Throughout the semester, we have discussed all the different behaviors that build up the geek archetype. Many people see geeks as introverted people who have no idea how to interact with other human beings. One of the greatest takeaways from this class I have had is that I am a geek myself. As a geek, I can assure you that many of us are introverts such as myself. However, many of our jobs require people skills that others tend to overlook. In the nerd world, soft skills actually have a prominent role when it comes to effectively meeting our goals.
What are soft skills?
Every day, we face the need for human interaction. This can require us to communicate in a vast amount of different ways in order to meet our needs. For example, comforting someone who has been emotionally hurt proves to be a situation that requires many different things such as reading someone’s mood, knowing when to give input, and finding unique ways to solve a problem. These soft skills cannot necessarily be taught, but they can be practiced.
IT Helpdesk: The barrier between nerds and the outside world
One of the greatest fears of an IT worker is encountering conflict outside of the IT cave. The situation shown here shows one of the worst case scenarios of a conflict that involve non-technical people. As can be seen in the clip, these particular workers have an extreme lack of social skills. Rather than simply explain the situation and politely ask the ladies to move, they decide to devise a plan to lure the two women away from their desks. Failing miserably, they soon have to ask their manager, who excels in people skills, to help them out.
During my experience at the IT Desk here at Greenville College, I have found myself in similar situations (though much less extreme) where I had no idea what to do. Thanks to a full school year of experience now, I’ve learned many new ways to solve problems and manage situations. While pursuing a technical career, I would encourage everyone to take an opportunity to work at a help desk or other customer-service oriented job. Building people skills will help you in the future no matter the job you seek out.
Soft skills in IT:
Throughout my first year at the help desk, I have gained many experiences that have helped fine tune some of my people skills. For instance, one of the most important skills when talking to clients is sounding knowledgeable about the problem. It is possible for someone to know more than anyone else about a subject, but still sound like they don’t know what they are talking about. Sounding knowledgeable has been one of the soft skills that I have been able to work on this year. When clients come in to get something fixed, they want to be told what to do. They have shown faith in our department by trusting us with their property. By being assertive and sounding smart when we talk, we maintain that faith and keep the customer happy.
The second, and perhaps most important, skill that us IT workers have to perfect is problem solving. On the daily, we encounter issues that we have never seen before. The ambiguous characteristics of technology keep our jobs from getting boring, but also can create a lot of stress. In order to keep up, we have to find ways to solve problems effectively. One of the most reliable ways to find a solution is simply to use the ultimate resource at hand: the internet. I believe google searching has evolved into a soft skill in its own. Finding the correct solution often requires correct key words, phrases, and other particular characteristics. IT workers have perfected this skill, as they must find ways to search for answers.
Working in the IT department has been a great experience for me. In the future, I know I’m going to need many of the skills that I have learned already from my experiences. I encourage anyone to take the opportunity to work at a help desk if they can. At the very least, you will never be bored.