February 1, 2023

Level Up Your Career: Achieving Tech Success Without a Degree with Billy Cosentino (DF#82)

How To Achieve Tech Success Without a Degree

Bootcamps, Networking, Everything You Need To Know!

In this episode, we talk to Billy Cosentino to discuss the key skills and strategies that helped him succeed in the IT sector, no degree needed!

From coding bootcamps to networking, we'll cover all the steps you can take to get your foot in the door. Whether you're a recent high school graduate, a career changer, or someone looking to make a pivot, this episode will provide valuable insights and inspiration for anyone looking to break into the tech world and have a successful tech career.

Billy Cosentino has been working in the Information Technology world officially since 1999 when he got his first job as an entry-level helpdesk support rep. From there, he climbed the ranks to where he is now which is working as a migration consultant. There were no shortcuts, no "secrets", no gimmicks, or anything magical to get where he is now which is quite successful. It was a combination of many "things" that will be discussed in this episode. And all this was without a college degree.

Enjoy the episode!

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Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Billy: After high school in 93 when I graduated, I didn't know what I wanted to do for work. And I was in and out of community colleges for the next five years, in and out and finally I just gave it up. My school wasn't for me, and I just absolutely despised it. I never liked school in the first place. And then one day, a buddy of mine, my best friend in 1999 says, this is when things were starting to get hot in, in computers. 

Billy: He said, let's go to a tech school. Let's go check this out. You know, and it was a 15 month program to get into tech and we were like, we're not doing anything else. Let's do it. This is what's hot. You know? So we joined this program. It was $18,000 at the time, for 15 months, and we did it. We went through, we got great grades and all that stuff. And before we even finished the program, I landed a position in it. 

Ryan: Aloha folks, and welcome back to Degree Free, where we teach you how to get the work you want without a college degree. I'm your host, Ryan Maruyama, and if you haven't already connect with me on LinkedIn, go to LinkedIn and just search for Ryan Maruyama. One of the things that we hear all the time is that I don't have a network.

Ryan: So connect with me and let's get that network going. Also, drop me a note and let me know that you're a podcast listener. Maybe tell me something that you enjoy about the podcast and tell me something that you don't enjoy that's probably more useful to me. If you're trying to make that career transition, or you're trying to get a job without a college degree, then sign up for a weekly newsletter degree free.co/newsletter. It's a short newsletter that comes out once a week that focuses on getting you hired. Today. My guest is Billy Cosentino, an IT professional that's been working in the industry for over 20 years. I'm very excited for this conversation. We go over a lot of topics including how to transition your career into it, the different careers surrounding the IT area.

Ryan: It's a great episode for everybody that's thinking about going into the wide ranging industry of it, and you can find Billy on his YouTube channel, youtube.com/at partner with William. It's information Technology Q&A show. He hasn't posted a video in a long time, but the information there is still very relevant today.

Ryan: I definitely suggest going there and subscribing and then hopefully Billy from this podcast. Hopefully it'll start making more videos. Without further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Billy Cosentino.

Ryan: Aloha folks, and welcome back to the degree free. I'm super excited to have today's guest on Billy Cosentino.

Ryan: Billy, we've been trying to make this happen for months. I am really glad that we both got to put this on our schedules and make the time.

Billy: I'm super happy to be here.

Ryan: Thanks for joining us. The first place that I wanted to start, kind of where I start with everybody, with every guest, cuz the way that I kind of think of my job and what a lot of people that are listening to this are trying to get out of it are different job ideas in mainly the tech industry.

Ryan: So, I'd love to start with just kind of what you do for work and like the different responsibilities that you have.

Billy: I think it'd be interesting for the listeners to know a little bit about my history and where I came from because I've been in it so long and, to hear the kind of the growth and the ladder that I've climbed, you know, cuz I think that's important too.

Billy: I've been in the IT industry professionally since 1999 but I got started with using computers somewhere around 1990 in high school, doing work processing stuff. So I've been around computers for a while, but it was after high school in 93. When I graduated, I didn't know what I wanted to do for work, and I was in and out of community colleges for the next five years, in and out, and finally I just gave it up.

Billy: My school wasn't for me, and I just absolutely despised it. I never liked school in the first place. So, and then one day, a buddy of mine my, my best friend. In 1999 says this is when things were starting to get hot in computers. He said, let's go to a tech school. Let's go check this out and it was a 15 month program to get into tech.

Billy: And we were like, we're not doing anything else. Let's do it. This is what's hot. You know? So we joined this program. It was $18,000 at the time, for 15 months. And we did it. We went through, we got great grades and all that stuff. And before we even finished the program, I landed a position in it at a local internet service provider. So this is during the days where dial up was still the main connection point to the internet and so I was doing just some menial tech support stuff. You know, people having problems with dial up and that's how I got into into the industry altogether and then it just kind of, you know, I stayed there for a couple months and then I ended up moving outta state and I landed here where I'm at now in central Florida.

Billy: And that's where my career just kind of took off from there. So I started as a desktop kind of guy, you know, doing help desk support and then I went into kind of what they used to call network administration. System administration, where I was working for a company that basically what they did was they were outsourced it for small companies around town.

Billy: This is, again, this is the early days of the internet companies were just starting to incorporate networks of computers. Right. They were just starting to get online and all that so they didn't have the need for full-time IT people and that's what we did. We came in, we designed their little networks and all that and I did that until 2006. And in the year 2000, I got my first Microsoft Certification. My first and only Microsoft certification, in fact, in the year 2000 and then in 2004 ish, I got my Cisco certification and that's because at the time that's where I thought I was gonna be headed is towards working with Cisco type equipment, doing networking and things like that.

Billy: But then in 2006 I ended up finding a, tech support job doing high-end technical support for software. It's for email archiving and backup software and I ended up working for that company until 2018. So I did that for a while and ended up having to leave there because they were getting rid of my department.

