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Career Coach: Validate Departing Co-workers; The Right Skills and Degrees

Dear Career Coach:
I've been trying to break into IT for several years, with little success. I have an associate's degree in computer networking from ITT Tech and I'm working on several MCSE certifications. What other degrees and skills should I pursue?
At a Loss

Dear Loss:

Despite signs of improvement,
the IT job market remains tight, which means employers can hold out for candidates with both technical skills and industry-specific experience, according to Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, a consultancy that places IT professionals. If you have experience in, say, the health-care market, you have a better shot at an IT job in that arena.

Lee also suggests concentrating on entry-level helpdesk, tech-support or telecom positions, which would familiarize you with a wide variety of technologies. And when you finish your MCSE certifications, consider specialized training in industries that are in demand, such as security (the ISC, at, offers info on security certifications).

Don't let your lack of field work stop you, either. Volunteer to do tech support at a local school, community or religious organization, where you'll get hands-on experience and begin building a network of IT professionals. Contact your local chapter of the Help Desk Institute ( or the Network Professional Association ( to make additional connections.

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