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Education IT

Getting Beyond the Helldesk 474

An anonymous reader writes "I've been working as a helpdesk monkey for over a year in a small-medium sized law firm of around 200 users and I don't know if my patience and sanity can last much longer. I'd like to remain in IT, but in less of a front-line role where I can actually get some work done without being interrupted every five minutes by a jamming printer or frozen instance of Outlook. There isn't really any room for progression at my current employer, and with the weak job market it seems I can only move sideways into another support role. I've been considering a full-time Masters degree in a specialized Computer Science area such as databases or Web development, but I don't know if the financial cost and the loss of a year's income and experience can justify it. Do any Slashdotters who have made it beyond the helpdesk have any knowledge or wisdom to impart? Is formal education a good avenue, or would I better off moving back home, getting a mindless but low-stress job, and teaching myself technologies in my free time?"
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Getting Beyond the Helldesk

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  • by GameGod0 ( 680382 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:24AM (#28369587)
    Now's a great time to do your MSc because you can weather the economic storm in academia and pray that the job market will be better when you're out. Heck, you might even get funding so it won't be as much of a financial burden.
    But that said - What degree do you have that left you stuck on the frontlines of an IT helpdesk? If you don't have a BSc, speak now... (Formal education IS a go
    • by GameGod0 ( 680382 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:28AM (#28369607)
      Ahh, message got cutoff. (AJAX is overrated )
      I was going to say that getting a BSc is definitely worthwhile (if you don't have one), and a MSc will definitely help you stand out when your resume lands on someone's desk. I'm having a hard time understanding how someone with a CS or Software Engineering degree could end up in your position though. (Maybe I'm ignorant...)
      • by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @01:25AM (#28369953)

        I'm having a hard time understanding how someone with a CS or Software Engineering degree could end up in your position though. (Maybe I'm ignorant...)

        I will give you the answer; the companies that hire BSc graduates in "IT" tend to be call centers and help desk type companies. In the 1990s you could go straight out of college and land an 80K per year job. These days you are lucky to land a help desk job. Of course the more successful people will have embellished their experiences on their resumes and with their references. The smart people often end up programming in their parents basement.

        • by grolaw ( 670747 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @07:32AM (#28371961) Journal

          100% correct. Law Firms are hell holes to work for - and I'm an attorney! You only see the tip of the political iceberg in those operations.

          I've represented over a dozen IT professionals out of the banking industry and age discrimination / outsourcing are so common that you might as well learn to speak Hindi.

          Find a medium-sized 3'rd party tech support operation - go to school too - but contemplate broadening your skill set beyond pure IT - take a year to go to the Vancouver Film School and earn one of their computer-based degrees (animation, sound recording/transformation) and lateral into the production industry.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by vertinox ( 846076 )

            Find a medium-sized 3'rd party tech support operation - go to school too - but contemplate broadening your skill set beyond pure IT - take a year to go to the Vancouver Film School and earn one of their computer-based degrees (animation, sound recording/transformation) and lateral into the production industry.

            As a person who went to school for computer animation and now works in IT...

            Good luck with that!

            Really, unless you are doing animation for yourself or live in California, then you're not going to make

      • by Hogwash McFly ( 678207 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @05:47AM (#28371433)

        Submitter here. I current hold a upper-second class (the next step down from a first class, don't know how American colleges grade their awards) honours BSc in Comp Sci from a reasonably well-respected UK university. So I meet the criteria for most Computer Science Masters courses that I have come across.

        Regarding your confusion of my current position, when I first graduated I was unsure if I was suitable for any kind of development role, which I suppose is the avenue taken by a large proportion of Comp Sci graduates. I was good enough at programming to pass the modules, but I never really programmed for pleasure or got involved beyond what was required of me academically. I know that makes me a blasphemer and a poser on here!

        I worked in unrelated fields for a couple of years, which wasn't terrible as I paid off a lot of debt, especially at the beginning while living with the parents. My current job is my first 'proper' IT role, and considering my initial circumstances it seemed like quite a good first rung of the ladder. However, I have felt for quite a while that I both wanted to leave my current area of residence as well as thinking that this job is not right for me. It just feels like the right time to start planning a clean break, and soon, especially with the new academic year creeping up.

        I have enough money saved up to live and study for a whole year, so the finance side of a Masters is not the major hurdle if the qualification would be worthwhile. I quite like the idea of going back to academia and taking it seriously this time, no more skipping lectures due to hangovers and doing it half-assed like my Bachelors. Working with colleagues that are involved with data management and web development as part of their own roles, and finding it quite interesting from where I stand, I have been looking at Masters programmes that specialise in these areas, rather than just do another year of general Comp Sci. There aren't that many programmes in these areas so my options are limited but still out there.

        • by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @07:47AM (#28372051) Homepage

          It really depends on the type of service desk you work at. If you are in a service desk that cares about metrics like time taken on a call, then get out. Now. If you are on a service desk that values root cause analysis and real problem resolution, then stick around and try to get promoted up levels. Most of these service desks have a lot of high value components that are important enough that they'll appreciate you figuring out the actual problem and advising or implementing solutions that prevent further issues in the future.

          I work on a service desk for a multi-national corporation supporting one of their software products. However, this software interacts with a lot of cool technologies that make life interesting - directory services, databases, packet analysis, network discovery, etc. There are enough components to the product itself that problems reported can be very interesting to troubleshoot, and I've learned a lot on the job. It also gives me the opportunity to read up on technologies I've never heard of before, or that I'm interested in. I'm fairly certain I'm seen as a reasonably valuable member of the team, so I get a lot of job satisfaction from what I do.

          The rule of thumb, IMO, is that if you aren't learning anything new, then you're stagnating and it's probably time to get out of the job.

        • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @08:25AM (#28372307)

          Oh. You're in the _UK_. Learn Linux: my professional colleague in London is having to beat off recruiters, even in this economy, and they keep trying to hire him for work in Scotland and Geneva as well. The support and systems administration roles available to a someone who can work in a mixed Linux/Windows, or Linux/Windows/Mac environment, are very active as companies try to stretch their finances for new servers and services.

