As someone who has been an IT support professional for over 20 years, I have held a multitude of roles. I’ve been both hands on technical (Desktop Support Technician, Level 3 Support Engineer, Project Engineer/Lead) and have held several management positions (Help Desk Manager, Director of an advanced technology group, Director of Support Services at Custom Computer Specialists, co-President of HDI Long Island). As such, I often get asked for career advice.
Here are my top five bits of advice for the IT support professional:
- Own your career. Contrary to what you may believe, this is your responsibility, not your employers. This doesn’t mean constantly being on the hunt for a new job, but it does mean that you need to make your voice heard and that you should share your career aspirations with your manager. It’s important to check in with them now and then. How else will you know if their vision of your future matches your own?
- Pursue training and certifications on your own time. Technology is constantly changing and advancing. Taking the initiative to increase your knowledge (and potentially your market value) can have many unexpected benefits down the road. For those who entered into the field of IT because they have a passion for technology, this is a no brainer. But if you’re thinking to yourself right now that you “don’t have the time” then perhaps this isn’t something you’re really passionate about.
- Capitalize on the training provided by your company. Whenever your company offers the opportunity to advance yourself, you should seize the opportunity. It shows dedication to your job and a desire to become a better employee. Ultimately though, you are increasing your knowledge and building up your repertoire of skills, turning you into a valuable asset to your current employer and potentially future ones.
- Learn the business of the business. No matter what level your role in your company is, knowing how business is done is a key asset in advancing your career. Not only will this improve your job performance, it will give you a competitive edge and in general, cause you to become a more savvy businessman or woman.
- Network. The benefits of networking are innumerable. From having other IT professionals to bounce ideas off of, discussing or learning about new industry trends, having colleagues to go to for advice, or learning of potential career opportunities, networking is a necessity for any professional who wants to be the best in their field.
- Bonus advice: Understand that above all else, this is a “customer service lead” industry. Great customer service and communication skills are almost always the key factors to success.
If given the chance to pass on your words of wisdom to others, what would be your top five?