6 Top tips to make the move from IT support to systems administrator

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Are you currently working in an IT Support function? Do you wonder how your career is going to progress into a System Administration role?

Do you feel ready to leave the front line, move to back office and be primarily responsible for a company’s IT Infrastructure including networks, servers, applications and more?

You are probably in a position where you are primarily phone based, the first line of support for forgotten passwords after the summer holidays and some other basic computer queries like how to make everything CAPS in MS word without deleting a whole sentence (select text and press shift + F3 by the way). Or you are Desktop Support, a little more in-depth than Level 1 and you deal with building and maintaining Desktop PC’s and from time to time some VM’s.

So how do you progress your career and become a systems administrator? Scott Ftzgerald, Principal Consultant of Technology and Infrastructure at Robert Walters Ireland discusses his six top tips on moving up the IT Career ladder. 

Be the stand out player at work

Like most people who work on a helpdesk, your work can become monotonous, but don’t forget that your manager is  looking for a stand out performer, a succession plan. To ensure that you are in line for this, make sure you do these few things day-to-day to get noticed:

  • Show some energy when dealing with queries, be creative when solving problems  and don’t just escalate them because it’s something you haven’t seen before do some research on Google you will find that 9 times out of 10 someone has faced a similar issue and posted an answer in a tech forum.
  • Documentation - don’t fear it! All helpdesks need good documentation to ensure everything runs smoothly, so be the person that delivers it and continues to build out the library. This will help new starters and you will become their go-to because your name is on the documentation.

Develop for the job you want

Training and Development is so important, by reading, building and breaking things, and then fixing it, doing short courses and staying relevant, make sure that you remember to study for the job you want not the job you have. Some of the more common courses among system administrators are MCSA, MCSE, MCP, CCNA, CCNP and in recent times AWS and Azure cloud courses depending on your preference.

Nobody likes training, we spend our first 18 – 24 years in school learning and for a large part of the time not getting to put it into practice until we finish. When you start working, you put into practice the things you learnt immediately, giving you the satisfaction of accomplishment and ultimately getting you noticed by your peers and managers.

Don’t forget to listen! Take note of technical conversations within your current business that are out of your current remit and skill-set. Make sure you take part and ask questions if you don’t understand what is going on, you will be respected amongst your colleagues for showing a certain vulnerability and a willingness to learn.

Become the go-to person within your team

Make it a personal goal to be recognised in your team as an SME in everything that is helpdesk related. If you want to stand out, make it your mission to help others day-to-day with any issues they may have, no matter how simple or complex they may be and always deliver quality. Most importantly, never judge anyone! Everyone is learning. We all started somewhere, so ensure that you are approachable and take pride in helping others with their issues.

Talk about your career goals

Make sure your manager knows from an early stage how you want your career to progress and what your aspirations are. Ensure that you book in some time with them to establish a roadmap for your career and how they can help you achieve this. Managers and true leaders will do everything in their power to help someone progress if they show the desire to.

Discuss with your manager your current responsibilities and figure out what you can do outside of these responsibilities to help your career. Make sure to ask your manager where they potentially see you in the business and what you will need to do to get to progress your career within the organisation.

Put Your Hand Up

One of the best things your can do to move from front line to system administration is to start doing systems work when permitted. Volunteer for tasks and projects outside of your usual remit and take the opportunity to learn. Ask to get involved in projects where you feel you could add value or help take on a department that’s struggling with issues and high maintenance. You’ve put your hand up to learn something, so remember to enjoy it, and most importantly learn from it, even if you make mistakes. 

Are you looking for a systems role in Ireland? Get in touch with Scott fitzgerald or view our latest IT roles in Dublin.

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