          School is great for your resume: but so is experience with fields that are growing and likely to remain in demand.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by b96miata ( 620163 )
          Here's the real question - if you hated programming so much, why didn't you switch to a major you liked? You note that many CS majors take your route, but really, it's no excuse. Those people are silly.

          That said, if you find you like web development and DBA, my personal opinion is avoid the masters. The MS is *not* going to help you get an entry level position as a web dev or a DBA. You're risking overqualification here. (if you can even find a respectable MS in web development, that is.)
  • by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:27AM (#28369603)

    I've noticed that most people are getting smarter, understand technology, privacy, business, free enterprise, propoganda, and are becoming less reliant on help desks, friends, church groups, retailers, and especially the government for help.

    Just stick with it, I'm sure it will get better! How bad can it really be, they are just lawyers?

  • That is your job. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:27AM (#28369605) Homepage

    " I'd like to remain in IT, but in less of a front-line role where I can actually get some work done without being interrupted every five minutes by a jamming printer or frozen instance of Outlook."

    Um. If you are on the helpdesk - unjamming printers and unfreezing outlook is your job. Your work isn't being interrupted every five minutes, but rather you are being called on to do your job every five minutes.

    IT is a support function, deal with it or find a different career field.

    • by dword ( 735428 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:44AM (#28369737)

      Yes, being interrupted while reading from / posting to Slashdot is just awful!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      There is a difference in being in IT and doing one specific aspect of IT called help desk. I can relate. The poster is seems to be tired of dealing with the same thing over and over from people who make the same mistakes. IT is a much broader field than just help desk.
      • Re:That is your job. (Score:5, Informative)

        by calmofthestorm ( 1344385 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:55AM (#28369799)

        You can also get pinned down by URGENT FIX THIS issues to the point that you can't make substantial upgrades to improve the overall situation. For example, so busy removing viruses you can't deploy more effective means to fight them in general.

        • Re:That is your job. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by bitspotter ( 455598 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @03:55AM (#28370703) Journal

          I never understood why this is supposedly frustrating. In short, ineffectiveness is job security. I remember having a self-drawn roadmap at my last job. Every time I'd be called down for must-do sales support quick fix project, I would tell them how much time this would take off of accomplishing my larger projects. I t was all the same to me, just as long as nobody could blame me for missing deadlines I wasn't allowed to abide by.

          Eight hours is eight hours. If I'm not the one prioritizing my projects, I'm not going to sweat the results of those priorities.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            I wish I could have this mindset--I really do. But I can't. The inefficiency drives me crazy. Despite the job security issue, I have done things like teach a lot of my clients (the smarter ones who aren't likely to make things worse) how to fix little issues on their own. They may not have to call me as often, but they also can get their jobs done a lot more smoothly, and they like/respect me for that.
    • Re:That is your job. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by heychris ( 587825 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:55AM (#28369807)

      Um. If you are on the helpdesk - unjamming printers and unfreezing outlook is your job. Your work isn't being interrupted every five minutes, but rather you are being called on to do your job every five minutes.

      To be fair, in a 200 person shop, he may also be expected to do sysadmin duties as well as helpdesk. It tends to get lumped together a lot. But even as a sysadmin, your job is ultimately to serve the company and it's clients, and in a small to midsize company, that means rebooting the boss' PC every now and then. Try to take pride in the fact that you tangibly made his life slightly better.

      My role in a similarly sized company is basically sysadmin without the title, so I feel for you. There are days I'd love to play with the tech and roll out cool things, and it does get annoying to handle the level 2 stuff (fortunately, I have a part-time helpdesk guy for the basics).

      One tip would be to get an intern, and dump some of the support tickets on them. Honestly, I'm not sure how viable a solution that is (I'd be eager to hear others experiences), because I don't know if a CS person will want an internship like that. But maybe someone from a business background would be intrigued; you likely touch every part of the business, and there could be appeal there.

      If you're interested in web development, heck, just do it! Do your own site. Do your friends' sites, though set some clear boundaries. This will get you estimating experience, and you can play with whatever strikes your fancy. Then hit up some local small businesses and do their sites. Use that experience to get your next job. A CS Masters seems like overkill for web development. I can't say I know one, but then again, see my second paragraph. :) I do know many web folk without masters, though.

      The last thing I'd suggest is to get yourself involved on larger projects in the company. I don't always think to ask my helpdesk guy to help out, but I'm glad when he volunteers. This is a way to learn the tech, the business, and all those fuzzy skills that we don't think should matter but really, really do.


    • Re:That is your job. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:56AM (#28369809)
      IT is a support function, yes, but that's not to say that all IT people keep getting calls every five minutes when someone can't print an email.

      I would go as far as to say that the folks we have here on the IT helpdesk are very tech un-savvy. They follow simple flowcharts to get resolutions and do very little actual IT work. I also work in a 200,000 employee company at the head office which has 4,000 staffers. I would say that to get into the IT field, you need to either jump out into a side role and get yourself known, make friends with developers (if you have them in-house) or simply look to maybe even join a helpdesk in a larger firm.

      Having said that, I don't really see why you cannot study while being at the helpdesk. It's not a stressful role, you answer calls, you help people with stupid things when they are clueless. Yes, it's numbing, yes it's boring - and it's perfect to use as a job while studying for something else or learning things on the side.

      Not to be rude, but be prepared for a LOT more stress than a helpdesk if you do get seriously into the IT field. Developers are ALWAYS being pushed for quicker and cheaper developments, project managers get sizings and then shave off time for an action if it doesn't fit into the time constraints - and I ain't even going to start on the business users and what you will have to do for them during the warranty phase of developments when they start changing requirements left right and center.
    • by uptownguy ( 215934 ) <> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @01:39AM (#28370035)

      IT is a support function, deal with it or find a different career field.

