5 Tips for Your First Year on the IT Help Desk
Starting out in tech often means a position at the IT help desk — for good reason. “There are so many different aspects in the technology field and a lot of them are launched off the help desk, which is where the majority of our graduates land,” said Sue Wallace, who helps people find career paths in technology through the CompTIA Tech Career Academy.
CompTIA Tech Career Academy connects people outside of the industry with technology jobs, often on the help desk where people deepen their knowledge of technology on the job. “It’s a really good foundational place for people to get their feet wet,” Wallace said.
Get Over Your Mental Blocks
For your first year on the help desk, it’s important to get over your mental blocks, said Erin Waterman, who graduated from CompTIA Tech’s IT-Ready Technical Support program and earned her CompTIA A+ certification. “It’s something I go back on now,” she said. “I think about the challenge I overcame in IT-Ready and it gives me the motivation to pause, figure out what I’m thinking and feeling and what I need to do to move forward.”
Be A Self Starter
There are always problems to be solved on the help desk and at Waterman’s company, there’s freedom to try new things and take on projects outside of the daily work. “They kind of see if you’re demonstrating the skills and then you can add it to the job description,” Waterman said.
She works at TeamLogic IT, a managed services provider. She handles scheduling and triaging tickets to other members and does some support coordinating as well as customer outreach. “You have to be a self-starter in a lot of ways,” she said. “I’ve been talking to Ray, who owns the business, about big projects, and with other things I’ll ask for permission, but for smaller things I’ve just been doing it and it’s been working out.”
Explore Your Options
Volunteer for jobs outside of your daily responsibilities to get a feel for different areas of technology, like networking and cybersecurity, said Alexandrea Alvarado, who graduated from the CompTIA Tech Career Academy. Before IT, she was in a graphic design program and felt like the job prospects were meager.
“There’s so many applications for IT that I can really branch out wherever I feel like I want to go,” Alvarado said. “There’s just so many routes you can go into with IT. I don’t feel like I’m stuck in IT.”
Jennifer Burks graduated from CompTIA Tech Career Academy after clocking more than a decade in the beauty industry. Now she works at a small IT company with about a dozen employees, taking apart computers, replacing parts and fixing whatever problems they have. Burks believes people should try to do what they like when it comes to work. “You will not be happy if you just go for something you have no interest in,” she said.
Find Your Strengths
People come to IT from all different backgrounds, and everyone has different skills. Alvarado said one of the best parts of introduction to technology was the diverse wealth of knowledge held by the people she met.
“There were people coming from different backgrounds like cooking and the police force,” said Alvarado. “There were a lot of backgrounds people were coming from and they all had experience with computers. That's showing me how technology connects us all no matter what we’re doing.”
Soft skills come naturally to some people, and that translates to relating to clients and being able to explain complex ideas.
“Everybody has their strengths in IT. Some people are able to spin up a virtual machine quickly but that doesn’t mean they’re any better than someone championing the clients’ needs,” Waterman said. “Both are natural pieces of the overall work, and everyone focuses on the pieces they’re working on.”
During her time at the CompTIA Tech Career Academy, Waterman learned how to dig in and show grit even when she felt overwhelmed by the flood of new information. “I learned the ability to push through mental obstacles,” she said. “That’s something I felt and I know other students felt it as well.”
“Trust yourself every step of the way,” Waterman advises people both thinking about applying to CompTIA Tech Career Academy and as they go through their training and start applying for jobs. “As hard as it may feel, always take a moment to pause and reflect when things are stressful and to not give up.”