Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ask Slashdot: How To Prove IT Knowledge Without Expensive Certificates?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the use-these-stickers-and-sparkle dept.

Businesses 186

An anonymous reader writes "I'm starting my Ph.D in psychology this year and plan to finance this period with IT freelance work, mostly building websites with Drupal and setting up Linux networks, servers, etc.. Now I have a little problem: Since I never studied ICT nor followed a course that resulted in a certificate, I can only prove my knowledge by actually doing stuff or showing what I've done so far. Unfortunately that isn't always sufficient to convince potential customers. So I was wondering what other slashdotters do. Are there any free or cheap alternatives to get certificates or other more convincing ways to prove your IT knowledge?"

cancel ×

186 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 2 years ago | (#41343479)

did i get it?

Re:first post (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343495)

Yes, you did.

Having nothing else left to live for, you can kill yourself now.

Re:first post (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344353)

did i get it?

You did, but I'm still a bit dubious about your actual first post skills. Do you have a certificate or something to show for it?

Show em your previous work. (5, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#41343487)

Works for me every time.

Re:Show em your previous work. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343503)

Absolutely agreed. If you know your stuff, it will also show up when discussing the technology with them. Unless they are incompetent, where they would then prefer to see the certifications, which is part of a nasty loop.

Re:Show em your previous work. (3, Insightful)

Freaky Spook (811861) | about 2 years ago | (#41343557)

Pretty much.

If you are building websites, you should be keeping a portfolio of that anyway, your portfolio is your best and cheapest form of advertisement/job opportunity.

Re:Show em your previous work. (4, Insightful)

GrpA (691294) | about 2 years ago | (#41343647)

References. Former customers. Previous work. How you answer questions in the interview. Certificates only count for employers to whom the certificate is absolutely critical. In some cases it really is all that matters. In others, experience and ability count.

GrpA

Re:Show em your previous work. (1)

olau (314197) | about 2 years ago | (#41344945)

You're assuming his previous work was good. Step one is making sure you always do a good job, so you can show it off. :)

Re:Show em your previous work. (1)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#41345027)

Well, if it wasn't I can't begin to imagine why he'd be trying to use his mad skillz to pay for his Ph.D. But you have a point, in which case there is very little I can offer in terms of advice. Maybe he can boast about his good understanding of what can go wrong with these projects...

Photoshop! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343499)

Just make your own certificates, for free!

Wrong question (5, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 2 years ago | (#41343515)

Are there any free or cheap alternatives to get certificates or other more convincing ways to prove your IT knowledge?

Wrong question. What you really meant to ask:

Are there any free or cheap alternatives to get clients?

And the answer is: networking. It's free or cheap, but it's time-consuming and time-delayed.

And I consider referrals to be a special case of networking. You said you already "did stuff". If what you did was just for yourself, then you need to do it for someone else. There are plenty of non-profits (or even mom & pop for-profits) who would love some free work.

Goddammit, mods >:( (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344407)

Are there any free or cheap alternatives to get certificates or other more convincing ways to prove your IT knowledge?

Wrong question. What you really meant to ask:

Are there any free or cheap alternatives to get clients?

The one time there is actually insightful comment on Slashdot, it's modded interesting.

How to prove medical knowledge? (1, Insightful)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about 2 years ago | (#41343523)

Without expensive phd?

med school gives you real knowledge (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41343567)

med school gives you real knowledge.

It trade / tech schools give you real knowledge

Re:med school gives you real knowledge (2)

NeveRBorN (86123) | about 2 years ago | (#41343909)

Since when do IT Trade/Tech schools give you real knowledge? Nearly every applicant I've met who's been to one thinks he has real knowledge until you ask him to answer a real world question. The few who know the right answers generally knew the answers before they went to school for the paper.

Re:med school gives you real knowledge (0)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 2 years ago | (#41344059)

I would call this misleading. It think the quality of the people they accept to some of the schools is lackluster, but if you're a good student (i.e. one who is willing to question and go beyond the actual coursework), you can get quite a lot out of those types of schools. They're just filled with the people who couldn't get in elsewhere, and they tend to look for certain types of students - who can get a student loan but really aren't college material.

Re:med school gives you real knowledge (5, Interesting)

toruonu (1696670) | about 2 years ago | (#41344139)

I used to teach a course in Grid/distributed computing in our local IT College, but after putting up with the stupidity of the students for two years I stopped. This was a side project where I wanted to give something back, not my main finance source, but I just couldn't cope with last year sysadmin/systems engineers struggling with linux command line. I mean that it was as bad as unpacking their tarballs exclusively with double clicking on it on the desktop. I did try in the second/third iteration to pre-empt it a bit by doing a few first weeks basic shell programming tutorials, but there was no foundation to build on and I didn't have the time to teach a whole seat if courses from scratch so I stopped the course although they still ask if I want to return every year.

I've seen the same in other universities too, the people who are excellent were already before entering and have just hoend and extended the skills. Who enter blank rarely make out as anything useful...

Re:med school gives you real knowledge (4, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41344781)

"I would call this misleading. It think the quality of the people they accept to some of the schools is lackluster, but if you're a good student (i.e. one who is willing to question and go beyond the actual coursework), you can get quite a lot out of those types of schools."

I think this reply is misleading. It misses the boat in at least two ways:

First, the quality of the people they accept is completely irrelevant. The quality of the people they graduate is the only thing that matters.

But as for the second point: actually, most of them -- if you want to be honest -- are low-quality schools. They are primarily designed to milk the students for as much government money as they can, then dump them out the door.