      10. This
      20. Goto 10

      Seriously, having spent 15+ years in IT in one role or another (helpdesk, helpdesk manager, helpdesk product manager, presales support, operations manager, consultant) I've seen my fair share of things. I've been on top of the world and on top of my game. I've been burnt out and taken a year off to work in a coffee shop (best thing I ever did, by the way.) I've hired hundreds of support techs. And as I am sitting in a hotel room 1000 miles from home, have a raging case of insomnia and am feeling a little philosophical tonight, I have a word or wisdom or two that I want to share.

      First of all: Why do you "want to remain in IT"? Is it because you enjoy technology? If that's the case, perhaps you should consider a different field? There's no law that says you have to make your hobby your job. In fact, you run the risk of spoiling the joy that drew you to it in the first place. If you are in technology because you love playing with what's new, keep reading Slashdot and buy the toys that interest you. Then go discover what you want to do with your life and do that.

      Secondly: What do you want to do with your life? Does it involve serving other people? If it does: congratulations! IT is all about service. Seriously. Whether you are designing an application or supporting 200 lawyers/support staff, you are there to serve. You could get all gross and use old-fashioned phrases such as "cost center" or you could get all fancy and start to see the service you do as part of a larger path. This book changed some of my thinking on that. []. Either way, you can't escape the fact: IT is about service. Secret hint: Once you get this, you start to love your job.

      Thirdly: Have you ever really thought about what you want to do with your life? I mean really thought about it? If not, perhaps you should take a year off and do something completely random. You talked about "moving back home" as an option which means you probably don't have a spouse/kids which means that you have the freedom to do something bold. Try something completely different. Work with your hands. I took a year off and worked in a coffee shop. It did wonders for my work ethic and sense of what service really is. (It also reminded me of what it is like to really make next to nothing.) Working with your hands is satisfying. You might just enjoy it more than you thought. This article [] in last month's New York Times makes the case for working with your hands. You should read it. Really.

      Fourthly: Is it about the money? Be honest with yourself. Are you in IT because of the money? OK. In this field, we make more than people with equivalent amounts of education might make. At least a little more. For now. That probably won't last forever. But are you wanting to move into "databases" or "web development" because you think there will be more money there? Maybe if this was 1996 that would be true. Yes, there is still money to be made there. If you are talented and willing to work hard and be passionate about what you do. But that's sort of true of anything. A little luck and a lot of passion go a long way. (Or is it a lot of luck and a little passion?)

      Finally: Relax. Unless you are extremely fortunate, you have no idea what you are going to do with the rest of your life. Few of us do. You'll bounce around and external situations and circumstances will dictate most of it. New inventions. Sick parents. A spouse or child who changes your perspective. Wars. Epidemics. The unknown. Who knows what will happen next? Stop thinking so much. Enjoy the ride. If you feel stuck, listen to yourself. Learn to listen to yourself. Ask yourself what you really want to

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mtremsal ( 1554627 )

        That was a good read. Thanks a lot.

        I am at the point where I have to chose a working field and my studies give me a broad range of choices.

        I love IT, have studied it both for my studies and on my free time. I never considered doing anything else ... until recently.
        Like you've said, because I enjoy technology and love programming doesn't mean I *have* to work in IT.
        More precisely, I don't feel like it's a field where I could stay a nice guy for too long.
        And I don't want to become a BOFH (or similar).

        Yet, cho

      • thanks for pointing out that article in the NYtimes, it was a great read
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        >Secondly: What do you want to do with your life?

        You make some great points, but I disagree with this. This is baby-boomer baloney. It's rationalizing selfishness. There's no harm in it if "what you want to do with your life" is something worthwhile or even noble. But for most people, it's just a code word from socially acceptable narcissism. Me me me, is what it breaks down to.

        But you give a lot of very heart-felt advice, most of it good. That's a nice thing to do for a guy who seems to be at his

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mjwx ( 966435 )
        Your post made me think.

        I'm hating going to work each day for a little while now. It's not that I don't like it really, I like parts of my job, but I don't like dealing with the ingrates who look down on IT services. The good people understand that they cant do my job (and I cant do theirs) so we don't get in each others way, have respect for each other and just get along but there is about 30% of my co-workers that make me dread getting up in the morning because they are just arseholes who refuse to lis
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Kashgarinn ( 1036758 )

        You forgot to start this with:
        >If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience

        and end it with:
        >But trust me on the sunscreen...

        Otherwise.. a nice post ;P

        I'm in the same helpdesk hell situation.. it's been a real turnoff for advancing further into IT and I'm doing evening classes in something completely different (whether

      • Re:That is your job. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @10:01AM (#28373399) Homepage

        That was really well written. Might I suggest a more poetic way of saying the same thing:

        Work is love made visible
        And if you cannot work with love but only
        with distaste, it is better that you should
        leave your work and sit at the gate of the
        temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
        For if you bake bread with indifference
        you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half
        man's hunger
        And if you grudge the crushing of the
        grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine
        And if you sing though as angels,and
        love not the singing, you muffle man's ears
        to the voices of the day and the voices of
        the night.

        -Kahlil Gibran

        (The rest of this particular bit can be found here: [])

    • Depends on your job.

      More and more companies don't employ a full time helpdesk. Usually you're expected to do something "on the side", be it installations or even making strategic decisions. The smaller the company, the higher the chance that you won't be a full time computer monkey.

      Now, as everyone who ever wrote a line of code will know, nothing kills your concentration more than a phone call. Well, except maybe your computer catching fire.

  • Helldesk...heh heh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by partowel ( 469956 )

    My ignorant opinion is to get more education. It's worth it, if you want it.

    If full time isn't possible, do it correspondence/distance education.

    Helldesk really is HELL.

    It's amazing what padding your resume does. You have to take the first step.

    As for moving back home, I wouldn't do that.

    But if you get along with your family, I guess its an option.

  • by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:31AM (#28369647)

    You seem to be under the misapprehension that it gets better once you are out of the helpdesk. It only looks like it does. You get less stupid end-users, and more stupid bosses.

    Get out, now, while you still can. Go get a degree in plumbing, or electrical work. (Heck, if you want to stay with computers, get certified to install fiber. It's only going to grow, and I've had trouble finding anyone to install it in the new house.) Something that doesn't expect you for the rest of your life to be answering the phone at 12:45am on random nights.

