Careers In Computer Networking Podcast
Try to think of a single industry around the world that doesn’t somehow rely on I.T. professionals. But do you know the unique computer networking and support skills that technicians need to enter each of those industries? The guests on this episode certainly do, because they’re living the dream and working in these fields every day. This episode of Lincoln Tech’s “Skills @ Work” podcast series looks at the computer networking industry, with input from hiring managers, Lincoln Tech grads and subject matter experts who know what it takes to launch a career in this ever-evolving industry. Hear about hiring trends and just a few of the many ways a career in the I.T. field can be life-changing.
Lincoln Tech’s Computer Systems Support Technician career training programs helps students build in-demand skills for entry-level I.T. positions – from networking and user support to cybersecurity and many more applications.
Podcast – Careers In Computer Networking
- Mark Serfass - Chief I.T. instructor for Lincoln Tech's Allentown, PA Campus.
- Leo Wentline - Director of Tech Support & Services for Kids Peace Corporation of Schnecksville, PA
- Hector Garcia - IT specialist for North Hudson Community Action Corporation; 2021 Graduate of Lincoln Tech's Paramus, NJ Campus.
- Michael Granberry – 2015 Graduate of Lincoln Tech's Marietta, GA Campus.
It is never going to go away. It's not newspaper. It's not any other industry. It's not, you know, the steel industry or the coal industry. It's something that's only going to keep getting bigger and bigger and more important in every business. The course pretty much lays the groundwork for you for any position that you're going to go into as far as the IT field.
I mean, every business as an I.T. department these days. Every company has an IP department, whether it's only one person, whether it's a small mom pop store. They somebody takes care of the point of sales or someone takes care of their database or somebody has to manage those pieces.
And it's because in order for the heroes that work on the front lines, they need someone to support. So they need support departments like accounting or finance or human resources. They also need I.T. to make sure that their technology works, that their systems are working. Their account log in is good and they can log in and do their work. So the training and the you know, the course, I think, in tech, honestly, is in my personal opinion, I think it's fantastic.
Welcome to the official podcast of Lincoln Tech. In this episode, we'll be looking at the Computer Systems Support Technician Program. We'll find out what you can expect to learn and what kind of jobs are out there. You'll also hear from professors and employers who work directly with Lincoln Tech to help you succeed in a growing field that isn't going away. And Lincoln's promise to our students is simple. We will work tirelessly to help you succeed on the road to new career opportunities. Now let's dive into some details about the program.
Hi, I'm Mark Serfass. I'm the chief I.T. instructor for Lincoln Technical Institute, Allentown Location. We are the we teach computer systems support technician program. I'm a graduate. I graduate in Lincoln Park in 1994, and I've pretty much been in the field ever since.
My name is Leo Wentline. I'm the director of Tech Support and Services for Kids Peace Corporation. Kids Peace Corp is a juvenile and adult mental health care facility that operates residential and inpatient, as well as outpatient facilities in eight states on the Eastern Seaboard. So I've been on the Lincoln Tech Advisory Board, the Curriculum Advisory Board for about five years now. And I think that that has helped me see behind the curtain into how these students and graduates have been trained. I've seen their curriculum. I've advised on it what I think they should do differently or do more of. But really, the the Lincoln Tech graduates that have come and worked for us and I think we're up to about five or six already, and that's a pretty, pretty good number considering my entire team is like 11. So they've, they've entered the workforce with a really solid fundamental knowledge of technology in general, well-rounded.
Okay. Basically what we teach is we teach everything about computers from a basic computer, what a computer is, how a computer works, how the inner workings of the computer works from the motherboard, how the information gets through the motherboard from there to the memory to the CPU to the processor and out to the video card. Then we break it out. From there we teach the basic computer, then we teach operating systems. We teach Windows seven, Windows eight, Windows ten, multiple versions of Linux. We teach a bunch to Fedora, Cowley, Linux, we teach a little black art, that sort of thing. Then we teach also server, we teach server 2012, 2016, 2019 and Server 2022 just came out. So we'll start teaching server 2022 shortly. Now new class that we're starting to teach is cloud, which is basically Amazon is or Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft, Azure, and we teach those services because a lot of companies are moving their servers from on site into then they move them quote unquote into the cloud. And we move that way. And we teach the cloud system.