Don't blame the students for this... the schools' advertising, promises, and application procedures are outright predatory.

Re:med school gives you real knowledge (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41344381)

He manages to work trade schools and/or apprenticeships into everything, from global warming to tactics against war elephants.

Bit of a fucking loony, I reckon.

Re:How to prove medical knowledge? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343605)

Yeah. It would be great if they were comparable.

Certs are a negative where I work (something of a red flag). We give both a written and a practical exam. Almost without exception, the cert collecting folks fail miserably. Folks with real experience ace the exams, and the rest fall in between.

Re:How to prove medical knowledge? (2)

tokencode (1952944) | about 2 years ago | (#41343891)

I couldn't agree with you more, this has been my experience as well. The more certifications you have, usually the less qualified you are with a few exceptions. Some certs such as CCIE still mean something.

Re:How to prove medical knowledge? (2)

Nos. (179609) | about 2 years ago | (#41343997)

But who is writing the exams? If its all self taught people, then you're in a self-reinforcing stereo type situation.

Certs are an indicator that someone can learn information in a formal setting. There are benefits to this over someone who learned as they went, from a book, or from a website. How do you know they actually know industry standards, best practices, and are going to give you a quality product at the end of the day.

That's not to say that everybody with a certificate is the best candidate, that's as far from the truth as the reverse. I've held several certificates over the last number of years, some I've renewed (GIAC) and some I have (various MS certificates), based on what position I'm in. If someone shows me that they hold a GIAC certification, I'm going to move them to the "interview/test" pile assuming they have some working experience as well. If they don't, I'm going to study their resume a bit closer before I make that decision.

Re:How to prove medical knowledge? (3, Informative)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 years ago | (#41345043)

Certs are an indicator that someone can learn information in a formal setting.

Not always. A lot of certs are cram-and-barf and all they really indicate is that you can hold the information necessary to pass the test long enough to pass the test. Many of the better-known certs never require any formal setting at all. And all too frequently, the information necessary to pass the test is not the information that the daily job requires. I've seen too many practice exams that focus on obscure features, decoding code that's so awful that in real life, the person inheriting it would be more likely to ignore it and rewrite it (after assaulting the original author), or revelling in quirks best left alone.

Holding a lot of certs indicates that you have an aptitude for acquiring certs, but that's not a position that's commonly hired for.

The only certs that really impressed me were the RHCE and CCNA, and that's because they closely mimic the kind of things people actually do on a routine basis and hence need to be able to do well.

Conversely, I've never seen a programming cert that impressed me, because an industrial-grade real-world software system isn't something you can whip up in a 2-hour test session - anything realistic would take weeks or longer (despite what the boss/users think). The only "cert" I'd accept for that would be experience. And people have been known to fudge on the experience.

Re:How to prove medical knowledge? (1)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about 2 years ago | (#41343707)

Mod up. It may be unfair. It may not be a fair evaluation of your capabilities. But it's what employers look for-- certs and degrees. Now if you're really good at salesmanship; at people-networking, at connecting with others, then you can do it.

Re:How to prove medical knowledge? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41344311)

Since when was a PhD a necessary or a sufficient qualification for practicing medicine?

Re:How to prove medical knowledge? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41344347)

A medical degree and residency. M.D. != PhD.

Re:How to prove medical knowledge? (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#41345049)

The hard part is getting access to corpses for practice without going to medical school.

Proof of Skills (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343529)

I prefer to affix the root login for their databases to my resume....tends to get their attention

Re:Proof of Skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343585)

and you better have a good attorney on speed dial.

Have an interactive résumé or business c (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343533)

Perhaps as an app on Android/iOS and a website. Cheap and shows off what you can do.

CompTIA Certifications (3, Interesting)

kolbe (320366) | about 2 years ago | (#41343535)

CompTIA offers several free courses and tests cost ~$168, which is cheaper than most out there. Sure, it's not as renowned as it was in the 1990's, but it is still something to show worth/value (most non-tech savvy business owners won't notice the difference).

Alternately, the Linux Plus Certification 101 (LPIC) can be had for $160 and several places will offer the test for FREE several times a year.

Re:CompTIA Certifications (2)

kolbe (320366) | about 2 years ago | (#41343549)

Side note, check to see if the UNIV you are attending offers discounts for such things. You can check the listings of schools that do such here: http://education-portal.com/linux_certificate.html [education-portal.com]

Re:CompTIA Certifications (1)

Pubstar (2525396) | about 2 years ago | (#41344345)

I'm actually taking a CompTIA class at my local community college right now. Prep book is only $25, and the instructor is really knowledgeable, but also is kinda teaching to the test. That said, my tests at the end of the year are going to run me $80. If the school is registered as a CompTIA Academy, then you get half off all tests, regardless if you took the class for it or not. Getting my Network+, Security+, and Linux+ by the end of the year, and taking a CCNA course next semester. End goal is programming, but I just need to get the hell out of retail and into the IT field.

Re:CompTIA Certifications (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | about 2 years ago | (#41344143)

That said, Linux+ is a joke of a test, and anyone who has taken it knows how much of a joke it is, which means the IT departments of where ever will know it is worthless. That said, the HR departments do not always know that and it might be enough to get the interview.

Objection! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344479)

It wasn't renowned in the 90s. On second thought, objection withdrawn.

Anyway, you don't want that crap. Might look into getting coursera or udacity "certs" instead. At the very least they'll get you started and while officially devoid of any credit (but free not counting the work you do to get them) you do get something to show off, and that might work while they're still new and exciting.

Re:Objection! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41344873)

is comptia like a "computer driving card"?