    Got to run, the pager's going off...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Wow, you know what, I totally agree. You can ignore my large post elsewhere here about learning on your own. I agree, run. I double-agree, run to plumbing.

  • What! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:32AM (#28369655)

    They have master degrees in "database" and "web development?"

    Ahhhh, my Television is moving!!!

  • Learn a UNIX (Score:5, Informative)

    by jsimon12 ( 207119 ) <> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:34AM (#28369667) Homepage

    If you really want to stay in IT and don't want to learn a programming language learn a UNIX. Even half way decent UNIX admins are few and far between, I know a number of companies hiring.

    Just download a BSD, Linux distro or Open Solaris and use that for your desktop at home. Tinker, read and study and you can get a job out of helpdesk.

    • Re:Learn a UNIX (Score:4, Interesting)

      by calmofthestorm ( 1344385 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:56AM (#28369815)

      To become a competent unix sysadmin, do what this guy says

      The problem is that there are no certifications for linux that actually mean much of anything, unlike the windows world where you have the MS cert. Sure, there are a few companies that offer certs for linux but anyone who knows anything in HR will sneer at them as the meaningless drivel they are.

      I actually don't know how people get involved in being sysadmins on unix systems, since it seems you need experience to get it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smoker2 ( 750216 )

        The problem is that there are no certifications for linux that actually mean much of anything, unlike the windows world where you have the MS cert. Sure, there are a few companies that offer certs for linux but anyone who knows anything in HR will sneer at them as the meaningless drivel they are.

        Er ... []

    • Re:Learn a UNIX (Score:5, Insightful)

      by smash ( 1351 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:58AM (#28369819) Homepage Journal

      More relevant I think is to perhaps use a Unix to learn network related skills such as TCP/IP network design, DNS, mail routing, VOIP, etc.

      Unix (or Windows) is a tool to accomplish a given task. Learn the fundamentals of what you are trying to do and how the protocols work together, and then you can apply this to whatever operating system you happen to get lumbered with by the bean counters or previous management/admin...

      So yeah, download a free unix, but remember, its just a tool to achieve a desired service. Focus on the services (and how to diagnose them), rather than the actual particular software package so much. Knowing Linux's quirks (just for example) inside out won't do you any good if you're trying to support Windows or Solaris (or SCO or FreeBSD, etc)...

      Keep your mind open, and get exposure to as many tools as possible, it will increase your opportunity for employment...

    • Re:Learn a UNIX (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @01:07AM (#28369875)
      I have to agree with the parent on this one. You need to go learn something that isn't taught at pump and dump schools or tech institutions. There are a thousand people with window's certs for every one that actually knows something about Unix/Linux. There is almost never a shortage for the need of a good Unix/Linux admin in the job market. A lot of the first generation admins are retiring now and in the next 5-10 years which means there will be a lot of need for experienced admins. Another thing you can do is focus on something like High Performance Computing (HPC). Again, there is more and more demand for this, and guess what, ~87% of the top 500 supercomputers run linux, ~5% run Unix, and around 1% run Windows. Again, this just says, go learn a Unix/Linux distribution. Get you foot in the door at a company that uses it. Yeah, you might have to do helpdesk, but you can actually learn Unix/Linux from helpdesk due to the fact that most problems are not something that a scripted conversation will normally fix. While there are some issues that you will run into time and time again, those things will almost always present themselves in a different form. You are also dealing with managing systems which can easily have an uptime of years. The systems were designed and built to last and have an OS that had the same stability requirements as well. It is typical to see systems go a year or more between reboots.
  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:34AM (#28369669) Journal

    Hate to break it to you but you won't necessarily get away from distractions and you may not entirely move away from support. Every job I've ever worked in included distractions and some amount of support work.

    I currently work as a software developer but I also work to troubleshoot the existing systems, and I do take second tier customer calls (so less problems, but usually harder ones). I even work shifts and do on-call support. My job's a good one - prestigeous, reasonable pay so I'm not complaining.

    That's not to say I would rather be on a help desk, or that you shouldn't try to better yourself. Just make sure your expectations are realistic.

    • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:37AM (#28369689) Journal

      Two other things:

      1. A masters may not help as a developer. I have a masters but it's in Astronomy and I did it with no intention of taking on Astronomy as a job. Every time I add the qualification to the list, HR takes it back off. I'm not even sure certain HR staff know the difference between Astronomy and Astrology.

      2. You might find it easier to get your foot in the door somewhere else rather than try to move into a development role in your current company. If you're already doing a job well, the company has less incentive to move you elsewhere (until they realise you'll leave otherwise, by which time it's too late). It'll be tough in this market.

  • Ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:35AM (#28369673) Homepage

    Go back to school. Have sex with college girls while you still can. Go to any open lectures and take some off the wall classes. Study abroad or save your money for six months and party in Brazil. Meet some people who have lofty ideas, and try to get jobs at companies with the same.

    You aren't going to learn anything but how to take shit and wallow in misery at your current job. If you think that's a valuable skill that you need to learn, then stay.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      sorry once you're past 25, they want nothing to do with you. undergrad at 25+ is a lonely and tiresome route. even stuff like group projects is tough because 18yos still think of themselves as kids and don't want to work with an 'adult'. maybe just getting certs is a better idea.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Geeks/Nerds, girls, and sex? LOL. J/K. ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:36AM (#28369685)

    Way back in the day, I worked at Creative Labs tech support, and those of us in higher positions were made to sit on a Helpdesk, consisting of 4 stations. When an agent would get stumped, they'd call the helpdesk and get one of us at random. Now, some of the folks who had to sit on this thing were not the sharpest tools in the shed. So one day, to screw with a particularly stupid self important idiot, I sat next to him, just up the hunt group chain, so that if my phone was busy or didn't answer the call would go to him.

    So I turned my phone down to almost no ring volume, and every time my phone would ring, I'd wait til the 3rd ring, point over to his phone, and say "Your phone will ring... now". The dumbass got mad because he couldn't figure out how I was doing it for over an hour.

