Help desk consultant

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Mark, 20s

The first point of contact in supporting, troubleshooting and resolving various technical issues. The role encompasses supporting desktop hardware, network administration, operating systems, system upgrades, databases and software applications, and includes the installation and maintenance of system infrastructure. A Support Technician must be able to liaise with customers of varying expertise and seniority via telephone or on-site and must be flexible to work on a rotating shift and on-call.

What do you do?

As one of eight help desk consultants, my job is to provide daily IT support to over 800 employees. I am responsible for helping people work through any issues they're having with either desktop or laptop computers from a software, hardware or network perspective. Basically we assist staff with everyday computing problems like not being able to log on in the mornings, not being able to get onto the network or generally showing them how to use a particular software program.

Describe an average day?

I rotate between taking calls from people who need IT support, and providing one-to-one help out in the office. I respond on average to between 30 and 50 IT-related issues every day. At Freehills we are able to remotely respond to IT problems from the central computer room. Basically, this means we can receive a call for help, then log on to the user's machine and figure out what's wrong without visiting the person's desk. If the issue can't be fixed remotely we will go to the person's desk to work on the problem.

What technology skills are necessary in your job?

A lot of people think I need to be unbelievably technical. I got my first job in IT because the manager liked my work ethic more than the fact that I had some technical skill. Obviously, I've needed some IT experience, but there are extra elements that have worked in my favour. There is a personal element to the job, so people skills are also very important.

How did you get to where you are today?

Throughout high school whenever anyone asked me what I was going to do, besides wanting to be a pro surfer, all I knew was that I was not going to work in an office. Look at me now! After Year 12 I went to TAFE and did an Associate Diploma in Electronic Engineering, which was a two-year full-time course. In the second year you could branch into electronics or computer systems. Funnily enough I branched into electronics, which is more about amplifiers and stereos, because I wasn't interested in computers. After working for three years as a chef I got a non-IT related role with IBM GSA. After the three-month contract my manager offered to employ me and train me on the job. I was with them for three years. Since then I have done a number of courses including a self-study Certified Novell Administration course.

What made you decide on a career in IT?

As a kid I was always pulling apart my toys and putting them back together. I was always into music and had a love for stereos, so I got into installing car stereos. Then in Year 11 I enrolled in a technology design course in electronics and have really been involved or associated with IT ever since.

What do you like about your job?

I enjoy the interaction with people. Also, it's challenging. Technology is always updating so you're always learning something new.

Is there anything you would change?

I don't enjoy sitting at my desk as much as I enjoy the one- to-one interaction with people, which is one of the great aspects of my job.

Where do you see your career going next?

The good thing about IT is that there is such a broad array of areas you can work in. Nearly everything these days involves some form of IT. So for me, the next step in IT is to anywhere I want it to take me.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in IT?

Get out there and get into it.You get IT jobs by knowing your stuff. It's not just about getting a qualification from school. It's about getting your foot in the door, even if that means volunteering your time just to get a bit of experience.

Skills listing

The ideal candidate possesses a combination of skills and experience in a variety of areas. Below is a list of the most commonly sought after skills, with highly sought after examples listed in brackets. This list is meant as a guide only.

Technical skills:

  • Knowledge of operating systems (eg. MS Windows NT, MS Windows XP, Unix)
  • Knowledge of hardware operation
  • Knowledge of all leading software (eg. MS Office)
  • Ability to configure software and hardware
  • Knowledge of Wide-Area Networks (WAN)
  • Knowledge of database technology (eg. SQL)
  • Knowledge of Local-Area Networks (LAN)
  • Knowledge of relational databases (eg. Oracle)
  • Relevant industry certification
  • Ability to document and review processes and procedures

Non-technical skills:

  • Team oriented
  • Problem solving skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to make decisions
  • Uses initiative
  • Works well under pressure
  • Flexibility to work rotating shifts and on-call
  • Ability to prioritise work
  • Listening skills
  • Ability to respond to customer needs

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).