Billy: And I went to work for a smaller company for two years, which then ended up getting acquired by the company that I had left. So I ended up going back to where I came from. So yeah, there was a lot that transpired there. So yeah, it's it's been kind of cool. So I spent, I wanna say the majority of my career in a enterprise technical support position, working in the trenches with some really heavy technology, got to work with developers and programmers and software engineers, whatever you want to call 'em.

Billy: So I've been around a lot of different people in this space and it's funny because. Talking about people finding jobs and whatnot. I just changed jobs. I left that company I was with for a cumulative 16 years or so, and a month ago I started with a different company doing something a little bit different.

Billy: Now I'm in the migration space doing migration services. So that's where I'm at currently. 

Ryan: I have a couple of questions here, just kind of defining terms when you said enterprise technical support. What is that? And what I mean by that is, when I think of technical support as a layman is I think of the person that is, you know, sitting on a headphone, kind of talking to enterprise customers and trying to figure out what it, what's wrong, or was it deeper than that, or what does that look like?

Billy: Okay. There's all kinds of technical support. I mean, pretty much any product you purchase software related, there's gonna be some sort of tech support number that you can call. You know, even for your cell phone you can call Verizon or AT&T and say, Hey, I got problems, or whatever, you know, and you're gonna get someone on the phone, they're gonna put you through the ringer and say, did you do this?

Billy: Did you do that? that's not the kind of support that we're talking about here. We're talking about a enterprise software and let's define enterprise a little bit more. What that means generally is you've got a piece of software that's deployed into a very large organization, and that can mean most of the time it's companies that are a thousand employees and more, you know, up to hundreds of thousands of people.

Billy: So they're big corporations and that's generally what enterprise refers to, you know, so and the software that I was supporting was a beast for a lack of better terms. It's very, very difficult to troubleshoot. It's got a lot of components to it and so basically the day in the life of what I did was, yeah, I was on the phones with a headset in a cubicle somewhere with hundreds of other people doing the same thing and just troubleshooting the software.

Billy: And most of the time you're on a remote share. So they're sharing their screen because you, it's very difficult to troubleshoot when you're just talking audio. You need to see their environment and here's the thing. When you're troubleshooting software, probably half the time the issue is gonna be something wrong in their environment.

Billy: So you're trying to chase down something that's misconfigured or going on in their environment. So it's very very interesting work and it can really tax the rain, like you go home tired, you know what I mean? But all in all,, it was a great, it was a great gig. I'm not gonna complain. The company treated me well and it was a great learning experience because not only are you working with the product that you support, but you're exposed technologies, different technologies that are deployed amongst all these different customers. You get to see all this stuff.

Billy: So you get to learn and see all the different areas and you know, it, it kind of opens up your mind a little bit as to how big technology actually is an it. So that's what that was.

Ryan: And you said now you've moved on to migrations regarding migrations, migrating from which technology to which technology. 

Billy: Yeah. There's, what we're doing right now is there's a lot of people, a lot of companies that are moving to the cloud, okay. They're moving their data from their own data centers that they manage up to the cloud.

Billy: And that can be Microsoft's cloud, Google, or. Amazon, those are the three big players you got AWS, Microsoft, Azure and all that stuff and then Google, which I haven't worked with Google or AWS. I've strictly been working with Microsoft Azure but what we're doing is we're taking data and essentially moving it from the customers, what's called on-premise servers and hardware and all that stuff out to the cloud somewhere.

Billy: And generally that's gonna be in Azure and we're doing a lot of email migrations at the moment. So, in other words, companies, well, where our niche is we're moving email from exchange on premise to Microsoft 365. So that's what we're doing at this current time. 

Ryan: Wow. That's crazy. When I say that's crazy, it's like, is that's the primary product or service that, that your company sells?

Billy: Yep. 

Billy: That's, that's their main focus and migration technology has been around for probably 12 years or so. So it's not something that's new, like people, or I should say, companies are moving their data, to the cloud. It all started really when Microsoft came out with Office 365. That's really when this whole migration path started.

Billy: And I shouldn't say just Microsoft. It's really the three, Amazon, Google and Microsoft. When they came up with this idea of cloud-based storage and software, that's when companies started to look at, you know what, I think we need to get our start moving our data into the cloud so that we don't have to manage all this hardware and everything that comes along with all the headaches, you know?

Billy: So yes, that's all we do. We just move data. We shuffle data from one spot to another. That's really what we're doing. 

Ryan: The reason why I say that's crazy is because like, once again, as a layman, and majority of the people listening to this are, you wouldn't think that there would be an entire industry or an entire niche of just moving email over from, email is just not something that you think about.

Ryan: Like, it's not something that I think about at least, right? I don't know, I just log into Microsoft, if you use Outlook or whatever and you or I log into Gmail and something on the back end happens. But when I emailed you to set this up just magic happened and I didn't, wouldn't think that there's a whole business of, taking somebody's hardware, rendering it obsolete, and then putting that into the cloud just specifically for Microsoft Exchange, that it's, that's kind of mind blowing.

Billy: The reason is because, email's been around for a while. There are provisions and laws that companies have to follow for email. In other words, like there's different industries that are required to save email for a specific number of years. They can't just dispose email. And so in the early two thousands, there was companies that recognized this.

Billy: They created software that would archive email. So basically they would take the email and archive it, which is nothing more than a second copy of that email somewhere else. Where the actual employees, the people sending these emails, they have no idea that those emails are being saved somewhere else.

Billy: They think because they're gonna do a shift, delete from their inbox, that the thing is that email's gone. That's not the way it works. Okay? Those emails are, they're somewhere else, whether you like it or not. So all these years of the past 20 years, companies have this massive, massive number of emails sitting in some court, some sort of storage, whether they manage it or not, that they have to do something with.

Billy: Because they can't just get rid of it. Especially like in pharmaceutical and the medical industry, you can't just get rid of email, you've gotta save it somewhere. So, they started out by archiving it somewhere, putting it off on secondary storage is what it's, is what we call it.

Billy: And then at some point, these archiving solutions that I was just talking about started to fall off. And that's when the cloud was born. And so what we're doing is we're taking this old data, email mostly, from these archiving solutions and now putting it into the cloud somewhere. So the email is making this transit, this, the transition from way back in the day.