Lincoln Tech's Computer System Support Technician Program also teaches networking and help desk and gives you real hands on experience. As Professor Mark Surface explains.
They install, they take, they get laptops as part of their tuition package. They get the laptops and they get the power them on. And then they have to set them up. And sometimes things don't work very well and they have to troubleshoot that. And we give them real world experience for the a plus. Plus part of what they have to do is tear down a PC. So we. We teach them how to remove memory, how to install memory. We teach him how to install and remove a processor. We actually they have teardown pieces where they take them, the memory processor, the video card, everything out of the PC, and then they have to put it back in. Well, if they don't put it back in properly, it doesn't work. And now they have to start their troubleshooting. Well, what do I see? What do I smell? What do I hear? What do I know? What is going on? Do I see LEDs? Do I see a power light? Do I see a hard drive light? Do I hear the hard drive booting up? Do I hear the host beep? So they do all that from day one, and then every class from then on is troubleshooting. Everything is troubleshooting. They'll be doing test-outs, they'll be working on their labs. If a lab is not working and they can't get a lab to work, the last gasp of the instructor how to fix it will help the first install, the first student how to fix it. And then if another student has that same problem, instead of us going to that student, then helping the student out, we will actually for them to the first student and have the first student teach them how to fix it from there, and then they will go on to help the next student. So it's not just me or the instructor teaching and helping the students out. The students are learning from there how to help each other out. And then we also teach them not to touch the PC when they go to work and they help these other students out. We teach them to put their hold their hands behind their back so they don't touch the mouse or they don't touch the PC. They have to tell the other student how to do it. And then even with that, we don't want them to give them the answer. We guide them down the road on how to figure out the answer.
Not only do you get hands on experience, but you get real world practical experience and entry level positions within the field. As Leo Winline explains.
They have a class where they have to sort of learn how to be helpdesk. They have to put something together and ship it somewhere else and then talk the person through, putting it together and making sure it works. And, you know, we're constantly giving them scenarios like make sure that person knows nothing about technology that has to put it together. Because oftentimes when you're sitting on the Help Desk, you're going to get the call from the person who knows nothing about the computer they're sitting in front of. So you can't just tell them to do these advanced keystroke techniques and fix their problem. You need to tell them to make sure that they make sure it's turned on and that it's, you know, that they can log in and that it's plugged in and, you know, go very basic, be able to talk through all of the steps. So we provide a lot of those scenarios to them based on real world scenarios that we're getting so that they can make their classes feel a little more realistic. The real life experience also continues even beyond the classroom with internships.
The internship is where they go out to a client and they have a 150-hour internship where they go to a client and whatever the client needs them to do, say maybe image some pieces or rebuild some pieces or WIP. We have some school districts and right now the school districts are coming to the end of the year while all those Chromebooks are coming back in and they have to be wiped and prepared for the next school year. So we'll send external out or interns out to do that. They'll wipe them, they'll reset them up. Maybe one update they need to be cleaned. I'm sure some of them are pretty dirty from the students using them, so they'll actually physically clean them and wipe them down as well as reset them up for the new school year. They'll also work on some some Cat five cabling or maybe they need some cable runs or something of that nature, or they'll need some servers built or basically whatever it is that the client needs.
The computer system support technician program gives you the foundation to succeed in this industry. So the Lincoln Tech program really sets the graduates up for a couple of different fields right off the bat or a couple of different specific I.T. paths right off the bat. There's a helpdesk path which is quite common, and it's where a lot of people in it start. It's a great way to get exposure to a lot of different things in the field. Also hone your customer service and your soft skills at the same time.
