General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2138758

    Thinking about leaving IT


    by dh_it ·

    A year ago I started a position in Desktop Support. I’ve learned all that there is to learn about the job in the last six months, and although I’ve asked my boss for additional responsibilities, he’s slow in making it happen. I want to become a sys admin at some point, but the only experience I’ve had with servers is what I’ve thought myself. I could get certified in a certain server technology but that won’t get me anywhere without experience, and desktop experience don’t really transfer into anything else. I thought about leaving IT altogether and maybe pursuing a skilled trade. That way once I have the experience, it will open a lot more doors for me, not to mention better pay. I think that with IT, in order to get a position you really want, you either have to know someone in management, be very very lucky, or have years of experience, all of which don’t apply to me. I’m thinking long and hard about this decision. Is there anything I can do to make myself more marketable, so that if I decide to leave this job in a couple years, I won’t be restricted to only working desktop jobs? Lack of server experience is my brick wall.

All Comments

  • Author
    • #2886454

      Too soon.

      by charliespencer ·

      In reply to Thinking about leaving IT

      First, I don’t think one year with a single employer is enough experience to make an informed judgement on any career field.

      Second, it depends on whether you really enjoy this field. I get the impression you’re relatively early in your working years. If you like IT, I’d definitely look for another employer and make a point to ask about advancement and training opportunities.

      If you don’t like really like IT, you could be promoted to senior sys ad Monday morning and still be unhappy by Friday. If you are early in your working life, this is a good time to explore other fields.

      • #2887119

        It isn’t always a brick wall.

        by hartiq ·

        In reply to Too soon.

        I started in mainframe programming, with a bit of connectivity and some supercomputer thrown in. I became my company’s Helpdesk when such things were new and innovative. I migrated to system work, Operations and other odd corners. Some of the desktop support people who followed me into the expending “help desk”/”service desk” area also graduated into Operations or System Support or even design work.
        My employer had a rather wonderful attitude to training, which helped a lot, and they were sometimes good at spotting talent and using it, which also helped, but I drifted into slots more by accident of timing than anything else.
        I ended up working for the same employer for ages but doing quite a few different jobs.
        The “desktop support”/”help desk”/”customer service” work introduced me to every type of machine and software the organisation used, so I learned a lot in that post, formally and informally.
        True much of what I have learned is now obsolete but the basic principles don’t change much.
        I guess what I’m saying is that if you have a good employer what you can achieve is limited only by the effort you make, and if you have a bad employer you should consider moving to a good one.
        Whatever you do, try to have some fun doing it.
        Good luck, and I hope you do well.

      • #2887091

        And, not to offend anybody doing Desktop Support…

        by robo_dev ·

        In reply to Too soon.

        Desktop support is really not IT.

        That’s like saying you worked as an ambulance driver for a year, and now you don’t want to become a doctor.

        Driving an ambulance is very different from having your own medical practice or doing heart surgery to save lives.

        IT has LOTS of options….

        Like security? do that.
        Like databases? do that.
        Like to explain to clueless executives how it works? Do that.
        Like to help Pixar render a 3D animation film on-time and on-budget? do that.

    • #2886453

      Physical labor and no tech.

      by dh_it ·

      In reply to Thinking about leaving IT

      I do like IT very much. I’m always tinkering with computers in my spare time. Setting up networks, remote access, and file servers, but in my current role I’m doing more pysical work than technical work, which brings me to believe I could just be working in a construction site doing the same physical work but probably get paid more to do it. I work at an engineering company. Engineers are their core people. They could care less about advancing the carrer of a IT guy that sits at the bottom of the corporate ladder. I thought that the most you should stay in these tech support roles is one year without hurting your career. If I look for another job it will just be the same old tech support role, because I don’t have much experience beyond that, only what I do in my spare time. I’ve asked to enroll in Microsoft courses with this company but because it’s so large it’s taking months to get an email saying that it’s either approved or not. Meanwhile engineers are getting trained in different areas all the time. The main duty in my work involves moving computers between offices, becuase they are always shifting people around. I do some technical work, but not much.

