Right at the top of the fastest-growing and best-paid jobs for 2014 are those associated with the information technology (IT) field, and that makes Minnesota School of Business–St. Cloud (MSB) graduate, Alex Moening, smile.
Moening earned his Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree at MSB in December but has been employed in his field for nearly three years. He finds technology dynamic and absorbing, and he shares here a few valuable tips for students seeking out a similar degree.
Do What You Love. I have always loved computers and technology which drove me to study them after high school. The technology industry is fascinating to me, and it is constantly evolving, which keeps it interesting and exciting. I like the idea that you can do absolutely anything you want with computers; it’s just a matter of acquiring the knowledge and the skills. After that, the sky is the limit.
Choose the Right College. I chose MSB because they are a smaller, specialized college that is very professional. Right from the first visit I had there, I felt like I had a name and a face rather than just being a number like a large university. In addition, their IT program was the most desirable to me for a couple of reasons.
First, unlike many of the other IT programs offered by area colleges, they focused on many different areas of IT. That is a huge advantage with the IT industry, because technology tends to blend together and converge. You are not just going for network administration or programming; you are learning many different areas of IT such as databases, networking, servers, operating systems, hardware, programming, etc.
Secondly, the classes that are offered not only get you prepared for the technical side of the job industry, but they also provide you with business skills, customer service skills, and communication skills. I have found that to be absolutely invaluable for preparing myself for a job.
Apply Your Knowledge. IT is a challenging field. My biggest piece of advice is to not only attend class and learn IT skills and knowledge, but to take that home and then apply it. Say you are learning about domain controllers in Microsoft Windows Server 2008. Take that old computer you have lying around and install Server 2008. Promote it to a domain controller and create your own domain at home. Mess with it, break it, and then fix it. This is the best way to learn, just by putting what you have learned and applying it to a real world situation. I am constantly testing new technologies and different setups, and it keeps me on my feet and learning all the time. Once you have a base knowledge with one component of IT, you can apply that to the next one and grow from there.
You Can Do It All. My biggest challenge in college was juggling work and school. Throughout my three and a half years of studying at MSB, I worked full-time for about three of the years. There are many days were I would spend 14 or 16 hours a day on a computer, but I enjoyed it through to the end.
Keep Learning. I am currently working as a Network Specialist at Marco. I chose to pursue the Network Security emphasis of the IT program, [in college] so I will be taking my Cisco Certified Network Associate certification soon. From there, I would like to eventually move into Network Systems Engineering.