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  • Cliff Krahenbill, aka, Prof. K

How to Get Started in Technology


The one question students ask most often is, how do I get a job in technology requiring experience without having any?

In 1998 I fell off a ladder and broke my wrist. At the time I was working as a contract painter, and though the money was good, I just did not see myself doing this as a vocation. I took this opportunity to enroll in a PC/Networking program at a local college. The program was a year long, and I was receiving workman comp, so it was going to be now or never.

I knew nothing about technology or networking but in the same course were those that did so I asked a lot of questions and one of the big questions I asked was, how do I get a job in technology?

A few of the students were working at call centers, and they suggested this is where I get my start. It was said, if I had my A+, I could go to work at Keane doing Microsoft Tech Support over the phone. I got my A+ and applied just before I graduated from the course, and I was hired.

My first job working in technology! I was excited, and I truly did like the job, and it paid well. I started out at $10 an hour, and 18 months later I was making more than $15.00 an hour. I had great benefits, and the training was non-stop. Every time M$ launched a new OS I was sitting another 8-week course on how to support it. I volunteered to sit every training course they offered.

After 18 months, Keane was purchased by Convergys which was a huge step-down, so I decided it was time to take my show on the road. I landed a training gig with New Horizons which was a huge increase in pay with huge bonuses and plenty of perks. I went from roughly $28k a year to $51K just like that.

Was I prepared to be a M$ trainer? Not even close, but I knew I could fake it long enough to learn the material, and that's what I did. This job was 18 hours a day, and if I was not in the classroom, I was preparing another course and trying to get up to speed on what I was supposed to be teaching. I struggled with this job for nearly 4 years until the owner sold out and the new owner brought in new instructors. I was told I could quit or be terminated. I quit, and I now had to find more work.

The talk of the time was working as a subcontractor for companies staffing IT support personnel for those needing the help but not the grief of managing payroll and all that goes with hiring employees.

This next gig was probably the best job in IT ever had. I signed up with www.tcml.com and right away I was sent the paperwork to fill out and given a login for their website. They paid $10.00 an hour plus $.50 a mile for travel. I was given some trial work, and soon I was given some more until they offered me a pretty good gig working full time for Unisys. Unisys picked up support contracts for HP, Dell, Gateway, and others. Everything from desktop computers to blade server support.

Great job and I was taking home about $500.00 week. This was in 2004. The downside was the amount of wear and tear input on my truck. I did this gig for a year until a friend of mine called offering me a full-time gig with Clifton Gunderson. I stayed with CG until they closed their IT support services in Tucson in 2010.

After CG, I started my own firm, CLK Technology Solutions. I contracted out my services to different firms, and this was the best move I ever made. I was now making twice the money and working half the hours.

All the while in the background, I was completing my education to include a Masters degree from Capella University in 2007. I began teaching online in 2008, and it's been a great ride up to this point.

One thing I learned from all of this is, you cannot wait around for the hammer to fall. You have to look around and find opportunities where you can. There's plenty of work, and no one says you have to sign a 30-year commitment.

If you're new to technology and want to get started, get some entry level certs, take the grunt jobs and work your way up.

Opportunities abound in technology and cybersecurity, but you have to open the first door to see what is behind it. You may not want to take a job that puts wear and tear on your truck, but it will keep the butter on your biscuit.

I had no intention of working at a call center for the next 20 years, but I knew it would be a good starting point. With each new job came opportunities which I could not see until I committed myself. No one wants to take an entry-level job for $10.00 an hour, but once we do, we see the potential to make $15.00 and more an hour in a very short period of time.

You have to have an exit strategy for every job, a "what if" scenario always playing out in our head. What's my next move and how do I get there?

Lastly, stop using the number 1 excuse for not making the next move which is, "I'm not prepared to take the job."

Here’s a news flash, no one is every ready for their next job. Just the way it is. You cannot wait until you know everything about your next job before you go after it. You'll never make a move, and you'll lose an opportunity. I've been fired off of plenty of jobs but not before my 90-day trial was up. I learned volumes in those 90 days, and I took what I learned with me to my next job where I was also terminated for learning but I did not care, and I still don't!

Working in technology is all about learning, and the learning never stops! Get used to it or consider a career in hotel management.

What about your resume? How do you account for all those 90 and 120-day jobs? Who cares! This is what holds people down; they just don't know how to play the game. Never put anything on your resume you need to explain. Never put anything on the Internet or on your resume you do not want people to read or see. It's just common sense!

Those Facebook pictures of taking a hit off of a six foot bong and posting defamatory comments about your ex-spouse is what keeps you from getting hired, not your resume. Everything we post and say on the Internet becomes a chronological history of who we are, and it's there forever.

Regards -

Professor K


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