Originally Published: Wednesday, 2 August 2000 Author: Jobs Staff
Published to: interact_articles_jobs_ask_staff/Ask the Jobs Staff Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Ask the Jobs Staff: Career change from travel industry into IT?

Hello - I am thinking of a career change from travel industry into IT. At present I can use MSWorks, Word etc.but I have no programming experience. So I'm looking to start self-tuition in my spare time in a program that doesn't necessarily require any existing programming knowledge, and of course that will open up employment options when I have gained sufficient experience. Does Linux fit this description. Many thanks - Nic

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Hello - I am thinking of a career change from travel industry into IT. At present I can use MSWorks, Word etc.but I have no programming experience. So I'm looking to start self-tuition in my spare time in a program that doesn't necessarily require any existing programming knowledge, and of course that will open up employment options when I have gained sufficient experience. Does Linux fit this description. Many thanks - Nic

Dear Nic:

Learning Linux, like learning anything else, doesn't necessarily require any pre-existing knowledge. Of course learning Linux, like learning anything else, can also be challenging. There are several very helpful things about learning Linux, as concerns your employability, though.

First, there are pages and pages of documentation about Linux, how to use it, how to administrate it, and how to program for it all over the web. A simple search on google.com/linux will turn up thousands of results for many topics. There are tutorials ranging from simple desktop setup to more complex device driver design. Really, you can learn quite a bit just from the freely available resources. Linux.com's Firststep section provides a really good starting point for new Linux users.

Another nice thing about Linux is, after all, it's free! You can download an entire Linux distribution from the Internet for free and install it and use it on your computer for no cost, or buy it on CD-ROM for a nominal fee (usually only a few dollars). This gives you the opportunity to try it out at home, play around with it, and really learn how it works.

Third, and also very important, is that not only is Linux itself becoming widely popular as a server operating system, but learning Linux will also send you well on your way to being able to administrate many different kinds of Unix-type systems such as Solaris, BSDi and others. Most Unix-type operating systems share a common command set to a certain extent, so that it's fairly easy to go from Linux to another Unix once you're comfortable with the system.

Because Linux is Open-Source, you can look around at the source code of the operating system and most of the software and really see how it works, once you've gotten the basics of the programming language(s) down. (Mostly C, Perl, and various shell languages.)

Now, with that said, using a computer (no matter the operating system) is by no means the same as administrating that computer or a computer network. It will probably take a lot of time and hard work on your part to learn Linux (or anything, really) enough to be a good systems administrator. If you really enjoy tinkering with computers and networks and other such arcane technological stuff, then you may find you'll become addicted to the more flexible Linux operating system. However, if you're looking for a quick way into IT, then this may not be the best way to go about it.

Linux is not just a program, but an operating system with a whole set of programs included with it. Thus, it can take some brain work to get to know it. Plus, to go into IT, you'll probably need to learn many other concepts, such as TCP/IP networking. Whether Linux can do what you want is really entirely up to you. Like many things, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. Some people install Linux at home, work at it, and are capable junior administrators after only a few months. Others work years at trying to understand the system, and gain only a rudimentary knowlege. The most successful people often are the ones who end up with a real love of working with the operating system, and a real love of learning. If this description fits you, you may find you enjoy working with Linux and be on your way to a new career field.

The best thing you can do is probably to get an older, cheap computer, and install Linux on it. Play around with it, read the documentation, and see if it makes sense to you. After all, it's free! If you use it yourself, you'll have the opportunity to figure out whether it's right for you, or whether you should pursue other avenues.

Good luck!

The Jobs Staff





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