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March 3rd, 2007, 06:46 PM
Hi guys,

(for the concise and not so freaking out part scroll down )

Well I'm graduating (I hope) in April. After three years of working my butt off and 50k that I owe to various places I will have a diploma:

Computer Network Technican (


Except for a few things...oh yes here it comes...the dreaded "OMG I'm finally out of school and need to find a job somewhere but I can't think of where the heck to go and the world is really really big and huge and I could go anywhere but I don't have any direction in life because I never thought this far ahead!" *breathes*

Yes..that is what I'm suffering from. I'm also suffering from the "ok so I'm finally out on my "own" but I have a boyfriend whom I have to think about as well which means that we have to find a place for him to go to school (Chemistry...not sure what kind...he was in this program ( most recently and seemed to enjoy himself) while still finding me a job so I can pay back all my loans!"

So its about two months (a little less) and I'm scared. I'm terrified. This is new ground for me and I've never been good at dealing with new ground. I (funnily enough) have self confidence and confidence issues (not that you would ever be able to tell from the way I act/am).

So I want opinions...where would you guys suggest to go for my "career starting job"?

Short version

Field of work: Computer Networking/Tech Support (Entry level..might be able to get away with Junior staff :) )

Things going for me:
1) I can go just about anywhere in the world (I just need to get a passport first which shouldn't be too hard).
2) There isn't much of a shortage of Computer Networking jobs or even company tech support.
3) If you count my years in school as "experience" I have at least 3 (plus a bit from my high school days).
4) I speak French. I know a little bit of American Sign Language. I love learning new languages (it comes relatively easy as long as I have some sort of structured "classes").
5) I can work at places like Cogeco/Rogers/Bell since I know about cable TV (thanks to my second co-op)
6) I had two co-op in my program (which is supposed to mean I have actual experience in the field)

1) I don't have a car so wherever I go MUST have decent public transportation.
2) I have a boyfriend who does need to go to school for Chemistry. Most recently he was in this program. (
3) I'm 50k in debt and if all the expenses stay relatively the same and only having the payments on my LoC/OSAP go up I need 2800/month at least.
4) If you don't count my high school/college years for experience I've got 8 months (co-op counts and that's it).
5) I haven't a bloody clue where the heck I want to go. The only place I really want to rule out is the Middle East because of the various major conflicts going on there.
6) I have to keep in mind medical expenses and whether there's any innate coverage (like Ontario) and have to factor in a lack of it to my salary.

I need help deciding where to go. I need suggestions. I need some sort of direction! Please help me.

March 3rd, 2007, 07:43 PM
I think you have a lot of positive elements on your side and you should emphasize them. Contrary to what we hear in the news today, computer tech jobs are in demand - otherwise, we would not be bringing people qualified in them in from other countries!!!

I think it is always a transition period and a bit of "oh my Gosh, now I have to find a job and go out in the world" when we graduate - I see it in my Residents all the time (as they ponder setting up practices and deciding where to go) but I would get out as many applications in (tho I am assuming you have done that already) to as many places. If you went to a college to obtain your diploma, did they assist you in searching for a job? Our computer science dept here has a co-op program so that when students graduate with a BSc in comp sci, they already have experience from their internships and companies have often already offered them positions. I know even my nephew - who was in a completely different major (I used to call it snowboarding,lol but it was a kind of business degree), ended up with as salary out of this world because he had done some summer work for them two summers in a row and they wanted him back! So, I wold talk to the ppl you worked for off semester (if you had that kind of thing, I know so me of the colleges work differently and I am unsure from your post whether yours is a degree or diploma?). The days are past when anyone with any kind of computer degree could get hired instantly but there are still many jobs out there and also, if you are willing to work for a good salary (from their point of view and gain your foot in the door, it can pay off later). I would not work for peanuts tho - that is selling yourself short!!

Also, - and I say this as someone who has a cross appointment with the comp sci faculty because I have a degree in it and do research in distance medicine and telemedicine and the kinds of things we hope to do routinely in the future (administer meds and treatment from 8 hrs away for example) and nanotechnology, I have found it fun - sort of a hobby - to keep up with various certifications just because it is kind of a hobby. (I love working with computers, maybe because I work with the public all day, lol 0 not to suggest I dislike that but with computers, when they die on you, it is not as emotional as it is with children and teenagers, sigh! So, I write all these crazy exams for Microsoft and Cold Fusion and the various other exams necessary - and the best part is often the univ pays for it, hehheh - which is another piece of advice I;d give you - if you get an offer from two places, pick the one that offers to pay for more education because as you well know, as soon as you have learned one programming language or operating system, it is obsolete and another is on the way so you want a company that will pay for constant professional development!! I have always found test writing fun and sort of akin to quizzes that we see online so I am lucky that way - I think some ppl are test conscious and some are not. And with computers at least (medicine too for that matter tho in different ways), tests frequent if you want to keep up your credentials!! And in computers - as with medicine - get as many credentials as you can get - and keep them!!!!! Don't let them slide (ir opay the dues!!) I had a friend who just opted not to pay to keep her Bar licence - as in lawyering - because she works in a field where she doubts she will need it agauin. But she is my age and while she is studying something else while working in a different field, you never know in life!! So, hang on to every thing you work for!!!

