What exactly does an IT Support Analyst do?
‘IT Support Analyst’ covers a lot of areas in IT but generally I am responsible (along with the rest of the IT department) for ensuring the smooth running of IT systems throughout the company. This can range from a user being unable to print, to installing new IT systems and cabling in a brand new office. As such, the work that I do varies a lot from day to day.
Apart from formal qualifications, what other skills or characteristics do you need?
You certainly need to have a general interest in IT. Computing technology is famous for developing quickly and while you don’t need to be on the cutting edge of the most recent developments, it’s important to keep up to date with new technology as it filters through to general use in the industry.
You also need to be good with people. The stereotype would have you believe that IT workers spend all day in front of a computer screen and never see another soul! In reality this is certainly not the case. On a typical day I might be up in the MD’s office helping him with a problem or on the phone to a subcontractor organising a server upgrade.
Written communication is also important. For example, when new systems go in that require direct user interaction, you need to be able to produce clear and concise procedures for users whose first language might not be English.
What sort of organization do you work for?
I currently work for an Offshore Engineering company called Aquaterra Energy. All of our engineers use CAD for their design work and we have a number of powerful ‘number crunching’ computers in our analysis department.
It’s hard to find an industry where IT is not used. This has obvious benefits for anyone who wants to pursue a career in IT. A major advantage is that I can take things that I have learnt from previous employment even though the companies specialise in completely different things.
If this wasn’t your first job after your studies, what did you do in between?
After my degree, I worked on the support desk for a company that wrote their own business management software. This work was targeted quite heavily on the software itself but as it had a server component, I was exposed to several different server configurations at each of our clients’ sites. Through new installs and configuration of the software, I got first-hand experience of several different network set ups (both good and bad!).
Do you travel within the UK or overseas very much?
Aquaterra Energy have offices in Cambridge, Aberdeen and Norwich. Our head office is in Norwich (where I am based) and all of our satellite offices connect to the servers in Norwich.
There are some things that can’t be done remotely (e.g. installing network switches or phone systems) and there are times when I am needed to travel to Aberdeen and Cambridge to install or maintain systems.
Aquaterra are a rapidly growing company and given the international nature of the offshore industry, it can only be a matter of time before an overseas office needs setting up.
Do you work a regular length day/week or are shifts involved?
I work 8:30 – 5:30 Monday to Friday but there are times when I have to work out of hours. This is generally when maintenance on a server will require it to be offline for a period of time. This type of work needs to be carried out with minimum impact to the business which usually means a weekend.
I also share on-call duties with the rest of the IT department; we will each take a week on rotation to be available out of hours should a user need urgent assistance or to respond if a critical service goes offline. As we are an international company, our clients (and some of our users) work in several different time zones which means we could be called upon at any time.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I particularly enjoy the variety of work; one day I might be writing a script to control access to network resources, while the next day I might have a user’s laptop in pieces trying to track down a fault.
I’m still learning new things about various aspects of IT and it’s particularly satisfying when you can apply something that you have learnt to another project to make it that bit better.
What qualifications do you have?
A levels/Standard Grades in Computing, Physics, Design Technology and a degree at 2:2 in Computer Systems Engineering.
What advice or extra information do you wish you’d had before starting this career?
Keep up to date with new developments – particularly those that will clearly be adopted in the industry (for example a new version of Windows or Office). This will stand you in good stead for the future; when companies start to incorporate the new technology, you will already have experience/knowledge of it.
What position would you like to hold in five years’ time?
I can see myself moving more towards managing bigger IT projects from start to finish. At the moment I am heavily involved in the implementation of projects once they have been approved but I’d like to get more involved in the earlier planning/selection stages. I’ve been moving towards this with smaller internal projects but there is certainly scope for advancement.