How to land that first network job

Being successful in landing that all important first network position is something that every network professional has faced

I am often asked for career advice on how to break into the networking job market. While my answers have changed somewhat over the years as the market has changed, generally my responses have remained the same. This is because the core of networking has remained the same; it's still about getting two devices to talk with each other.

The basic methodologies for ensuring proper communication really haven't changed since the dumb terminal to mainframe via direct serial connection days. There has to be an initiation of communication, a response to the initiation and a response to that agreeing on how to communicate. In the IP world, that is the well-known "three-way handshake" involving SYN, SYN-ACK and ACK packets.

To land that first networking job, you must be able to set up a system to establish the communication between two parties before relevant data can pass. While there is always a certain element of luck involved in landing that first position, a few tips can increase the chances of being successful.

Specializing in a field

The term "network administrator" historically can refer to many types of positions. For example, in the '90s, it often meant Novell file server administration. Today, it may be listed in advertisements for Windows server administration positions. It may mean administering a LAN, WAN or even a SAN.

Acronym saturation is a fact in networking. A position may require knowledge with Open Shortest Path First or Border Gateway Protocol. On the voice side, there are network administrators whose primary functions are administering voice-over IP networks. Then there are necessary network services, such as Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service or Active Directory.

Networking is such a broad field that it's important to decide on a certain niche and become proficient at it. Composer Billy Joel once said that he stood out as a piano player not because he was exceptional at piano playing, but competent in a field of mediocrity. It may be best to specialize in one particular aspect of network administration at the early stages of your career so you stand out against an average field.

However, as you progress down your chosen path, the reverse is true. Because of the intertwined aspects of networking, and IT in general, it becomes critical to understand how your specialized area contributes to the overall IT environment as you progress in your networking career.

When looking to gain a foothold in networking, it's advantageous to focus on becoming competent in one field while simultaneously expanding knowledge in other network and IT aspects. In reality, once you land that first networking position, exposure to the other elements occurs as a function of the position.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Greg Schaffer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?