Look. It can be really frustrating to be stuck at the helpdesk. You can reset passwords and answer basic (stupid?) questions. Answer basic (stupid?) questions and then turn the lights on or off.
It’s great for those just starting out, but expecting to have a rewarding and fulfilling career is unrealistic.
This is the truth. Entry-level positions are almost identical in this regard. You will only spend your time helping minor issues and not getting enough exposure to the important things.
There might be exceptions, but entry-level positions are not necessary if you want to succeed in the industry. These positions should not be used to help you break in and move up.
Get our 5 Step Guide to Become a Network Engineer.
Many people end up stuck in entry-level jobs for years. They are more interested in helping others than working on big-time promotions.
If you are serious about moving up in career, this rule of thumb applies to entry-level positions: It is perfectly normal to be in the helpdesk for at least a year. It’s not ideal, but it’s still possible. If you are entering the fourth year in your career and you are still working in a helpdesk environment you are officially stuck!
Related: How to get 6 figure job offers at top tech companies in 2-4 years, even if you don’t have any experience.
You must move up NOW, not later
The IT profession is largely about self-discipline, self-motivation. This is something that everyone knows (if not, you should). If you aren’t happy at the helpdesk and want to move up, hiring managers may question your motivation. They don’t want lazy people who expect everything to come their way. Would you? You don’t have to take it from me. Take it from this guy.
Many people end up stuck in entry-level jobs because they make the same mistakes. It is likely that if someone has made it from zero to an entry level IT job, they have a Net+, CCNA, or college degree. They are likely to be self-motivated and disciplined, unless God has gifted them with untapped talent and brainpower.
Here’s their error
They don’t have a plan for the future.
It’s difficult to know how to move up in a career if you don’t have the experience, unless you have a mentor. You don’t have to have a plan in order to move up. Sometimes you can just get lucky.
You need to know how to get up quickly if you are able to break into an entry-level position (whether it’s in the helpdesk or another similar role).
In two years, you can expect to move from helpdesk support to desktop support and vice versa from desktop support to junior admin. This is something that anyone can do if they focus on the right things.
These roles are subject to a lot of turnover so there should be many opportunities to rise in your company. There is no need to put your resume out yet. Companies want to hire people they trust. If you are already employed, make sure that your name is “in”, so that you can be considered for future openings.
Which type of person are YOU?
Everyone in IT starts at the helpdesk or similar entry-level position. Some people remain in entry-level positions for a lifetime, while others go on to become top-notch systems engineers in a matter of years.
Which one will you choose?
A man I met recently was in the helpdesk for over 20 years. True story! Think about it for a second…Stupid questions after stupid questions on repeat for 7,300 consecutive days… He is now looking for new skills, FSNA certification, and a higher-up position (I guess it’s never too early).
Some people may choose to remain in entry-level positions (which is what they claim, but secretly daydream of moving up) for the majority or all their careers. There’s nothing wrong with that. There are others who can skyrocket through the industry as if they’re cruising through outer space.
I know another person who went from being completely broke to becoming a senior network engineering manager with a 6-figure income in 24 months. Guess what? He started at the helpdesk as well! He went on to become a systems engineering specialist for some of the most prominent tech companies in the world. His podcast is available for free here.
If you’ve read this far, it’s likely that you’re more like the second person. You want to rise up the IT ladder and eventually be a top-ranking executive. You are always looking for ways to gain an advantage over others, or searching for the next trend so that you can be first.
Now, without further delay,
Here’s how to avoid getting stuck
Here are some things you can do to avoid being stuck in your entry-level position and to move up the ranks faster than most people believe is possible.
1. The big picture of IT industry
As I said, it is nearly impossible to have a solid career plan right from the beginning unless you are familiar with the industry. This can take many years. Here are the basics:
The IT industry is dominated by four types of businesses: service providers, customers, VARs, MSPs, and service providers.
Manufacturer: These are the people who create the hardware and software (routers switches, wireless, firewalls etc.) These companies include Arista Networks and Juniper, Cisco Systems, and Dell. VAR (Value Added Resell): These smaller businesses have agreements with manufacturers to sell their products and provide consulting services. MSP (Managed Services Provider),: These businesses act as an outsourced IT department. They manage customer’s computers, networks, and other IT services.