User support is about giving of oneself. One's time, one's knowledge, one's patience. Without a way of renewing those resources, techs will find themselves headed toward burn out. What saved me? A supportive community of professionals.
Supporting others requires a lot of us. For most of my career, I have been the sole IT pro providing support for small organizations. While I’ve had the chance to work with some great people in some wonderful enterprises, I’ve come to realize that something has been missing from my professional life. My new job has given me the chance to be a part of a team again, and I love it.
Okay, sure. Hooray for teamwork, and blah blah blah. Maybe I’ll be accused of sounding like a motivational poster with this stance, but I’ll take that risk. It’s easy to be cynical when you are used to being surrounded by other IT pros, but try and put yourself in my shoes for a moment. Until recently, it has been literally years since there was anyone in my organization who I could consider a technical colleague. The people I’ve worked with (and for) have been wonderful souls, but it is isolating to be the only person in your company doing what you do. I had no idea how isolating, until I started working with other techs as part of a large support team.
I had actually become quite depressed, and I hadn’t even realized it. Not because my previous jobs have been so horrible, but because exposure to other professionals from your field is a great way to grow. I had forgotten the excitement of collaborating with another to solve a problem, and how quickly I can learn new things when I’m surrounded by other experienced techs. Since becoming part of this new team, I actually look forward to going to work, and supporting clients feels easier than it did before. I attribute both of these developments to the fact that I feel like I have competent people around me to lean on.
So, moral of the story, make sure that you have a professional community of your own. Hopefully, you’ve found a little of that fellowship here at TechRepublic. Wherever it comes from, though, you need to have a way to replenish your energy and excitement. I am better now at my job than I have been in years, simply because I find my working environment more sustaining. Being on my own for too long, part of my professional self had atrophied. I implore you not to let the same thing happen to you.