Billy: I mean, I've seen emails from the 1990s working in this industry. So there's email floating around for years, man, that you just can't get rid of. And so yeah, there's an entire niche just all around email. Now there's other, you can also archive actual data, file data. You could do that as well.

Billy: That's a huge thing too but the company that I'm with, our main focus right now is just email migrations. It's quite amazing. 

Billy: That's awesome. And I'll get off of talking about a typical day or whatever, or talking about what you do at a high level rather in a second, but regarding the migration and what your company does, is it just the migration or do you sign the companies up for like a occurring maintenance type of thing? Or do you kind of just pass that on to their cloud engineers or their in-house people and they kind of deal with it? That's a good question. Most of the companies that do what we do, Is transactional.

Billy: All we do is we, we set up a project, we move that data, and then we're done with the company. And that's how it's worked for, since these companies started. The company that I'm with is actually in the process of developing another piece of software, if you will, that's in the cloud that will offer a secondary product to customers so that they can start storing data with us.

Billy: So we're trying to separate ourselves from the competitors, you know, where it's not just a one and done deal where we're actually gonna do a migration for a company and then continue to support them by potentially using our other new product, which is yet to be an announced. So yeah, that's coming.

Ryan: I kind of wanted to switch gears and kind of double click on your past a little bit. You were kind of talking about the Microsoft certification, the one that you have, and then your Cisco certification, you know, those years ago. Which Microsoft certification was it? Is that certification still around?

Ryan: And then what is the cis what was the Cisco certification. 

Billy: That Microsoft certification was for? For Windows 2000 professional, that was the operating system. So that was the . I don't know if you remember this or not, but Windows NT was from the mid nineties, I want to say. And then NT kind of morphed into Windows 2000 Professional.

Billy: So it was the more prettier version of nt. That's all that was. That's the only Microsoft certification that I currently have. I've never gotten any other Microsoft certification. The Cisco one was the ccna, which is kind of like an entry level one, Cisco certified network associate and Cisco certifications are probably one of the most difficult certifications that you could take.

Billy: It took me three times to pass that test, but, those you have to renew every two or three years, I believe it was and I did not renew it because I was out of that realm already. So I just let it go. Speaking of certifications and not having anything new, this company that I went to, I'm actually studying for a Microsoft exam because they are a partner with Microsoft in order to maintain certain perks, you have to have a specific number of employees that have certifications. Right now I'm in the middle of studying for a certification. 

Ryan: That is a great point that I don't think that we've ever covered on this podcast before. A lot of people don't know. So one of the main things, we're the degree free podcast.

Ryan: We think that people can succeed in life and get the work they want without college degrees. And that's what we're all about, trying to help people. One of the paths that you could go is you could get a certification, or a license or something like that. A lot of people say that actually work in the industries that these certifications are, and it's just, Broadly speaking for any quote unquote cert that's out there from Microsoft, AWS to like a digital marketing cert, there are always the people that already work in those industries that have never had a certification, you know, kind of like yourself, right?

Ryan: Like, you know, the last one that you did was for Microsoft 2000 Professional. Like I remember, I remember that os and it's like, it's 2023, why we're having this conversation now. that's obviously way outdated and that's not the reason why you are where you are today, at least in your current role.

Ryan: And what a lot of people that are in the industry that don't have any certs or will say is like, oh, you don't need a cert either. But I think a large piece of the puzzle. People don't know about, not even forget about, but they just don't know, is that there's a large percentage of companies just like yours that are out there, that have large contracts with enterprise companies that require certain certifications to be held by a certain percentage of people.

Ryan: And if you do not have that certification, even if you have a college degree, even if you have a master's, even if you have a PhD like you, it doesn't matter. You're not going to be considered for that role because they're bound by the covenants in their contract to have a certain amount of people that have these things.

Ryan: And that's a small percentage of companies but those small percentage of companies are usually working with, large companies like yours, which is, I think, a really important point for people to at least have in the back of their head. 

Billy: Yeah, it's absolutely true. Especially in, in, in my world, in IT I was lucky enough to not have to worry about getting certifications, up until now, you know, I just didn't, I didn't need it.

Billy: And to your point, I've been very successful in my career, extremely successful without a college degree. . I mean, I have that, that technical college that I went to, or it's not even a college, really. I mean, it was just a program and, I've got a nice little diploma, but that didn't really get me to where I am today at all.

Billy: It was just something. I thought was gonna help. But yeah, you don't, you absolutely don't need a degree and that's why I love what you're doing at degree free because it, it really speaks to my career and me personally so yeah, 

Ryan: that was kind of the whole point. Just kind of talking a little bit about the history of Degree Free, that was kind of the whole point of it.

Ryan: We saw, and people, longtime listeners have heard this before, but I'll just tell you like. We would be speaking to so many people just like yourself that have had very successful careers and very successful, a lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of C-suite people, a lot of director levels and, success, quote unquote, whatever.

Ryan: Success means different things to different people, but generally speaking, very successful and whenever the, like the topic of having a college degree would come up, they would always kind of shrink into themselves and they would be like, oh, well, you know, yeah, I didn't finish, or, I'm a college dropout and something, something, or, I never went and I was just like, dude, it's fine. Like, it totally worked out but there was no, the language that existed prior to Degree Free, and this is gonna sound really pompous but the language that existed prior to Degree Free was always negative about never going to college and so we wanted to kind of think of a way that we could, you know, liberate people and, that is positive and saying, , yeah, I'm degree free.

Ryan: Instead of, oh, I didn't go to college, or, oh, I'm a dropout. And we're lucky that the name seems to have stuck in, resonated with a lot of people and we're happy that it did. And have people like you on.

Billy: Yeah. Yeah. 

Billy: For sure. 

Billy: I think that going the college route is probably gonna become something, of the past event, you know, in the near future here.

Billy: I think people are gonna realize that It's not necessary anymore, especially in specific industries. Obviously you're still gonna have to go to college if you want to be something extraordinary, a doctor, a scientist and things like that but, I think most people that go to college are just going to go, you know what I'm saying?

