Being a little further down the road it sounds like the author is travelling, here's what I've done.
First off, I got most of the way to my MCSE...weird step towards working with UNIX eh? The reason I did it is because it's a certification that ALL of the technical recruiters know about, and thus will talk to me because of. I started interviewing with recruiters for contracting firms and the like, because that's where the bulk of the "entry level" jobs are. The big wigs do not feel like wasting their time interviewing Jr Admins and 2/3rd level support techs, but they don't trust their subordinates to do it either in many situations.
I worked a 2nd level help desk at IBM Global Svcs, where I got some Unix seasoning, AIX, and more thorough training in network support, trouble ticket escalation, network monitoring, the basics of network and host security, and heterogenous operating.
Now I work at a "startup" where I do higher level network monitoring, I actually have a machine that I'm wholly responsible for, and I'm on a career track involving the things I want to work with, namely Unix and network/host security. I can't write Hello World without consulting a SAMS or O'Reilly book, my shell scripting ain't perfect but it's passable, but I've got people looking out for my career because I've been darn persistent in helping out, and networking with the people around me.
That last bit is highly important, and it's a skill some geeks come by easier than others, but who you know is definitely important, becuase how else are you gonna have people pimpin' you when they change companies??
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'