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  1. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Default IT Career Advice - Business / System Analyst

    I've read these forums for basically the last year and you've guys have truly helped guide me through my own personal journey thru IT. I've been questioning some things and I truly need some advice and possibly some direction. So here it goes.

    I'm 25 and I graduated from an ivy league school in 2007 with a degree in Political Science. When I entered college I was unsure in what I actually wanted to so, all I knew was that I did want to graduate from college.

    I had fun, made some mistakes, partied hard, but more importantly grew up. These last years, ive been really focused on a career in IT.

    I have always been very talented with computers and technology, so initially I aspired to major in computer science. Well unfortantely, I couldn't handle the pressure and changed majors. To tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed with the department because it was strictly programming and nothing else. My school didn't offer anything like MIS. With all veracity, I thought my hopes were over to truly persue my passion in tech industry because I didn't major in Comp Sci until I found this forum.

    My goals are basically to end up IT Management, but I'm very interested in becoming an IT Business or IT System Analyst at the moment. Now a little about my experience, certs, etc...

    Aside from my Bacherlors in Poli Sci, i've obtained A+, N+, and S+ all before the infamous 2011 deadline. I'm currently persuing my CCNA and MCITP:EA. I want to achieve these in order to be well-rounded. Whether or not they are pertinent to my job, I truly enjoy learning the info and I'm planning to obtain regardless of relevance.

    In addition to these, I'm currently teaching myself java, C++, and scripting languages because I feel that it just something pertient to understand paticularly when guiding a software project.

    I've looked at some of the job descriptions and learned that UML, SQL, SDC, ITIL v3, Excel, and Access stuff is typically required, so im perfecting those skills

    I have about 2 years of IT technical support experience from college as well as 4 years as a Sales Analyst experience (running reports..etc) How feasible is it for me to get a decent IT Business Analysis / System job given my background, but more importantly what other things would you guys recommend. Am I dommed because of my BS in Poli Sci?

    Secondly, I have a desire to obtain a Master in Information System, but I first would like to get in BA or SA role and work for a couple of years.

    Do you guys have any experience working with or are a System or Business Analysis. What advice can you offer?
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    #2
    Here's my thoughts. Don't take offense, just challenging your thinking.

    First, how did you complete an Ivy League education with such poor grammar and spelling? Just wondering... seriously wondering.

    Second, you have Analyst experience, so you have the ability to analyze. But without IT experience, how would you be able to analyze the IT needs of a business?

    Thirdly, you said you skipped the CompSci degree since it was hard, and it focused on programming. Now you say you're studying programming, so what gives?

    Fourthly, what are you currently doing for work?

    Have you applied for BA/SA positions so far? Have you checked to see what their requirements are? I would spend 2011 studying what you're currently focusing on. Try to get a job in or close to BA/SA. Go for the MIS whenever you can afford it. But it MAY not make up for a few years of experience.
    Last edited by westward; 04-08-2011 at 03:38 AM.
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  4. Senior Member /usr's Avatar
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    #3
    IMO, you should narrow your focus a bit. It's good to be well rounded, but attempting to learn all the things you listed at once is only going to frustrate you even more, especially without prior exposure.

    You will likely have to land some sort of IT role to get experience, then work your way up from there as you gain knowledge.

    Also, I agree with westward. You dropped out of a programming degree and now you're pursuing programming, and even hinted that you may want to lead a software project?

    IT is a very, very broad field. Despite the fact that these job roles fall under the IT umbrella, they have very different requirements. An analyst that gathers requirements for and oversees a software project, likely is not going to gather requirements and oversee a network hardware implementation or upgrade. In my experience, the two worlds are generally separated. While a lot of people have knowledge in both fields, you generally specialize in one or the other. Does that make sense?

    You should likely take some time to find out what interests you, then do research and pursue learning information that is relevant to the position you wish to obtain.
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    Quote Originally Posted by westward View Post
    First, how did you complete an Ivy League education with such poor grammar and spelling? Just wondering... seriously wondering.
    In the most arrogant Harvard blue-blood voice I can work up:

    "Obviously, he graduated from Columbia...."

