IT Career Links
There are a lot of free or low cost ways to try your hand at programming. One of the simplest is to use the language of the web, HTML, which you can experiment with at W3Schools. If you want to move on to a more advanced language you can walk through the introductory tutorials at the Code Academy site and collect awards along the way. Once you’ve mastered that you can try one of the many free programming languages you can download such as Python or Small Basic. If you want to work with programs which can control physical things you might want to look at the Arduino and Raspberry PI projects.
Most people start out experimenting with Microsoft Windows because it’s what they’re familiar with. When you’re ready to try your hand at a different type of operating system or experiment with a lot of free server software you can check out a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu. If you don’t want to erase everything on your computer to test another operating system you can do it like the pros with virtualization software like the free VirtualBox program which lets you run one operating system inside of another. If you want to learn more about networking and security there are a lot of great sites explaining the intricacies of IP addresses, routers and switches like the pages at WindowsNetworking.com. You can also experiment with some free security software like GnuPG and TrueCrypt.
IT News & Information
With things changing all the time in IT it’s important to stay on top of what’s going on. Some of the most popular sources for IT news and information used to be magazines but most of it is online now. Probably the most popular site among IT professionals is Slashdot, for enthusiasts there are a lot of sites like MaximumPC and for serious enterprise IT places like Computer World and Network World. For a lot of video and audio podcasts about computers you can check out TWiT.tv which has some especially good ones for IT professionals about security and about Microsoft Windows as well as many other topics.
IT Career Resources
There are a lot of sites on the Internet for finding jobs, some of them like ITCareers specialize in IT jobs. If you want to find out more information about different very specific types of IT jobs, what the future growth in different specialties might be and just about anything else about jobs you should check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook especially the pages on infrastructure and software jobs. Another good place to find descriptions of IT jobs is the number of “salary guides” you can find online such as the one from Modis. Though the salaries they give are not the most accurate they often have some good information about the many different types of IT job titles you find on job listings.