I'd like to get some career guidance please

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Hello,

Noting that I am female, I have some questions about a career in Cisco
networking competing among men aside from other general questions
such as whether it is wise/realistic  to try starting a career at a
not so young age even if I have a degree in Computer Info systems, i.e
I am not a stranger to technical field.  (I am aware that degree
doesn't carry much weight; i am just giving my background.)

The reason I am asking here is that I do not want to make any more
mistakes  - I have made serious mistakes not trying to get into
networking area a lot sooner after obtaining my degree (5 year ago)
but there were good reasons in a way such as recovering from illness
plus in a b=very abusive situation by families though I now see that I
was being stupid to let them use  me and abused me -  and need to get
somewhere in life before I get too old.  A little background here.

I am in my early 40s and am from a science background before studying
CIS  (I had a master's degree in that field but career-wise, I  was in
limbo as a non-immigrant w/o US residency) before I studied Computer
Info systems. During my study of CIS - I did get instate tuition fee
due to a new law, I was ill. At first, I didn't know that it was the
mold at school. I alos had a breast surgery which weakened my already
weak body. To make the story short, after spending so much money and
struggle, IT market was in terrible shape and I had no more money nor
is my mother (foreign country)  around anymore - have no access to
inheritance either since older siblings are controlling. Due to the
industrial pollution in the city I was at and also due to the climate,
I moved to CA near my much older sister and my plan to get
certifications - initially was in Java  - never happened while I lived
under constantly abusive situation, doing all kind of dirty work for
her and put up with another sister (may age)  whom I had to babysit
and take abuse.

As of now, I have succeeded in cutting them off emotionally, not just
for not being available for dirty work.  Needless to say, I had got no
financial help since late last year when I did what I had to do to get
my oldest sister from using me with no regard for my future - the
financial help to eat and sleep was at a big expense and I couldn't
live like that anymore.

While my cash flow is dwindling, my plan to get A+ this summer did not
happen.

I didn't get study for MCSA this summer either and am feeling great
regret the moment but then, I am having stability issues - I have a
comfortable place till December but I am worried about having a decent
place (apartment) afterward with no stable income. (I do have an
option to rent a room but will have to put most my stuff in storage.)
So I need to make a decision whether I should still pursue Cisco or
find some job and move on with life. I have just started substitute
teaching a week ago but not getting enough hours so far.

 I am wondering that in order to concentrate on a career in Cisco,
whether I should apply for a student loan (though I don't not know how
much I will get for taking Cisco classes from Cisco Academy at a local
community college) while doing substitute teaching with hope to find
an internship (unpaid) once I take Cisco certs.

I should let you know though that my hearts really is in Cisco.  I
thought about apply for teller position in banks - they are hiring -
but when I think about it. I can't see myself feeling satisfied in
those line of work.   Then, due to my age, I feel like I should forget
pursuing Cisco  route which will invovle taking unpaid internship
before I can find any work while competing with men.

I really want to get opinion on the age issue, provided that I have no
industrial  experience in IT, and given the fact that I am a female -
though not girly,  I am kind of delicate due to my unique Rhinitis.
Running around in the heat would give me sinus headache but I know how
to protect myself well wearing white jacket and  a hat.

My understanding is that service area in Cisco is where most of the
job opportunities are.  I was told that if I know programming as well
as servicing, I would be valuable. I was also told that I should do
unpaid internship and I  am willing to do that if I see a future in
Cisco route.

I would appreciate those in industry offering their view, given my
situation.

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