No matter how you define the position, networking professionals are in great demand. "Companies are going after candidates who have less experience because they can't find the five- or seven-year person as easily as they used to," says Bill Akins, president of Akins & Associates, a high-tech recruiting firm in Carlsbad, CA. And "if you have any co-op work or 'real world' type experience," he asserts, "you'll get your foot in the door a lot quicker."

Co-op programs at both Cisco Systems and Lucent Technologies, for example, provide valuable work experience while you continue your education. Intern and co-op students are paid assignments at Cisco. In addition, students accrue paid time off and receive company paid holidays. Candidates for Lucent's Early Career Identification Programs must have an overall GPA of 3.0/4.0 or above. Co-ops are offered mostly at the undergraduate level, and students work a full-time assignment for one semester. Students may be eligible to receive both financial compensation and academic credit for work, and may be eligible for full-time employment.

"Right out of school you have a lot of opportunities if you sell yourself right," comments Akins. For example, there are currently more than 50,000 networking jobs posted on the Web site, which represents just over 20% of the total number of jobs posted. More than 35,000 of these jobs contain the words architect, engineer, or designer and almost 30,000 of them contain

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the words management or manager. Many of the jobs require both technical and management skills. Almost 6000 of these job postings ask for experience or certification in Cisco equipment.

This was first published in November 2000

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