We have that kind of thing in Finland. it doesn't matter shit. in fact, I acquired it two times just going through public schooling.

You already know the answer (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#41343539)

The answer is in your post: "showing what I've done so far". If you don't have enough work to show them, then maybe you don't have the experience they are looking for.

When hiring contractors (or employees), I prefer experience over certificates and generally only glance at certs.

WTF? Getting a PhD but IT certs are too expensive? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343543)

This post makes no sense. Is there even such a thing a Drupal cert? If there is, hardly anybody asks for it.

Seems to me like the poster thinks he/she can make big money in IT freelancing without verifiable training, or experience. I find that attitude typical of people who don't know anything about real world IT, but think it must be easy.

Take a look at sites like rentacoder, elance, and odesk. Yeah, easy to make big money in IT.

Re:WTF? Getting a PhD but IT certs are too expensi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343887)

Except it is easy to make big money in IT.

On the other hand... (1)

NeveRBorN (86123) | about 2 years ago | (#41343923)

If you were paying your way to a PhD working at McDonalds, would you have the spare change to get tech certs?

Re:WTF? Getting a PhD but IT certs are too expensi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344063)

Is there even such a thing a Drupal cert?

I would not be surprised to find that such a thing exists. I would also not be surprised to find that there are certs for Microsoft Office.

Re:WTF? Getting a PhD but IT certs are too expensi (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 years ago | (#41344171)

Getting a PhD but IT certs are too expensive?

Education in many countries, especially at the PhD level, is free. There may not always be grants available or other research or teaching positions on offer to pay the bills, leaving the student rather short of cash. Why do you assume that a PhD student has lots of income to invest in certs?

Seems to me like the poster thinks he/she can make big money in IT freelancing without verifiable training, or experience.

Read again. The poster noted his verifiable experience: "I can only prove my knowledge by ... showing what I've done so far."

Re:WTF? Getting a PhD but IT certs are too expensi (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41345039)

This post makes no sense. Is there even such a thing a Drupal cert? If there is, hardly anybody asks for it.

The poster is doing a Ph D in psychology. The post makes perfect sense in this context: He is observing the reactions to the post, and will write a thesis about slashdot and online collaboration, whateva.

Why not get some certs? (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#41343591)

They really aren't that much for basic ones. No they aren't the be-all, end-all but they can help. They help reassure people that maybe you know what you are talking about. They also show a level of commitment on your part, that you were willing and able to study for and pass the test.

I'm not saying don't take the advice of others with regards to networking and so on as well, but some certs can help things, particularly if you are getting started, but even later on.

Re:Why not get some certs? (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#41343853)

They also show a level of commitment on your part

That's the thing, he isn't really committed. He's not an IT professional, and has no stated intention of becoming one. He just wants to look professional and be treated like a professional without having to go to the bother of actually being a professional. He's a part-timer working on the side while doing something utterly unrelated - and presumably intending to bail, or at least cut way back when is gainfully employed in the actual field he's seeking a PhD in.
 
Or to put it coldly, he's exactly the kind of guy the certification process is supposed to weed out.

Re:Why not get some certs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343911)

Or to put it coldly, he's exactly the kind of guy the certification process is supposed to weed out.

I thought they're designed to weed out people who actually care about what they're trying to do. After all, if motivation is what you're looking for, just ask them to dig giant holes in the ground with spoons; that's about as useful.

Honestly, I'm tired of the "It's to prove you're motivation." line. I think more highly of people who are knowledgeable (and can demonstrate that they are) and obtained the knowledge through self-directed learning.

Re:Why not get some certs? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343975)

I built a Linux in my mom's basement! Trust me with your business servers!

Re:Why not get some certs? (2)

mlts (1038732) | about 2 years ago | (#41343999)

We all know certs versus competency. However, the people who are hiring and firing really do not see how well one does in the job. At best, they might only be brought in the picture if there is a reprimand.

To the PHBs and the HR department, certs are everything. The guy who has little to no knowledge of the ramifications of their decisions, but has the pieces of paper will always get the position over someone who has the skills, but no "proof".

Of course, the exception is networking -- a place hiring someone they know can take precedence over any amount of certs.

drop the PHD and go to a tech / trade school (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41343593)

drop the PHD and go to a tech / trade school

maybe take some classes that are not all book learning.

Re:drop the PHD and go to a tech / trade school (3, Interesting)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41343609)

Psych students are all nuts and think they will somehow figure out their own issues at school.

He's not getting a psych doctorate for the money. It's a neurotic compulsion.

Re:drop the PHD and go to a tech / trade school (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343809)

That makes a lot of sense. I've often found that engineering students are shoddily put together and hope to figure out their own issues at school. Also that physics students are mostly composed from particles beyond the Standard Model and medical students are dying of cancer. English lit students can't read and communications majors tend to be deaf-mutes. Based on your shoddy understanding of logic, I'm guessing... philosophy major?

Re:drop the PHD and go to a tech / trade school (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343981)

Ah, a post by a fellow sociologist!

Re:drop the PHD and go to a tech / trade school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344213)

I wish I had mod points so I could mod you insightful. I've noticed this exact same thing, it's this desire to "doctor, heal thyself", and that's why it's illegal for doctors to prescribe medicine to themselves.

15-years worth of referral-only work... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343599)

...has led me to believe this is a great way to go.

Re:15-years worth of referral-only work... (1)

scsirob (246572) | about 2 years ago | (#41344603)

Not sure why you got no 'insightful' on this yet. I couldn't agree more with you.
Not only in Russia, but also when you have a great reputations, customers find YOU!