As an employer. Can you tell us more about the earnings potential at your organization? For people with computer networking skills.
hose folks are probably looking at anywhere from 30 to 40000 annually plus plus full benefits and some other things lumped in. There's also the the PC support technician piece, which is less of a dealing with end users and more of a dealing with the equipment by itself, fixing, repairing, replacing equipment. That's also something that would an I.T. graduate from Lincoln Tech would be in line for. And that's probably 35 to 40. Five to start with. And then I know some of their folks have come in and became network admins or system admins. Those are higher priced, but you really have to sort of prove yourself right out of college to get one of those positions. It's not common to come right out of college and get one, but I know some people have been able to do that and they're you're looking at 40 to 50 to start.
So my name is Hector Garcia. I started at Lincoln Tech in December of 2019, so I was going right into the 2020 year. So my current job, I'm an IT specialist for North Hudson Community Action Corporation. They're a medical group who have several health facilities within the northern New Jersey. So they have about 8 to 9 facilities. They're actually looking to open up another one. And my role there is exactly what my title is, is, you know, I'm it. So the training and the you know, the course I Lincoln Tech, honestly is in my personal opinion I think it's fantastic. Just like anything in life, I feel like you get what you put into it. So if you're not wanting to do the work and if you're not willing to, you know, make the dedication so you're not going to get much, I myself got a lot out of it, especially with the simple fact that the course pretty much lays the groundwork for you for any position that you're going to go into. As far as the IT field, you start with basic fundamentals of computer technology and then you go into a little bit more of the internals on the basics of the computer. Then you start with networking and then you start with the security provisions. Then you go into. Active Directory and servers and all of that that you pretty much need as a fundamental base to get anywhere. You also have the opportunity to take certifications, which you have your A-plus certification, you have your networking, and you have your security. I'm actually setting up to take all of my certifications and June right before I graduation, and it was great because of the school giving me so much information and being able to show me things. It actually helped me land my position currently and I was able to get hired on while before graduation. I started working for North Hudson in the December 6th of 2021 and it was perfect because everything I learned there on Lincoln Tech, it was some way, shape or form. It all correlated to what I currently do at my job.
We have a great partnership with Lincoln Tech. We are one of their internship sites, so we have exposure to their program in their folks. We also, you know, visit their campus frequently. So that really is a good pipeline for us. We're getting less applicants. I don't know that that reflects it. It's that people are leaving one company to go to a competitor. So you can tell that the competitors are also struggling to find all the talent they need when they start to make offers to people that are already gainfully employed to try to get them to come over. Demand for jobs is probably higher because that's where our society and businesses are moving towards a more digital society. So information technology professionals are in higher demand than ever. Coupled with things like increased cybersecurity and cyberattacks has made those qualified folks even more in-demand. Companies are creating positions for those that didn't exist even 5 to 10 years ago. And then on top of it, I can tell you that when I posted a job four or five years ago, I would get a dozen or so applicants for the job. Now, when I post it, I get three or four. I don't even know how I would possibly quantify it other than it's massive. So there are way more jobs out there and a lot less available professionals looking for employment.
Who's a good candidate for the Computer Systems Support Technician Program? Actually, anybody with any kind of interest in not just computers but the Internet. So I think you need to be motivated and ambitious. Technology changes very rapidly. You need to want to stay up to date on everything because if you don't, you're going to get passed by. You have to make sure you have a passion for this, understanding that in 19, you know, some of the things can't be repetitive. There are going to be roadblocks with certain things you may get stuck by. If you're passionate about doing this, it doesn't matter. None of the roadblocks or any of the obstacles that you're going to come across aren't going to be sure at that point because you're going to be able to get through it.
Also flexibility in that you need to be able to work in a team environment as well as independent. The most challenging part of working in today's IP is my personal opinion is you have to be you have to know how to deal with people's personalities, whether it's, you know, you're working in I.T. at a medical facility. If you're working just in general or if you're doing it in a retail situation, everybody is a different person. They have their own personality and you have to be able to run with it.
