has proved useful in proving why my customers expereincing packet loss is due to their telco rather than my cross connects but am wondering if I’ll fall into a similar scenario.

As it stands I am just approaching state government tranport agenies as well as federal government security bodies to see how their programs are stucted to gain a bit more insight

As a fellow neck beard and someone who has been working in IT for around 11 years now I can say that romanticizing different aspects of IT still happens. Finding personal direction is also something that we all encounter, some more than others. I am definitely in the camp of boot camps however as I think you’ll be far better off.

My workplace (MSP) currently wants me to become a security engineer so that they can push security services to our current clientele. However, I started the ball rolling by letting them know that cyber security is what I’m interested in. On the flip side, my management team is interested in me doing a lot of the policy-oriented work and tasks, to which I have said, no. (Your mileage may vary depending on your relationship with your boss of course)

What I am trying to get at is, when it comes to figuring out how to proceed for your career, gather a lot of information about what actually interests you and try to dive in. Instead of taking courses towards a degree, do as @Mastic_Warrior has said and try out boot camps and similar things. This will help you figure out if you’ve really romanticized the work or if the actual tasks you’ll be performing truly interest you.

Either way, keep us up to date as we’d love to help you out however we can!

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You can always do Amazon AWS Certifications.

Although, I’d recommend completing a 6 month website before taking the certification. It will give you way more practical knowledge and the certification will be “easy”.

There is definitely an unglamorous side to the kind of systems you’re talking about. I’ve worked with SAP before, and the joke is that SAP = Stop All Progress. You certainly wouldn’t be the first to look at a software stack like that and wonder how much you really want to be involved in it.

Being able to wear multiple hats can be valuable also, so even if you do end up more on the sysadmin/networking side of things I’d still say the time you’ve spent learning languages was time well spent. Side projects are a great way to show that you really are invested in technology and can get things done without a lot of hand holding even if they don’t really amount to much in the end.

It’s always going to be a struggle to learn new fields, so I don’t think that should dissuade you from trying out new things. It just takes a while, so if it’s a lack of progress that’s really what’s frustrating you then I’d say keep at it. However, if it’s a struggle and after just a few years you already hate it, then maybe that thing isn’t going to be your thing. No shame in that.

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I’m in TN, and currently work as a datacenter tech. Prior to that I was a help desk tech. I’m currently trying to get into InfoSec.

I’ve attended college, but never finished my associates. My CompTIA A+ cert as well as my professional networks helped me land my first job in.

One gripe I’ve been having is that the companies I’ve worked for thus far have been progression adverse when it comes to moving beyond entry level IT stuff. I’m taught enough to do the job, and if I’m trained on new products, it’s only because they intend to use those products, and I become a bit dispassionate about what I’m being trained on. My career aspirations tend to fall on deaf ears, and I only see myself getting my foot in the door into InfoSec (or any other job role) by switching employers.

I have an interview coming up for a SOC Analyst role, but only because a friend lent me a hand. Having the Security+ problably helped, but I don’t believe I would’ve had that interview without knowing whom I knew personally.

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Really appreciate all the suggestions.

I havn’t dove into the boot option that much but I’m not sure its an option for me. The ones I have seen have schedueles that would clash with work as I’m on a rotating roster of 3 days on then 3 days off.

I’m almost finished renovating a gym/study dungeon so my aim over the next 3 months will be to dabble in some udemy courses to give me a good intro into varying subjects. I’ve also stashed away some decommissioned servers and cisco switches so I can muck around with rebuilding raid arrays and vlans while deciding if I should continue with university

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@Reximus , Sound like you have an acceptable plan. Start that journey and course correct as needed.

That is kind of my story. I am really good at my job. They only way that I get my foot in the door is by taking the entry level job hoping to progress and showcase my skills. Instead, when there is an opening, they try to get me to do the higher skill work but keep me at the Entry Level title which translates to entry level pay. My career has been defined by mostly lateral moves, slowly stepping up along the way. Example, I went from being a senior engineer in a toxic environment through a war of attrition, to an “entry” level IT job that has kept changing the rules in order to progress to the next IT level. Every time, I get there, the goal post gets moved, and everyone already there seems to be exempt from the new rules. That is why I am pushing to do my own consulting business where I can set my rates and decide on what work and skills I want to do/possess/improve.

Unfortunately, that is what the professional work force has been dumbed down to. You have to know someone to get your foot in the door. It has the unintended consequences of rewarding a lot of people who have had success in failing their way up instead of actually have/possessing the skill set needed to do the actual work.

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