Why get a psych degree when you can program? (2)

Guy Smiley (9219) | about 2 years ago | (#41343603)

Honestly, if you have enough skills to support yourself through programming, why would you ever get a degree in psychology, especially a Ph.D.? That IMHO is the road to a dead-end career path without much hope of earnings.

Ph.D.s are often only useful in academia, or in career paths where there are so many students that they need a Ph.D. to distinguish themselves from the people with "only" a masters.

Better to just get good at some programming skills in high demand (hint, don't pick "popular" and "easy" languages) and have a good career path going forward. Then you don't have to waste 2-3 years of your life to get a piece of paper that won't pay itself off in the next 10 years.

Re:Why get a psych degree when you can program? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#41343611)

I'm sure it was a PhD in Psychology who designed World of Warcraft's grind-reward model.

Re:Why get a psych degree when you can program? (2, Interesting)

Guy Smiley (9219) | about 2 years ago | (#41343643)

That said, the computer programmers we hire are mostly found by finding smart people who are posting on mailing lists answering questions about topics they are knowledgeable in, or contributing patches to open source projects.

This makes it clear to us that the poster is already smart, is interested in the topic at hand, has actual skills in the particular programming language, and is self motivated. These are all desirable traits that cannot necessarily be found from a stack of resumes.

Re:Why get a psych degree when you can program? (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 2 years ago | (#41343649)

Honestly, if you have enough skills to support yourself through programming, why would you ever get a degree in psychology, especially a Ph.D.?

Possibly because he or she is interested in the subject and wants to do work in the area?

Just a guess.

Customers? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41343607)

Customers never give a crap about certificates.

Neither does any professional HR department. They know those things are largely paper mills.

Starting out, its all word of mouth and personal references. You also end up having to warrant your work and
maybe even offer to accept no payment till its up and working.

Best bet is to sign on with an existing tech shop for a while to gain experience and references.

Simple: By Communicating It (4, Interesting)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#41343635)

I've been an Independent Contractor in IT specializing in architectural and product consultation for early phase startups and internal product start-ups and prototyping for established enterprises. And in over 10 years and never have any shortage of work.

Yet I never went to college, am self taught and have never once bothered with shelling out cash for any bullshit certificate nor do I maintain any sort of web presence or "portfolio"

I merely have a resume on Craigslist, which most comment on being rather impressive and features some pretty big names and interesting projects.

In all the years I have been doing this, even when I was first starting out -- I obtained my work by being able to describe highly advanced yet exceedingly efficient solutions to my client's seemingly complex problems.

Of course, sometimes, descriptions aren't enough -- on occasion you will need to provide a proof of concept, the time for which you should be compensated for -- if successful in proving your point that is. For instance, to win a contract with a client to build a new social music service, I spent a week creating a prototype site out of my proposed frameworks and specifications featuring streaming on-demand music to an spider-friendly HTML5 AJAX UI with no plugins aside for degradation for archaic browsers with demonstrated mobile browser compatibility as a technical proof. That went over very well and I'm presently building the real deal.

Of course, offering proofs of concept might not work if you're looking for a rank and file job -- but, in any technical interview, the white board is your friend. You should always make a point to get up and draw out what you're talking about. You'd be surprised how effective a back of the napkin diagram can be in making your case. And it allows you to make a presentation and thus, take charge of the interview room.

But in the end, it all hinges on you being able to identify the problem and compose a compelling if not novel solution on the fly. I've found that there's not a great many that can do that, especially while under pressure in an interview room.

Re:Simple: By Communicating It (3, Insightful)

asliarun (636603) | about 2 years ago | (#41343749)

I'm sorry if I come across as rude but this is the kind of nonsense that I only see in the software development industry. You're offering your services as an expert tradesman. If your professional or commercial circumstances require that you get a certificate or a degree just so people can cut to the chase and know that you are more reliable than the thousands of other pretenders, just go get the certificate, even if it means nothing more to you than toilet paper.

Do you hear a doctor strutting about in pride about how she or he did not need to get a medical degree and can still heal patients?

The worst part about this is that most certificates cost a few thousand dollars at best. It is a pittance compared to what a degree from a university costs. It is even way less than what anyone in just about any industry (other than the software industry) is gladly willing to spend if it means they get a competitive advantage in their career. Are you seriously telling me that you are that unwilling to invest in a profession or trade that you intend to pursue for the rest of your life??

Come on, man!

For the record, this is nothing against you or OP. I'm not judging you or anything. Just a general rant.

I've been an Independent Contractor in IT specializing in architectural and product consultation for early phase startups and internal product start-ups and prototyping for established enterprises. And in over 10 years and never have any shortage of work.

Yet I never went to college, am self taught and have never once bothered with shelling out cash for any bullshit certificate nor do I maintain any sort of web presence or "portfolio"

I merely have a resume on Craigslist, which most comment on being rather impressive and features some pretty big names and interesting projects.

In all the years I have been doing this, even when I was first starting out -- I obtained my work by being able to describe highly advanced yet exceedingly efficient solutions to my client's seemingly complex problems.

Of course, sometimes, descriptions aren't enough -- on occasion you will need to provide a proof of concept, the time for which you should be compensated for -- if successful in proving your point that is. For instance, to win a contract with a client to build a new social music service, I spent a week creating a prototype site out of my proposed frameworks and specifications featuring streaming on-demand music to an spider-friendly HTML5 AJAX UI with no plugins aside for degradation for archaic browsers with demonstrated mobile browser compatibility as a technical proof. That went over very well and I'm presently building the real deal.