Employers do not tend to look at yrs in school as experience unless you were in a co-op program and took say 6 mos to work for a company away from the classroom. But if you have summer jobs or even individual contracts where you helped individual people or businesses, include that - even if you have to write it in a good cover letter. The cover letter is the3 most important item you will write when applying for a position!! It should be concise and clear - maybe 1-2 pages (I know the rule of thumb tends to be no more than a page but in all of my work, if we see a promising candidate with a wonderful cover page that grabs your attention and it is perhaps a page and a half, we don't care - and I have prob hired and interviewed hundreds of ppl in my lifetime).

Tell them what your skills are - the word "possess" is always a good one to use and do NOT include any weaknesses in a cover letter. Wait for an interview if that is asked in a question to respond to that - as it inevitably might. Don't rely on ads in the newspapers or even online ads - less than 5% of jobs are filled by ads in the newspaper or online ads. Talk to people you know, ask for help with whatever whatever influence friends, relatives and professors may have (am assuming you have a good relationship with your profs). Make cold calls - make a list of places who need your skills - even if they are not advertising and check THEIR web sites and contact them. In large companies, like hospitals - many jobs are advertised inhouse - esp if there is a union - but sometimes, no one applies for whatever reason - or the interviewers are not impressed - and they go back to the drawing board and find ways of getting around the "rules." Large places tend to have more benefits but smaller places tend sometimes to be a better place for people starting out - depends on the individual tho and what you are used to. You live in Hamilton which has a university so I imagine there will be many grads looking for work in that area. Since you don't mind movi9ng, look for areas outside there and see what is available. Granted, smaller places may not have a transit system so it would have to be a smaller city. I;d work on getting my license since especially for computer tech jobs, a car is one thing that is necessary - in school boards and even in our hospital system for ex, that kind of job requires a car because the hospital may have buildings across the community or in our case, outside the city. But there are many places who do not. (I guess I am more familiar with education and health care so I know what one wound loo k or in a computer tech). I would expect a computer tech I hired to have a car because s/he would have to travel to the various places. Same goes for Aliant 0- which is our version of Bell. I do not know about Rogers at all unless you work in customer service which could mean sitting in a cubicle with a desk and a telephone and a computer and a headset and something tells me your education makes you want to do more than that - ie more movement. One can accomplish a lot at a desk - and of course these days, there are a lot of remote ways to repair computers but surprisingly, it sometimes is difficult to get ppl on the3 other end to follow the directions and you end up driving there. My point - in your line of work, get a driver's license! :)

I just noticed you did have co-op which is GOOD!! That will be considered experience! :thumbs up I hope you enjoyed them and I would use the contacts you made there to see if you can find a job with those companies in a way to start. Even if you do not want to work there forever, it would be a foot in the door of the industry at least - depending on the company of course.

I do not know your level of French but in the Maritimes, you would not be considered bilingual unless you had completed French immersion and even then, you are tested. If you plan to work for govt, you will need to be bilingual (federal govt - I am guessing the rules are less stringent in Ont?) This is not the case in Quebec or New Brunswick - in NB, one was considered bilingual only with 5/5 on the old scale. (3/3 on the new one). This means speaking French at the level of a Naive speaker - I managed to qualify at the highest level but I would not place myself there. I suspect I lucked out on the exam and the fact my elementary education was in French (and not immersion but a French school) helped. It may not matter in computer work - what matters is how many programming languages you know, what certifications you have (A+ is good but I assume you have that if you have just graduated. I did the A+ one since a neighbour was doing it and found it amazingly easy - as did he and he had worked with the old time Assembly and Machine language if you imagine THAT!! He was learning A+ because the co was moving in the client server model - about time, lol) - He'd asked me to help him learn how to use the net since he rarely did that and here he was a computer tech with a huge North American company, working mostly with mainframes tho - till they went the client server route. (Then he won the lottery - more than 12 mil) and he resigned tho stayed around to help train the new person. <g> he is a great guy and we were all thrilled for him!!!! But I digress!

I wish you luck!! I am sure there are companies seeking ppl. Check the want ads anyway - you never know but the best place is to talk to ppl you know, anyone in govt if you know anyone there, or at the large institutions in the area (MacMaster, larger companies, hospitals, education system - call the school board office - know any school trustees?) and even law offices - I know a law office in Hfx looking for a computer person but they need a programmer mainly.

