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I am technically still "fresh" in the field but I will still give my 2 cents.

Personally, I think if you have the drive and the capacity to keep learning tech, you will do fine. It helps to have some kind of foundation so that you can hit the ground running in at least something really specific... let's say something related to Windows, maybe something specific to Linux, etc. It doesn't mean you have to be a jack of all trades... it means you have some familiarity with the tools of the trade.

I honestly don't know what employers look for since I've never interviewed people myself. All I can do is guess based on what I've seen and what I've seen people use to hire me.

What I can say is that getting certified in this field definitely gets you noticed a lot more and it really does stand out. I wasn't getting much luck until I got myself a cert or two... and this was WITH a college education.

I think depending on what you want to go for and or where you're at, you will find that perhaps having a degree will either help or not help changing careers. My opinion on this is that you don't need one despite some job descriptions making it look like it's required. Could it make it easier for entry? I have no clue. Everybody has to start somewhere though.

I personally think that just about all the material I had in the courses from my university could easily be found on the Internet. There are a lot of sites that offer free courses and sometimes even some universities offer courses for free. The benefit of IT is that you'll likely find lots of resources online that will help you out if you're trying to learn and they do it in varying methods. I learned HTML/CSS/JavaScript via a site called codecademy.com. They used to be free but the platform was hands on learning so I actually got more out of that than I did from a course I actually paid tuition for in university. The heart of this lies with the fact that anything in tech follows a standard... usually that standard has some kind of reference to it available to the public (e.g. RFC) or through some official documentation and or 3rd party article. There are literally thousands of articles for open source stuff now and whenever I've hit a hard place, I've usually been able to find one on Google to get me out of a tight spot. The benefit of university is that you can have some guidance and the scope of all the potential relevant information to give you a foundation is partitioned into digestible lectures. It doesn't mean the info isn't out there though. If anything, open source stuff is abundant and always readily available for you to learn/access.

That is enough about the knowledge aspect or imposter syndrome stuff. Let's talk about the "service" aspect of IT.

Honestly, I find that IT is also kind of service oriented. The expectations and standards are probably different than what I imagine it's like being in a call center but ultimately, you are still working with people. There's no getting around that no matter how good of a programmer you are (except for some scenarios). Your experience will likely actually help you out here.

I would say I definitely failed during my first job... I would even say I failed miserably. Granted it was my first job ever, I really didn't do my best. It's a given that my soft skills suck so I definitely didn't handle social events very well. Still though, I think where I succeeded was my ambition to learn, my willingness to help, and my motivation to keep a certain quality to my work. My first employer definitely took advantage of me despite giving me inadequate pay but they also paved way for me to acquire some neat things like certs. I have noticed that people who have been around longer than me or who are higher tier than me also might not possess the best social skills but the gist of it is, you will still need to work with people so being a team player is rudimentary.

My advice at this point is that whether or not you decide to get a degree or not, I would look into getting a starter cert to at least make some proof that you have some kind of foundation for IT. Job descriptions usually mentioned the CompTIA A+ cert for this so I would look into that as a first cert. It was on the cheaper side last I recall but you might need to save up for this one. You can likely purchase exam prep for it to prepare a little better.

Sorry for the wall of text but I wanted to give enough relevant information for you since I have some kind of experience in the field.

If you have any questions or would like to talk about anything tech related, feel free to PM me directly. This offer goes out to anyone wanting some insight on tech.

Best of luck! ;)
 
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