Of course, offering proofs of concept might not work if you're looking for a rank and file job -- but, in any technical interview, the white board is your friend. You should always make a point to get up and draw out what you're talking about. You'd be surprised how effective a back of the napkin diagram can be in making your case. And it allows you to make a presentation and thus, take charge of the interview room.

But in the end, it all hinges on you being able to identify the problem and compose a compelling if not novel solution on the fly. I've found that there's not a great many that can do that, especially while under pressure in an interview room.

Re:Simple: By Communicating It (2)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41344205)

Do you hear a doctor strutting about in pride about how she or he did not need to get a medical degree and can still heal patients?

No. Not for the reasons you might think. If they would do that, they would be arrested, because it is required BY LAW. Not because they are not proud of it or are unable to do so.

It is a pittance compared to what a degree from a university costs.

This says more about the price and value of the university.

Are you seriously telling me that you are that unwilling to invest in a profession or trade that you intend to pursue for the rest of your life??

If it is an unwise investment, Yes. I know a LOT of hiring people who rather look at experience then at degrees, unless a degree is required by law.
There are exceptions who will hire first by degree and later by experience (or not look at experience at all). Some government agencies come to mind. If you want to go that route, it is an investment in that route.

Re:Simple: By Communicating It (3, Insightful)

HappyDrgn (142428) | about 2 years ago | (#41344497)

"Are you seriously telling me that you are that unwilling to invest in a profession or trade that you intend to pursue for the rest of your life??"

I invest in my career daily, 15 years and counting now, I don't see certifications as any kind of meaningful investment. I've held top positions at small start ups on up to fortune 50 tech companies. I'm going to hire my engineers based on demonstrated real world experience. I agree with l0ungeb0y; get up there and show me something on a whiteboard or log into a vm and build something. If you have no experience put a cert on a resume, but they are no more than resume filler IMO. Certs are not even on the same playing field as real experience. Any monkey, with enough practice, can fill out the right bubbles on a sheet. Aside from entry level gigs, it takes real experience to ace a tech interview however.

My advice; Get a Linkedin account and setup a small website. Do a few gigs and get some positive reviews on your profile page. Go to your local chamber of commerce mixers and start networking. Do well and start building a reputation. Know what you can do, but more importantly know what you can't. You might need to start with small and cheap gigs to build a trust relationship before you'll start getting bigger ones. References and recommendations are golden.

Re:Simple: By Communicating It (1)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#41344567)

If your professional or commercial circumstances require that you get a certificate or a degree just so people can cut to the chase and know that you are more reliable than the thousands of other pretenders, just go get the certificate, even if it means nothing more to you than toilet paper.

If the certificate is worth little to nothing, and most if not all certificate and degree do, I fail to see why I should enrich whichever self-proclaimed authority is issuing them. Seriously... Think for a second about the kind of egocentric parasite that it takes, to create a certificate out of thin air and to convince enough people of its value that it subsequently becomes a must-have piece of expensive toilet paper.

Re:Simple: By Communicating It (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41344645)

Do you hear a doctor strutting about in pride about how she or he did not need to get a medical degree and can still heal patients?

You used to, but Simon Singh put a stop to all that malarkey.

Re:Simple: By Communicating It (2)

Lando (9348) | about 2 years ago | (#41344845)

Certificates are not worth much when everyone can get them and the layman business owner doesn't know which ones are valuable and which ones are not. It's interesting to see how the business environment is changing, but while working as an employee required certs, degrees, etc. In general working as a consultant is all about the referral system, ie who you know and knows you. Put together a portfolio of your work and attend networking events in your area should help. The certifications that some people expect are for business types that are in the industry and have HR screening applicants. Selling your own skills to business owners is all about references, recommendations and what you can show them of your work.

Re:Simple: By Communicating It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344915)

Actually your kind of attitude is part of the problem in all industries where software development occurs.

(1) The OP is effectively one end of a B2B transaction where a corporation itself is ensuring that whatever due diligence and internal processes it wants are followed. If more than money is at stake, the client needs to organize itself appropriately. In a doctor-patient situation, the client could not be reasonably expected to guard against general quackery themselves and life is at stake. Cf consumer protection laws and general contractual laws.

(2) Medicine is an established field with research, peer review, feedback processes in a mature state. Software development is not, and in point of fact the last 50 years or so have really shown that the thinking is generally shallow around how we plan projects, communicate and track progress, and keep to an original vision.

(3) A doctor who does not keep up-to-date and relies on his 30 year old qualification could be very dangerous. A doctor who relied on training from a drug company could be more so, and yet you think this is a good idea in software?

(4) I have no idea if the OP is any good or not - perhaps he knows algorithms and data structures down pat, has a good broad understanding of how technology works, and has enough experience working with people and organizations to understand how to get things done. Or maybe he has no clue what he is doing, and ends up delivering shit very expensively, but his paying clients are even dumber than shit and are still happy. This is really 75% art and 25% science.

(5) A lot revolves around knowing which details are still important from a higher viewpoint, and which are not. Certificates generally cover specific things that are completely irrelevant from a 30,000ft planning view. However, networking, critical thinking skills, and an understanding of budgets, people and processes are highly correlated with success at this.

(5) If all you have is the technical skills this isn't a profession you will be able to pursue for the rest of your life. For all we know, the OP could be two years away from living on his boat in the Maldives.

References (3, Insightful)

abelb (1365345) | about 2 years ago | (#41343645)

Have a few of your past happy clients write you a reference and offer to have them call your prospective clients. You can also add some testimonials to your website. If you're good people will also refer you to their associates. Build a reputation.