Billy: Just to, so they can say they have that degree and not be looked down upon. And so it's an interesting conversation to have but I don't feel embarrassed whatsoever about saying that I don't have a degree. I'm not, that doesn't faze me. Cuz I've, I got a great life, you know? I made it basically.

Ryan: And that's the goal. And that's what everybody, that's what everybody's trying to do. I wanted to talk about your YouTube channel a little bit, The Information Technology Q&A Show. I know you haven't uploaded a new video in a while, but could you talk a little bit about what your inspiration for it was?

Ryan: And then secondary, there's two questions, but as a kind of a follow up, like I know that you, I'm definitely gonna put links to everything in the show notes, guys. So you can just go to degreefree.co/podcast and check out Billy's YouTube channel. But you haven't posted a video in it a little bit.

Ryan: How relevant is the information that you have on there today?

Billy: The YouTube channel actually started out as a professional/personal development type spot, where I was talking about just life lessons and things like that and then I ended up creating a video that was specific about the IT industry, many years ago, probably eight years ago.

Billy: At this point, it was kind of a controversial video and for some reason it just kind of, kind of exploded on YouTube. And I started getting a lot of views on it, a lot of comments, a lot of questions about the industry. And it dawned on me at that point that, you know what, there's a lot of people out there that really want to know about what I do, what the industry is like and all that stuff.

Billy: And so it just kind of morphed into a channel where I was taking people's questions from the comments and making videos and answering people's questions. And I did that for a few years. And that's really how that channel was born. And it was, all my videos are, they're raw, they're unedited and just, I turned the camera on.

Billy: I hit record, say what I need to say, or demonstrate what I need to say on my whiteboard, and stop the recording and upload. And I have, I grew it to like 20,000 subscribers, just completely organic. I didn't do any advertising, nothing. It just kind of took a life on its own. And yeah, you're right. I haven't put anything out in two years, but I will say that everything that's there is evergreen content, meaning that it's all still relevant.

Billy: I made it that way because of that reason. So that if people are watching these videos in five years from now, the content itself still applies. Obviously some things are gonna change. One of my most popular videos is, what you need to know to get into it, or something like that.

Billy: There's some things on there that, I mean, it's amazing. Like it's, it's very, very basic, but they're still required and still important for you to know if you want to get into this industry. So, yeah, I mean, all of it's pretty pretty relevant up to this day. 

Ryan: What was that video that exploded or the, that initial one that you were talking about?

Ryan: What was it about? 

Billy: Oh, goodness. I don't even remember what I was talking about, to be honest with you. It was so long ago that, 

Ryan: but it was just the fact that it got views and it was kind of just the impetus of it all. Like you, because it got views and then you got questions and then being able to answer those questions in a really organic fashion kind of made it really easy.

Billy: Yeah, yeah. That's right. I, it was, I wish I could remember exactly what the topic was that I was talking about, but it was, I know it was very specific to it. and system administration or network administration, something like that maybe and yeah, for some reason, the way I said it or the way I came off like really triggered people,

Billy: It was very funny to me how that happened. And so I got, I got all kinds of emotions from people in the comments and, but yeah, I mean, that's what happened. It took off and that's what helped me get the channel going. I've, I took that video down actually a long time ago. I don't remember why, but I eventually took it down.

Billy: I suppose if I kept it up, I probably would've gotten a lot more views on it, but I got rid of it. Yeah. 

Ryan: It seems, more controversial things seem to get more engagement views and clicks and comments, rather than, you know, if you're not, if you're not taking a side or , having an opinion, which makes sense, I guess, but sometimes it's not what you want.

Ryan: Sometimes it's not what you want. 

Billy: Well, that's what's interesting is that I wasn't even trying to be controversial. Like it, it wasn't controversial at all. It was just, I was just having one of those days where I wanted to talk about this specific topic. And I just laid into it. This was a video that I shot while I was driving to work one day.

Billy: So I was in the car shooting this video. So it was so informal and I don't think I used any kind of, I don't use clickbait titles or I nothing like that. You know, it's straight up. But anyways, that, that's what happened. 

Ryan: One of the reasons why I wanted to bring up your YouTube channel, and I definitely suggest everybody, listening to check it out once again, I'll put it all in the show notes, is because it is a great example of creating content for a specific industry in a very low friction way.

Ryan: And when people, whenever I say you know, people should be creating content so that you have like a personal/professional portfolio of work to show people, right? And kind of start, quote unquote networking. They're always like, well, I don't know where to start. I don't know where to start. Your channel is a perfect example of like, just start talking about the things that you do for work or for a lot of people that aren't in the career that they want.

Ryan: There's a lot of people that are teachers and they're trying to get into tech or restaurant workers are trying to get into tech. You just make content around the industry that you're trying to get into. Right. And your channel is a perfect example of how to do that in, like I said, a very low friction way where you just turn the camera on and you just record and then upload it.

Ryan: I think a lot of people think, look at TikTok and look at Instagram and they, and, or they'll look at this podcast and they'll just be like, oh wow. That they're. It looks so good. I can't do that. They probably have all this gear and whatever, whatever. Like, it doesn't have to be that difficult.

Ryan: You can just record it on your phone, like you said in your car and then just hit the upload button. It's just, the key is to just what I think the key to networking is, and I think this is the crux of what I'm getting to, what I think the key of networking is to do things in public and to, whether that's a YouTube channel, whether that's LinkedIn posts or a personal blog.

Ryan: It's just doing things where other people can see. Oh, Ryan, I know that he tries to get people without College Degrees work because he runs a podcast called Degree Free. I can see that. Billy, I know that you know a lot about the IT space. I'm not sure if you work in it or not, but you know a lot about it because of your YouTube channel, and if you watch it, you say that you work in it, so Perfect.

Ryan: You know, and for with those things, you're gonna get people reaching, you're gonna get a lot of inbound, just like how you had comments, right? You're gonna have people asking different questions and you're gonna have people inbound, just like how you and I met is just by us doing something in public. And we met, I think, on a TikTok comment or something like that.