    MS
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  6. Sleeping is for the weak NOC-Ninja's Avatar
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    #5
    I used to be a Business System Analyst / Software Validation Engineer. I have almost 5 years experience on that. I used to drive software projects, create requirements, design spec, test spec, and traceability matrix.

    IMO you shouldnt even try to learn cisco or microsoft if you want to be a business analyst. Business analyst is more on programming (c++, java, etc) and learning types of SDLC. They dont have certificates for that. You have to either have electrical engineering degree or comp sci degree to get to a position like that.

    "java, C++, and scripting languages" what you have typed were all comp sci or engineering degree. you might as well go back to school for that.

    I believe that its a disaster to learn networking or systems or programming if you havent even mastered one.

    There's so much to learn in CISCO / networking, same with SYSTEMS/ microsoft and programming/ C++ and java.

    You need to ask yourself , do you really like programming? do you really like microsoft? do you really like networking? cisco? you need to find your passion.

    remember, if you put in your resume that you have MCITP:EA and CCNA, a manager will try to break you on the interview. you need to make sure you know everything. There's sooooooo much to learn in CCNA. COMPTIA trifecta is nothing compare to CCNA. After you pass CCNA, you have to worry about the real world CCNA. If I give you a config in notepad and ask you to explain it to me line by line.
    Can you really explain it to me?


    im afraid that a network engineer will destroy you on an interview.
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  7. Junior Member Registered Member
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    #6
    Wow thanks for the positive feedback you guys. Some of your comments where rather harsh, but I do appreciate the brutal honestly at the very least and I did gain some valuable input from you guys.

    @ /usr - I completely understand what you are saying and I think I should trully narrow it down to a certain extent.

    @ westward -
    1. I work as a Sales Admin/Analyst. Kind of the go-to guy for everything sales related, but mostly running numbers.
    2. I didn't do programming in college because I couldn't focus and apply myself to learn it. Now I can. Things have changed since 2004. I still don't like programming, but I think it is necessary.
    3. I haven't applied to positions because I don't think I'm ready. I'm still in the prep stage.
    4. Sorry about the grammar!

    @ Ninja
    1. I like everything, but not really programming because it's really frustrating at times. However, I feel the better I get the more I will like it. It really helps with my logical thinking, critical reasoning, and problem solving abilities.
    2. A Network Engineer WOULD destroy me in an interview. But i'm not interviewing today I'm preparing myself for possibly interviewing in a year. In the meantime, I plan to stay at home, work, and help my family financially.
    3. You don't think its possible to get into SA/BA role without a EE or CS degree? That sort of sucks now doesn't it.
    Last edited by shadyone702; 04-09-2011 at 04:46 AM.
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  8. Sleeping is for the weak NOC-Ninja's Avatar
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by shadyone702 View Post
    Wow thanks for the positive feedback you guys. Some of your comments where rather harsh, but I do appreciate the brutal honestly at the very least and I did gain some valuable input from you guys.

    @ /usr - I completely understand what you are saying and I think I should trully narrow it down to a certain extent.

    @ westward -
    1. I work as a Sales Admin/Analyst. Kind of the go-to guy for everything sales related, but mostly running numbers.
    2. I didn't do programming in college because I couldn't focus and apply myself to learn it. Now I can. Things have changed since 2004. I still don't like programming, but I think it is necessary.
    3. I haven't applied to positions because I don't think I'm ready. I'm still in the prep stage.
    4. Sorry about the grammar!

    @ Ninja
    1. I like everything, but not really programming because it's really frustrating at times. However, I feel the better I get the more I will like it. It really helps with my logical thinking, critical reasoning, and problem solving abilities.
    2. A Network Engineer WOULD destroy me in an interview. But i'm not interviewing today I'm preparing myself for possibly interviewing in a year. In the meantime, I plan to stay at home, work, and help my family financially.
    3. You don't think its possible to get into SA/BA role without a EE or CS degree? That sort of sucks now doesn't it.
    2. The thing is what your going through right now is what WE, TE's poster went through. Its an understatement to say its hard to learn CCNA / networking and MS/ MCITP. There's a lot of books that needs to be read and lots of labbing. Then you have the real world experience that books will never teach you nor videos.

    3. You are competing with people that has Comp Sci and EE degree (people that already can program) + years of experience. Other than that you are competing with Indians or other immigrants that are really smart, and that will take a pay cut to do a job twice faster than you.

