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I am looking to get a desktop support or system admin job through self-study, I can only use my spare time to do my study as I am a full-time worker . Currently studying Windows Server 2012, after set up my own lab, I’ve practised how to add new roles, deploy users and computers in domain environment, apply group policies, DNS, DHCP, etc. But I am kind of stuck in the same place, I don’t know how to get myself into a higher level. I realise practise is a good way to learn, but how? I mean studying server is not like learning a programming language; you can write codes or start a project to improve your programming skills, but how to “code” while studying server administration?

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    You could volunteer on your free time in an organization that requires those types of skill. – David Segonds Aug 19 '14 at 8:22
  • @karthikbharadwaj I think OP knows how to learn programming already (based on question) but wants to know an approach to learn non-programming aspects of system administration – Brandin Aug 19 '14 at 9:58
  • Apply for junior positions or a lower role to gain experience, such as service desk. – James Aug 19 '14 at 12:45
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    Have you considered certification? – user8365 Aug 19 '14 at 13:07
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    Since you mention you already set up a home lab, you could conceivably visit serverfault.com and either explore answering questions involving the software you're studying or read through involved answers and "follow along" with your lab machine to see how the answers play out to interesting questions. – Joel Etherton Aug 19 '14 at 20:27
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You could consider the following options to gain further experience:

  1. Find some volunteering opportunities where you could apply your skills,
  2. Consider a Microsoft Certification,
  3. Take a class with labs at a community college,
  4. Find a computer enthusiast club where you can meet with others as passionate as you are.

One or more of those options should let you experiment, further your skills in that area, and give you enough experience that you can list on your résumé.

  • It will also help with networking, particularly #1 and #4. – Dave Johnson Aug 19 '14 at 19:57
  • Thanks for your answer , and thanks to all those people who answered my questions and tried to help – Xunzi Aug 19 '14 at 20:29
  • 1. I'm living in a small city, there aren't too much volunteering opportunities around. I've tried libraries and local community centre so far but no luck. 2. I'm taking server 2012 MCSA certification currently, passed the first exam but failed the second one twice, not sure how much "real stuff" I've learned or does it help get a job. 3. I've checked my local college, unfortunately the night class there doesn't cover any computer subject, but I don’t want to quit my job to take a day-time class. 4.Yes, I will definitely find a relevant club, if they have any in town. – Xunzi Aug 19 '14 at 22:13
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Have you tried MOOCs (massive online open courses)?

www.mooc-list.com

www.coursera.org

You could study free courses in the subject and that would help you gain skills to get a job.

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    I think the OP is beyond this. He has done the training, he is looking for how to make that next step without the requisite experience – Bill Leeper Aug 19 '14 at 20:02

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