Posted tagged ‘technolgy’

So You Wanna Break Into IT? (Part 7 – Customer Service)

April 14, 2008

If you cringe when someone says “customer service,” IT may not be the thing for you. In my side work as a technical consultant, service is a large part of my position – I would say as much as 60%. And really, the goal of IT is to add value to the business. You can’t do this if you make the customer feel incompetent, if you appear incompetent to her, or if you stress him out just by being there. There are numerous frightening stories out there about bad CS, and I would suspect that many a business has been damaged or destroyed because they didn’t care about the customer.

And customer service doesn’t stop with the customer – direct reports (and perhaps supervisors too) are customers. My current supervisor is awesome – he feels that we need to provide incredible customer service and top-notch issue resolution. Beyond that, most things are very flexible and common-sense. He empowers us to make decisions about the issues we face, even in an entry-level position (which is especially important with me being some 2000 miles away). It’s so logical. I know not all managers are like that, but it makes for a great working environment here.

This is the last post in this series.  Thanks to all of you who came back and read the whole thing.  I will still be writing on tech topics, so keep coming back!  I’m always on the lookout for other tech blogs, so if you have a site of your own, let me know in a comment and I would love to check it out!  By the way, don’t put more than one or two links in your comment – WordPress automatically blocks comments with too many links.

Cheers!

Ben

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So You Wanna Break Into IT? (Part 6 – The Money Myth)

April 11, 2008

OK, let’s just admit it. The pay is good, even at entry level. I understand some people in the industry feel they don’t make a lot, but if you have the skills, you can find another job that does pay well. I live in Podunk, Montana, but I still have a stable job with good pay and basically the best benefits package available to anyone in our small town. My wife, son, and I are able to live fairly comfortably off of my income. But one thing needs to be clear.

You have to be ready to work your tail off. You can’t except to waltz in with a couple of entry-level (or higher) certifications thinking you deserve 85K a year (or a job at all, for that matter). In general (and of course with some exceptions), your pay rate is directly proportional to your work ethic. This tends to be true in any field, and I wish my generation understood this. There are no free rides, and the quality of the ride you get depends largely on your determination, not on the cosmic lottery (see installment one regarding passion for work and number four regarding respectability).

Get some entry-level experience and move from there. Some of the most successful IT pros I know got there by climbing the stairs from the ground floor. In fact, probably pretty much all of them did. I started just over a year ago with no degree and a very basic certification (CIW Foundations) but lots of drive and a foot in the door. Now, I hold several more certifications and am in school pursuing my degree, but that means nothing if I had a reputation as a “loafer.”

The “cosmic lottery” people are few and far between. Yes, network – and use those connections. Yes, go to school and get your degree, even if you’re past typical college age (hey, I am…). Yes, call your cousin and ask him about that Unix guy he knows that needs a junior admin. But more than anything else, learn to enjoy work and you will succeed.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” (Edison)

So You Wanna Break Into IT? (Part 5 – Learn, Learn, Learn)

April 10, 2008

I can learn and get paid for it.  IT thrives on information (see Part 3 regarding the flux and change of the IT field), and you need information if you are going to be a good IT pro.

 

In a prior (non-IT) position I held, I was once told by a superior that “I hadn’t really tapped the knowledge available to me” (or something close to that).  The problem was, the knowledge she spoke of wasn’t actually available to me.  She wanted me to know, but didn’t give me time to learn on the clock, or opportunities to access well-organized information about my field.

 

I don’t dislike that supervisor – I have tremendous professional respect for her, and she was partially responsible for my current success.  But in contrast to that situation, when I am not working on trouble requests, I now spend quite a bit of time reading tech blogs, trade magazine articles, certification books, Wikipedia, and the like (in fact, I’m trying to get an appointment set up at a test center to take a certification exam this afternoon).  It’s a beautiful thing, because I love learning, and I need to keep up my skills (and learn new ones).

 

I really think that if you allow an employee reasonable freedom to learn about their job and opportunities to access the information, you will groom your employee for success.  And if you are self-motivated and would like a job where you had to dig up information and learn it quickly, IT might be a good fit for you.