One year in Help Desk - where do I stand and what next?

psaechaopsaechao Member Posts: 29 ■■■□□□□□□□
Hi Everyone,

I've been working in IT as a help desk technician for a year now and wanted to get your opinion on what jobs I could potentially qualify for and what I should be doing to advance my career. Also from my job description below, what tier/level tech would I be considered currently? I know this might be difficult to answer since all companies are different, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

I currently hold an Associate Degree in Network Administration and have a year left until my Bachelor's. I work for an MSP who hosts application services for a particular software (I'll refer to this application as 'TechExaminer' through on out) and also provides full IT service to a few clients. My job is done all remotely.

Here are my job duties:

Support and troubleshoot any general computer-related issues:

-Connectivity issues
-Computer slowness/locking up
-Software installations/updates
-Application troubleshooting (Office suite, web browsers, email, etc.)
-Printer installs
-Hardware troubleshooting
-Configuring email on mobile devices

System administration:

Active Directory
-New user creations
-Create/modify distribution/security groups
-Unlock account/password resets

Exchange
-New mailbox creations
-Manage mailbox access permissions
-Manage mail flow (i.e. email forwarding)
-Aliases
-Mailbox storage size
-Office 365 administration, which is very similar to Exchange. I mainly assign O365 licenses

Systems related tasks:

-File restore
-Email recovery
-Ending stuck sessions (we work in a Terminal Services environment)
-Light server maintenance (i.e. adding more storage, memory, or applying updates)
-Blocking/unblocking websites
-Very light SQL administration like pulling logs for user login times, etc.
-Support any troubleshooting or administration for TechExaminer


What I'm most proud of is that I am the sole person at the company that builds the application servers (TechExaminer) we host for our clients. I've gotten my hands in a lot of different systems, although I'm no expert in most of these areas since a lot of it is scripted. Here are the things that I do:

Build virtual servers through VMWare's vSphere client
-Windows Server 2012 R2
-Configure system settings (Set static IP, add computer to domain, activate Windows, etc.)
-Install TechExaminer
-Install the SSL certificate in IIS Manager (TechExaminer also has a web portal for administration)
-Configure DNS Forward Lookup Zones
-Add new Proxy entry for the new server's website
-Add new entry into our SQL database (this is an area I am not very familiar with)
-Install backup protection using Microsoft Data Protection Manager
-Create new SFTP site for data migration using Bitvise and WinSHHD
-SQL Database backup/restore, although my duties in this are very scripted

On top of the server builds, I also go through implementation with the new customer. I help the client transfer their data onto our server through FileZilla using the SFTP site information that I created. I then instruct the user on how to navigate and use the administrator's web portal for TechExaminer. This enables them to do things like create new users, assign licenses, etc.

Thanks!
DeVry B.S Network and Communications Management: Completed
CCENT: Completed
CCNA R/S: 2019

Comments

  • DerkDaDerkDerkDaDerk Member Posts: 16 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Just by the looks of it, you could possibly move into Systems Administration, but employers may want you to have certs such as MCSA/MCSE, VCP, Net+ etc etc. It never hurts to apply somewhere or network with some people in that field, just to see if that would interest you.
  • Muhammed HMuhammed H Member Posts: 93 ■■■□□□□□□□
    As Derkdaderk said, try to move to system admin as you already have some experience to put on CV.
  • volfkhatvolfkhat Member Posts: 967 ■■■■■■■□□□
    The job details you included feel like they were a COPY/PASTE.

    Can you actually do all that stuff legit?


    If so, then you have helluva exp.

    If you are less than 12 months from your degree... maybe you should stick it out.
    But you should be ready to FLY immediately after.

    I agree with others here: i see an easy transistion into Sever administration.
    MCSA Server, VMware VCP-DC, could be longterm certification goals.

    A+ or Network+ could be shortterm cert goals; try to get one before you graduate.
    (The STORAGE+ curriculum is also decent; but no longer a certification)

    You should already be capable of running Windows Server 2012 at home; in your lab environment.
    Correct?

    You should also learn how to build a VMware ESX environment. you can run that on a CHEAP hardware homelab (check out Intel NUC- around $500).
    if you are a broke-ass, then go on ebay and grab a Dell Optiplex 745; its compatible with ESX 5.5 & 6. Costs around $60. (you can also expand the memory up to 8gigs)


    When you jump, STay away from desktop tech roles.
    Look for (junior) Sys Admin roles.
    (or whatever else gets your interest)
  • UncleBUncleB Member Posts: 417
    psaechao wrote: »
    I work for an MSP ... and also provides full IT service to a few clients. My job is done all remotely.
    ....I am the sole person at the company that builds the application servers (TechExaminer) we host for our clients.
    ....I'm no expert in most of these areas since a lot of it is scripted.

    I would recommend you consider which areas actually interest you and focus on getting yourself certified & trained up on these.

    I'll be blunt and say that in spite of your degree, on paper you are just a helpdesk grunt who can execute documented procedures and provide basic troubleshooting (fairly normal for an MSP employee). You may well have a host of other knowledge and skills but these do not come across in the way you present this.

