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06 My Career by Jo Harris, UK!!!

I started doing a Computer Course in Sixth Form (16-19), and from this
got my first taste of Linux in the form of Corel. As I progressed
though I got involved with Linux within the school, as we had our own
Linux Lab, and became in charge of the Linux Desktop Project, and this
lead to my first taste of Mandrake!! I was also a school technician
and though part time, something I decided I wanted to do again in my
future.

I finished that course with an AA, and started a Open University
Course in Computer Science. I choose Open University because it is a
totally online degree which means I can work and study at the same
time.

Next was a job as a web designer I did this freelance for a year, but
found myself getting bored, so when I moved, I applied for a ICT
Technician job with a secondary school. This was ok, but I majorly
disagreed with the way the schools ICT systems were being run by the
network manager, so decided to see if I could do a better job myself.

My current job is that a Network/Sys Admin in a Secondary School in
Kent (11-19). I got my job because of Linux, and so far have managed
to save the school £20,000.
I love my current job as it means I can be innovative and it allows me
the flexibility and freedom to try anything. My family think its great
that at the age of 20, I have a well paid job, doing something I
enjoy, whilst getting a degree at the same time.

My job has also opened up opportunities in other areas, one being that
I was asked to become a main member of schoolforge-uk
(www.schoolforge.org.uk) and I have now got a Linux Project aimed at
helping schools provide the same facilities as my place of work.

In the future, I would like to work on my project full time
(www.karoshi.org.uk) offering support to schools that don't have the
staff to use the system properly.

I would say to people who want to follow a career path the same as
mine is that they will have it slightly easier then me. I didn't get
my first computer until I was 15 years old and had to work hard to
catch up at A-Level as I had done no computer courses previously. But
if you work hard and push yourself anything is possible. For those who
are late on in there careers I would say still give it a go. I thought
that 20 was to late to learn how to program as everyone around me was
13-16 years old, but I am slowly building up my skills as we speak. I
would also suggest doing an online degree, without the OU I would have
to have chosen between skills or an education, and that would have
been tough.
The major thing for me to say, especially to the women out there is
don't get put off by those who think we can't 'do' computers. I have
had lots and lots of put downs over my career and I have carried on,
and put my back to them. Even in a senior position that I hold now I
get comments and mutters and they are usually about my sex or age!!

The last bit of advice I would like to give everyone is to be brave to
be different, I got my job because of that and people will notice if
you truly believe in what you are doing even if even one else is
saying 'don't change, stay in the comfort zone'.

Jo