Introduction to the New World of Tech as a Helpdesk Intern
This article is part of a series of posts produced by the Duo interns, highlighting their experiences and the projects they worked on this summer. And be sure to check out our open internship positions.
The “Work-from-Home" era began in March of 2020, but where was I when everything shut down? I was a mere Junior in High School. The main worries of prior graduating classes were the SAT and college applications. However, most of them never had to think about when they would be allowed to go back to school. What was initially advertised as a “2-week vacation,” turned into a 2-year(plus) social desert.
I would like to think that is the reason I was afraid to start this job as an intern at tech company Duo Security, along with a hint of imposter syndrome from being young. Do not get me wrong, there were some perks to being remote – like being able to talk to college recruiters thousands of miles away, but there was also a fair share of challenges that required a heavy amount of adjustment.
This “new normal” for everyone else was in fact my only normal. So, there was only one option – adapt or get left behind.
That’s what brought me to Duo in the first place, what sustained me during the mostly remote interview process, and what empowered me while working mostly from home. It’s also what allowed me to develop my skills as a Helpdesk intern, helping to keep our remote employees at their most productive regardless of where they’re located.
My Endpoint journey
I decided in high school that I wanted to major in Computer Science. When I got to college, I was a bit lost. I continued my Computer Science curriculum, but all I could think of was “I do not want to be sitting at a desk coding and debugging all day.” I thought I would lose my mind. (By the way, that is not what I do now, and my faith has since been restored).
But, during that short, but necessary, period, I started exploring my options. So here I am – with a Double Major in Computer Science and Anthropology. Two fascinating subjects that have absolutely no correlation whatsoever.
The moral of that story is I learned a lot more about myself along the way. I was always such a straight path person, “I need this done by the time I am 25, and this has to be completed by the time I turn 42.” I thought what I wanted in life would guide me, but in my case, it was what I did not want that led to true self-realization. There was always one goal to get to, but I never really knew what it was. Now, I realize the goal is not actually the goal, it is how much I learn and gain from my journey to the Endpoint.
How I became an intern for a tech company
Towards the end of my first year of college, I knew I needed a summer job. I was planning to become a barista, my dream job as a coffee and coffee shop lover. Clearly, that did not happen.
I got an unexpected email from a program called the Michigan Future Founders Fund, which has an internship program for minorities. They partner with tech start-ups to provide qualified interns for the companies, determined to help both the interns and companies grow at a rapid pace.
To be honest, I did not think I would get anywhere with it. Before I became a finalist, I saw all the other choices these companies had: Juniors and Seniors with much more experience and relevancy. I still applied with the mindset of “what is the worst that could happen?” since I did not want to get my hopes up. I had just been declined for an internship at my school's (University of Michigan) IT department and accepted that as an internship after my first year just might not happen. Even when I became a Finalist, and Duo requested an interview with me, I retained little hope.
After the interview, I felt more at ease. My current mentor – IT Project Manager, Jenna – is the one that interviewed me first, and it was very reassuring. Prior to my interview, I heard about horrid technical interviews, and everything being so serious. In my experience at Duo, though, we just had a pleasant conversation talking about the company and my background.
I was offered a second interview, much to my surprise, with my current manager, which seemed even more intimidating at the time. Once again, my worries faded away after the meeting. The tech world is often portrayed to be a scary place, filled with serious people with no social skills. Yet, at Duo, I have seen nothing but the opposite. I have visited the office a few times and even weaseled my way into some friendly office war shenanigans once or twice.
About a month passed after the interview, and I lost all hope. As a first-generation student, I did not know what the timeline of a new job in my field looked like. There was no one I knew, especially in my family, that could give me sound advice. But on my last day on Campus, I received the offer email.
Manning the help desk
The day I was onboarded was the first day I met other members of my team. I currently have the formal title of “IT Support Analyst Intern.” and the Helpdesk team is definitely the best. I can absolutely say that with no personal bias at all.
My most prominent daily contribution goes towards the #helpme channel in Slack, where people send their IT issues and questions instead of filing tickets. As necessary, more intensive issues can lead to ticket creation. Some can be completed with a simple answer, but others can take a few hours of back-and-forth conversation.
Identifying the problem can be the trickiest part at times. I never feel stuck because I can always ask my team questions, which I ask a lot of. The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I made someone’s day a little easier or solved a problem for them – especially by unblocking them and allowing them to get back to work and be their most productive. As an estimate, I help around 6-7 people a day through the channel.
When requests are more difficult or contain confidential information, a ticket can be filed. We use a software called Zendesk, where tickets are assigned to a Helpdesk Agent and the requester and agent can communicate about the issue. Tickets can be filed for many things, big or small, all the way from simple tasks like additional access and password resets to more daunting ones like device management and laptop refreshes.
Provisioning laptop refreshes have also been a significant part of my internship. I work on sending out, filing, and setting up more powerful laptops for engineers in need of an upgrade.
Why my fears were washed away
The best parts of my internship include the amount of knowledge I continue to gain and the interactions I have with my team, which are directly correlated. I thought an internship would be like those you see in movies, where interns do errands and run around to get coffee, likely modified due to Covid.
I was extremely mistaken, once again. My team welcomed me with open arms. Almost every one of them taught me something new, whatever seemed to be their “specialty,” even though all members can do it all. Being taught that way helped me form bonds with my team that I am very thankful for.
One of the first things that was said to me when I started was “Please ask questions.” I took that as a challenge apparently. Even now, towards the end of my internship, I constantly ask questions every day and not once have I felt deterred to ask them.
The hands-on approach I was able to take from the very beginning could never be replaced by lectures, textbooks, or watching others. However, I did learn a lot from watching, especially at the beginning when I had no idea what I was doing. I continue to learn every day, and I am certain that will happen until the end of my time here.
As an intern, I was surprised when I received the same access as other members of the Helpdesk team, after a lot of training, of course. I did not realize how essential it was to have all of it until I started helping. Helpdesk problems can be all over the board, and being able to solve problems on my own, with support if needed, was a huge advantage for my learning process.
The most challenging part of the internship was the training at the beginning, which took most of my time for a week or two. The IT training was interesting and relevant for day-to-day use. Then there was a lot of more general company training required for all employees. My manager wanted me to “hit the ground running,” which I feel like I did after the IT training. There were more difficult and prominent problems to handle for other members of my team when I joined, so I was able to jump right into helping people, in an attempt to relieve them from some of the load.
Of course, I still asked a lot of questions, even ones just for clarification. That time played a prominent role in the comfortability I have with solving issues now. For many questions, I was able to search for similar problems and their solutions from the past, which allowed me to gain a game plan for the unfamiliar problems I face every day.
Lessons from the Helpdesk
Walking into a big internship like this was an eye-opening experience after one year of college. It has cemented my interests in computer science, while giving me peace of mind for my future. I am forever grateful to my department for designing this internship to be so interactive and growth focused.
This experience has been nothing but refreshing and meaningful to me. I would intern at Duo a thousand more times if I could, and there would still be more to learn and gain from it.