Help Me Make Your Help Desk Helpier

I could use your help. In fact, if you could bring this post to the attention of everyone in your IT team, and anyone else in IT you know, I’ll be hugely indebted.

I’ll get straight to the point. In the comments of this post, please provide a simple list of the skills and knowledge you believe someone should have in order to get a job on a company’s entry-level IT team (typically the help desk, and that’s where I’m focusing).

This should not include anything specific to your environment, like custom apps. Imagine there’s a super, world-class “help desk school” out there someplace, and they teach a perfect curriculum, and people are dying to hire their graduates into entry level IT positions. What is it they teach?

Be as specific as possible. For example, don’t write “AD Management,” because you and I both know your help desk isn’t “managing” AD. Perhaps they’re unlocking accounts and resetting passwords – so write that.

Don’t go overboard, either – we’re looking for entry level skills, not the skills you wish the help desk had so that they could do your job for you.

Think about soft skills, too. Phone skills? Conversational skills? Anger suppression skills? What does your help desk, at work, do really well? Write those things down. What do they struggle with? Write those things down – provided they’re in-scope for what an entry-level IT person would be expected to know.

I’m going to run this through the end of January 2015 (so don’t bother adding-on after that), and I appreciate your help. Read on for my reasons behind this, and to offer your input.


If you’re looking for more detail on why I’m doing this, I’ll tell you. I’m massively frustrated that our entire education system funnels kids towards massively expensive four-year college degrees for everything, and acts like there’s simply no way to get a job outside that system. Kids are saddled with $60k or more of debt when they’re just starting out, or they beggar their parents going through a program that usually has zero applicability to what they end up doing. For-profit colleges are raking it in hand over fist, and it’s not fair to our kids. 

The equivalent of a two-year associates certificate from a career college should be sufficient to get someone an entry-level job in IT – and from there, experience will get them a lot further than expensive credit-hours. Unfortunately, most of those two-year programs come from commercial career colleges, which charge upwards of $24k a year for the privilege. Sure, some community colleges do a good job for tons less – but they struggle with funding, and they struggle to find good curricula.

I’m in a position to create a good curriculum, and to populate it with training from some of the industry’s best, and that’s what I want to do. This is kind of a personal mission for me. I didn’t go to college myself, and I took a lot of ribbing for going down a more vocational path, but it’s worked out damn well for me. I love IT, and I think a lot of younger folks would do really well in it – if weediest stopped jamming college down their throats as a solution for everything.

Thanks for your help. I want to make this as practical and as real-world as humanly possible, and knowing what your help desk actually deals with (in a generic sense) will go a long way toward helping. And again, please help me get as many eyes on this as possible. Don’t worry about writing duplicate information, I’ll sort it out.

Again, thanks.