This is all I can think of for now- good luck!!!!!!

March 4th, 2007, 09:42 PM
Car situation: I lack a valid driver's license (I have the G1 though) and lack the experience to get my G2/G. I'd like to take lessons, but since they cost 400 bucks its a little hard to get them right now. Which means I need to get insured on a car (as an occasional driver) so that I can practice for my G2 test. This is difficult to find. My parents live too far away and won't let me take the car (its the only one we have and if it dies we're all screwed) and the boyfriend doesn't have a car either. Which means I need someone willing to trust me with their car and to put me on their insurance. Strangely enough I found someone who will and so long as I pay for gas money he's willing to put up with me for an hour a week or whatever!

Co-op situation: My first co-op had nothing to do with what I was doing in school. In fact I was designing webpages rather than doing any networking. Heck I didn't even see a networking cord the entire time I was there! It was also a very "cold" place...I felt extremely uneasy talking to anyone outside of my cubicle because of the way the office felt. I felt like a drone and that I had to stay in my cubicle. There is NO WAY I'm going back to that, however perhaps because it is the government (I was in the Hamilton City Planning Dept) I will be able to get in in the IT area or someplace else.

My second co-op went OK. In fact I did see much more networking there than I did at my first one. I felt much more comfortable at the cable company than I did at the other co-op. It was more up my alley than the first co-op as well. As to whether they'll hire me back? I'm not sure but I will definately try there. I was...rather a few ways, foremost being that I was almost the only girl in the Tech Services department. Through that co-op I found out that I would actually much rather be on the road "fixing people's computers" than in a cubicle but I didn't mind the cubicle work either.

School: The only "help" they really give us is a listing of jobs and resume/cover letter/interview help. It kind of feels like want ads but for the most part they are aimed at new graduates (though there are the occasional "we want ten years of experience" job postings). While its supposed to be all across Ontario, I can really only see jobs from Hamilton and the surrounding area (Mississauga, Toronto, Burlington, Niagara Falls, etc.). My only issue with searching for jobs on that site is that it lists ALL jobs from ALL majors, not just the Networking ones and its much more time consuming to find a job posting for you than say Workopolis.

Certifications: I don't actually get any certifications. I'm supposed to be in a position to TAKE them after passing my courses but the school won't pay for them (and by the time I get into a job all the nitty gritty stuff will have left my brain). I still have most of the books but I think there are a few more out there that are much better suited as "study guides" than the ones that we use at the school.

Languages: Well I lived up in Ottawa and took French Immersion straight up until grade 8. When I hit high school I took any and all advanced courses I could. The testing might not go so well in that I've "forgotten" the language, but if I needed to regularly converse in French again I'd pick it right back up in no time.

I'm going to look everywhere I can. I didn't think of school boards and the government, its just not one of those things that I ever really thought about. Getting into the government with security clearance shouldn't work out too badly, I mean its not like I'm a hardened criminal or anything! LOL I passed a security check when I went through my high school co-op for working with kids and there weren't any problems so I can't see why there would be one now (unless of course Canada has suddenly become paranoid about people with Arab last names).

Anyone else have any other words of wisdom to pass down to little old me? :) Doesn't have to relate to computers at all either! LOL


March 4th, 2007, 10:25 PM
Holy crap! $2800 a month? Straight out of school? :eek: I hope you can do it... :o

Let me just say this: I worked for 3 years before going back to school, and when I graduated, it was like I had never worked at all. Don't get your hopes up that they'll consider your school as experience because in most fields, they don't. They also count experience in years, not months, so co-op things might not matter either.

Third thing: start looking yesterday. Start sending CV's out soon, like within the next month, just to get an idea of what's out there.

I'll stop there because after nearly a year after graduating and still having no decent prospects for employment, I'll really be a downer. ;)

March 4th, 2007, 11:26 PM
Congrats dtbmnec!:highfive:
You might want to try posting your resume on & so people from all over have access to it. You never know where that could lead you...:shrug:
:fingerscr that you find something soon. :goodvibes: :)

March 5th, 2007, 12:12 PM
Megan, I've been out of the workforce for so long that I have no help to offer. I'm sure others here do though. I just wanted to say congratulations and good luck. :fingerscr :goodvibes:

March 5th, 2007, 12:13 PM
Holy crap! $2800 a month? Straight out of school? :eek: I hope you can do it... :o

Yeah the breakdown is kinda scary...of course that's between Arron and I too (its not just me)

-800 for LoC/OSAP payments
-600 for rent
-100 for the 2 cell phones we're locked into for the next two years
-50 for electricity
-100 for my credit cards :o (They don't like me very much)
-400 for food
-60 for the cats (yucky food and litter...if there's a vet visit I could be screwed :()
-100 for cable tv/internet (its bundled...scary that)
-100+ for transportation (whether I need multiple bus passes or the two of us need one each...Hamilton bus passes are $80/month for one)
-60 for HIS credit cards

The only thing we could possibly cut down on is the TV. Everything else is relatively needed. If I moved home I'd be taking out rent, 1/2 cell phone, cable/internet, HIS credit cards, food, and electricity. I suppose I'd have to help the 'rents out with some of the bills and things (not that I would mind) but I can't see them asking for all that much either.