Billy: Yeah, exactly. 

Ryan: Right. And that's just all, that's just all inbound where people are just like, oh yeah, I like what you're doing and, you know, let's see if we can make something happen. 

Billy: Yeah. You hit on networking and I'm gonna tell you right now that, that building your network is probably the most important thing you could do for your career.

Billy: Because that's really how you can maneuver your entire career. Your network is so powerful. There's this cheesy saying out there that your network is your net worth. I think it's, I think it's partly true because ultimately at the end of the day, if you can create a network of people or know where to find people, that you want to congregate with or learn from or listen to and maybe even end up contacting.

Billy: That's really how your connections happen. That's how people actually get jobs. It really is about who you know. People have heard this story over and over and over. It's not what you know, it's who you know. I don't agree with that a hundred percent. I agree with the, it's who you know.

Billy: Absolutely. A hundred percent. You do need to know stuff, but having connections is ultimately the, I think that's the secret to success, to be honest with you. 

Ryan: I completely agree. And it's played out. It's anybody that has experience, you know that, you know what the benefits of networking will immediately sing. Its praises because, I mean, just for me personally, after we started doing things in public, before Degree Free, Hannah and I had been talking about this problem that we see with college education and, it being a barrier to entry for, success and for financial wellbeing for literally years.

Ryan: And we didn't know anybody that was like-minded. Everybody that we spoke to were, we were like, they were like, ah, that's crazy. Everybody goes to college. Everybody goes to college but then it wasn't until we started doing this podcast and making TikTok and everything like that, where, we started to network.

Ryan: And that's why I say like, doing things in public is key and just coming back around to your YouTube channel, it's just a really, really good example of how to do it in a very low friction way. One of the reasons why I love, doing it on social platforms is because you can leverage their algorithms to put it in front of other people rather than putting it like on a blog or, you know, on your own personal website, which is definitely good too.

Ryan: If you put it on YouTube, if you hit the magic formula or whatever, they're going to distribute it to all of the people on their platform. Same with TikTok, same with Instagram, Facebook, all those different social platforms. That's why it's good to create content on those things because then all you have to do is create the content and if it's good content, they'll blast it out to people that are interested in it.

Billy: Absolutely. Yeah.

Ryan: For people that are. Trying to make transitions from different careers. Like, so there's a lot of people that are listening to this that they listen because they are currently in a career that they don't like, they hate, or it's just not what they wanna do, and they're trying to get a different job.

Ryan: Usually it's for. You know, honestly it's for pay, it's for the benefits such as like work from home, like the fringe benefits tho, those types of things, remote work. What is the best way to make career transitions from a totally different space into the IT space? I know that's a really broad question, but if you had any just kind of starting blocks for people to nibble on.

Billy: I think one of the first things you have to consider is what area of it you want to get into and so there's many different areas, especially nowadays and there's so many different things you can do in it. So I think that would be the first one is identify what attracts you in IT is it, it's funny because when I tell people, people ask me, what do you do for a living? And I'm like, oh man, how do I explain this to somebody? Like I do migrations and stuff, they're not gonna know what I'm talking about you know. It's really hard to explain it, but most people default to either fixing computers, , just generically fixing computers or programming.

Billy: Those are the two things that people default to, you know? But there's a million other things in between those two. So try to figure out which of those areas that you wanna focus on and then the second thing I would say is I would go for that specific area, find an entry level exam that you can study for certification actually, and just start studying it.

Billy: And at the same time you're studying, hit up YouTube and just find out what are the different things in that niche that you can study for and just start soaking up things. Cuz that's really what you need to do is just start soaking it up. Now you may start looking at something and decide, you know what?

Billy: I don't like this, this doesn't makes sense to me. It doesn't attract me. And that's where you have to just kind of go down the line then go to the next thing. That sounds good, you know, but that's what I would do is just find those areas that interest you do research on it, and YouTube is huge.

Billy: Even LinkedIn, go find someone on LinkedIn that, that does what you do. Or, and just kind of back to what you were saying, networking. Just message somebody and say, Hey, I, you know, I'm looking to get into this. What do you think? Or that type of thing. Not everybody's gonna answer you.

Billy: You know, there's a lot of people that like to hold information in. I call 'em information hoarders, but just keep doing it. You know? Just get those nos until you get the Yes. And, that's what I would do, in the IT world and actually, that's probably the same advice I would give for anyone making a transition into any field is just now obviously like if I wanted to go be a teacher, that there's only really one track you could do.

Billy: Right. But, just really depends but studying and figuring out whether or not you want to do something like that is, is key.

Ryan: You kind of hit on something that I was just having a conversation yesterday. We're kind of doing for the first time. We're having person, he's a crane operator right now.

Ryan: He works in the field. He is away from his family for like six to eight weeks and he's trying to make his transition. Ultimately, he wants to be a developer, but right now he'll transition, he'll settle for anything that's behind the desk and, you know, have him sleeping at home every night instead of being gone for six to eight weeks. I just had a conversation with him yesterday. We're kind of doing a little bit of a new segment where we're trying to get him work and stuff. The EPIs for the listeners out there, the episode probably won't be, out by the time that this one comes out, so stay tuned for that. But I was literally just talking to him about this, yesterday, about what you were talking about with LinkedIn.

Ryan: It's, LinkedIn is such a powerful tool and you can just go there. Anybody that's trying to network, they have the monopoly on white collar professional workers, you know, really in the world, but especially in the United States and if you wanted to pick somebody's brain. All you have to do is connect with them and add a note and just say exactly what you said.

Ryan: And you can do that, 20 times a day, 30 times a day and exactly what you said, your hit rate is probably gonna be pretty low, but really you only need a couple of people to say yes and give you some time. If you ask a little bit about the person and a little bit about their story. It probably goes a long way because if they start talking about themselves and how they came up in the industry, instead of saying like, oh, I'm Ryan and I'm trying to get into the IT industry, what advice do you have?