    I did of course, get a "stern" talking to afterward, BUT, the supervisor was doing his best to not laugh his ass off as he was telling me to please not do it again.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kindherb ( 194395 )

      Aloha AC!

      Ahhh yes... Good old Stillwater. I did my time @ Creative back in the day, and remember the second level helpdesk station quite vividly. And no I wasn't the victim of the prank.

      I do remember working with a certain cute female, and there were some guys on the floor who would hang up on you, only to call back hoping they would get a chance to talk to the cute girl. hehe

      Wow! I haven't thought about those days in a long long time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pilgrim23 ( 716938 )
      Companies that have programmers or other techs who learned all their people skills from interaction with a pet gerbil are not really clear on the concept of staying in business. I work in tech support and that friends is a person oriented skill. You can have the gosh gee whiz tech creds out the wazoo and still piss off a customer. They don't care how many .NET routines you have written they are interested in getting their screen un-stuck and back to their JOB. Talk down to your co-workers NOT the person who
  • by genner ( 694963 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:37AM (#28369691)
    First provide me with your employers contact information. Then quit so you'll feel motivated to find somthing else. I'll apply for your old job so you won't feel tempted to go back to it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:39AM (#28369703)

  • A few more options (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:42AM (#28369719)

    It depends on if you want to be a database one trick pony or a programmer or a sysadmin.

    A help desk job is where you cut your teeth for being a sysadmin. If you want to be a dba or programmer, you don't need any experience in the real world. You just go to school and hope it's real life.

    If you are interested in being a sysadmin, then understand that you are supporting users, and there are sysadmins supporting you.

    Hang out with them and ask them to show you how they do their jobs. Learn about the stuff schools can't and never will be able to afford to teach you. SAN's, Fiber switching, the proprietary tools for HP, Sun, IBM, Dell. Use lunch, free time, smoke breaks, after work- whatever.

    Sysadmins always have job offers or know people at other companies with job offers that may not be at their level, but at yours. There is no downside.

    Secondarily, you should take advantage of their education program. If it's a law firm, they have one. Put in for your RHCE or LPI or MCSE or whatever the hell it is you're working on. Buy or download the book and make them pay for the tests. A cert will get you more pay than a Master's in anything. Unless you are bucking for middle management or want to write obscure code, a Master's won't do dick.

    If you really want to leave though- and you know this because you go home, lay in bed, and literally say "I have to get out of this place" every day- then leave. You ain't gonna learn shit. Follow your gut first, head second.

    School is a fine fallback if you have money, but if you don't then guess what. This is your school. You won't ever forget working help desk. People in pain learn their maximum threshold for bullshit, so it's good to learn yours early so you don't spin out when you get a job that actually pays the bills. Helpdesk is hell by repetition. DBA, Sysadmin, and maybe Programmer are hell by catching shit from all sides.

    I can't tell you what to do. I can tell you that I, and many of the people here, were in your exact position. If you don't want to kill yourself yet, then you aren't finished. Take advantage of what's around you and then opportunities will open up.

  • by servognome ( 738846 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:43AM (#28369725)

    I'd like to remain in IT, but in less of a front-line role where I can actually get some work done without being interrupted every five minutes by a jamming printer or frozen instance of Outlook.

    You work at a help desk, so it seems your job is getting in the way of whatever you prefer to work at. From your description it looks like you want to move into a managerial role of technical decision making. You can accomplish this by championing projects that you prefer to work on, or starting your own company. All an advanced degree will get you is a different entry-level position, where you'll still be interrupted every five minutes by something.
    At some point you'll need to show independent leadership to get your preferred kind of job.

  • Go small (Score:4, Insightful)

    by peipas ( 809350 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:47AM (#28369755)

    You might consider pursuing a job at a smaller organization where the IT department consists of you, possibly a non-profit. Compensation will be lower but there are often other "benefits" of working non-profit, such as reduced hours or a rewarding culture. These organizations are looking for somebody with experience but realize they can't afford the most experience. You'll get a lot of experience with a wide range of administration, preferably including managing a few servers, although you will still be working with the end users. Variety is wonderful, though.

    Due to the current job market this plan may still leave you in your current position for a while, but that could be a good thing for your marketability anyway, as it's good not to look too fickle when an employer doesn't want to have to hire a replacement for you again in another 12-18 months.

    • "a rewarding culture"

      Yes, Doctor, I know computers. You name it - *nix, Apple, Microsoft. Any hardware, any brand, it doesn't matter. I'm looking for a rewarding job. YIKES!!! WHAT ARE THOSE FIBERS GROWING OUT OF THOSE RATS?!?! Cultures, you say? Are they, like, CONTAGIOUS?!?!

      *gulp* Yes, Doctor, I was looking for a cultured environment, but perhaps we don't speak the same brand of English. I'll get back to you, if I get terribly hungry, alright?

  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:52AM (#28369783)

    There are a few excellent reasons to go to school:
    - your field has you using multi-million dollar equipment that you simply cannot access outside of the academic world
    - you don't know what you want, and need someone to plot a course through life for you
    - you can't read and need to be taught the alphabet

    In this field, help-desk, databases, web-development are all the same:
    - exceptionally well and accurately documented
    - always using very inexpensive or free tools
    - catering to intelligent people

    If you want to learn web development, grab as many books as you like, read through MSDN and your favourite firefox wiki. Read, tinker, play. Read the HTML specifications. Keep playing. In school, you'd simply have shorter hours, and someone telling you to read chapter 1, then telling you to read chapter 2, then telling you to read chapter 3. Oh yeah, and they'd tell you that you read only 92% of chapter 2.

    If you want to learn about databases, install mysql with about ten clicks, and read the mysql documention. It's not a puzzle, it's just a process. By the time you've read the, what 500 pages of syntax, you'll be able to play forever.

    You don't need someone else telling you how to do something when it's written down. After all, there aren't that many people who know more about mysql than is written in the documentation. Maybe six of the people who built it. Everyone else simply read the documentation before you. Professors included. The story would be different if your goal were to build databases for enormous applications. But like I tell all of my clients when they ask if my selection of mysql as a database can meet their company's needs: "your company has 500 clients and 10 employees, the database world is concerned with millions of records. we'll talk again after your widget takes over manhattan".

