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  • #2291082

    Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?


    by kratos7 ·

    I recently graduated with my Master’s in CIS six months ago, and I want to start in IT. This will be a career change for me, so I dont have any IT work experience. I originally started my education years ago in programming, so going into IT is not some new revelation. I’ve spoken to a person I know in IT, and he seems to think that taking a position at the “help desk” is not going to lead to much since you arent really gaining any experience in any of the life cycle areas. My question is should I be looking for something that is more career directed, or is this about the best I can expect starting off with having the education, but no tangible IT work experience.

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    • #3292660

      Depends where you want to go.

      by jamesrl ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      Working at the help desk is a good entry level position if you want to get into the support/data center or other “production” sides of IT.

      If you want to do software development, you won’t get much exposure to project management or other software lifecycle activities.

      I have worked on help desks, have been a project manager and am now a department manager. I would say that you will learn things from help desk work, and its certainly better to do help desk than non-IT work. Consider it a stepping stone. Its a good place to learn about an organization. And it may give you contacts for that ideal job down the road.


    • #3292649

      Help Desk

      by bfilmfan ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      Other than developing basic computer troubleshooting experience and client management skills, I can’t advise you to take a help desk job for longer than 6 months.

      Frankly, I’d advise you to volunteer your time to some non-profit organization and develop your IT skills. Honestly, it would look better on the resume too.

    • #3291239

      its a good start

      by catfish182 ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      to me its the best way to go. you can work on troubleshooting techniques and get a feel for the user interview. the best part is if your ideas dont work or they get angry you can transfer them to level 2 or 3. unless your that tech. then you could get feedback from the other techs as to how you did. to me feedback is the most important tool in becoming a better tech. also you should be allways looking for something better while doing this. but if you are not wanting to go to a support or help postion then dont even bother.

    • #3291188

      Probably won’t be able to get Help Desk

      by gralfus ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      With a master’s degree, it will probably put you in the “over qualified” zone and most help desk managers wouldn’t allow you in, assuming that you will be moving on quickly and their expense in training you will be lost.

      If you don’t have real-world IT experience, volunteer somewhere just to get experience until you can land a paying job.

      I’m overqualified for my current help desk position, but they liked my phone voice, attitude, confidence, and prior help desk experience. Since the benefits and pay are better than what I could get from the private sector, I may not move on for some time. That could be a problem career-wise, but even the network admins here don’t make that much more than me. The downside is the incredible boredom that is setting in with the same stupid questions day after day. Honestly, some people shouldn’t be allowed to use computers. But I digress…

    • #3291109

      It all depends on

      by packet spoofer ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      whether or not you like explaining to people that the broken cupholder is actually the cdrom tray,
      or that they were supposed to right click on the icon not write “click” on the icon.

      • #2977863

        *lol* Too funny..

        by rayjeff ·

        In reply to It all depends on

        I’m sorry…had to take time out to laugh at that.

    • #3291054

      I feel your pain.

      by jkaras ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      I too get what you are saying in regards to career watching. Currently I am working as a help desk tech(2yrs) after a year and a half of call center experience. My education is an A.S. in Microsoft Computer Networking and am in my last semester for an A.A. in the same field from a Community College. The work sucks being bottom barrel as gralfus pointed out.

      The key to an IT job is all about the experience over the education. Since the IT bubble grew exponentially, the employers found that everyone was book smart, not competant. All must earn their bones in some way before landing a great paying career satisfying job. One other poster said no longer than 6 months. No manager in their right mind would hire you by jumping ship after a measly six months. The truth is, have you ever seen a job posting listing experience of qualifications as only six months or from 1-3 years? The only mistake you made while achieving your degrees is that you didnt get your experience during your education. Having a masters, like someone else pointed out makes you a short term candidate which employers shouldnt concern themselves with, but it does, and willingness to stick it out gives you the credibility to get the job. There is no perfect answer to your dilemma, other than your competant abilty to do the work. My advice is to swallow your pride take a low position to build the resume or do charity work to put on the resume and soon enough your experience will land you what you are looking for.

