Read and learn from my logical error.
Many years ago I thought about what sort of career I’d like to have, instead of just bouncing from job to job and/or relying on networking to essentially do the same.
I thought about what I liked to do and what I was good at and where they might intersect, taking the approach as a self-designed “What color is my parachute?” thing.
What did I like? Tech! I’ve always had a geeky interest in tech, whether it was video games, digital watches (hey, back in the olden times they really did seem cool) or other gadgets.
What was I good at? I was always into making things, so I was pretty much a creative person. My childhood and teen years are filled with sketches, comics, short stories and an incomplete balsa wood roller coaster. Being creative wasn’t just something I enjoyed, it pretty much defined who I was.
But I ignored this.
Instead, I came up with the answer of “I enjoy helping or teaching others.” This is true enough, and it seemed a more practical thing to try to turn into a career. By combining these two things I was set!
- I enjoy tech
- I enjoy helping people
- A career in tech support!
The problem is tech support doesn’t require being creative at all. Sure, someone may tell you that you need to be creative to find solutions, but that’s just playing semantics. The actual skills required aren’t anything close to what you use for drawing or writing or acting. It’s all about research, organization and puzzle-solving. While I enjoy those things, they aren’t the same, but I went ahead into tech support anyway, because logically it just had to work!
And it did, in a way, for a while. But the reality is that tier 1 or even tier 2 tech support is pretty basic stuff. Depending on how well-designed the systems you work with are, you can find yourself doing a lot of very repetitive stuff, like resetting passwords, re-enabling 2FA access or things like that. These are menial tasks, and ultimately they came to bore me. And then I burnt out. I felt very much like the guy in the motivational poster in Futurama:
I faced the horror of having most of my job experience being in tech support, and how was I supposed to get out from that? It turned out that the best way was to make a clean break entirely, at least for now. I had to accept that I had made a critical error in assuming that enjoying tech + helping people = a great career.
I’ll never work as a tier1/2 tech support person again. I’ve done that enough to have wrung out everything I can get from it. And after realizing my fatal flaw in combining what I liked with what I felt I was good at, I’m now asking myself, “What do I enjoy doing and how can I build a career around that?”