We often receive calls from people who are considering a career in IT Support but are not sure how to proceed, or what to expect. Like any field, it probably seems different from the outside! So we thought we’d try to give a different perspective on it, by asking our own IT Support team in Cape Town to answer some of the most common questions.
Here are their answers:
What does it take to be a good IT Support engineer?
IT Support is an incredibly demanding, high-pressure field to work in. Aside from good technical skills, you also need to be able to think on your feet. Every call that comes in is a new challenge. You will often have to solve a problem remotely, on a network which you have never seen, for a user you have never met and whose skill level is not known. That takes strong troubleshooting skills, as well as the ability to put yourself in the shoes of that user. You need to be able to imagine what they are doing, or which parts of their network could be causing a particular problem. And you need to do all of it quickly, without losing your cool. Some clients will be in a good mood and very co-operative but others will be stressed and impatient. You need to be able to do the ‘hard’ technical work while also using your ‘soft skills’ to reassure the client. And you need to do it hundreds of times a week. It’s easier than it sounds but once you get the hang of it, it is an incredibly rewarding field to work in!
What training does an IT Support person need to get going?
This will vary from one company to another but one thing is clear: getting your first job is the hard part, and you’re more likely to get that foot in the door if you have some certification. Because we serve so many Microsoft based environments at CyberLogic, we expect a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) qualification, at the very least. The average CyberLogic engineer has several qualifications from numerous software and hardware vendors. Most companies are not quite as demanding, though, so you may be able to find an opening somewhere else with a lower level of qualification.
What is the best thing about working in IT Support?
There is a huge amount of satisfaction in solving a technical problem. All good IT engineers enjoy a challenge, and the feeling of solving a problem is worth a lot by itself. Even more important is the satisfaction they get from helping people. It can be something simple, like a user who can’t pint an important document. Or it can be something much more complex, which has brought down an entire corporate network. Either way, there are people who need help and they are often very grateful when our IT support team solve their problems for them. That brings a smile to their faces, and to ours! And of course, there are the learning opportunities. Our IT support team are exposed to a wide variety of technologies every day, and that keeps them challenged, and on their toes. IT support is not for sissies!
We keep hearing about job shortages in South Africa. Are there still any jobs to be had in IT Support?
Yes, there are! Believe it or not, most IT companies are struggling to fill all of their vacancies. The market is full of candidates who either don’t have the necessary skills, or who fall short in some other area such as presentation or communication. Good candidates, on the other hand, are scarce. So if you are truly motivated, have good technical skills, can communicate well and think on your feet, you will almost certainly find a good career in IT Support.
Any other tips?
What many people don’t realise is that the soft skills are just as important as technical skills. Of all the candidates we see wanting to join our team, at least half of them are ruled out before they even get to the technical test, simply because they don’t communicate properly. Written communication is just as important as verbal! Others fail to make the grade simply because they don’t make the effort to dress appropriately. So develop your technical skills as far as you can, but remember to present yourself well and communicate clearly. If you can do that, you are far more likely to find a good job in IT Support!
And last, but not least: remember to have fun! The best IT Support staff are the ones who enjoy it!
We are very proud to announce that CyberLogic has once again been recognised by MSPMentor as one of the top MSPs in the world!
From the thousands of companies that were surveyed (most of which are several times our size!) only 500 made it into the global rankings for 2013, which puts us in great company. On top of that, we were one of only 7 South African MSPs to make the Top 50 list for the AMEA region.
It’s great to know that our hard work is paying off! Our thanks go out to all of our clients, partners and suppliers, without whom this would not have been possible. And of course to the guys and girls of the CyberLogic team, well done!
As we all know, calling in for IT support is seldom a fun experience. To start off, you are probably frustrated by the fact that technology is not working for you. You may already be missing a deadline, or at least falling behind, as a result of whatever computer trouble you are having. And to add insult to injury, you may have to deal with someone a lot younger than you who seems to be telling you what to do.
So in order to make it as painless as possible, we thought we’d give you a few tips, to help you get the most out of an IT support call.
1. Choose the correct medium
If your email is working, you can email your request through to the help desk. That saves you a lot of time and allows you to get other work done while we attend to your request. Failing that, you can log a ticket via the web portal, if you prefer. And of course, telephonic support is always available, too. Choose the medium that suits the situation, and your own preference, best. Some people prefer email, while others like to speak to a human being. Choosing the right medium will make for a more pleasant experience.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask a question
Since we’ve all been through school, it’s safe to assume that we have all been teased about not knowing something. And that memory sticks, which sometimes makes people reluctant to ask us questions. Unfortunately, that prevents us from understanding the entire situation, which in turn makes it difficult for us to resolve the problem. So if you are not a ‘power user’ with a degree in computer science, that is fine. We probably don’t know the first thing about your field of work either! For all we know, you could be an expert at something completely foreign to us, like medicine or law. We respect that. So just as you wouldn’t be afraid to ask a lawyer for legal advice, you should not be afraid to ask your IT support company for technical advice. Besides, you are paying for good service!
3. Have the necessary information at hand
This sounds obvious but it sometimes happens that a client will call in with a request, such as the creation of a new email address, without having all of the information at hand. Misspelled names, incorrect email addresses, etc. are not uncommon. Of course, your IT support engineer won’t know any better, so they will action the request as per your instructions. This causes delays and unnecessary frustration for you.
4. Don’t be afraid to escalate a high-priority request
Sometimes you have a request that really is super-urgent. Your CEO needs his password reset, or you need to print the latest set of reports for a board meeting which is about to start. Often, to an outsider, these requests may appear to be less critical than other requests, and so they may receive a lower priority than they deserve. In cases like this, don’t be afraid to ask for the request to be prioritised. Knowing that this request is particularly urgent will help us do a better job for you!
5. Remember that we are human too
Can you imagine taking dozens of phone calls each day, many of which are from frustrated clients who are having problems with their technology? Often, the people calling in are very stressed, and occasionally that can make them short-tempered and unfriendly towards their IT support agents. Apart from being very demoralising for us, this actually reduces our effectiveness, as it stresses us out too and impedes clear thinking. But one thing perks us up, and that is a friendly client. Of course we are trained to be helpful and courteous to every client, no matter what, but it sure is nice to deal with a friendly person!