Ryan: You could just say, I'm Ryan, I'm, I would love to know how you got into, I'm thinking about going into the IT industry. I'd love to know how you got in the IT industry and just let that person tell their story and give 'em a platform one V, one-on-one. And if they start talking to you about their story, they're much more likely to help you out eventually, and you know, and to give you the guide and what they see.

Billy: Yeah, and I would also add to that, and by the way. I have a video on my channel that talks about how to transition into it, if anyone wanted to go look for that but let me add to what you just said on LinkedIn, right? If you are interested in a specific career path, go find somebody and you'd be surprised that what you can learn just by reading someone's profile, you don't even have to talk to them.

Billy: You could just look at their profile and just, it's just loaded up with information about their entire history. Basically, their entire resume is on there. And you could just read through that and probably get a good idea on whether or not is this something that I'd be interested in? So, if you're too embarrassed to message them or whatever, look at their profile first, you know what I'm saying?

Billy: And, and then kind of just take it from there but it really is about getting outta your comfort zone. You can't, like you were saying earlier, you gotta put yourself out there. You really do. You can't stay in your bubble and expect things to change. You've gotta go out there and make things happen.

Billy: You know, Jim Ron always said, for things to change, you have to change. And so you gotta make things happen. Nothing's gonna just fall on your lap. 

Ryan: The next question I ask a few times, and sometimes it's a dead end, but I think it's helpful for people to know if you have an answer to it, is, what is the biggest or most common shortcoming you see from people that are just starting a career in your field?

Ryan: So, you know, even like your specific part of it or it could be more broader in the IT space. However you wanna answer that question, if you had an answer for that. 

Billy: We talk a lot about certifications. Okay. And how certifications can help you land a job, right? And get you in the door. Here's a shortcoming.

Billy: There are a lot of people that know how to study and pass tests, okay? They don't even need to understand the technology. You could probably take someone off the street that's super smart, never work the day in their life, doing what, what I do, for example and we can put the certification exam in front of them with all the study material and they're gonna go past that test.

Billy: Then they're gonna go apply for a job and they might be a great talker and they can get in the door, right? Because in it, a lot of times you're just talking to like an HR manager recruiter. They don't understand the actual job role, right? Here's what's gonna happen. They're gonna get to the ] part of the interview where somebody's smart enough is gonna read right through them and they're gonna say, oh, this guy's got this certification or this list of certifications but he doesn't know what he's doing. Like he doesn't understand nothing. So what I'm saying is that you have to be careful, and this used to happen quite a bit and I'm sure it still does, is people just think that they're gonna get a certification, they're gonna walk in the door, and then everything's gonna be rainbows and unicorns until they actually sit down and have to work.

Billy: And they can't figure out how to do the job. And then it's over for them. They're done. They're not gonna, there's no tolerance and there's no time for people like that in, especially in our industry. You just can't do it. There's too many mistakes you can make that, that are detrimental.

Billy: And so I'm gonna say that's probably my best answer to your question. 

Ryan: So what are some of the top traits like you're thinking about? Thinking about transitioning into IT and, you're like, I don't know if this is a right fit for me. What do I have to kind of brush up on?

Ryan: Or what do I have to, like, what are some of just generic traits, kind of like figuring it out on your own, like a can-do attitude, that kind of stuff. 

Billy: Yeah. I'm gonna say that number one thing is you have to be willing to learn. It's not one of those careers where you get in, you learn a specific skill set and then you don't really have to expand upon it.

Billy: Like you just know what you're doing, right? You've gotta be willing to continuously learn and keep up with what's going on in the industry because we all know that the IT world is moving at a thousand miles per hour. So you've gotta be willing to put the time in your education. The second is, it is just kind of generic, but it's true.

Billy: You have to be a team player. You've gotta be willing to set your ego aside and learn from the people that you're working with that are already way ahead of, a lot more about what's going on and just soak up the information and part of that is taking notes. I mean, you've gotta be able to jot down notes and be descriptive and just learn basically.

Billy: The third one is show up. You better show up. You've gotta be able to be at the job , show up early, leave late, put your time in and just start climbing that ladder. It's not gonna be any kind of cake walk. And then, Fourth, I would say is you gotta have the chops to be able to withstand a little bit of stress.

Billy: I really don't like that word, but there's gonna be situations where you've gotta figure something out. Like there's a problem that you have to be able to figure out. In other words, put yourself in a situation where there's no one else around you. You're in the office by yourself, there's an issue and you have to figure it out.

Billy: You've gotta be able to be able to figure out what resources are available that you could utilize to get you to the solution. You know what I'm saying? You've gotta have that mindset of, okay, I need to be willing to be able to solve problems on my own.

Ryan: I wanted to hit on something that you talked about earlier, which was the certification.

Ryan: So, you know, kind of just studying for the test, getting it, but kind of not knowing anything about the underlying or not knowing how to do the work in general or specifically rather. This is something I fear a lot of, because for us, one of the easy things everybody wants to know, like, what certification can I get to get a job that pays X amount of dollars?

Ryan: Like that's literally always the question that we get. If you go through all of our TikTok comments, that's probably number one. And it's a good question, I guess, because people want to know about the certifications and they want to know what the average or median salary for these different positions are, and so we always tell them one, to be very honest, it makes good content.

Ryan: People like it, people wanna know about it but I always fear that when we make that type of content, we kind of lose exactly what you said, which is, you gotta have to know how to do the job, or at least know how to learn how to do the job once you get hired. You know what I mean? Like, if you don't know how to do the job, hey man, you know, like. everybody, everybody started new once, but then you really gotta bust your ass to learn to learn it. Right? 

Ryan: And then if that takes studying on your off time, which it probably will, right? Like if it takes, studying before work, studying after work, studying on the weekends, and learning how to do it, then that's what you gotta do.

Ryan: With us pitching these certifications as much as we have, I fear that like, we're starting to create the same thing that people are coming outta college with, which is, and I'm speaking from my own personal experience. I have a college degree, and I felt like when I first came out of college, I had this piece of paper and I was like, okay, people are gonna hire me because I have this piece of paper.