    • #3291032

      It’s a GREAT way to get into IT

      by wordworker ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      While I agree you might be deemed overqualified by some employers, your friend in IT is wrong about not help desk not being in a “life cycle” area. I contract for a Fortune 500 company (top 50 I/S shops in the country) and they require newbies to IT to start in help desk positions.

      Each development group has its own help desk, and these analysts go through rigorous training and must be proficient in use and troubleshooting of multiple applications. They also are involved in alpha and beta testing of new apps, quality assurance testing of app changes, and, of course, documenting trouble tickets and requests for enhancements from customers.

      All help desk operations are not the same, but if you can get in on the ground floor and give the employer six good months or – as most managers expect – one solid year of good performance, you’ll be on your way.

      • #3292368

        but ONLY IF…..

        by olprof67 ·

        In reply to It’s a GREAT way to get into IT

        your employer has an interest in your advancement along technical lines.

        Four years ago, starting out with only a layman’s exposure to p/c’s, I began working in the call center of a major ISP.

        Training, completed in ten days, consisted of little more than hardware basics and a little “filling in of the gaps”. When we hit the call floor, it was up to each of us to develop our own procedures to get customers back on line.

        But what some of us found harder still to take was the lack of a path that would take us off the front line and away from the public. The real object of the exercise is either to quickly find and solve the problem, or to identify it as lying outside your scope of support and send the customer elsewhere.

        Guided by this standard, the promotions went not to the technically-skilled, but to those who could quickly adapt to the current mode of thinking and pass it on to subrordinates.

        And those of us who preferred to solve problems in a deliberate, calculating, 1-on-1 atmosphere were cross-trained into fields which brought more exposure to less-sophisticated callers, which hurt our perfomance measures.

        So if you’re thinking of moving to a Help Desk to broaden your skills, well and good, but be sure that the path upward won’t require you to become a salesman or a bureaucrat, unless you’re really inclined toward that sort of thing; otherwise, you’re likely to remain a simple hand-holder.

    • #3292623

      Full of it

      by leobloom ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      People who are advising you not to take an entry level position when you do not have experience are absolutely full of it. In todays job market you probably dont have a choice. The key though is to work for a place that will promote from the entry position. Without that it is likely that you will simply bounce from help desk to help desk.

      • #3294067

        Full of it.

        by kratos7 ·

        In reply to Full of it

        I dont think anyone is telling me not to take an entry level position, however being a secretary at a law office doesnt make you a lawyer. I totally agree with you about promoting from the entry level position, and that is something I would be looking for.

    • #3292519

      Hot Apple Turnover

      by bucky kaufman (mcsd) ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      How in the heck did you get through 6 years of learning computer science – without actually working an IT job?

      How could you have been a programmer, but don’t have any IT work experience?

      More to your question – I’d say working a call center/help desk would be an *excellent* way for you to start. It’s very entry-level and a lot of teenagers work these jobs instead of fast food for beer money.

      IT is all about getting techs to support users, and users to make intelligent requests – you’ll be the one to facilitate that communication. Six weeks later you’ll be managing the call center (because turn-over really is that bad).

      • #3292297


        by kratos7 ·

        In reply to Hot Apple Turnover

        It was easy. I first learned programming back when the new language on the scene was Pascal, and that was back in high school. Eventually I started living and had to work somewhere, however it wasnt IT based. Eventually after I got my bachelor’s in a totally different discipline, I went back to what I already knew for my Masters which was IT. I never forgot my IT skills, I just never had a “formal” job to use it.

        • #2915245

          So you have a masters…..

          by the ‘g-man.’ ·

          In reply to How?

          a 1-2 year course in IT something. Bar that School Experience (try using that in an interview).

          You are kidding yourself I feel.


    • #3292387

      Help Desk should be REQUIRED for programmers

      by v.a.milewski ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      I work help desk at a law firm, and dealing with attorneys is in some ways easier than dealing with prima donna programmers who sneer down their nose at the users that pay their salary, and at me for asking questions on the users’ behalf. In my opinion, every programmer should be REQUIRED to work help desk for a while and as a refresher from time to time, to give them a clearer view of the reason that their job exists.