And lastly, I think one of the things people don't really think about when it comes to it is customer service. We don't have external customers like, let's say a retailer would, but every single associate that works a kid's piece is an internal customer. So they're our customers. And we need to make sure that they're satisfied that we're resolving their problem in a timely manner to their satisfaction. And people don't call it when something works and say thank you. They call it when something doesn't work. And so they're most likely frustrated. And so, you know, it takes a special kind of person that can absorb that, reassure them, stay calm, fix their problem, and make them feel good when they hang up the phone, even though they're having probably not a great day right now. And so all of those other things are important. I think customer service is probably the most important. Customer service is also one of Lincoln Tech stronger attributes with the career services team within the Computer Systems Support Technician Program.
Michael Granberry graduated from Lincoln Tech in 2015. Yeah, so upon graduating, you had to meet with the career services staff and. That kind of pressure that you ready for? Like the real world, for lack of a better term. Two different interview prep courses and different resumé writing sessions and things like that. I really say that, you know, I've been to school before and I haven't had the best experience with the entire career services type of department or staff. But here, in fact, they really seem like they really want to get you prepped or to get you ready for the real world. And then we're really serious about helping their graduates, you know, find positioning within the career field of choice. There are always willing to kind of sit down, ironed out some things in your resume, give you constructive and open feedback as far as the techniques were. And if you didn't have those interview techniques or skills, they were they were there to get you prepped into to give you those skills. You know, I've worked you know, I've had several jobs prior to Lincoln Tech, but nothing like really career based. Like I didn't have a career. I've had several jobs, but not a career. There's a difference between interviewing for your next job or interviewing for your next career. And Lincoln Tech really just sat down and went to the ins and outs as far as interview questions were concerned, how to conduct yourself, how to dress, how to really articulate your skills and how to really answer the questions in in a sense that would really highlight your professionalism. And it was just a really good experience, I would have to say. That was like the biggest bonus for me as far as my experience. The career services team just really had it out for your success from resumé building to mock interview and feedback and suggestive feedback. So that was kind of my experience with the Career Services Department and kind of what they did to get you prepped for those real world experiences as far as the interview is concerned. Actually, the best thing about the career services team is, number one, they're always willing to help out. You know, they're they want to make sure that. You get the information that you need. If they need anything from you, you know, you send them your resume, you fill out the paperwork so that they can get the ball rolling. And if you need help looking for a job or even the internship coordinator, just everyone there in general will do everything in their power, if they can, to help. And that's been my experience there.
The IT world is not only national but global, and it's an in-demand career that can literally take you anywhere.
Actually, another one of our sites is fiber optics where they are. They are global that will knock global that their national and when they hire our students daily, that is one of the first things they explain to them is that they go nationwide this week. They'll be going to Michigan to install fiber optic cables into a warehouse. Next week they might be going to Utah or they might be going to Florida, or they will be literally nationwide. And like I said, these students, these graduates who went down to Florida, we have sites in Florida who are global sites that are offering positions for those people. So as people do move, a lot of the places are nationwide or even they are going global. Look at Google. Google is literally a global organization. Microsoft, same thing. All those are global. So if you want to move somewhere, you can get a job with one of these places and you can travel. Decision one is a company that I personally worked for and they were always looking for people, other places in the United States. So I could have easily traveled and gone anywhere. A career and it can take you anywhere. But you have to build specialized skills for an in-demand field that's ever changing. Take it from Leo Winline who employs Lincoln Tech graduates.