    Is it possible? Maybe, if you will be hired by your own friend. In my world, the managers wont hire you. Heck, you wont go through the HR filter.
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  9. Senior Member
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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by NOC-Ninja View Post

    remember, if you put in your resume that you have MCITP:EA and CCNA, a manager will try to break you on the interview. you need to make sure you know everything. There's sooooooo much to learn in CCNA. COMPTIA trifecta is nothing compare to CCNA. After you pass CCNA, you have to worry about the real world CCNA. If I give you a config in notepad and ask you to explain it to me line by line.
    Can you really explain it to me?


    im afraid that a network engineer will destroy you on an interview.
    +REP

    This is such a true statement. Every cert is essentially opens you up to a world of attack. It isn't just certs either. Anything you put on a resume you better be sure you can back it up. But that is besides the point....

    You sales background will help you. Bean counters like techies who know how to count their beans and can speak their language. I don't think you need a CS degree but a BIS/CIS or MIS degree would be helpful. Many of the BAs I have encountered have business degrees.
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    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by NOC-Ninja View Post
    remember, if you put in your resume that you have MCITP:EA and CCNA, a manager will try to break you on the interview. you need to make sure you know everything. There's sooooooo much to learn in CCNA. COMPTIA trifecta is nothing compare to CCNA. After you pass CCNA, you have to worry about the real world CCNA. If I give you a config in notepad and ask you to explain it to me line by line.
    Can you really explain it to me?
    You don't need to know everything. Any interviewer worth their salt will have a level of expectation on what to expect from a CCNA. I'd expect you to be able to talk to me about IP addressing, how the routing process works in general, competently explain to me about VLAN's (I love asking folks if VLAN's break up broadcast domains, and then making them defend it when they say yes). I'd expect you to be able to give me the generals of OSPF and EIGRP, but I wouldn't expect you to tell me how (and more importantly, WHY) you'd configure an NSSA. Nor am I going to hit you on things like using stub networks to limit EIGRP query range (though it's a big plus if you can talk to me about that! A CCNP, otoh, I would expect to be able to talk to me about at least one of those, especially if they have some real world experience).

    The most important thing to get out of the CCNA is the realization that there's so much more you don't know, and that you need to tread lightly when working with complex network scenarios. I've had my fill of cocky CCNA's who can't troubleshoot a simple ARP problem.

    Spending enough time in the lab will give you a reasonable level of comfort and expertise with the CCNA level material, and it's pretty easy to figure out whether or not a candidate has achieved that. I like to ask slightly tougher questions just to see how a persons mind works. I'll give you enough rope to hang yourself, and if you get out of the noose, that's wonderful, but even if you manage to hang yourself, HOW you got there is just as important as whether or not it's right or wrong. Specific skills I can teach, I cannot teach basic troubleshooting or comprehension.

    Now, with all that said, OP, I agree in that you need to narrow your focus a bit. I'd say pick two areas you enjoy the most, and work on those skillsets. You certainly do not want to be a one trick pony, but neither do you ant to be a jack of all trades. Generalists don't tend to be very well paid, and tend to be quite low on the totem pole when it comes to 'reducing the departments overhead'.

    I personally am a heavy network guy, but that's pretty easy to figure out from the alphabet soup underneath my name in the forum. I also happen to be a pretty badass unix admin. If I couldn't find work as a neteng, I could easily switch over to a sysad role. I'm a fairly rare mix, in that I can associate with network and server guys, and while we maintain the traditional rivalry, they all respect me - they know I can throwdown with them on damn near any subject they want to talk about.

    This also makes me a valuable liason. The server guys can talk to me about what they need and why, and they know I'll understand the implications. They also know that if I can shoot holes in their argument, to take my feedback, and when they come back, they'll bring me something both sides can live with. The other network guys know that if there's an issue we need to hash out with the server guys, I'm the best person to go talk to them.

    Now, where I get lost is with programmers and DBA's. I cannot speak their language. The DBA's start talking about needing to stop and restart services to extend table space and my eyes roll back in my head. The programmers start talking about java, and I find that I hear my mother calling, quite loudly.