Experience (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about 2 years ago | (#41343655)

Get your feet wet and start working with things. You need experience in order to prove that you can do things. Frankly experience is often more valuable than a degree or certification. For what it's worth, a funny thing happens with the right experience. You do funny things like holding a senior IT position at a very large University without claiming a degree or being a former student.

That being said I believe certifications and degrees are both useful and have value.

Degrees show that you can commit to something that takes years to get. However they don't necessarily mean you know jack squat about the subject you have a degree in. I have cleaned up after many a person with higher level degrees who royally fucked things up. I have also trained a lot of people with masters or PhD's over the years that were absolutely amazed to learn that I never did end up earning my degree.

Certifications are useful as a guiding path to help you get started in learning a given subject well. You can take a certification to pass the test or you can take it to learn the subject. Most people do the former and not the later. Done correctly a certification can be very valuable in laying foundational knowledge or providing a /framework/ for you to learn by.

I've gotten certifications over the years from generic ITIL ones to rare certifications that are only held by a few hundred people world wide. However when I look back over the years the most useful certification I ever earned was the old Networking Essentials cert from an early version of the MCSE test. It acted as a foundational knowledge that my dives into Novell, Microsoft, Cisco, Mac and Linux were all able to leverage.

However certifications have their limits. A few years after I earned my MCSE braindump sites started appearing on the Internet and that certification went from being quite valuable to an Internet punchline. The net result is that people got burned by paper MCSE's / (insert_cert_here) and don't place a lot of value on them (or other certs) any more. The net result now is that if people feel your relying on a certification to get an interview they are going to grill the daylights out of you to make sure you know your subject cold and aren't limited to book knowledge.

The only way to get past book knowledge and paper certification stigmas is to have experience. In other words you need to get out there and start producing. Keep an open mind on ways to do this that don't involve getting paid, especially when you don't have experience. Whether that means tackling an open source project (look at sourceforge sometime and it is quite obvious a number of projects were resume builders), working as an intern of whatever means you want.

Once you have done this you will a portfolio. You need think of your portfolio as your resume 2.0 and treat it accordingly. Make it professional, interesting, make sure it doesn't offend anyone, keep it clean that kind of thing. The point of the portfolio is to show and prove what you can do.

When you present your portfolio, something you will want to keep in mind is your design tradeoffs. Be prepared to answer why you did things one way and not another. You should also be prepared to then offer an example of when you would do things the other way. This is more important this it sounds. Good luck.

Certs are only uskeful/needed by newbs to a field. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41343675)

There's a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy effect here. People who have "been there, done that" in the field, don't give a damn about certs, because they know they can be bought by inexperienced people who have spare time and who can pass tests eventually. I'm with the people who say "show them what you've done". Even if you have to invent sites and causes, do so. "Here's a site I built for the society for the prevention of cruelty to ice cubes", or whatever, but WOW, that's a great Drupal setup or whatever.

The biggest problem is getting past the HR idiots so the techie people even SEE your resumé. You have to play keyword bingo enough to get the HR droids to pass on your 20 years of SunOS experience to me, the guy looking for an experienced Solaris admin, and yet get your resumé to me intact enough to know that it's not your first day at the circus either.

If I see someone with no experience and some certs, I'll interview them for a low-level position if I have one open. But, if they've been in the field for 5 or 10 years and are still listing certs rather than real world jobs, I'm going to assume that there's something wrong with them.

Use referrals, networking (1)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | about 2 years ago | (#41343733)

My dad was placed in a high-tech job skills program after being laid off by his previous employer. He now has his A+ and Network+ certificates. Using basic terms with him like "CAT-6e cable" he still has to ask questions like, "you mean the yellow wires?" All things fair, he still muddles through his own problems now (which is a relief to me) but I think it speaks volumes how much a certification is actually worth.

Normally, I'd advise you to use your resume to show potential employers that you've done hard stuff and use your cover letter to point out the holes you're especially good at plugging (e.g. I, personally, tend to make tools that make tedious, manual, error-prone tasks a few clicks or a single command). However, since you're doing the freelance website thing, I suggest that you ask your satisfied customers to write referrals for you that you can reference. If you have an especially good, ongoing relationship with a particular customer, offer them a discount to take phone Q and As with potential new customers. In short: Network.

Been a developer since 1999, no degree, no cert (3, Informative)

devleopard (317515) | about 2 years ago | (#41343773)

1) User groups, conferences: network network network
2) Volunteer to speak, and put that up on your blog
3) Oh yeah, start a blog. Blog regularly
4) Build your own sites/sample sites

Good approach to getting work: build site, find clients later. Most websites aren't that different. Pick an industry (say, air conditioning repair). Build a generic air conditioning repair site. Then go pitch it to those businesses (Google and start with the ones with current ugliest site); they'll always have you make customizations.

expensive? (1)

proca (2678743) | about 2 years ago | (#41343919)

99% of tech certificates will pay for themselves within 3 years (just because I made that number up doesn't mean it's wrong). Do the work and get a job. There are tons of jobs in the DC area, especially if you can pass a full scope poly (TS/SCI).

past work and references (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 2 years ago | (#41343943)

If your solo and have no qualifications so to speak, then you need your evidence of past work and probably references from happy customers you have done this for. If you don't have either of those then you are up shit creek without a paddle as why would anyone hire a freelancer without those in a market where there are plenty of skilled individuals that have the evidence to back it up and many of them willing to do the job at good prices. Not saying you are one of these, but people who "think" they know how to do what you described because they built there home network and installed their own systems and help all there friends technically are a dime a dozen, and thankfully they keep the rest of us busy and paid cleaning up the mess they leave behind.