    The biggest reason to dodge formal education in these types of areas is that the curiculum is set-in-stone well before you start the course -- actually well before your sign up for the course, and even well before they decide to offer the course. So you're guaranteed to be learning old technologies. In this industry, six months counts as old. This all means that when you're done, and out, you won't have any confidence in your skills simply because you will not have used them in the real world. Academic assignments are useless.

    So in the end, you'll have a very valuable piece of paper. It has the following values:
    - you spent time and money to acquire it. that alone is an achievement recognized not only by many but will certainly be a point of pride for you.
    - some others, namely .H.R. departments, look for that stuff. These are the same .H.R. departments that wanted 6 years of Java from me when Java was 2 years old. It's actually quite funny, or would be if it weren't so very very sad.

    Clients will never ask you for credentials, or certificates, or diplomas, or degrees. Clients ask for guarantees, and you don't supply those either in our industry.

    So if you really want to do something about your skills, then the following is what you truly desire:
    - assistance (not guidance) in acquiring the skills
    - a forum for testing and experimenting with those skills
    - confidence in those skills
    - an understanding of the applications of those skills

    Then what you want is a job in a company where you will learn those skills on your own. Offer to work for very little pay. Either for businesses outside of the industry where they will benefit from whatever you actually can produce as you learn to produce it; or for a company in the industry who will gladly help to train you in the hopes that eventually you'll be good enou

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The biggest reason to dodge formal education in these types of areas is that the curiculum is set-in-stone well before you start the course -- actually well before your sign up for the course, and even well before they decide to offer the course. So you're guaranteed to be learning old technologies. In this industry, six months counts as old. This all means that when you're done, and out, you won't have any confidence in your skills simply because you will not have used them in the real world. Academic ass
    • by jonaskoelker ( 922170 ) <> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @07:06AM (#28371817)

      So you're guaranteed to be learning old technologies. In this industry, six months counts as old.

      Java 1.5 was released after I took Introduction to Programming (with Java 1.4). Three years after taking the course, I was TA'ing said course, with Java 1.5. I don't know exactly how fast the course got upgraded, but I also used Java 1.5 in my compiler course (the year before TA'ing, two years after IntroProg).

      Also, studying CS is not about learning ephemeral technologies but eternal principles. It's only incidental that we express the principles in the languages du jour.

      I haven't seen the revolt against the Church-Turing thesis, or Rice's Theorem, or against search trees (in particular B-trees on the disk for file systems and DB indexes), or against regexp lexers and LALR(1) parsers, or against relational algebra, or...

  • Usually:

    Hell Desk -> Desktop Support then branching off to Sys admin, DB admin, Network admin.

    Edumacation is the way to go, its a wise investment.

  • Options (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I have been in many different aspects of I.T. from the HP helpdesk to a mom and pop repair shop and a network admin at a bank (current). I can tell you the scenery may change but the actual job does not you will still have end users asking questions and expecting help for some pretty strange and annoying things sometimes. It's the nature of the beast. I seem to think that any faucet of this industry will have that as it is community driven IE: people asking questions.

  • by Cheezlbub ( 39707 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:55AM (#28369797)

    you could go back to school & work at the university while you're there. Generally, the IT Departments at universities are pretty big and they give you a good idea of anything you're going to encounter. At my university when someone shows initiative and they're competent and not a douche they pretty much always get the chance to prove themselves - ymmv, but I get the impression that quite a few universities are like this.

    If you get on as a student, that's cool, part time, focus on school, show some initiative and try to get a full time job

    If you get on as a full timer - awesome for you - most universities offer pretty good benefits, a lot of them include stuff like tuition wavers (full or partial - either way, you're going to end up paying less.)

    and finally, working at a university IT department doesn't necessarily mean being in a support role -

    our it department has an application development group, a services group (support), a project management group, a system administration/network admin group, a business group that handles contracts & such with other departments/companies, a research computing group (super computers), a dedicated security group, an administration group (payroll), and an HR group. Of those, sysadmins, services, and app devs have to do support. Everyone else is only rarely customer facing. The likelihood that you're going to get into the non-support groups right away is pretty slim, but movement has a tendency to be really fluid.

    In case you didn't get the main point of this - the important thing is showing initiative. Show that you're interested in doing something new and interesting - show it by talking to people who do it already and trying to shadow them. Work with your bosses to get involved in projects, do things to get noticed. =)

  • by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:55AM (#28369801)

    With a 200 person law firm, you're probably the lowest of 2 or 3 people. Find a position somewhere where you're the jack-of-all-trades -- you do the tech support, server management, web development, purchasing, etc. You'll work long hours because the tech support prevents focused work on the other things, so be prepared. But you'll learn alot if you're driven and you can finally have "Server Administration" or "Web Design" on your resume. It won't get you into Google, but experience may get you a junior admin job.

    To find this entry level everything job, look at 100 person or less businesses or colleges. Colleges will be easier as they aren't money driven.

    Alternatively, in this job market, go to school.

  • by _Hellfire_ ( 170113 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @12:58AM (#28369825)

    It really depends - do you want to do a technical role? Or do you want to move into management. Here's assuming you want to stay in IT.

    If you want to do a technical role, I'd second a few of the suggestions here that you should download a 'nix, install some tools and learn everything there is to know about that particular technology. Bonus points for picking something that can be carted cross-platform (SQL, XML etc).

    Then you can start applying for junior roles in other companies "We require a junior DBA working on MS-SQL and Oracle...". If you're good enough, you won't stay junior for long. The software is out there and it's all free - start learning it!

    If you want to move into management, you generally have two career paths - managing technology or managing people. Managing technology requires you to learn about things like data centre operations, Capacity Management, Availability Management, cost accounting and charging etc etc. All these things go into making the technology side hum ie "the hardware is working properly, and we know we can pay for it now, and in the future". Companies are screaming for this type of management as they realise that the old reactive model of bodging it up to get it working now, and panic buying stuff they don't really need isn't working. They're looking for people who can formulate an IT strategy and make it work in the real world.

