How to move away from the help desk

Moving on from the help desk calls for certs, connections, and learning what you like.
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· 4 min read

Want to make changes to your career? The help desk does more than solve customers’ problems. It is often seen as the first stop for the newbie who wants more IT career options.

“The help desk is the number-one place where you’re going to get the experience and get the exposure and figure out where it is you want to go with your career,” Randy Gross, CISO and chief innovation officer at the trade association CompTIA, told IT Brew last year.

But what if you’re a help-desk veteran who’s done fielding questions about broken printers and forgotten passwords, and still doesn’t know where to go next? For cert-less, degree-less IT employees, the next step may be especially challenging.

Three IT consultants spoke to IT Brew and offered help for the help-desker on the move.

The responses below have been edited for length and clarity.

Seth Robinson, VP, industry research, CompTIA: As companies are beginning to focus on standalone, dedicated teams [for] cybersecurity, or software development, or data management analysis, the help desk touches all of those things and can act as a launching pad into any of those areas…Choose the path that seems the most interesting, and then identify the skill gaps, because there are definitely going to be some and there are a lot of different ways that you can close those skill gaps. There are a lot of different training programs out there, and certification programs.

So, that will align with: What’s your interest? How much is your company willing to invest in your career development? What types of programs does your company offer for career development? There’s a lot out there to consider, but there is also no shortage of pathways that this person could take, starting from the help desk.

Dan O’Brien, SVP, technology solutions, Presidio: Make connections with internal people that are doing other jobs, and understand what they do every day, and the skills that they had to build and how they applied those skills…Step two is now you have to pick a direction.I never expect anybody to have every skill. But when someone can sit down in an interview process [at] my org and say, “Hey, Dan, there’s a role in your organization that I want. I understand the role, and I’ve already started in my own personal time to go learn these capabilities,” 90% of the time that shows me the aspiration and the ability to work through adversity to be successful in a new role. And I love seeing that; I think most of my leaders do, too.

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Will Perry, partner, US cloud innovation & engineering, PwC: The market for this person is very strong; it is going to only grow. But this individual has got to do a couple of things first. They’ve got to get certified in one of the capabilities from one of the cloud service providers: Azure, GCP, AWS, Oracle Cloud infrastructure. All of them offer training and certification…The person should first read up on each of the kinds of engineering jobs and figure out what sounds like it fits how they like to work, and then get certified. Spend the time; it’s going to take nights and weekends. But that’s what entrepreneurialism is, right? Invest in yourself, do the training, get the certification.

And some of these cloud-service providers even offer job placement services…My hunch is: where they;re working, they could look at the postings and quickly reverse-engineer into the particular cloud provider at the corporation where they’re an employee, and get the certification that they need.—BH

Do you work in IT or have information about your IT department you want to share? Email [email protected]

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to software development and gaming, IT Brew delivers the latest news and analysis of trends shaping the IT industry, like only The Brew can.