    What I guess I'm saying, in a rather long winded manner, is to pick your strengths and play to them. Be flexible enough to not get pigeonholed into doing one thing, but don't be so broad that you get called for EVERYTHING. Down that path lay burnout and a future 12 step program involving some organization with the last name of Anonymous.

    im afraid that a network engineer will destroy you on an interview.
    *grins* I certainly would. Breaking candidates is one of my specialties, which is why they let me do it.
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  11. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Hi,

    Good ideal, pls try to keep posting. I like this topic very much and I will digged this one.



    Tks again.
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  12. Premier Field Engineer Everyone's Avatar
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    #11
    MCITP: EA and CCNA do not mix. An Enterprise Administrator needs to have an understanding of how the network works, but they do not need to be experts on routers and switches.

    A CCNA needs to know every detail of network devices like routers and switches, but they don't need to know how to configure and manage Windows or Active Directory.

    The only reason you'd ever want both is if you're in a small company where you are THE IT Guy handling everything. In that situation either cert is overkill.
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  13. Senior Member cyberguypr's Avatar
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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Everyone View Post
    The only reason you'd ever want both is if you're in a small company where you are THE IT Guy handling everything. In that situation either cert is overkill.
    Or if your ultimate goal is to be a well-rounded InfoSec professional.
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  14. MCMLXXXVI :: L.O.A.D.B Xcluziv's Avatar
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    #13
    Quote Originally Posted by eMeS View Post
    In the most arrogant Harvard blue-blood voice I can work up:

    "Obviously, he graduated from Columbia...."

    MS
    LOL *in that snooty voice I presume*
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  15. MCMLXXXVI :: L.O.A.D.B Xcluziv's Avatar
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    #14
    My question to you after receiving all of this feedback from the board thus far and taking it all in, WHATS NEXT???? I see you mentioned that you will be working to support your family financially, but what would the "job" be geard towards. Is it helping you persue any goalls you have witin IT? Just a thought

    I'm actually a Systems Analyst for an Insurance company. When you look for jobs out there you need to thoroughly look at the job description and what is required of you. Some titles can be a veil and not really depict what your duties are. I'm sure many of us on the board can agree there is one statement you don't want to see under your responsibilities:

    *Other duties as assigned*

    So far in my short tenure at this job I have done BA/SA/QA work which has been a thrill because I don't want to get bored with tedious and mundane jobs, but you see where I am coming from ( I think an appropriate titile should be: Business Quality Assurance Systems Analyst, lol). To get into this arena as an "Analyst" you really need a degree either in Business, CS, EE, or MIS at the least. Other than that you need a few years experience under your belt to compete with everyone who has attained these goals.

    This is coming from someone who just graduated in 2010

    I would suggest to you is come up with a detailed game plan of what you want to do this year...next year...5 years down the line as a roadmap to direct your paths, then and only then will you know where you are headed.
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  16. Premier Field Engineer Everyone's Avatar
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    #15
    Quote Originally Posted by cyberguypr View Post
    Or if your ultimate goal is to be a well-rounded InfoSec professional.
    There are other certs for that.
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  17. Junior Member Registered Member
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    #16
    Wow, I remember posting this almost 5 years and things have changed so much since then and I would like to share my experience.

    Around May 2012 after getting a bunch of certs A+, N+, S+, CCNA, and SQL 2008 (database admin, database developer, and BI) I started applying for a bunch of jobs specifically Business Analyst | Database Analyst positions and received interviews but practically bombed all of them.

    My problem was that I looked good on paper but didn't have any real work experience to secure the job. As disheartening as this was to continually get rejected, the reality was that there is no shortcut to work experience, it is by far integral piece of information one can acquire that will help secure a job but to challenge is the quest to obtain it.

    I got lucky and met my current manager who was kind enough to give me a chance and hired me as Business Systems Analyst within the same industry I had worked in prior. This allowed me to leverage my existing knowledge in a new technical role and proved integral in my success.

    Today, I am a Senior Business Systems Analyst mentoring junior BA's who were in the same position and planning to apply to MBA program in the fall of 2016. Here would be my advice for anyone trying to enter the IT field in general.