Looking at it the wrong way... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#41343949)

You're viewing this as an IT industry problem.

Considering what you're about to do for 4+ years, maybe you should treat this as a psych problem!

Re:Looking at it the wrong way... (2)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 years ago | (#41344339)

Considering what you're about to do for 4+ years, maybe you should treat this as a psych problem!

It's more like a marketing problem... if you need the certificates to market yourself, and a business tradeoff regarding the cost.

Getting the certs might have a high upfront price, BUT that price might be worth it, if you get more business faster as a result of having it.

Do freelance Psychology work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344023)

n/t

Evidence (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41344029)

You proof things using evidence.

You proof IT experience by showing the results of your IT experience.

Show your open source projects (2)

alexru (997870) | about 2 years ago | (#41344091)

Good project worth a lot and tells a lot about its author.

Re:Show your open source projects (2)

NuclearCat (899738) | about 2 years ago | (#41344427)

To be more exact it should be successful project.

Focus on web design. (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 2 years ago | (#41344163)

If you're main focus is on web design, you have it really easy. Take a week to build out 10 or 15 websites of varying complexity and purpose, and host them all on a basic VPS. When someone asks for your credentials, give them a link of the online portfolio. For the vast majority of clients, that will tell them a lot more about your skill set than a few certs. It's fairly easy for the average person or business to look at a web site and decide if it's professional or fun or whatever.

Now the part about setting up Linux networks and servers and stuff is a bit more out of reach, since the average person can't look at a server or router config and have any clue as to what it means. They want you to have some kind of certification or recommendation from other businesses precisely because they can't judge those skills.

My advice, is to just focus on the web side of things. You have the advantage of being able to get some marketing out to an audience much larger than your immediate area, which should more than make up for any "lost" business on the networking side of things.

Re:Focus on web design. (2)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 2 years ago | (#41344659)

I'm sorry, but this is terrible advice. I routinely hire programmers and designers both in person and using internet remote worker service and let me tell you that nothing puts me off quicker than some crap (and if you put 10-15 together in a week, they're going to be crap) websites that somebody points to and says "look I did those websites." This provides no context and pre-supposes that I, the potential employer, am an idiot.

Anybody who really knows anything in this industry can do some combination of two things:
1. show a portfolio of projects done over time
2. be able to discuss, in depth, details about each of the projects

#2 without #1 is fine, as it takes about 2 minutes of questions for me to see if the person is full of it or not. #1 without #2 is "ok" if the projects are sufficiently complex that I can uniquely identify the person's style and contribution, but this is rare.

a plate full of "demo" websites means that the person does not have #1 and likely would pass a test at #2 - so, they get the boot.

in fact, far far far far far far far far far far far far better than your poor idea is if the person has a personal or hobby website that they have maintained over time, so that I can see their evolution and the problems they have had to solve.

Re:Focus on web design. (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 2 years ago | (#41344805)

Neither you nor I have any idea of what his skill level is. My advice wasn't for him to attempt to trick people into thinking he's skilled. In fact, I have to assume he's as skilled as he claims for the purpose of answering his question. Nothing more.

Obviously if he puts together a bunch of crappy demo sites or rips them off from someone else, then he'll come out looking like an idiot 2 minutes into the interview. Instead of going down that road, I figured I'd answer his question rather than question his abilities.

I find that so-called certifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344189)

usually tend to be an indicator of exactly the opposite of what they are sold as being - if you had to go take a class, you probably do NOT know WTF you are doing.

Show your sites. If you don't have one, make one. (1)

Sarusa (104047) | about 2 years ago | (#41344281)

Certs mean nothing to us when hiring. A degree means something so far as you stuck in there and got the degree.

But show us something you've done? That's gold. Doesn't matter if it's just for yourself as long as we can take a look at it.

So make one really polished public Drupal site you can show potential employers. Put down 'skilled at Linux' (people tend to believe this pathetically easy) and if they ask you about it be prepared to back it up.

If you can't show us a single thing you've done we're unlikely to hire you no matter what's on your resume.

Re:Show your sites. If you don't have one, make on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344421)

What's your company? Please tell me. I have a non-tech related bachelors but I know Linux (cut my teeth on Slackware for four years as my first distro). I've been reduced to nothing and now I'm contemplating going back to school JUST to add "Bachelors in XXX....and I know Linux".

I'm willing to start as low as it gets. The help desk. Whatever. I'm just desperate.

Show Your Work (1)

eWarz (610883) | about 2 years ago | (#41344307)

As many others have stated. Show previous work. If you don't have previous work, get a job that will give you experience. I have no college degree. I barely graduated high school due to lack of interest, etc. 10 years later I'm in my prime, making decent pay at a company that is totally awesome to work for.

Why not finance your Psych PhD with Psych work? (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41344317)

This seems blatantly obvious to me. Forget any psych certs and licenses. You can do IT work without them, and you can do the same in the psych field. Just don't lie about your qualifications.

Most psych patients won't give a damn about your qualifications anyway. All you need to do is listen to your patients. Psych patients don't feel better because they talk about things. They feel better because someone is listening to them about their problems. If patients have initial problems talking, just stay quiet, and stare at them with a puppy dog look. This shows your devotion, and that you are so interested in them that you are willing to wait for them to talk. Take notes. Before each session, read the notes and bring up topics during the session. This, again, shows the patient that someone is interested in their problems. Psych therapy is a long process, so you can always shove off difficult issues to follow-up sessions. If you are lucky, the issue will take of itself.