    If you want to manage people, then start looking at leadership books, guides and education. Do you want to manage a helpdesk (didn't think so). Maybe the relevant institute of management has a short course that you could do.

    I made it past the helpdesk. I started off after high school building PCs and crawling under desks with CAT-5 between my teeth. I did that for 5 years, then was a sysadmin for a web hosting company for a year, then a service desk operator for 2, then a process specialist for another year. I've been in my current role as a process manager for just over a year making 6 figures.

    It can be done, but you need to differentiate yourself. Lots of guys can fix a printer - but to really add value, figure out which companies are looking to extend themselves from a reactive environment to a proactive customer focussed one, and jump on board.

  • I started out as a phone rep on the floor of a credit collection department. Because I liked to build computers and was interested in programming, I began building a relationship with the LAN team/help desk. I got a certification, then applied for an open position. I enjoyed it but it left me wanting more than unjamming stuff and rebooting computers for clueless users. Even though I didn't mind the work (I don't stress out very easily) I knew I could go further. I began taking programming classes and b
  • by croddy ( 659025 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @01:02AM (#28369843)
    You could be working with George [].
  • by Photo_Nut ( 676334 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @01:09AM (#28369883)

    I answered the phones and staffed the front desk at the student help desk when I was in college. It was the best paid student job on campus - $10 per hour your first semester, and a lot of the time you weren't busy and could surf the net or do your homework. There were a few other Computer Science majors there with me, and we got to help out all levels of student, faculty, and staff with their problems. What I took away from that job is not that I dislike working in the service industry, but rather, that there were certain universal truths about end users that I couldn't learn about anywhere else.

    The help desk is your opportunity to study the areas where computers and human interactions break down. Learning computer skills in some high level language like Java or C# while working at the help desk is a way to advance your career. Start out with a book, but have goals in mind. Computer Science education is all about leading you to the water. Buy or borrow a few good books, classic computer science texts, etc. Work through the examples and do the exercises when you're not on the phones.

    Most importantly, design some UI on paper (I like graph paper for this because you draw a lot of boxes in designing UI). Figure out what you *want* the program to do when you click the buttons. Then use a free program like ant or Visual C# Express and build the UI. Take apart the generated code. Look at it. Study it. Solve a problem that is interesting to you. Do it for fun. If you don't enjoy making programs, then Computer Science is simply not for you. There are plenty of people in CS departments who are very smart and study very hard, but their heart is just not in it. You can tell because they stop writing software when the day is done.

    If you want to practice on Linux and you have Windows, you can download Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 (free) or VMWare player (also free) and install Ubuntu on a virtual drive. Put that virtual drive on a USB key chain or iPod, and you have a mobile development platform that you can take home. The internet is full of human knowledge on the subject of Computer Science and other computer topics. A degree from a reputable college or university is not necessarily a requirement.

    But you need to prove to most engineering firms that you have what it takes, and the best paying jobs ($75K+ benefits) usually require solid interviewing and development demonstrations with someone who has 5 to 25 years of development experience and typically a Bachelors or advanced degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Math, Physics, or something equally challenging. A degree won't get you in the door though. We see tons of people straight out of college with their Sc.B. degree who can't solve a problem involving a linked list, binary search on an array, binary search tree, hash table, dealing with memory management, and many other problems you need to be able to solve on your own as an engineer.

    I started writing code sometime around the age of 6 in the early 80's because I wanted to make a game. I ended up discovering that game writing is interesting, but what I love to write are tools that interact with pixels and musical notes. Software engineering can be grueling work. In my best weeks, I write hundreds of lines of code. In my worst weeks, I spend long hours debugging and poking and proding and pulling out all the tricks, but get no closer to solving a bug which eventually is found to be something trivial in another part of the code. Highs are higher than in technical support, but lows are awfully low, too.

  • The best way to get a promotion is to make your job redundant, or to get ready to start training your replacement. You employer will be grateful and should reward, but even if they don't then your prospects on the job market will be much improved.

    Oh, and the next best tip is to learn a Unix (or Linux) some other poster said above.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 18, 2009 @01:21AM (#28369931)

    Engineerus Originalus:

    At the very pinnacle of the IT world, these are the people who invent the things that the rest of the IT world relies on for THEIR jobs. The ones who truly deserve the word "engineer" in their job titles. They work for places like Intel, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, etc. Getting here requires nothing less than a Master's degree.

    Managerius Pseudogeek:

    These people got a four-year CS degree and jumped straight into the job market. They lack the rigors of graduate school, and the practical knowledge that comes with real job experience and/or industry certifications. A lot of front-line software developers fall into this category, though all the really good ones actually belong to the species Scholarus Basementi (see below). In a healthy and growing economy, these folks can get jobs in a variety of fields, from webdev to DBA. In a down economy, they are frequently passed over by experienced people who are already in the industry and desperate to do whatever is necessary to stay there. It should be noted that this species belongs to the Genus Managerius because four-year degrees carry power in the corporate world, but these individuals lack the real intellectual rigor to rise to the top of their fields technically. This leaves middle management as the usual endpoint for their careers.

    Genericus Certificans:

    Probably the single largest species of IT professional, they bear a great superficial resemblance to Scholarus Basementi but lack the distinctive colors, odors, and sounds that Basemeni uses to distinguish itself when interacting socially. Many have two year Associate CS degrees, but the majority can be identified by the way they build their nests out of an accumulation of IT industry certifications. If you look inside their cubicle and find both Project+ AND "IBM Certified Solution Designer" certificates posted up then you know you've identified a Certificans. Older members of the species will still proudly display their Novell CNAs. Virtually all IT professionals with the word "Administrator" in their job title belong to this species, though the ones that self-identify as "BOFH" will desperately try to pass themselves off as Basmenti.

