Ask LH: Are Short IT Courses Worth It?

Dear Lifehacker, I am in a bit of a life/career rut at the moment and want to develop some new skills. I have been stuck in retail for years but I would like to kick start a career in IT. I have been looking at some RMIT short courses which look like they will provide me with some great resources. Upon completion of these courses you obtain statements of participation. My question is: will these matter to potential future employers come interview time? I don't want to waste my time and money! Thanks, Short Work

Photo: RMIT University

Dear SW,

While we obviously can't speak for all employers, an RMIT certificate will generally put you in better contention than no qualification at all; especially if you have no actual work experience.

The simplest course of action would be to contact the course providers and ask them what graduates have done subsequently. Doubtlessly they'll have advertising material that fits this purpose, but you may be able to get additional information if you pester enough.

Also check job vacancies to see what kind of skills are being sought and whether they match up with the subjects that the short course teaches.

On another note, simply studying at RMIT's SAB building could be a great learning curve in its own right. The university has adopted a virtual desktop infrastructure environment which allows students to connect to the school's network using their personal devices from anywhere in the facility.

This basically puts you at the cutting edge of modern working environments which can't hurt your employment prospects -- if you get a chance, try and liaise with their director of IT services and see if someone would be willing to give you a tour of the facility's inner workings.

Naturally, if there are any IT professionals reading this post, feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions on RMIT's short courses -- are they a good way to get a foot in the door or do you consider them a waste of time and money? Let SW know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    i just started at RMIT and i can tell you its the way to go they are always notifying the IT students of jobs around melb through internal email

    @Lee Russell, what sort of jobs in IT are available around Melbourne?

    I can't tell if I've become extremely jaded by things on the internet, or if it's really bad timing, or if having an article about demand for IT executives appearing 2 posts before an article asking LF if investing in short IT courses are a worthwhile investment is just really un-subtle subliminal advertising. Am I missing a 'paid article' sign somewhere?

    Hi Short Walk,

    I'm not sure if the below content could be labelled as an advice but its my story so far...

    I've had a similar experience in regards to career change. My undergrads was in Hotel Management and right after graduation I enrolled in a internship program since it was better than sitting at home while looking out for a job.

    The 'internship' was to help out a company move to their new HQ. I was under the IT dept so it was all about pulling and pushing cables. Occasionally helping out the guys there with some CISCO configurations and basic computer stuff. Although I didn't have previous experience with configuring switches, the process was pretty straight forward with just copy pasting the config files from notepad to the switch console just requiring IP and other changes which are switch specific. Then I had to take them all and install them on different floors of the building. The folks there helped me out in every step of the way and of course I enjoyed my work.

    This was back in 2009 and shortly after that I landed a full time role as a help desk technician in a school where there was about 3000 machines to support. So there was an insane amount of stuff to learn and had to develop efficient ways to do it. Took up a basic computer course while working just to have a basic IT qualification but always had a feeling I wouldn't move up to anything else than a help desk person since I don't have any professional qualification in the related field.

    So after being on the job for 4 and a half years I decided to do my masters in IT, specialising in security since I'm interested in this field and looks like its in demand. I graduated last month and right after got placed into a contract job by a recruiter in a service desk role. Since I'm an international student currently in Australia, local work experience is key! Hence I don't mind the position and pay as a start off point.

    Certifications such as CCNA, MCSE and related would defo help you out for a career in IT. I don't currently have any except for my masters but it surely is important and I hope to get on it as soon as I'm settled in.

    Twitter: @Australiasecure

    I've been a hiring manager for years in all sorts of tech roles. I place high value on these types of courses because they tell me that a person is passionate. Passion drives enthusiasm, and enthusiasm drives action. I love @australiasecure's story because it shows how the small things add up over time.

    Please always do something, anything, to show you're interested and willing to put the effort in. I place little value on degrees because they're such a standard path that don't show a person's true enthusiasm. I hire people based on passion and intellect, not "years of experience" and it's worked really well!

    I also like to know what blogs people read, what pet projects they've done and what they're favourite tech is and why. Small things, all easily achievable, but they show you aren't just there to "do a job" but rather because you love it.

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