Unfortunately the cats would have to go as well (since there's no way my parents would ever let me take them home with me and Arron's family would have a fit if he brought them home with him..or they'd make them outdoor cats).

Of course living at home for the next ten years isn't my cup of tea..especially since it would have to be sans Arron. Not to mention the really pathetic feeling of living at home for the next ten years...

Peepmouse: I'll definately try I'm going to have to try everywhere...all the sites and everything.


March 7th, 2007, 01:22 PM
I say you are on the right track. PM me if you are interested in working in IT in Toronto (you would have to take the GO train, but lots of people live in Hamilton where I work, so it shouldn't be hard).

My only concern for you would be what you are looking for pay wise. I don't mean to break your bubble, but a network tech, just out of school, will not get that kind of pay, at least not where I am. Maybe if you move to another country, but probably not in Canada. Are you taking $2800 after taxes? so, $1400 per pay cheque approx? You might get that in about 2 years, but in the beginning you will probably only get about $27-30K/year or $900/biweekly. That's the avg yearly income for new grads, university or college. I wish you luck though. It's not impossible, but it could be hard. :fingerscr

It sucks, i know. I was in the same boat about 5 years ago. But I wasn't in IT. I was $40k in debt from school. Luckily it was all OSAP, so I got 6 months to find a job before I had to start paying back. Still, it took me 9 months to find a job that wasn't minimum wage, and it was not related to what I did in school. That was in Insurance Claims. I did Forensics in school, so I became the unofficial fraud specialist in my dept. It got way stressful, so I got a job as a private investigator. That flopped after about 1.5 years (bad company, bad pay). Since then I got a job in IT (i have no formal training, but I build computers as a hobby). I'm not getting paid as much as I thought i would have been 5 years after leaving school, but it's not bad. Not at $2800 a month though. I talked with some of our more educated and higher level IT people here, and they (who have been here for a few years and have IT training) also don't make that much. IT has really gone downhill in terms of pay and job security. People with computer training are a dime a dozen, as the saying goes. A lot of people here took 5+ years to get an IT job, and started at the 30-35K range.

Unfortunately, a college or university degree these days barely even gets you a job at McDonalds (I even applied there when I was desperate, and they didn't hire me...go figure!!). It's really sad for our generation. You are basically forced to go to post secondary school, you get into 20-50K in debt to finish it, you graduate, and there are no jobs. Of the jobs that there are, they don't pay you enough to pay rent, food, debt, and your travel expenses. I had to live at home for about 2 years after I graduated, it was the only option.

** edit, you also might want to go to the bank to have your LOC/Credit cards consolidated to lower your payments in the meantime and to get a better rate. **

March 7th, 2007, 01:35 PM
Unfortunately, a college or university degree these days barely even gets you a job at McDonalds (I even applied there when I was desperate, and they didn't hire me...go figure!!). Amen to that! All the employers in my field want me to have already worked in their lab for a decade. Nobody wants to pay for any training anymore because people are so unreliable and unloyal that it ends up just being a waste of money. :shrug: Tough times.:sad:

March 7th, 2007, 03:19 PM
I say you are on the right track. PM me if you are interested in working in IT in Toronto (you would have to take the GO train, but lots of people live in Hamilton where I work, so it shouldn't be hard).

That would be very helpful :).

Off another board someone mentioned that they needed networkers/IT people in Missouri so I've messaged her too :). Hopefully something will work out.

My only concern for you would be what you are looking for pay wise. I don't mean to break your bubble, but a network tech, just out of school, will not get that kind of pay, at least not where I am. Maybe if you move to another country, but probably not in Canada. Are you taking $2800 after taxes? so, $1400 per pay cheque approx? You might get that in about 2 years, but in the beginning you will probably only get about $27-30K/year or $900/biweekly. That's the avg yearly income for new grads, university or college. I wish you luck though. It's not impossible, but it could be hard. :fingerscr

** edit, you also might want to go to the bank to have your LOC/Credit cards consolidated to lower your payments in the meantime and to get a better rate. **

2800 is after taxes and between Arron and I....*sigh* unfortunately I can't go any much lower than that unless I commute from that case I'm stuck IN Guelph. Litterally. I don't have a car and no license so I can't get a job anywhere other than Guelph if I go that route. :yell:

It's frustrating....