    Scholarus Basmenti

    This species is entirely self-taught, and their individual skill levels vary wildly. The less able members of this species frequently flock around the more advanced individuals in order to camouflage their weaknesses. These packs of Basmenti, led by an Alpha, are highly territorial and competitive. It is believed that their incessant desire to compete for control over FOSS projects or to get credit for "clever hacks" is rooted in their job insecurity. Those who are not unemployed are often found working entry-level helpdesk jobs. Those who do better economically are typically Alphas who went out and obtained a degree or an industry certification to validate their ample innate talents. Basmenti can easily be distinguished from Certificans when asked about their credentials. While Certificans will speak proudly of their achievements, Basmenti will ridicule their own credentials as "worthless paper" or boast about how they passed their exams hung over without bothering to study. Occasionally, especially talented Basmenti who also show aptitude forming healthy human relationships will be able to obtain Venture Capital and will eventually rise to the very top of the "Foo Chain." Once at this point, they will spend lots of the "Foo's" money to hire members of all three other species, who will look at the unschooled savant with naked resentment and envy.

  • The help desk is a great entry-level position. You have the opportunity to interact with managers and executives, take advantage of it. Develop relationships with everyone you can, learn everything about the environment (applications, servers, business processes), and build a reputation as the company's "computer guru."

    Decide what you want to do and don't be shy about discussing your goals while you're unjamming the VP's printer. When he/she asks how you're doing tell them "a little tired, I was up all n
  • My two cents:

    Worked for a law firm ten years ago. IT, LAN manager, sys admin, help desk, information officer, palm engineer, etc.

    Every one of the senior partners (there were 8) felt that he was my sole manager. They all felt they knew more about IT than I did. They routinely countered each other, sometimes just for spite. Huge, puffy, bloated egos. Lots of SHOUTING and panic'd staff - stress was so high that you could literally smell it. Politics. One told me to convert their 1.2 million WordPerfect

  • It all depends on what your IT department is set up like. Are your networking / server people working hand in hand with you? System Engineers (the server sysadds at my job) work hand in hand with the Service desk. If you are qualified, can show experience, and have a well written resume.. they will look at you when a position opens up. Same with the networking engineers.

    I was in your position back in Dec. I asked the IT manager if they were looking for people and on what teams. He replied that they we

  • Monkey Graduation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vision2006 ( 993725 ) on Thursday June 18, 2009 @01:45AM (#28370057)

    I personally would be happy if I could get a competent help desk monkey, but unfortunately after downsizing, I was lucky enough to have help desk monkey added to my network admin responsibilities. I'm going to make some assumptions here: You already have a bachelors degree, your work pays all or part of certification and/or formal education, and you actually like IT work.

    First thing you need to do is get exposure to some of the things you think you may like to do in IT. Read about them, talk to admins, dba's, etc. in your own company, or find someone in another company you could talk to about their work.

    Once you have a good idea what you want to do, start going to school or training courses for it. Whether you choose online training, night classes, etc. is up to you, but education will help you move out of help desk work.
    You will also need hands on work aside from just learning about the trade you pick, so I would suggest (as other have) to load software at home and start working with it. Hands on work is an excellent complement to book learning, and will ensure you know the material.

    As far as dealing with your current job while you are working towards your goal, it would help if you changed your attitude towards your work. Instead of getting pissed that you have to unjam paper or help someone with their software, try showing the person how they can fix it themselves. If they don't want to learn it, then that's fine. I think most people would rather not have to call someone and wait for help if they can fix the issue on their own. Get creative. If you are working towards being a DBA or web designer, try setting up a self-service web site where the user can type in a problem and your program lists common fixes. It would be a great way to get the experience you need and definitely something to put on your resume.

    Remember that there are a lot of people without jobs, some with families, that would kill to just be getting a steady paycheck. Be thankful.

  • I was in a very similar situation when I was about 22 (I'm 29 now). I worked for a bank "holding" firm (which basically bought small community banks and used their resources to supposedly give bigger loans at any bank...but it seems their real motivation was to suck up as many smaller banks as possible, then sell the holding firm to Wells Fargo...go corporate!).

    Anyway, I spent most of my days on the road for 3-4 hours, traveling to bank sites to do pretty lame things like install someone's keyboard and mous

  • Having received my MSc in 2004, I'd say it's definitely worth it. Just watch it when getting a job afterward - There are places where you'd be doing the programming equivalent of unjamming printers (e.g., debugging business rule setups, running SQL queries that others created). Should probably note that I got the degree for almost no money (yay Norway), that I worked two years IT support at the university and loved it (university staff / students normally don't need help with jammed printers), and that I'm
  • it's pretty simple bud: if you think that databases or web development qualifies as a specialized comp. sci. area then you have either been mislead or are plain ignorant. more importantly, you should know that grad school is, generally, an extremely bad plan unless you're the peculiar kind of person that is really serious about your particular field. grad school will be _HELL_ if you don't love what you're doing. and to be honest, i don't think you love what you're doing.

  • Go forth into the world and create printers that do not jam and an Outlook that does not freeze!
  • by Minupla ( 62455 ) <> on Thursday June 18, 2009 @06:11AM (#28371529) Homepage Journal

    Move to somewhere with very few people, like the Yukon Territory. That's how I started my IT career when it became obvious that in the big city it didn't matter how good I was, I was looking at doing my time in helpdesk. If you're serious about IT as a career, and can't stand doing your time on the line, that's one alternative. By the end of my 5 years up there I had run a regional ISP, and been the head network person for the Dept of Eduction. Also nothing makes you look good like being able to tell the cliche bear stories. My favorite though is the time the internet went out because a hunter with bad aim missed a moose and hit the waveguide on one of the microwave towers I was using!

    Now here's the bad news:
    I've been doing IT for almost 20 years, I manage the architecture team for a mid sized business with offices in 3 cities and 2 countries, I hold a CISSP and am responsible for the security of the company, and the owners/CEO/Execs STILL asks me to fix their computer. On the plus side I'd say my average between interruptions is down to about 20 mins. The interruptions tend to also be bigger problems. Some days I wish rebooting the PC would solve the tickets that get assigned to me, but my desktop support guy is good at that :)


%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears