I’ve been working in tech support for more than a decade now, but it’s not necessarily what I intended to end up doing. Instead, I kind of backed into the job.
When I started thinking in 2007 that I wanted a change from the crazy hours of working at a radio station, I didn’t have much other professional experience. What I did have was experience creating some personal websites, a familiarity with HTML and CSS, and it was that background along with a general knowledge of computers that landed me a position as webmaster for a small non-profit organization, and that ultimately led to my career in tech support.
I tell you this story because I believe that if you want to work in tech support, you need your own website. Moreover, if you’re already working in tech support but don’t have your own site, you need to start moving in that direction.
Want to work here? Where’s your website?
My experience with websites was indisputably a major factor in me getting my first computer-related job even though my background was almost entirely on personal projects, the only exception being a moderately lengthy stint maintaining the student newspaper’s website during my college days.
Could I have gotten that first job without knowing a thing or two about HTML and CSS? Maybe, but it would have been a lot more difficult to argue that I deserved the opportunity. My new boss gave me the chance, though, and I not only ended up maintaining and doing a lot of development work on the company’s website, my role gradually morphed into doing at least as much tech support as website work!
10 years down the road, I’m doing tech support for a different company. Instead of a non-profit, I now work for a company that manufactures fuel control terminals and the website used to manage the system. Yes, even now that I’m a “Technical Support Specialist,” I still deal with websites.
Now, I’m not saying that having a bit of experience working with your own website is going to guarantee you an IT job—far from it. I do think that not having that experience could hurt your chances of getting a job in tech support, though, especially if the next guy or girl does have that experience. Even the CompTIA A+ exam has website-related questions on it. The industry expects you to have that experience.
It’s not just for kids
But what if you’ve already been doing tech support for a couple of years? Do you still need to bother creating your own website? I say yes.
As I mentioned, in my current position, I have to provide support for users of the software (website) used to manage our hardware products. Although I’m not actively involved in development of the website, it certainly doesn’t hurt that I know my way around IIS, to be able to set up a local site for testing and so forth.
Furthermore, keeping up my personal website work is helping me develop additional skills and discover tools that are directly applicable to my job. For example, earlier this year I configured my own virtual Web server, and in the process discovered Linux’s tail command; since then, I’ve used that more times than I can count at work to monitor logs while troubleshooting. Sure, I might have eventually run across that bit of information, but I discovered it a lot more quickly simply because I have my own website.
If you want to work in tech support, having experience managing a website, even on a personal level, will at the very least put you on even ground with other folks trying to get hired for the same positions. If you’re already working in the industry, managing your own website (and maybe even a Web server) will give you valuable experience and might just lead you to make a discovery or two that will help in some other facet of your job.
If you don’t have a website, it’s time to get started.