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I have worked in consulting for a 2 years dealing mainly with small to medium sized businesses doing work ranging from PCs, networks and server administration. I am looking at the possibility of a career in one of the largest organizations in the area at a helpdesk position.

If I was to make the switch there seems to be a good opportunity to continue training in any aspect of the industry. Along with potential growth in the organization.

I am wondering, being a position with a lower technical level than my current position does the training and potential for growth make this possibility a wise move?

Have you had any experience with this?

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4 Answers 4

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If the job description clearly states that there is opportunity for growth, and you've discussed this in your interviews to the point where the managers know that you don't expect the lower-level helpdesk position to be a long term gig for you, then go for it.

Bigger companies sometimes hire people at lower levels so they can feel them out and make sure they're a good fit. In these situations, there can generally be quite a bit of growth after the honeymoon phase is over.

The important thing is to make expectations clear. If the employer expected you to stay in the helpdesk position for 3 to 5 years, then they probably won't want to hire you if they know you have a lot of experience and want a better position.

But if it's an entry point to the organization, and you are as knowledgeable as you claim to be, then you'll most likely move quickly into other areas where your skills will be most useful.

In summary, it sounds like a move that could have a positive impact on your career growth, which is a very good thing. It would be wise to accept.

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So I thought I would come back a year and a half later with my results. I did accept the Helpdesk position worked there for a while and now moved into a systems engineer role at the main office. Thanks for all the advice! –  Grishanko Nov 3 '12 at 22:02
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Hi @Grishanko, that's great to hear! Thanks for coming back and sharing the results! :) –  jmort253 Nov 3 '12 at 22:21
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Here's my advice.. Really depends on what type of admin you want to be.. Windows or Linux. Now moving over to help desk I feel is a good entry spot to become a Windows admin since you are working with it on the desktop and you can offer to help the Windows admin here and there with exchange or AD issues. As a Linux admin I have never even brought a person in for a junior level spot that had help desk on their resume.

If you want to be a Linux admin here is what I did. I went out of college as a mid-level solaris admin at a world wide ISP so this can work.. Yes I skipped over helpdesk/support and jr level.

Dive into Linux on your home system(s) make it your life almost. At 15 I got interested in Linux wanting to use the free compiler and I was hooked after I first installed it. I wish I could remember the name of it but there is software you can install on a Redhat/CentOS system that will break the OS and you have to fix it. Its a great tool for people to learn how to be a Linux admin.

So to sum it up.. If you immerse yourself into the Linux world you can easily go from your current spot into a jr/mid level admin. Just stress it on your cover letter(s) you write you have personal experience with it and I'm sure you can get in the door at least.

EDIT

Ok I found the tool

http://trouble-maker.sourceforge.net/

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@Mike, if and when you remember the name of that software - please share it here - I am learning too :-) - Thanks, I am already doing what you have suggested and using Ubuntu at home. –  rihatum Jan 20 '11 at 9:05
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Choosing between being a "Linux admin" or a "Windows admin" seems like a false dichotomy. A good sysadmin may have some specialization, but I'd expect baseline familiarity with a number of operating systems / platforms. I guess if your only aspirations are to work in large corporate environments you could probably get away with being so heavily siloed. I don't see it as an advantage, though. –  Evan Anderson Jan 20 '11 at 14:08
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@Mike - this isn't the place for flamefests. You seem to have a very narrow perspective. Maybe that matches all of your experience so far, but that's not the whole world. I work in an application environment that has components as follows : Apache on Linux (on VMware), IIS and SQL and 3rd-party apps on Windows (on vmware and hardware), rsync and perl scripts on Linux and in Cygwin on Windows, DB2 and Websphere on AIX, and SFTP all over the place. We all need to know a lot about all of these environments. –  mfinni Jan 20 '11 at 16:05
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I don't have a new answer, I agree with JMort. If the potential new job explicitly states that there's training and career advancement, go for it (as long as the pay is acceptable as well.) I don't agree with Mike's outlook - starting from a helpdesk position does not, to my mind, disqualify someone later in their career. Far from it - we all have to start somewhere. I used to work as a barista in a coffeeshop, what bearing does that have on my IT career? –  mfinni Jan 20 '11 at 16:56
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@Mike: An unwillingness to learn and a desire to be "siloed" doesn't make me think very highly of a candidate, and I suspect that I'm not alone in the belief. I agree strongly w/ mfinni re: the limited "career opportunities" of someone who flaunts their lack of flexibility. Counting help-desk experience against an applicant sounds like a recipe to recruit people who have limited human interaction skills. I've found that helpdesk builds valuable communication skills and an empathy with users. I'd take the job in a heartbeat if the opportunity for learning or advancement was clear. –  Evan Anderson Jan 21 '11 at 0:44
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If its not in a contract don't do it. I have seen way to many times where they say well provide training and then you get nothing but frustrations. If that's a big reason for you to change don't do it period. I have been around several different companies and the person with whom you interview with rarely has the ultimate say and doesn't typically know what his or her boss does about the business needs.

Secondly no one knows the future of the business without knowing the company. I see way too many tech nerds not understand the business model the company you want to work for has currently or planned in the near future. Many organizations today are built to run lean and are not spending money on 'toys', or taking time from a guy making $50,000 or more per year to teach you what he knows on company time.

Things that might help you get a better idea if it is a legit offer:

  1. How old is this company?
  2. What's their financial strength
  3. Are they publicly traded or privately owned
  4. Do they have proof of other people who came in wanting to learn and got promoted from within? Hey the will check your credentials so why not check theirs.
  5. Just my 2 cents: history repeats itself - in the early 1900's America relied upon small businesses and then turned to corporate America, which over the last 2 decades has been hammered by government regulations and a bad economy. I would rather own my own biz and going some group that revolved around what you wanted to learn for a new skill/s.

In closing can you get the same training from special locla meet up groups or by offering your services to a non profit organization? If so you need to decide what you time frame you have to learn in and what you expect and let the new company understand how firm you are on that being par to of your hiring.

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I'm not saying this is how it is everywhere, but in the three places I've work that had a helpdesk, I've never seen anyone advance out of the helpdesk. I've seen people advance within helpdesk, but never advance out to a tech/sysadmin type role.

I started on a helpdesk, but I got out by taking computer science classes and getting an internship as a tech at another company and going from there.

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I've seen people (plenty of them) who never really advance out of helpdesk, but I've never been in a place where no-one advanced out of it. –  mfinni May 13 '11 at 17:23
    
Yeah, I didn't really think my experience was typical, and I was only at each of those places for about a year. I've been with my current employer for over 7 years, but we are too small to have an actual helpdesk - just me and two desktop techs, and the desktop techs are the first level of support rather than a dedicated helpdesk. But I thought it should be something the OP should consider. –  James May 13 '11 at 18:37
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