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Technical support position with minimal programming experience

This is a discussion on Technical support position with minimal programming experience within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; I've received a job offer from a company to work as a technical support engineer. I originally interviewed with them ...

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    Technical support position with minimal programming experience

    I've received a job offer from a company to work as a technical support engineer. I originally interviewed with them for a software developer position, but they offered me a role as a technical support engineer instead. That is because I have just a year of experience as a software developer


    I am feeling some pressure to take this role because of the economy and I just quit my previous job due to personal reasons


    I don't think I'll get much of a chance to work with any programming languages in this role, so that's why I'm concerned this may hurt my career. But I will get training and get to work with the other software engineers. I want to have a career as a web developer
    Any opinions?

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    What's your options?

    If you have others, consider if they are within your reach.

    If not, then go for it. Start dynamically, be good and then try to work your way to become a developer in this company. If they know you are good (professionally and as a person, if you are) and they ask for a developer, "volunteer". It is most likely that you will know about that, before they ask for it in public.
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    If you really need the money, I guess you don't really have a choice.

    However, if you do have a choice, I wouldn't recommend taking it. It may not hurt your career, but it probably won't help advancing it, either, so there is an opportunity cost - you could be using this time to advance your career.

    It's different between companies, but most companies I've worked at, tech support is pretty detached from developers. Usually when developers have something support should know, they would tell project management, and PM will tell tech support. I have also never heard of anyone transferring from support to development. They are seen as very different job "streams", and when they want a developer they won't recruit from support (because most people in tech support have 0 programming experience). Though most companies I've worked at are big, and this may be different in smaller companies.

    If you really can't find any kind of development job, and you can afford it, I would try to work on an open source project or a bigger personal project first. Or maybe taking an online course. You can also do it while doing tech support, but it will be very exhausting, and you have to realize that the tech support job is really only for the money. If you can find a development job, even if it's not your #1 pick company or it's not directly applicable to web development, I would still highly recommend taking that instead. Any development experience will help, and tech support experience doesn't help much really. At best it shows that you can deal with angry customers well, but they don't really look for that in developers because developers don't typically deal with customers directly.

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    I was in a similar situation to this 6-8 years ago, with a small-ish company. Took me a little over a year to transition to software development, though I continued to manage the tech support team for the next few years while developing. I've since had a few other jobs, each time moving into a better role. How long that takes depends on the company you work for and their business needs. It may come soon if somebody quits or is fired, or it may take a while if business slows down.

    If you're really struggling to get a programming job, then take this job. Tell the company you want to transition to software development eventually. I might go so far as to ask them to put something in your offer letter/contract like "will review candidate for software developer role after 1 year in tech support, when there is an opening, etc". Maybe ask if they would consider a dual role, like 30 hrs/week tech support, 10 development. When you get there, kick ass at your tech support job. If possible, develop small scripts and utilities (preferably using the same languages as the software developers would for similar tasks) to help you in your tech support role, and share them with your colleagues, so people see your effort. Once you've proven your worth as a tech support person, ask if you can spend a few hours per week working on small software development stuff (if you're the best tech support person and get more work done than most other techs, this is probably not an issue). You might have to take some of that work home with you and put in some overtime -- not ideal, but it would pay off. The work might be crappy bug fixes, or boring parts of the software nobody else wants, or something awesome -- either way, it's your "in". Hang out with the developers at lunch or something, if you can. Talk about software stuff so they see your passion for the field. Study it in your down time at work. Ask them questions about it, about how the system works, etc.

    Even if you're not struggling too much finding a job, take this in the interim. You stand a much better chance of getting hired if you're already employed than if you're not working (ironic, but that's what all the data seem to say). Plus, it will remove any financial worry/stress you have. If something better comes along, you are free to take it, you aren't signing a life-long contract. If the company knows up front you are interested in software development, they will usually be understanding if you leave after a short time for a better opportunity -- not happy necessarily, but probably understanding.

    Whatever the case, if you take this job, make sure to keep your LinkedIn profile, resume, etc online and up to date. And keep it tailored to the kind of job you want, i.e. stress the useful scripts and utility programs you wrote, and how much they benefited the company, instead of how many support tickets you closed each day. You never know what opportunity may come along.

    Good luck!

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    You stand a much better chance of getting hired if you're already employed than if you're not working (ironic, but that's what all the data seem to say).
    Be careful, this may be a classic example of correlation vs causation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyberfish View Post
    Be careful, this may be a classic example of correlation vs causation.
    I would request you to explain this in bit more detail please.
    (I'm also in the similar boat as OP and was following this thread)

    Thanks.

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    It means there's no real evidence that being employed increases your chances of getting a job. There may be a correlation between both, meaning that in some statistical analysis both may seem to go up or down at the same time. But there is no real palpable evidence that one causes the other.

    Consider the following:

    In some hypothetical graph, you find that as people employed go up so do their job opportunities. Conversely, you don't notice this behavior among unemployed people in the same graph. You may be drawn to the conclusion that employed people get more job opportunities.

    This is a typical mistake. That of trying to gain knowledge from statistical data. There's a difference between information and knowledge. Statistical evidence just gives information. Knowledge is obtained with the help of this information, by trying to make sense of statistical data. Usually by going into the field and finding the actual causes behind what the graph demonstrated.

    As an example, you may find, after a careful study, that the reason employed people seem to get more job opportunities is because they are more picky about what ads they answer. As such, they are unknowingly increasing their odds of getting a favorable response. Unemployed people need to work and can't afford to bee too picky, so they tend to answer more ads for which they will have less chances of being successful.

    There was a correlation explained by the different ratios of potential successful ads being answered by both employed and unemployed people. But there is no causation; employed people aren't really in a better position to get a job.
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    there is some truth to the idea that employed people are seen as better candidates for jobs though. if you're unemployed, especially if it has been several months, potential employers may look at you as if there must be some reason that you don't have a job, and haven't found one after several months. it's always recommended that gaps in one's resume be filled with references to freelance work, volunteer work, or anything to make it look like you have been productive during your unemployed time, for this very reason.
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    It's also very possible that currently employed people are, on average, more highly skilled in their field than people who aren't currently employed.

    Then of course they will be more successful in their job search than the unemployed group, but that doesn't mean it's due to their employment status. If you have employable skills, it may not actually matter if you are actually employed or not.

    For this conclusion to be valid, the study must have used random sampling - eg. taking a group of currently unemployed people, tell them to go find jobs, while half of them pretend to be currently employed. Or taking a group of currently employed people, and randomly get half of them fired, then have the whole group try to find jobs. I am not sure if anyone has done such a study.

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    Another example of this fallacy is a study that says ivy league graduates on average earn higher salaries.

    It leads people to believe that going to ivy league will increase their future salary, but that conclusion can not correctly be drawn from the study.

    It's entirely possible that people who get into ivy league are the ones who are the most hardworking and intelligent, so they would have earned higher salaries anyways whether they went to ivy league or not.

    In fact, this was a real study, and when they changed the study to compare people who went to ivy league, and people who were accepted into ivy league but didn't go for non-academic reasons, they found there is no difference in average salary, proving that going to ivy league does not in fact lead to an increase in average salary.

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