Now imagine if IT was like that! In a heated meeting about bugs and missed deadlines, just say something like:

"Now I feel anger here. It is really important for all of us to recognize that there is anger here, and we need to accept the presence of anger. There are issues here and we are not all happy about them. But we do have to accept that we cannot always be happy all the time. Not being happy is part of being a human being. Now about the system having bugs, bugs are an inherent part of programs. If it didn't have bugs, it wouldn't really be a full living program. By having bugs, the program is just completing the totality of its existence. And as to the deadlines, sometimes we are just being too hard on ourselves . . . "

Re:Why not finance your Psych PhD with Psych work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344569)

He may be planning on combining the two. There's a shortage of psychiatrists so there's demand for psych therapy that can be done on one's own through a computer program (or website, or whatever). IIRC, there's currently a ton of work being done to offer such things to combat veterans to mitigate PTSD. But it's also a possibility that he has several fields of interest and wants some variety in his life.

Re:Why not finance your Psych PhD with Psych work? (1)

docmordin (2654319) | about 2 years ago | (#41344713)

This seems blatantly obvious to me. Forget any psych certs and licenses. You can do IT work without them, and you can do the same in the psych field. Just don't lie about your qualifications.

Actually, most countries, including the United States, require that counseling psychologists obtain a license, let alone pass tests, to offer their craft to the public. If someone is found, just like in medicine or in clinical psychiatry, practicing without such a license, they will be slapped with some steep fines and jail time. (Granted, there is some wiggle room with regards to this, as ordained pastors and rabbis are allowed to provide counseling within the context of religious duties; moreover, if these religious ministers have suitable advanced training or degrees, they can ethically provide psychotherapy.)

Also, as an aside, the submitter might not have the proper background to engage in psychological counseling. For example, there are many that focus exclusively on research and look at phenomena, which are distant from those behaviors useful in a psychotherapy setting, such as how humans parse space, how we learn new concepts, how we analyze various items, etc.

"Proving" knowledge (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 years ago | (#41344327)

How To Prove IT Knowledge Without Expensive Certificates?

Prove it with Inexpensive certificates. Prove it with 3rd party endorsements/referrals.

Brainbench.com (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344375)

They ensure not that you have "listened" the lectures.
They certify that you have passed complex online exams.

I am confused (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41344429)

why would I hire a hobbiest thats majoring in a totally different subject?

I can hire a IT pro for a bag of peanuts in this day and age, and you want me to waste time on hobby hour?

heh

The worth of any pieces of paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344467)

This isn't targeted at the author of the article, but I just need to get it out there and this article is very related:

I can't believe how useless degrees are these days. I mean, seriously, if you're busy with a PhD and you don't even know how to market yourself, what have you attained? That's the case all over the world. People get degrees but have no idea how to get work or even find work. They usually rely on a professor's referral or bursary requirements and people who have neither don't have a clue.

Obviously a gross generalisation, but it's b3coming more and more the case these days.

Kids think they can get their degree and then they'll be swamped with job offerings. Well, guess what? Having a degree is very common these days and alone won't get you employed. You need to differentiate yourself from the other degree-bearing masses. Some do it by networking, some do it by formalising other skills, other just plainly study so hard that they do very well at uni/college.

The thing is, no company wants to employ a graduate that they have to train from scratch. They'll always go for the more accomplished, balanced, driven candidate.

To answer your question: formalise your IT skills and network like crazy. You obviously have a website, use it as an online portfolio to showcase your work and also promote your skills at the bottom of the sites you've made. In short, do whatever you can to diversify yourself and never expect Business to just come your way. Prove to people that you are the best and you'll be fine.

prove knowledge... (1)

chentiangemalc (1710624) | about 2 years ago | (#41344519)

1) references 2) your previous work 3) communication of your knowledge demonstrated in technical interview 4) most certs are not expensive if you already know the topic. just do the exams and avoid the courses. if you're expert you may not even need to study for them.

Many Options (2)

mike_toscano (2658881) | about 2 years ago | (#41344535)

Believe it or not, your prospective clients will probably not ask about your certifications at all. Your experience may differ but while I have five certifications and a technology-related masters degree, I have not had any questions from prospects about certifications or education during my entire career (as far as I can remember, anyway).

As other commenters have mentioned, shows of previous work and references will probably yield the most benefit in winning new clients. In my experience, getting new business from smaller clients is more about networking and building relationships than anything else. Even though I encourage clients to look at my previous work and speak to references, the smaller clients pretty much never take me up on it. Larger firms tend to have a more conservative, structured, and objective approach to engaging new vendors, however.

That said, some certifications aren't too expensive. CompTIA is a lower-priced option, though not exactly cheap (http://certification.comptia.org/Training/testingcenters/examprices.aspx). If you think getting a certification might help, maybe consider getting something like Linux+ and/or Network+. Both credentials require one exam.

In your situation, it might make sense to seek a part time job or contract somewhere, rather than run your own business. If you have your own company (even for those of us who are highly experienced), you will likely burn a lot of time trying to snag new business. The nice thing about working for someone else is that you are earning money for all your effort, which is why I think working for the man might be best for you -- your time to dedicate to this job will be limited.

Best of luck in your work and your studies!

Mike

impress yourself with your portfolio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41344955)

Although I haven't used it yet, I found...
Just start writing a portfolio. You'll be surprised how much you've accomplished, AND how COOL it is.

do it like me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41345013)

Become a Certified Application Security Specialist! (http://www.asscert.com)

This will look great on your resume and impress the shit out of prospective employers.

Referencees (1)

firecode (119868) | about 2 years ago | (#41345109)

Referencees
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?