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Getting a PC Support Technician's Perspective

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To get a true idea of what it is like to be a PC support technician, the best people to ask are those that are doing the job on a daily basis. In the following interviews, two PC support technicians were asked a series of questions about their jobs. Their answers provide a valuable insight for anyone considering pursuing a career in this area.

Interview One

In the first interview, Derek Deschamps discusses his work as a PC network/ technician for a computer reseller in Canada. His job related tasks involve aspects of networking as well as PC support and maintenance.



What is your job title, and how long have you been doing this job?

[Derek]: My job encompasses two distinct areas of IT: the first is PC support and the second is networking. My title would therefore be a PC network and support technician.

What are your main duties?

[Derek]: I am involved with most of our company's warranty repairs and system builds. Warranty repairs involve diagnosing and replacing malfunctioning components. Furthermore, I am responsible for set up and maintenance of all our clients networks, which are usually in a Windows 9x/NT environment.

What systems are you currently working with?

[Derek]: My clients' systems range from Windows 9x/NT workstations, Exchange servers, and Proxy servers to Linux gateways.

What qualifications or certifications do you hold?

[Derek]: I have a diploma in electronic engineering, a year of computer science, a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certification, and I am a certified system builder. I am currently pursuing my Linux certification.

How long have you been working in IT, and how did you get started?

[Derek]: I have been working in IT off and on for about four years.

What hours do you normally work? If you work evenings and weekends, do you get paid for it?

[Derek]: I work 40 hours a week, but there is an expectation that if more hours are required to complete work, I may need to work more. This is generally not the case. I do get paid for the overtime hours I put in.

What do you find most interesting about your job?

[Derek]:The most interesting thing is getting to play with the new technology that comes out and working on expensive high-end servers.

What is the least interesting aspect of your job?

[Derek]: Phone support is very frustrating. It is very difficult to tell people how to update their drivers and address other computer related problems over the phone. Many of the customers calling for support have little or no knowledge of computer systems, which makes the task that much more difficult.

Do you consider your job to be stressful?

[Derek]: Certain aspects of the job are quite stressful.The time-sensitive nature of some of the repairs and network troubleshooting can be difficult. Also, dealing with customers or clients who are annoyed about their computer problems can add another stressful element.

Do you work with other people or alone?

[Derek]: On smaller jobs, such as straight PC repair, I tend to work alone. On larger jobs or when time is of the essence, I am assisted by other colleagues.

If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

[Derek]:To be honest, less contact with customers. I like the black box effect, comes in broken, goes out fixed. Having customers watch over your shoulder can be quite irritating. In fact, I have considered getting more into programming because of this factor.

Can you see yourself staying in this area of the IT industry, or would you like to try something different?

[Derek]: IT moves so fast that you don't have time to become bored with it. I may try and expand on my programming skills, but I am quite happy doing v I do now.

What do you consider to be the most challenging part of your job?

[Derek]: The most challenging part of my job is being called in to troubleshc machine and fixing it under the watchful eye of clients or customers, especia when the customers have already attempted to fix it themselves.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in IT?

[Derek]: Work experience is everything. If you are starting out with no experience, you can't expect a high paying job right out of the gate. If you have to, volunteer to get this experience, or take a low paying job to start out. I know people who have taken their MCSE and have been unemployed for a year after. However, if they had volunteered their services, they would have gained valuable experience.

Interview Two

In the second interview, Maurice MacGarvey, a seasoned IT professional, discusses his work with a variety of technologies and products.   

What is your job title, and how long have you been doing this job?   

[Maurice]: I have been in the IT industry for 12 years, working in many different areas including technician, management, and sales.

What are your main duties?

[Maurice]: I analyze needs, recommend the best options, and oversee the technical implementations.

What systems are you currently working with?

[Maurice]:To work as a technician, I am required to know Novell,Windows NT, and Windows 9x systems, but I specialize in Windows 9x/NT platforms.

What qualifications or certifications do you hold?

[Maurice]: I have a customer relations and personal development certificate, which has proved invaluable, and a project business certificate. When I entered the industry as a technician, if you knew that RAM was not just a male sheep, you were a technician.

How long have you been working in IT, and how did you get started?

[Maurice]: I have been working in IT for 12 years. I got started repairing and assembling 286s and XT computers.

What hours do you normally work? If you work evenings and weekends, do you get paid for it?

[Maurice]: I work 40 hours a week. I don't typically work overtime hours.

What do you find most interesting about your job?

[Maurice]: Being able to see and implement new technology and watch the development of leading edge products shape and mold our future. When I was a kid, I played Pong-two lines and a little ball bouncing across the screen. My five-year-old son turns on his Athlon 800 and plays games that requires technology that was not even available in the space program when I was a child.

What is the least interesting aspect of your job?

[Maurice]: Changing technology. Although it excites me, it also is the most frustrating part of the job. Every time a new product comes out, there are new bugs and quirks and new headaches for me.

Do you consider your job to be stressful?

[Maurice]:Yes, enough said.

Do you work with other people or alone?

[Maurice]: Some aspects require me to work with other people, both IT professionals and clients and customers.There are times though when I can expect to be fixing and troubleshooting computers with no one else around.

If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

[Maurice]: It is difficult dealing with customers that do not appreciate the value of doing things right the first time, but instead cut corners to save costs. I would like some time built into the job that allows for reading, researching, and keeping up with technologies.

Can you see yourself staying in this area of the IT industry, or would you like to try something different?

[Maurice]: I am happy to stay in this part of the industry. The speed at which technology changes means there is never a dull moment. Well, okay, maybe a f but not many.

What do you consider to be the most challenging part of your job?

[Maurice]: By far the most challenging aspect is keeping up with technology.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in IT?

[Maurice]: Get work experience and use certificates for what they are meant not as a degree, but as a validation of knowledge.
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