Becoming a network administrator.

Hey all.

I’ve got a second interview scheduled on Wenesday at a local Application Service Provider. I got recommeded by a friend of a friend who’s their senior developer.

They’re looking for a network operations cum customer care guy who can a) read documentation, b) isn’t an ass, c) is willing to learn, and, most importantly, d) understands that at a small, growing company, specific job duties and requirements can sometimes be pretty nebulous.

I’m a technically-inclined dude in his first year of a four-year IT program. The only real experience I have in the field is a little bit of Linux administration, Perl, PHP, and SQL. I also have a BA in History.

Essentially, if they picked me, they’d be starting with a blank slate. It almost feels more like an apprenticeship than a job. Since I’m going to school nights, I’m not going to be able to do any other kind of internship.

So what am I worth? The Occupation Outlook Handbook states that entry-level network admin jobs go for $34k with a median of about $55k. But I assume that even the low end is for people with more formal training and experience than I have. They offered me between $25 and $28k at the first interview.

Am I selling myself short?

They are offering to “possibly” pay up front for my schooling, which comes to about another $6k, but since I’m currently paying for it with subsidized loans, it doesn’t quite feel like real money.

A couple of other wrinkles:

If I get the job, my commute will jump from less than four miles, round trip, to about forty. My car is a piece of shit, but I plan on taking the bus at least two days a week. I live downtown, and they’re in a suburban office park.

I’ve got a pretty good chance of being offered a non IT-related job with the State of Ohio that pays about $34k. After I got out of college the first time, I would have jumped all over it, but I’m wary about not being able to get my feet wet in my chosen field before I get out of school this time around. Should I mention the offer in my upcoming interview?

I would say that you’ve got an opportunity to learn amazing amounts of stuff in a company that seems pretty flexible.

My $.02? Take the IT job.

Take it! Take it! Do you have any idea how hard it is to find an entry-level IT job these days?

What about playing hardball with the salary? Should I mention the other offer? Maybe push for $30k?

I suppose I should be grateful that I’ve even gotten this far, without having to pound the pavement. Believe me, I know that most places aren’t exactly willing to give somebody with no proven skillz a shot essentially by word of mouth.

I don’t want to be an ingrate, but I don’t want to get taken advantage of, either.

You can always ask for a raise later.
Also, you might not only get on the job training, and educational expenses paid (which ain’t nothing to snort at), but also decent beginnings of a networking circle that could lead to mega-bucks later.

I would say take it. Also, think about how easy your classes might get once you learn a bunch. Easy A’s are fantastic A’s.

Hope you have an unlimited supply of patience. I sort of got myself into a postion like you have before you. IMHO it was one of the most thankless jobs I’ve ever had. First find all the documentation you can get your hands on, no matter how trivial. Remember, if anything can go wrong, it will go wrorng. Keep in touch with all the on-line help sites. When someone hasa a problem, you have to first determine is the problem hardware or software. (Diagnose first, then try to fix)

Try to anticipate disasters. (What will I do if we get a virus or worm attack)
(What di I do if a drive fails)

Try to maintain a sense of humor. Its just data, not life (Oh, data IS life, sorry about that). When the network goes down EVERYBODY will be bugging you with (What happened? How long will it be down?) They don’t mean to be bugging you, but they just can’t help it, the network is down and they are all flopping around like fish out of water. (Data ** IS ** ife)

You might try to establish a network of other administrators whom you can call for advice or suggestions.

You will learn a heck of a lot and if things don’t work out, you will have established a benchmark in life (This is the stupidist thing I have ever done)

By the way, the three supidist things I ever did in my life involve the military and the Network administrator job doesn’t even make the top 10.

Keep smiling, it keeps tem off guard, they think you know something.

Good luck.

I think interview #2 went pretty well. This time, I spoke with the actual president of the company, and managed to look like I knew something about supply chain management.

I also got vetted by one of the network specialists. Turns out that the only MS products in the shop are a couple of NT4 file servers that they’re trying to get rid of. The rest is Debian and AIX. Damn I hope I get it.

Thanks for the responses, folks.