      • #2886448

        I’m not sure where you got that notion.

        by charliespencer ·

        In reply to Physical labor and no tech.

        “I thought that the most you should stay in these tech support roles is one year without hurting your career.”

        That’s a new one on me. In this economy, I definitely wouldn’t leave until I had something else lined up. Update your resume to include what skills you’ve been able to acquire and what tasks and duties you’ve performed, and start submitting applications. What’s the worst that can happen?

        • #2887118

          I did “help desk” for four years.

          by hartiq ·

          In reply to I’m not sure where you got that notion.

          Maybe five. I actually liked it at times. When I could actually *help* people it was wonderful. When I could help people and learn new stuff it was even sort of fun. But it got successful, which raised its profile, which made it high-pressure which caused it to be less tolerant of goofing around and playing with bits, which made it more bureaucratic and boring and no fun at all. So I moved to a different job.
          I did mainframe operations and support for about a decade. I was rather good at that. Well, one would be after so much practice, would one not?
          The shortest time I spent in a job was fifteen minutes. The longest was the Operations/System Analyst job.
          I have seen “service desk” people move on after a few months, others have stayed there for a good few years and still managed to have careers after their stay in that post. Some have even moved out of IT, some into management.
          I don’t think you should be dogmatic about it.
          But you should always be curious. You should *always* be trying to learn things. Write a web page in HTML using a plain text editor. Play with Java programming. Have a go at learning IBM JCL (there are guides on the Web). Read up on the history of computing. I never had to do much of that as I *lived* it and worked in it but there was a lot of stuff going on before Adobe and MacOS.
          Most of all, be reassured that a year in one post does *not* imply that you have dead-ended your career. There’s still plenty of time to make horrible mistakes and to get promotions.
          Not that one necessarily causes the other.

        • #2887108

          In smaller shops, everyone is Help Desk.

          by charliespencer ·

          In reply to I did “help desk” for four years.

          Our company has nine or tem people for service desk and infrastructure support in the US. We support over 800 users in multiple locations. Some of us aren’t expected to answer the hotline as a regular part of their jobs, but only the two interns have no duties outside of ‘Level 1’ service desk. Most of us have a mix of responsibilities, including some degree of service desk duties. There are two of us located in this specific plant, and we do everything from basic help desk to server configuration, Active Directory management, and SQL programming.

    • #2886447

      I just need the experience

      by dh_it ·

      In reply to Thinking about leaving IT

      If I send out resumes now it probably won’t make much of a difference, because I have no experience. Even getting my employer to pay for a cert is a real pain. Problem is I don’t know how to get to where I want beyond desktop support.

      • #2886445

        Try applying

        by slayer_ ·

        In reply to I just need the experience

        Some places have very lax IT, especially small businesses.

        I’ve noticed branch IT for things like banks, stores, etc. is extremely easy and can get your foot in the door. If that doesn’t help, go to school and maybe get into a co-op or work experience program.

        The first place I worked for was a body shop, just after school hours I would go fix their problems. Mostly it was just installing/fixing software and replacing hardware. The old paint code program and some others were old DOS programs and were thus difficult to get working. Even hardware problems I sent out to get fixed, I just made a deal with the local mom and pop computer shop for a discount on labor and equipment. Because of the power surges in the shops. UPSs, power supplies and mother boards would blow very often. And the body shop dust wrecked everything else.

        I didn’t even know about the power surges till the front desk computer blew its third motherboard that year.

    • #2886443


      by desertjim ·

      In reply to Thinking about leaving IT

      “I’ve learned all that there is to learn about the job in the last six months”

      fantastic, they should make you CIO straight away.

      Firstly you never stop learning, you don’t think something like the move to Windows 8 or BYOD will give you new, marketable skills, revitalise that job satisfaction and give you a wider understanding of the user before you move onwards and upwards.