Ryan: And that's, I mean, that couldn't have been further from the truth. I mean, it just, it couldn't have been further from the truth. I I was really naive and, really stupid but, I know that a lot of people are in that same boat. They'll go to college thinking that, okay, this is a magic bullet.

Ryan: Once I get this piece of paper, people are gonna wanna hire me. I become hireable but the fact of the matter is, you are just as unemployable as you were a little while ago. The same thing can start happening with these certifications. If everybody thinks that, okay, well if I just go get this certification in, Azure or in, AWS then people will want to hire me without knowing that I can actually do the job.

Ryan: And so I just want to touch on that for a second. 

Billy: You're absolutely right about that. As far as the pay, 

Billy: Yeah. 

Billy: There's certain certifications out there that you can go acquire and it's advertised that you can. You can get X amount of salary, right? Because you have this certification.

Billy: The truth is that you're only gonna get that salary depending on your a couple of different things. The first being your experience, right? You've gotta have some kind of experience or background in that area. And the second is, a lot of times people don't realize this, but they're in, especially in big organizations, there are salary ranges. right.

Billy: Depending on where you sit in their, some people, some companies call 'em steps. Some call 'em ranks, right? So like if you're a senior technical support engineer, principal, technical support engineer, you're a senior principal, technical, all those, all of those have different salary ranges.

Billy: And so they start at the bottom and then they go all the way up. So it, you might see, oh gosh, this certification you can make $150,000 a year. Yeah, that's true. But that's not gonna happen right out the, out of the gate. You have to earn your way to that salary. You know what I'm saying?

Billy: And one thing I wanted to elaborate on, as you had said, when you're coming outta college, you're, you think you're gonna get a job and all this stuff. I think to be fair, a little bit on the college side and not completely dump on it, if you're playing your cards right in college, you should be getting some sort of internship, while you're there so that your chances of getting hired right out of college are that much higher.

Billy: And so I think a lot of people fail there as well. They think that, oh, I'm just gonna get this degree and then find a job. No, I don't think that's the way it works. You need to put some effort into it. You gotta go out there probably starting in your sophomore year of college and start networking with companies and saying, Hey, I'll work for you for free.

Billy: You know what I mean? And then try to get an internship there. So there's definitely things that can be done. 

Ryan: I definitely think that interning is a great way to do it. And exactly what you said, when people are hiring, they want to see, sure. They might want to call this jury. Maybe they don't. I don't think they do, but they really care about is what you did with those four years, right?

Ryan: Like whether, or not exactly what you said, internships, externships, whatever. They're, whatever they're called, wherever you are. I think one of the big problems is that there, there are a lot of people that are going to college to get a liberal arts degree. Maybe something that, their getting a psychology degree or they're getting a sociology degree, but they want to go work in business or something like that.

Ryan: And they're thinking that a liberal arts degree is gonna help them, get a secure a job in business. And obviously I'm gonna catch flack for this, and I always do, but I think that your psychology or sociology internship isn't gonna help. I mean, depends on which, what aspect of business you go into.

Ryan: If you're just doing that and then you expect that your college experience and your college degree is gonna be relevant in another completely unrelated aspect, I think that's where I find a lot of issue with it but to not dump on college the whole time I kind of wanted to talk about the different cloud infrastructures out there and just kind of like one of the most popular things that people are wondering about is, everybody has heard of the cloud and everybody thinks that and sees that it's kind of moving in that direction, right? Like everything is moving towards the cloud. I mean, your whole job is moving things to the cloud. And I kind of wanted to talk about the differences.

Ryan: I know that you said you don't have any experience with Google or AWS, but you only have experience with Azure but just from a high level perspective, what are the differences between them? And if you have an opinion on like some entry points for people to learn more about these, specific things.

Billy: I would say that kind of going back to the earlier question with, someone transitioning into it, what should they do? I think the cloud, like you said, is the way to go, right? So I would start looking into understanding the cloud options. So whether it be Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services, or Google, essentially, they're all the same.

Billy: They're just different companies, right? They all offer the same product. It's the same exact thing. They just do different companies basically, probably, you know, they definitely differ in their pricing structure and licensing and things of that nature. But it's really all the same thing. The two most popular ones right now are gonna be Microsoft and Amazon.

Billy: I think that Microsoft actually has an edge, a little edge right now on. Amazon, especially when you're talking about like the Office 365 stuff but, Amazon, they do a lot of storage type stuff and, they're hosting the Netflixes of the world , and the big big companies, right?

Billy: So studying and getting those certifications would be probably the best way to go if you are looking to make a transition in, because really that's where we're going, we're headed towards the cloud. And so if you start understanding cloud technology, then you're gonna be ahead of the game. Cuz like I said earlier, people are, or companies are moving from managing their own infrastructure and for people that don't understand what that means, it's, it means that companies, up until 10 years ago before Cloud was born, they. Had to manage all of this physical hardware. So in other words, they had server rooms and closets and they were renting out space in a big warehouse that's called a data center. Right? Where they were physically storing their equipment that they were managing and they're responsible for.

Billy: Whereas now they're letting Amazon, Google, and Microsoft maintain all that stuff to, for a lot of different reasons. So, yes, I would say that's probably one of the good ways to go. 

Ryan: I kind of just wanted to touch on when you were talking about Microsoft 365, Office 365 and Amazon and these different cloud companies, one of the different career paths for those people that are listening, if you're listening to this and maybe you're like, oh, maybe it isn't for me, but I'm still, interested in the tech space on the operation side, there's a lot of careers that support all of these different, licensing, especially with Office 365, for example, like, at a general level.

Ryan: And I'm gonna mess this up, and maybe you can help me along the way but from a general level, like their enterprise companies, they buy Office 365 licenses in batches of, a thousand people or 500 people or whatever it is and there are operations teams that have to like get those contracts together and make sure that you are sticking within the covenants or the terms of all of these contracts.

Ryan: So if it sounds like, oh, maybe I don't wanna learn how to code or maybe I don't wanna do these certification things, there's this whole other supporting operation side that you could look into.