    If you can find a niche where your skills as the best available then you will get a chance to show these when a fault arises and these will look better on your CV (you can say you were the Subject Matter Expert for xyz) and are likely a good hook for an interviewer to dig deeper in an interview.

    As for career path, the fact this is 1 year into your first job won't give you much credibility yet, but there are a few options that spring to mind:

    1 - 2nd line / Desktop Support. More of what you do now on the client side with hands on and customer facing aspects and less phone work.
    2 - System Administrator. Mostly behind the scenes doing helpdesk / request / scripted admin functions with databases, etc. Not much of a stretch from what you do now but may pay a little better).
    3 - junior in another team (server, networks, DBA) where you start as the team monkey doing the most boring tasks as a way to see if you are capable/serious enough to spent time training. You would do well to find someone in the team to vouch for you to even get considered for this.

    Other than that your degree isn't much of a door opener unless you are hoping to be a junior admin in the network team, but if this is what you want then get some more heavyweight Cisco certs under your belt to be taken seriously and even then lab until you are blue in the face using the sort of setup that is supported in the workplace so you get better than the existing team members.

    Use your time well and carry on with the studies while making friends with the people with influence in the other teams - another 6-12 months and you may be considered "time served" enough so long as you did a good job on the helpdesk in the first place.

    Good luck
    Iain
  • psaechaopsaechao Member Posts: 29 ■■■□□□□□□□
    DerkDaDerk wrote: »
    Just by the looks of it, you could possibly move into Systems Administration, but employers may want you to have certs such as MCSA/MCSE, VCP, Net+ etc etc.


    I'm majoring in Networking so I'm definitely going to pursue my CCNA after graduation.



    volfkhat wrote: »
    Can you actually do all that stuff legit?




    These really are my job duties - no lie. Our MSP is very small with only 5 help desk techs total so we all get our hands in a lot of technology. The only thing that really separates me from the rest of the guys is that I'm the sole person who builds out the servers for our clients (we host an application server).



    UncleB wrote: »
    I'll be blunt and say that in spite of your degree, on paper you are just a help desk grunt who can execute documented procedures and provide basic troubleshooting (fairly normal for an MSP employee). You may well have a host of other knowledge and skills but these do not come across in the way you present this.


    And this is why I really wanted to get an opinion from you all. Although I do a lot of systems related tasks, most of it is simply following a step-by-step guide like when I build out new servers. I know how to use said system, but I don't truly know how it works. For example, I know how to use VMware to build out a server, but I wouldn't be able to deploy my own vCenter server.


    I guess what I really want to know is if the tasks I do are "normal" for a help desk technician. At my old job (I was not in the IT department, but knew the guys that were), the help desk techs only did basic computer troubleshooting. The system admin was the only one who touched AD and Exchange. Now at my new job, we do everything, although the majority of the AD and Exchange tasks are fairly simple - account unlocks, password resets, new users, modify a distro list, set email forwarding, etc.
    DeVry B.S Network and Communications Management: Completed
    CCENT: Completed
    CCNA R/S: 2019
  • volfkhatvolfkhat Member Posts: 967 ■■■■■■■□□□
    psaechao wrote: »
    For example, I know how to use VMware to build out a server, but I wouldn't be able to deploy my own vCenter server.

    I guess what I really want to know is if the tasks I do are "normal" for a help desk technician. At my old job (I was not in the IT department, but knew the guys that were), the help desk techs only did basic computer troubleshooting. The system admin was the only one who touched AD and Exchange. Now at my new job, we do everything, although the majority of the AD and Exchange tasks are fairly simple - account unlocks, password resets, new users, modify a distro list, set email forwarding, etc.

    For a person with No degree and No certs... you landed a Great gig.
    Again, you've got Nice experience for a level-1'er.

    Do you know how to build an ESX server from scratch?
    Build multiple AD domians with intra-forest trusts?
    Install/Run an Exchange Server (in a home lab)?

    This type of knowledge will get you beyond level-1 help desk (and closer to Sys admin).


    One last thought:
    System Admins generally support the Servers.
    Network Admins generally support the Networks.
    They don't necessarily intersect.

    Your Work-Exp is closer to Systems/Servers.
    But your degree is for Networking.

    At some point... you may have to make a decision in which direction to go...
  • AndersonSmithAndersonSmith Member Posts: 471 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I started out my career as an Help Desk Tech before becoming a System Admin so you're in the right place! You might want to look into getting a couple of certifications depending on what field you're wanting to go into. If more of a network infrastructure (i.e. routers, switches, cabling, etc) look into Network+ and Cisco certs. If more interested in System Admin type jobs, which it seems you have a lot of experience with now then start looking at the MCSA certs. The more experience and certs you have the better. It's a competitive field at this time but you seem to be in a good place with it. Good luck!
    All the best,
    Anderson

    "Everything that has a beginning has an end"
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014, CSM Member Posts: 2,712 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Personally if it was me, I would focus on my degree while milking the help desk gig for another year, then look for a position. Completely agree you could move into a system administration role with the experience you have.
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