Chuck Carroll

A Professional Transition to Networking & IT

Published: 2024-04-14

I recently took and passed the Linux Foundation Certified IT Associate (LFCA) exam. I primarily went after this certification for fun, but I also wanted formalize some of my linux knowledge and learn something new. I became more familiar with basic networking functions and manipulating text files (text files may not sound like a big deal to a non-technical person, but modifying text is an important skill in information technology).

Although this particular certification is not directly applicable to my current job role like the CAPM and it may be specific to Linux systems (which I do use as my desktop for work), I believe it demonstrates a degree of technical proficiency which can be useful in any job. Most importantly it got the gears in my head turning and I started thinking about my long term career plans, which I never really thought much about until recently.

All this being said, completing this cert made me realize that my natural interests and inclination toward tinkering with technology in my free time that a potential career shift into networking engineering/IT is something I'd not only enjoy, but also has the long term potential for a higher income. So as of last week I started a two year Network Technologies program at my local community college.

I had actually started a similar program about 15+ years ago at a different college but switched to a university transfer program where I ultimately dual-majored in psychology and sociology. Why did I do this? First off, psychology was and still is an incredibly fascinating subject and to this day I read book about the mind and human behavior. I also imagined that I would not like working in IT at a desk for 40 hours a week, but the reality is that every job I've had since graduating has been at a desk and it's really not so bad. And finally, the one programming class I took was challenging for my 19 year old self who would rather hang out with friends and go to parties than study. It wasn't until the last couple of terms in my psychology and sociology programs that I talked to an academic adviser about switching to computer science and they told me my financial aid was about to run out and I'd have to pay out-of-pocket tuition.

Fast forward to today: I'm 36 and I'm paying out-of-pocket tuition. The differences between now and then is that a) I'm not an irresponsible and immature 19 year old that prioritizes social life and other meaningless things over studying, and b) I'm more or less established professionally and can (begrudgingly) afford to pay out-of-pocket tuition. I'm also much more confident with myself and interacting with others. I don't see this as necessarily a complete 180 in my career — I've done digital marketing for telecommunications and semiconductor companies, as well as doing site acquisition for a major US wireless carrier. And throughout college I worked at an electronics store and then later at a carrier retail store doing sales and service & repair. To me, the trend is clear. Throughout my professional life, I've naturally gravitated toward these roles because of my interests computers and networks.

Anyone who reads this blog can expect an slight uptick in computer/networking/technical related posts. That's my update and I'm confident with the direction I'm is taking. However, I am a fallible human that exists in both space and time and I reserve the right to change my mind at any point.

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