Billy: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, it is more than just, being a technical person. There's a lot of different careers that you could do inside of it, sales, being a salesperson in it and selling technology is, is big money.

Billy: You know, so people that are in sales, they can do really well in IT. And yes, there's a lot of other different things like you just said, that people can do in the IT industry that they don't have to be technical, they, they don't, they can just do operation stuff.

Billy: Like you had said, they can be, sales engineers, they could be managers, there's lots of different things, that can get them in the door within that, , within the realm of IT and then they could just move around if they like certain areas, they can start moving around because it's so broad.

Ryan: Exactly. That's exactly right. And that is one of the things that I try preach on this show, which is making the initial transition is the most important thing. Like I truly believe, I know there are some people that think like, oh, well if you want to be a developer then, go and study, go take courses and then go get a junior dev job somewhere.

Ryan: That's definitely a path, and that's definitely something you can do, from somebody that used to work like in a restaurant and then went to go, sit in an office job, that those were like two different worlds and it took me a really long time to, to do that. I think that having, being willing to kind of just take any work that's remotely in that sphere, First to gain some experience, learn the nomenclature, learn the language, learn the different software.

Ryan: The problem when you're on the outside before you've made your career transition is that you don't know what you don't know. And getting into the atmosphere, getting around those people is the biggest transition that you can make. And then, just do that for six months, do that for a year, and then you gain enough experience and then hopefully your company's big enough where you can make an internal transfer if that's what you want to do.

Ryan: Or you could just hit the job market again and make an external transfer and just continue to move around and then shape your career as you want it. 

Billy: Exactly. 

Billy: Yeah. It's all about just getting your foot in the door. That's how it starts. But I think a lot of people are, To make that maneuver, they're comfortable in, in what they're currently doing and sometimes it even requires taking a pay cut.

Billy: But what are you willing to give up to get where you want to be? Right. Sometimes you've gotta take two steps back to go 10 steps forward, and it's not always gonna be this thing where, you're gonna be a constant climb. You're gonna have to sacrifice something if you want something better.

Ryan: That's just the way life works. That is such an important point. One that I was literally just about to bring up with the pay cut is, that's what we see a lot of. I get messages like this all the time. I currently work, insert whatever industry. Like, let's just say like I'm currently a nurse and I make X amount of dollars and I'm trying to, let's say I'm a nurse and I work overtime and everything like that, and I make a hundred thousand dollars a year and I'm trying to transition into a totally different field, and I want to get into this role, but I still need to make six figures.

Ryan: I still need to make that a hundred thousand dollars. How do I do it? And a lot of times I'm just like, it's not impossible. I'm positive that it's not impossible. You could work your butt off and you could, study, create professional portfolios of whatever this industry is, right? If you want to be a marketer, if you want to be a developer, whatever it is, create side projects on your free time, you know, quote unquote free time and.

Ryan: Then make the transition in, a month, three months, probably more, more, more like a year, two years after but if you're trying to do it quickly, as you said, you're gonna have to make those sacrifices and pay is probably one of them. Right. Because you're, a lot of people, a lot of people think because you've worked so hard in this portion of your career and you've worked up to, manager here, I want to be a manager in this industry too more than likely it's not gonna happen that way.

Billy: Yeah. And the other thing too is you gotta evaluate whether or not where you want to go actually has the pay range that you expect to get. You know what I'm saying? That new career you're looking at may not even offer the same pay as where you're currently at.

Billy: So it might be a permanent pay cut. So I think it's really important that you do your research before you consider something else. 

Ryan: And I didn't wanna take up your whole day. Billy, before we go, I have a couple of questions. Are there any books, resources, other than obviously your YouTube channel? Hopefully we can with this group of people, we can get you to start posting more videos soon.

Billy: So obviously your YouTube channel, but are there any like books or resources that you find, um, helpful for people trying to get into it? Or even people that are kind of at the beginning of their careers in it and trying to work their way up? 

Billy: I don't know of any books per se that, but material and there's a lot out there on the internet really that, Youtube is really the best resource for pretty much anything these days. I know that sounds so freaking trite and and generic, but there's a lot of great, YouTube channels that focus on it stuff, programmers, there's guys out there that do full training programs, for certifications and things like that.

Billy: So, kind of going back to what I was saying earlier about making the transition over, figure out what interests you and then just go full force into whatever resources you can find on the internet. I don't really have anything specific because again, they're just, there's a wealth of it out there and a lot of it's really good.

Ryan: Lastly, if people wanna learn more about you or follow along, What's the best way to do that? Your YouTube channel? 

Billy: Yeah, and if people want to send me a message or something like that I've got an Instagram account. I don't really post there either, but if someone, there's some stuff out there and they can always DM me there.

Billy: It's, @wrCosentino. I have an email address too that I can give you as well. It's [email protected]. 

Ryan: And for everybody listening, I will put links to everything that we talked about in the show notes, degreefree.co/podcast. Billy, thank you so much for your time and, I'm really glad after all these months we could finally make this happen.

Billy: It was a great time, Ryan, and thanks for letting me come on this show. It was a TikTok that I found you on, and I'm like, Hey, I'd love to be a guest. I really didn't think it was gonna happen. I was just throwing that comment out there, so I was really happy to hear back from you and it's been great talking to you here, and I wish everyone success that's, listening to the show.

Billy: Let me know if you have any questions. 

Ryan: Definitely. All right, Billy. Till next time. Thank you. 

Billy: Thanks a lot.

Ryan: I hope you guys got a lot of value out of that episode. Billy is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the IT space and definitely check out Billy's YouTube channel, youtube.com/@partnerwithwilliam and.

Ryan: I will have links to everything that we talked about in our show notes, degreefree.co/billycosentino. You can look it up there. Everything that we talked about on how to get in touch with Billy. If you want to, once again, if you haven't already connect with me on LinkedIn, just go to LinkedIn and search Ryan Maruyama, the host of the Degree Free podcast.

Ryan: You'll find me there, connect me and let's start that network. And if you'd like to receive the weekly newsletter that gets you hired, go to degree free.co.

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