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Concerning Help Desk Positions...

NoobBotNoobBot Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
As of today, I am currently working towards getting my A+ certification and hope to get the CompTIA trio (Network+, Security+, and Server+) afterwards. I am planning on going to my local community college for an A.A.S in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Network Engineering. Once that's finished, I hope to transfer to a four year college in the area for a B.S. in Computer Engineering.

Anyways, I am concerned about not being qualified enough at the moment to land one of these jobs (I hope to apply for my first job as a Help Desk Technician / Analyst while I'm in school to get experience for that Network Engineer / Technician role). During my time in college, I figure that I'll work on getting the CCNA and CCDA certs and perhaps take up an internship. The issue, however, is that I'm not sure what steps to take to get that first job. So, to break this down, I am asking:

1. How does one get into a Help Desk role (internship or full-time)?

2. If you have worked in Help Desk, what did you work with from day to day?

3. Relating to Question 2, what were the requirements for your Help Desk position? Were the requirements for hire more rigid or flexible?

Mostly, I am looking for answers relating to the first question, but any insight regarding personal experience that goes with the latter two questions would be greatly appreciated.
Computer Repair Student -- Dayton Job Corps Center
Certification Goals -- 2013: A+, Network+

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    PolynomialPolynomial Member Posts: 365
    NoobBot wrote: »
    1. How does one get into a Help Desk role (internship or full-time)?

    I started at my school's help desk doing phone support. The only qualification was you knew the basics of a computer.

    I help manage/train the student workers at my employer. Those graduating with help desk experience in STEM degrees have jobs before they even graduate. Its a killer combination of work experience and a top tier Bachelor's degree.
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    boobobobobobboobobobobob Member Posts: 118
    1. My college had a portal where you could search for part time jobs and internships. I found 2 of these before I graduated and they were great because they were flexible and I was able to work them into my schedule. The internships i found were paid, and that was lucky. But even if they weren't paid i probably would have taken internships because the experience made it worthwhile.

    2. Both internship jobs i took were helpdesk. Helpdesk is a broad term but in general you'll be fixing basic computer problems. Anything from poeple not being able to connect to wifi and someones excel spreadsheet formula doesn't work.

    3. My internships like i said above were extremely flexible and all they looked for in a candidate was good people skills and interest in computers. You'll have alot harder of a time finding that in a fulltime helpdesk position (alot of time these jobs are looking for poeple already graduated).
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    NoobBotNoobBot Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Polynomial wrote: »
    I started at my school's help desk doing phone support. The only qualification was you knew the basics of a computer.

    I help manage/train the student workers at my employer. Those graduating with help desk experience in STEM degrees have jobs before they even graduate. Its a killer combination of work experience and a top tier Bachelor's degree.

    The school internship idea sounds pretty good. So, did you have to go through a more formal process to get the position (e.g. submitting an application, being interviewed, etcetera), or was it more casual (e.g. walk-in and get the job on the spot)?
    Computer Repair Student -- Dayton Job Corps Center
    Certification Goals -- 2013: A+, Network+
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    rensationalrensational Member Posts: 30 ■■□□□□□□□□
    For what it's worth, I do not come from an IT background and have worked in tech support/currently do help desk. I don't have any certs and I got a psychology degree. My first "job" job (i.e. not an internship) when I was completely done with school was working night audit/front desk in a hotel, and then from there I got a job repairing MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Then I got hired to do tech support. So, I don't necessarily think you need to be worried about not being qualified with all the stuff you're doing--you might actually end up being/looking overqualified (if you get CCNA and such and then apply for help desk).

    1. How does one get into a Help Desk role (internship or full-time)?
    I think the question is really how does one get out of a help desk role. I always see a lot of job listings for help desk (because there's turnover and a lot of people eventually want out...I see all these job listings, for example, because I'm looking to get out of help desk). Some do have a laundry list of things they want that will keep you from being qualified, but some will also take people who have little experience--they just won't pay you much. I got my tech support job because I had customer service experience from working in a hotel, which meant in theory I'd be good with people via phone/email, and had good speaking skills, could answer "test" questions they gave me in an interview, seemed friendly. But their pay was crap. They had a guy working there part-time who was in school studying Management Information Systems, and there were other people who had started with them while they were in school. So this kind of job is your best bet, i.e. the ones that will take nearly anyone but don't really pay much. You'll get thrown into the fire and have to pick up stuff quickly, ask a lot of questions, etc.

    2. If you have worked in Help Desk, what did you work with from day to day?
    People talk as if the most common thing you do is password reset. I have found the most common thing I do is open tickets for other people. Second most common might be password reset. Third is checking up on tickets that are open because a user is whining about it. And then there's any and everything. Where I currently work, anything people contact us about we have to assist. When I did tech support, we drew a line and said there are some things we don't do. There, we mainly helped with email issues, password issues, web site issues, ftp, network issues. Most common things where I work now are password resets for various systems, network issues, helping users set up company email on mobile devices, help with vpn issues and figuring out who most other problems go to. When I first started working at both jobs, the most common thing I did was put people on hold and ask someone questions about how to resolve their issue. Again, you get thrown into the fire, and someone will call you about an error in a system/program that is specific to your company that you have never heard of. College IT/CompSci and certs just don't prepare you for that.

    3. Relating to Question 2, what were the requirements for your Help Desk position? Were the requirements for hire more rigid or flexible?
    I told you how I got the tech support job. That job helped me get the help desk job, but I also knew someone who worked at the company who recommended me (we had both worked that tech support job and he left before me). When I came in for the interview, they told me they liked that I had done customer service, tech support and had hands-on experience from having done repair. They really liked that I had worked with Apple products, not just repairing but when working tech support (troubleshooting email on iPhones and helping people set up email on them). They had wanted someone who had experience with Active Directory but said they could teach me. I don't remember the job ad but specifically remember that and a couple of other things I didn't have experience with being mentioned, and I mentioned those to the person who recommended me. He hadn't had experience with those things, either, so he said it was no big deal. I would say just look at Craigslist to get a feel for what some of the help desk/tech support positions want. I do make quite a bit more at this job, but it is also a corporate environment. My tech support job was a small ISP that was less selective and thought of itself as a stepping stone.
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    PolynomialPolynomial Member Posts: 365
    NoobBot wrote: »
    The school internship idea sounds pretty good. So, did you have to go through a more formal process to get the position (e.g. submitting an application, being interviewed, etcetera), or was it more casual (e.g. walk-in and get the job on the spot)?

    I applied and was called in. It was like 5 years ago but I believe the most technical question they asked me was "What is your favorite browser?" =P
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    NoobBotNoobBot Member Posts: 6 ■□□□□□□□□□
    @rensational, Your advice sounds very good, not in the "sunshine and lollipops" sense but in that it sounds more practical. I like the honesty. As for one of those lower-pay jobs, I suppose that I'll take that route if I don't end up getting an internship (I'd prefer an internship while I'm in school so my financial aid isn't affected, yet I gain relevant experience). As for the qualifications, I'll definitely look up some Help Desk positions on Craigslist, as that sounds like a decent way to "test the waters" so to speak. Your advice definitely helps me put things into perspective.

    @Polynomial, That's sort of what I had in my mind, but it never hurts to ask anyway.

    Thanks for the replies guys! Now, I guess that I'll take this and apply it where I can.
    Computer Repair Student -- Dayton Job Corps Center
    Certification Goals -- 2013: A+, Network+
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