Study Tips

How I Escaped the Helpdesk in Four Months

For my first ever IT job, I had to take a big pay cut and drop in status.

I’d been working as a sergeant in the police force, a position that had taken considerable time and effort to achieve. I had to take a 40% cut in salary, and I was starting at the bottom again. I think we can all agree that the helpdesk is the bottom rung of the IT career ladder. I know there may well be tiers to the helpdesk, such as 1,2, and 3, but most of us will start at tier 1, so answering the phone to angry customers, updating tickets, escalating to senior tech engineers, and working the dreaded night shift.

I was told that I would have to work 12 months on tier 1, and then I would have a choice of which career path I could pursue from project management, technical, or IT manager stream.

After around one month, I could see that it was going to be a long slog. My day was spent explaining to customers where to find spell checkers on Microsft Word, how to find the save button for their spreadsheets, or recover lost emails. It was a boring slog, and I was already starting later on in life due to making the career change.

After four months, I was taken off the helpdesk and promoted to network support. This was a full eight months early and well ahead of around 15 other engineers on the helpdesk who had started before me. This post is about how I did it.


In between calls, I’d study. It started with learning TCP/IP, and then I moved on to certifications from the CompTIA Network+, Cisco CCNA, and then Microsoft exams.

I’d get to work early and study in the canteen, study during my lunch break, and then go home and study. I’d walk past some housemates who were always watching Friends and study. After four months, I’d passed more IT exams than most people do in two years, simply by using my spare time and not watching TV.

The managers were kind of forced to take me off the helpdesk due to the fact I was over qualified for the job. It was a waste of talent.


While most of my colleagues were satisfied to do the bare minimum, I always sought to excel.

After one month, I was on top of the scoreboard for calls taken, resolved at first contact, and satisfaction survey. When most others choose to take the easy path, it isn’t too hard to stand out, to be honest.

I’d push myself to answer more calls, be super friendly and learn fixes to the most common issues. Once I was on top of the leaderboards, I stayed there for the entire duration. I made it hard for others to beat me.


Managers usually have a multitude of tasks and projects to deal with, swallowing up their entire day. If you can find a way to ease their daily grind by taking on some of that work, you will quickly become invaluable. If you leave, then they will have to do the work.

I started compiling reports for the team managers; all the time-consuming or repetitive tasks they hated to do, I did. I found ways to get them done faster or automated them with simple scripts.

I started to be groomed for management once I showed that I could do what they were doing.


Positive Mental Attitude.

As soon as you start work, you will find the groups of complainers. Even when I worked for Cisco, I found two guys who would walk around the office complaining about their job, customers, or the management team. The joke was that they had the easiest job in the entire department but still weren’t happy.

The hardest aspect of managing is trying to manage people. They bring their home problems to work, have disagreements with colleagues, file complaints or make life hard for everyone. If you can make life easy for your managers, then you will fly. It’s pretty easy:

  • Do your job well
  • Don’t argue or complain
  • Volunteer for work
  • Do more than you have to
  • Get in slightly early and leave slightly late


As I logged helpdesk tickets, I’d speak to tier 2 and 3 engineers who had to fix the issues. I’d always be friendly and do my best to help them.

After that, I’d make sure I’d walk past their desk later in the day and say hello. I’d always thank them for their help and try to find ways to get involved in their projects. Often, they would show me how to fix the issue I’d escalated to them. Sometimes I’d even be given access to parts of the network in order to carry out the fix myself.

By the time came and they had an open position, it was me being offered the role because I’d need little to no training.

I hope these tips help.



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