      Secondly don’t confuse Ambition with Ability

    • #2886439

      Numerous options

      by excorpguy ·

      In reply to Thinking about leaving IT

      I would not recommend, as others have said, leaving your current job without something else in the pipeline. Having saying that, there are other options that you could pursue. Starting out, while still in college, I found that co-op/internship was the way in the door to a previous employer.

      They did not have an upfront commitment to hire me without first observing my work ethic and skills. I was able to prove myself to them and learn valuable skills at the same time. It is something that I would recommend to anyone.

      In any case, I would recommend that you keep alert to opportunities that you may have at your current job. Is there any practice that is inefficient? I was rewarded with a job offer and later a promotion by my work in saving more than my salary to the company. In my case, they paid thousands each year for a large mainframe printer that was not only outdated, but with some investigation totally unnecessary. End result was that I worked to replace it with an off the shelf LAN printer.

      I guarantee that every organization has waste in their operation. There is nothing that gets the attention of management faster than saving money.

    • #2887132


      by ajaxnii ·

      In reply to Thinking about leaving IT

      I agree with the others! In my career I have left companies due to stagnation however before leaving I always had a place to jump too! Look at the banks and co-ops as stated before.
      The small mom and pop companies I worked for prior to my current job always helped me gain useful knowledge and experience doing things such as setting up networks (growth of company and move to new location), contracts (getting quotes for new equipment and making sure we got the best deal on maintenance contracts), helpdesk (setting up, running, and maintaining records of what repairs we did), and HR work (had to hire a few people for said helpdesk and fire some also).
      Talk to more people. you may have to look into taking the MS courses yourself. Check out or netcom can help you take the bootcamp classes and there are payment options for you. cert4less has alot of the exams and the vouchers are there so that you can pay for the exams for a fairly decent price.
      The enterprise I work for now isnt really worried about what the IT team does as long as the job gets done. there is nothing setup for us because we are a social work environment. However my boss lets me take whatever time i need to get my certs done and go to school if I need to go to the local college a few days a week to do a class. This to me is a perk of this position and I love it so far because even though I pay for the certs most places look at that as a reason to promote and keep you working because you showed the initiative to get your own education stuff squared away.
      Good luck to you,


    • #2887125

      Not enough time to make the decision

      by bruno fonseca ·

      In reply to Thinking about leaving IT

      I can only guess by your post that you maybe new to IT and that you are part of the latest generation of instant gratification, which is not a problem, but you need to learn that it takes a long time to get certain places. It doesn’t happen in a year. I see from some of your posts that you talk a lot about getting paid more in other professions doing the same type of work which leads me to believe that you are in it to make money, which is not a problem, but you will never be happy if you’re just working to make money, because in many professions you can make more money than IT, but you either want to make money or make a career.

      I can tell you from experience, that unless you work for an IT Consulting company, their focus will always be on their core people, so engineering companies will be engineers, architectural companies will be the architects, Banks will be the bankers, so don’t get discouraged if you’re not the focus of where they spend their money. You need to show that you want to do more, get involved in more, maybe take some courses or certs and pay for them out of your pocket on skills that you see the company lacks or needs.

      If you really want to make a career out of IT, don’t get hung up on desktop and server work because that stuff is shrinking with the surge in cloud computing and outsourcing. Focus on the business side of IT, how can you help the business. How can you help the engineers in the field, talk to some people and ask them what they think of how the systems work, what would they like better.

      Sometimes you are in a dead end position, but I don’t think you can tell that after a year. How large is this company, if it’s small, there is definitely going to be things that need improvement or things you don’t do at all. You have to look out for those and make an effort to change it and make yourself known that you are willing to go the extra mile.
      At the end of the day NEVER LEAVE WITHOUT A BACKUP PLAN. Make sure you have somewhere to go before you decide to quit.

    • #2887122


      by dturner ·

      In reply to Thinking about leaving IT

      Try volunteering it really helps you increase your experience.