      Without the people who need to use the app, the programmer is an unnecessary expense — and if the app isn’t filling the business need of the users, don’t talk down to the help desk telling me or my cohorts that it’s user error. Get some experience learning how to fill the users’ needs.

      • #3292370

        Even one better

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to Help Desk should be REQUIRED for programmers

        Once a program is put into production, programmers should be sitting in the help desk area, to hear the nature of the incoming calls, to look at them issues and determine whether they were bugs, design flaws or things that were ommitted. Do that often enough, and they will get a better idea of what the implications are for their decisions.


      • #2977844

        I agree with you…

        by rayjeff ·

        In reply to Help Desk should be REQUIRED for programmers

        One of my former jobs, I worked for a small liberal arts college in the Education division. The job title was “Computer Laboratory Assistant”. But, in actuality, I was the division’s one man IT department. I did everything from manage the division’s computer lab (which meant my office was the computer lab), end-user support for everyone in the building, etc, etc, etc. After being hired for that position, I later found out that the division was in the middle of a major project for initial accreditation of one of the degree programs. Because my background, by default, I was “charged” with developing a database. And because of the requirements of the database, I also had to develop a UI program.

        I say all of this to say that my help desk background (which was a little over 4 years at that time) came in very handy when developing the database and the UI. Because I could automatically put myself in the mindset of the users, which in that case was the faculty. And what was even more helpful was that I could meet with them 1-on-1 to discuss the progress of the database and the UI. Show them screenshots, table layouts, etc.

        But, since where I worked was a smaller environment, it was much easier to have that 1-on-1 with the users. But, I agree that programmers should have at least some basic help desk skills to complement their programming skills. Because the quicker you can pick up on problems in the initial coding, the less problems you have to deal with in production.

    • #3292292

      Inter view

      by kratos7 ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      I had the interview yesterday and found it to be interesting. The HR people kind of “flowered” up the position to make it sound like more than just a help desk. When I spoke to the manager of the call center I got more of the real story. They did a couple of different things extra like testing and on site trouble shooting, but 95% of the time is call taking. When I asked about the testing, black box, white box, scripts etc., I was told they have a QA department for that, which basically meant to me they were beta testing at most.

      They were relatively reluctant to say that there were many opportunities to advance out of the call center. The call center is relatively small because it is just starting out, and they want to keep some continuity to the call center. I pretty much got the idea that I was there until some golden opportunity showed up, and by the time that happened, I probably would be up against someone who had been there a much longer time.

      I dont deny that it would be a great learning opportunity as long as it has a definite end so you can move up the food chain. However I didnt see any tangible chance of that happening. Even though I dont have the “formal” IT experience, I am not a newbie by any stretch. I feel that after all of the time, money, and effort put into my education, I could find something better. It’s kind of like hiring a new doctor to your hospital but making them the patient advocate. It’s true that the doctor would be working in the medical field, but if he stayed there 25 years, it wouldnt get him any closer to the operating room.

      • #2915247

        Start at the bottom

        by the ‘g-man.’ ·

        In reply to Inter view

        as you say – you have no formal IT experience.

        Education is good to get you that interview. Experience gets you the job. No experience means start at the bottom regardless.

        I feel you would not have been offered the job anyway as you hinted too much about not really wanting the position and would be off as soon as a better one arises (internal or external). Why spend $’s to train you?

    • #2927097

      I think it depends on where you are coming from

      by adundon ·

      In reply to Is working the “Call Center/Help Desk” that bad?

      If you have a lot of traditional white collar work experience, a Call Center or Help Desk is likely to be a rude wakeup. Expect to be, or be treated like an hourly employee. Expect strange hours. Don’t expect project work. Don’t expect a lot of recognition. Some helpdesks are a good way to get your foot in the door, but many are dead ends. It depends a lot on the overall organization and how far you are willing to push to improve your situation. Depending on what you did before, Helpdesk might be a huge exercise in frustration.

      Depending on what you did before, you might find a bussiness analyst role that requires technical skill, but more bussiness understanding than most techs have, specially if you worked in finance or logistics. Most Tech’s don’t understand these areas well, and there’s a market for someone who can bring bussiness experience to the table.

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