    1. Get certs, but get the right ones. They are very practical in the real world from my experience. My problem was that I truly didn't have a concrete vision of what I wanted to do so I got a bunch of random certs that I didn't need and may have better spent that time narrowly focusing on acquiring information specifically related to my career goals.
    For example my CCNA (which has now expired) I truly didn't need that and have never used the knowledge with the exception of this one time I saw a person subnetting on his paper and could recognize what he was doing. I think for anyone in IT they should have the A+, N+, S+ for foundation but after that get the certs that specifically apply to what you want to do IT is huge, there are so many different areas and not many are “jack-of-all trades” besides the architects and they didn’t get there by studying a bunch of certs which I originally thought. That came from experience. So focus on a specific role and get certs for that.

    2. If you want to be a Business Systems Analyst or the business side of IT learn SQL and relational databases. Period! It’s by far the most valuable thing I’ve learned in my career that has to allow me to communicate with developers on a whole another level. You can certainly get a job as one without it, but to be truly effective I firmly believe you need this knowledge base. Also, you don’t need a degree in CS, Engineering, or MIS. That’s just simply not true. While it may help it’s not required at most companies. The CIO of my company has a degree in accounting to give you some perspective and our IT operation is like 300+ strong globally.

    3. If you can go to college do it, but get an education more importantly as cheaply as you can. Experience and certs first then college
    WGU is a great school that teaches you valuable skills. Big names schools are great but they sometimes teach you theory instead of application. I’ve worked with a lot people who went to lesser known online schools who received great educations and were more prepared to enter the work-force than I was 5 years ago. So go to school and get an education, but make sure it is aligned with your career goals and you can get it as cheap as possible.

    4. If you are currently working in a company and want to break into IT, try to make a lateral move. It’s substantially easier and allows you to leverage you’re existing knowledge base to give you experience. This lateral move changed my life.

    5. During interviews, if you get asked a question that you don’t know, just keep it real. Say, “You know what I actually don’t know the answer, but if you give me a browser and 10 minutes, I probably can figure it out fairly quickly”
    One interview I bombed, this guy kept asking me SQL questions that I didn’t know and in attempt to not sound stupid I just kept guessing. After getting flustered I just told him just that and he replied “that was the best answer I could’ve given him but it was 2 minutes too late.” That experience stuck with me to this day.
    In the real world, people google answers. No-one knows everything, there is so much out there and you will forget things you potentially figured out weeks ago. The real question is whether you know where and how to get answers quickly.

    6. Lastly, remain positive and focused and you will get exactly where you need to be. The universe always rewards those who are patient, hard-working, and diligent.
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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by westward View Post
    Here's my thoughts. Don't take offense, just challenging your thinking.

    First, how did you complete an Ivy League education with such poor grammar and spelling? Just wondering... seriously wondering.

    Second, you have Analyst experience, so you have the ability to analyze. But without IT experience, how would you be able to analyze the IT needs of a business?

    Thirdly, you said you skipped the CompSci degree since it was hard, and it focused on programming. Now you say you're studying programming, so what gives?

    Fourthly, what are you currently doing for work?

    Have you applied for BA/SA positions so far? Have you checked to see what their requirements are? I would spend 2011 studying what you're currently focusing on. Try to get a job in or close to BA/SA. Go for the MIS whenever you can afford it. But it MAY not make up for a few years of experience.
    You also have grammatical mistakes in your response.
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    #18
    Op, I would aim higher than just "laboring" as a consultant or "technician." The money potential is great, but there is an alternative path to IT management - a shorter one at that.

    My first bachelor's degree is also in the same field as you. After graduating, I went to school part-time to earn a second bachelor's degree in a STEM; and next spring, I will start a master's in computer science (also part-time). I worked in the field of logistics before recently moving into IT management. (Note: not all MSCS degrees are program heavy, they just expect you to know how to do something).

    From my limited experience outside of logistics, I can tell you that being an IT manager doesn't actually require you to have the same skills as those you are in charge of to be successful in that role. There are people in my new job that are DoD civilians with years of software engineering, programming, web development, and information security skills that are probably smarter than me - or at least have more skills than I do. However, I'm their boss.

    All you really need to break into IT management is leadership skills, management experience, demonstrated knowledge of science and technology (i.e. a related degree), and the ability to articulate/communicate well with people of all levels. This has been my experience in the public sector side of the fence - in the private sector, mileage may very.
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