      • #2887117

        That is excellent advice.

        by hartiq ·

        In reply to jay

        When I was a teeny, tiny IT guy, I sat in with more experienced people during quite times so I could learn things. I even sat in *for* them if they were called away by management or Nick O’Teen or some other VIP. I wasn’t trying to take their jobs, I was just learning everything I could about as many parts of the firm as possible. It did help when vacancies came up. Bosses would remember that I had shown an interest and maybe even some aptitude and would ask me whether I was willing to take on new work.
        When I became the wise old wizard who knew everything about everything, I took on the task of passing on as much of what I had learned as was useful to the newer, younger staff. I was never formally in a training post as such but I did do a lot of training. Which is where I came in.
        Try to get the more experienced guys to teach you things. *Anything* you learn will be useful, someday, even obsolete stuff. The details might change but processes and techniques can be reapplied to new situations.
        Do I come off as a crinkly curmudgeon trying to edumikayte a young whippersnapper for his own good? If so, sorry. I *am* trying to help.
        Your best tool for advancing your career is probably curiosity. Be curious. Poke your nose into things. Fiddle. Tweak. Play and see what happens. Don’t do what I did and poke things into the holes to see what electricity looks like, but short of suicidal stuff like that, experiment.
        And, like dturner said: volunteer. Helpful nosy buggers are accepted far more readily than unhelpful ones.
        I made quite a good career out of that.

    • #2887121

      Don’t Forget the People

      by aliascrypt ·

      In reply to Thinking about leaving IT

      My career has traveled a path similar to the one you hope to achieve. I started in a Help Desk position, moved up to Desktop Support, and then got a promotion to a sysadmin role. All told, it took about five years with the same company to become a sysadmin.

      While keeping your technical skills sharp and constantly growing your knowledge are critical elements to advancement, I can’t overemphasize the importance of the human element–that is customer service and plain old personability.

      Do you provide break-fix service or hardware/software deployments to end-users while they are present? If so, you may be in a unique role of visibility and contact within your organization. You should embrace this as an opportunity to make a name for yourself in the community you support.

      You state in your post that knowing “…someone in management…” is one way to “…get a position you really want..” Well, get to know the people in management! Get to know users from all the various facets in your organization, especially business unit folks. Know them, befriend them, and become their trusted technical advisor In short, establish as many good relationships with those outside of your immediate work area as possible. You never know who can assist in advancing your career and you shouldn’t discount anybody.

      If you respond to calls for end-user problems, go above and beyond in your service. Don’t stop with simply fixing the problem you’re responding to. Ask the user if they’re satisfied with their technical experience and if they have any other issues you can take a look at. Often times, users will forgo reporting problems if they aren’t “showstoppers,” or tolerate any number of OS and application annoyances. If you can repair additional issues while in the field and improve the experience of the end-user, you will make an impression. I know from personal experience that word gets around quickly with management when there is a competent, friendly Desktop Support tech going out of his way to get to know and understand the needs of the user community. When more advanced IT positions become available in the organization, your name goes to the top of the list.

      Best of luck in your decision.

    • #2887120

      Brick wall?

      by sjg1759 ·

      In reply to Thinking about leaving IT

      Its more like a curtain you can easily brush aside, than a brick wall.
      Pay for your own cert or your own training if you have to, or just get enough hands on, using your own resources, so that you can talk like a subject matter expert on what you want to do.

      Desktop support is a stepping stone, you’re past that it sounds. Now you need to move up into specialities. Networks, Security, Virtualization, and Storage are some of the best areas to look at. Download Vmware, or build a Linux native virtualization server on a system at home. Build networks, practice firewalling, learn your subnetting and routing, etc.

      And above all… learn that customer support, be that customer internal or external … is what you really do, and develop a sense of urgency when fixing people’s problems. It will serve you well in this business.

      Find another stepping stone before quitting your present one though.

Viewing 9 reply threads