IT is never going to go away. It's not it's not newspaper. It's not it's not any other industry. It's not, you know, the steel industry or the coal industry. It's something that's only going to keep getting bigger and bigger and more important in every business, you know? You know, somebody who owns a restaurant, they need it because they need wireless in there. Everybody's expecting to have wireless in their restaurant. They have point of sale systems that are network dependent. Maybe some of their kitchen apparatus is now network dependent. Every business needs I.T. and there aren't enough skilled I.T. folks out there to fill all the jobs that are needed, whether it's a subcontractor who leases people out to the bar restaurant industry or people like us who have an internal I.T. team but are always looking for really great talent. It's a job that it's a it's an occupation that if you want job security, you're never going to not have somebody looking for a skilled I.T. professional. And the earnings potential there are tremendous. And. The icing on the cake is most of the time it can work from anywhere. If we have the Internet, we can log in to somewhere and work. So, you know, I don't want to be in a cube farm. You don't have to be in a cube farm. I want to make a lot of money. You can make a very nice living in it. I want to make sure that I have a job forever. I don't think computers are going anywhere. You're going to have job security one way or the other. So those are the big three for me.
Employers like Leo are looking for a future IT specialist and Lincoln Tech as the programs that can change your life. I'm at a really good place in life and I really think a lot of that is really due to Lincoln Tech, really like making a man out of myself. Because when I started Lincoln Tech, I was really much so a boy. I mean, really didn't know, you know, I said, Hey, I'm in the school, but I'm not you know, there's a lot of nights that I said, man, you know, this isn't going to pay off. This isn't going to take me anywhere, man. But, you know, my instructor missed out on the living as a collectively as a staff really just kept pushing me and saying, hey, this is the right choice. This is I think that you made the right thing. You're a really good student, Michael. He keep giving us that effort, keep allowing us to help you, because I'm sure it will pay off. It will pay off. It's like I'm just so like I would do anything for Lincoln Tech at this point. I guess someone needed me to speak if someone needed me to mentor, if someone if there's a student that just was, you know, feeling very doubtful about the program or feeling very doubtful, you know, about the course within any course that they take.
This doesn't just touch the computer network technician program, support technician program. This is like collectively. So I didn't take the data back cause so I know they offer a nursing course, but I experienced just the overall investment like that that school has. It was much different from like your bigger schools and your universities. Like it's almost like you become like another number like within those bigger schools. And there's universities, I believe in tech. It's I would say it's much more dialed in, for lack of a better term. Would it be a much more dialed in? The class sizes are a little bit smaller than your bigger universities, and you're your bigger school. So therefore, you get more attention. You get you get more you gain more of an intimate connection, a relationship with the career services department than what you would do at a bigger university if they have a career services department. So they get to know you more personally than just a student. That way they become more invested in saying, Hey, because I really got the impression that my success was their success. Ms. Walker at the Marietta campus, she was a career services when I attended and when I graduated, like, I really felt like she felt my success was her success. And like, that's just phenomenal. It really, at least for someone like me who was really looking to make a change, like I said, moving cars around, watching cars I was in. I'll be super honest with you, man. I was at a point in my life where, you know, I was, you know, really just wasn't in the best headspace, really wasn't even in the best physical shape and things like that. But like this is so much of it was so much of a game changer for me, like my entire life. It didn't happen overnight. It happened gradually, but progressively, though. And I think it's all because of the work that I put in and the work that that was instilled in me from just the staff and just the program and things like that. So I'm just like so grateful. I'm so grateful to be speaking with you. So grateful to be a graduate of Lincoln Tech, not just the Marietta campus, but campuses all over the world really made me a shining star. And it is kind of like I did my training in the dojo, for lack of a better term. American tech being a dojo were really kind of made me ready for the real world, and they really trained me well, and I'm just so appreciative and so humbled to be speaking with you regarding this podcast, regarding just my thoughts and my experience with the program.
And Lincoln Tech, your success is our success. Do you think you'd like to learn more about the Computer System Support Technician Program and join a growing field within the IT community where opportunities are limitless? Contact Career Services Today Online. At Lincoln Tech. you can set up a campus tour or talk with instructors today.
- Computer Networking