When I first tell someone that I work in an I.T Helpdesk role, their reaction is more often than not, sympathetic in nature.
“Ah…stressful yeah.” A taxi man states, punching the horn of his Toyota as a cyclist weaves past the bonnet.
While supporting end users in a technological role does invariably have its stressful moments, I believe that the occupation of I.T Helpdesk Engineer is given an overly bad rep.
When an employee of a company encounters a technical issue which interferes with their ability to work, they are relying on the expertise of their Helpdesk in order to get the wheels back in motion.
It is therefore in their best interests to approach their I.T staff in a friendly manner, and from my experience, this is what generally occurs.
If an end user happens to present an issue from a place of blame, lending an understanding ear will often result in an admission on their behalf that they are, for example, under pressure to meet a deadline.
In other words, their discontent with the technology is never personal.
In the three years that I have spent working on an I.T Helpdesk, supporting end users both remotely and on-site, I have never once been verbally abused.
Yet, I was amazed to learn that many assume such treatment to be par for the course.
Well I can put this myth to bed, it definitely isn’t! Nor is it something that our Management would tolerate.
Sure, end users can be stressed, a little impatient and on occasion, confrontational, but abusive? That is something I’ve yet to experience.
In fact, it is the personable nature of the role which I gain the most pleasure from.
Supporting the same individuals on a daily basis allows you to get to know their personalities and sometimes, a little about their personal life.
While some are contacting you from a purely transactional standpoint (I tell you my problem, you fix it), others enjoy engaging in small talk, and I’ll often find myself laughing with an end user mid-query.
The gratitude expressed by clients when you address either a technical issue or a concern is also highly rewarding.
I recently assisted a client with the migration of accountancy data to a new third party software.
Having worked with the same application for over ten years, this transition was understandably a great source of anxiety for her.
When I left that office, having successfully imported the new data and ensured that the end user was confident and happy in her interaction with the software, I felt on top of the world.
While I may not be a heart surgeon, both myself and my colleagues have often been referred to as ‘a lifesaver.’
The role of an IT Helpdesk engineer is one in which you can undoubtedly make a difference.
My job is also filled with variety.
There is no set plan for how a day will unfold.
While initial tickets and calls may be of a generic nature (password resets, office365 account setups), the fifth support request could consist of a problem which our team has yet to encounter, or may perhaps be vague in its nature.
This is where the role of detective must be assumed.
The need for research due to an unfamiliarity or uncertainty of the cause only ensures that the fix is all the more sweeter when implemented.
Each manning our post on what is the first line of defence for the I.T department, there is also an unmistakable sense of camaraderie and teamwork within the Helpdesk environment.
Whether it’s the need for a fresh pair of eyes on a problem, the option to delegate and subdivide our workload, or simply bonding over Microsoft’s latest troublesome patch update, each of our team need one another in order to effectively carry out our role.
Taking all of the above into account, I hope that the readers’ perception of the I.T Helpdesk role is no longer one of a highly stressed, underappreciated worker, but one of an employee who is highly valued and praised when it’s warranted.
To finish, I think its also important to add that while writing this piece, I explained to my six-year-old niece what I do for a living.
Having listened to me talk about my job in detail, her response made me smile.
“So…your kinda them peoples hero?”
Christine works as an IT Engineer in Dublin. She is currently studying for her first MCSA exam in Server 2012 R2 and has a passion for both technology and mental health.