Before my wife & I started this agency, I spent 7 years hustling – building WordPress websites as a freelancer and support engineering as a technical and customer support representative for major fintech SaaS brands as a contractor. I had no idea how impactful my own experience could be for others interested in tech who look like me until, ironically, months before the onset of COVID in 2019. Our company started an initiative to help BIPOC transition into the tech industry through customer and technical support engineering through our partnership with Arise Virtual Solutions. Our goal is to introduce people with an interest in the tech industry to tools & best practices for building careers in support engineering. Let’s get into it!
What is support engineering?
Support engineering is the continuous monitoring of systems, software, and hardware used to keep companies and their product offerings moving at the speed of business. Within most tech organizations, support engineering is done on a few different levels (we’ll dig deeper into that in another post). This can be done on many different mediums – by chat, phone, video, email, proprietary monitoring software, a ticketing service like ServiceNow, or even all of the above!
We typically interact with support engineers in the capacity of customer or technical support for the products and services we use while the companies that offer those products and services also rely on these engineers to maintain, secure, and enhance their offerings by way of direct user feedback. That feedback is generally parsed into a CRM like Salesforce, monday.com, or Zendesk to be used to continue communicating with the end user and is also triaged to the product development and marketing teams to ensure a resolution is found, bug patched, or enhancement made with input from all of the appropriate teams.
While interacting with customers is crazy important for brands to maintain their patrons’ confidence, it’s equally important for a business to have the infrastructure necessary to ensure their support channels and the engineers within them have the tools they need to be efficient on the job.
Why is bridging this gap important to us?
Have you ever worked in a traditional call center? The hourly rate never seems like enough, turnover is crazy high, the office culture is built on micromanagement, and you can never really afford to take time off to seek better opportunities. They can be described as “dead-end jobs.” To be fair, all call centers aren’t that bad, there are tons of great ones, but many of them are tough to navigate through when establishing your career – this was my personal experience. In an environment like that, how can you foresee building a successful career? How can your skills be nurtured and honed into high-level administrative & technical roles that pay upwards of $60k per year when your management team hasn’t defined a clear track to help you reach your goals?
My goal is to create a space professional growing space for people like you who may have had similar experiences or are looking for a workaround to the above struggle. Even if you are, unfortunately, an employee of a broken call center, it’s important to pay attention to what tools are at your disposal and learn to maximize your potential by learning how to use those tools beyond your current role and scope.
Whether someone told you or not, your “dead-end job” in that call center isn’t a dead end at all – just an unfortunately mismanaged representation of what working in tech on an entry-level actually looks like.
Here’s a bit of my own story, for perspective…
My personal journey into support engineering started in 2011 with Arise Virtual Solutions, in my mother’s garage that I’d converted into an office with a hardline AT&T phone line and an old Dell laptop. At the time, the mainstream concept of working from home was so taboo that it was even considered a scam, but I was always the type to find out if the fire was hot on my own. I jumped in, full-time & was one of the first to let the world know this was far from a scam.
Between 2011 and 2023, I’ve had the opportunity to work with brands like AT&T and Intuit to provide customer and technical support in various capacities – as a phone representative, chat representative, and Tier II SME. I’ve also been a support engineer for the most notable web development platform in the world – WordPress.
I rose through the respective ranks in those organizations because I began to understand the value of effective CRM usage, call drivers, technical writing for product and internal documentation, and how those things all affected how efficient I was on a daily basis. I’ll share more about my independent studies in another post, but for now, I encourage you to start paying attention to these things, too.
I say this to say that the dead end you may believe call centers to be doesn’t exist.
You have an opportunity to launch into a plethora of career paths from a call center, but it’s your job to figure out which path is right for you. To get your mind working towards a goal, here’s a list of a few roles that can help you transition from support representative to roles higher up in the support engineering pipeline:
|Salesforce Administrator||Responsible for building, enhancing, and/or maintaining Salesforce CRM instances for organizations. Depending on the CRM an organization uses, the title itself may vary.|
|UI/UX Developer||Responsible for designing and developing the websites users peruse to use a given digital product or service. They are also responsible for creating the backend administrative controls for further customizing a user’s experience.|
|Project Manager||Responsible for overseeing project deliverables relative to the manpower needed and a given budget across various teams and/or lines of business within an organization.|
|Customer Success Manager||Responsible for driving new business and identifying solutions for high-volume clients within an organization.|
|AWS Cloud Practitioner||Responsible for optimizing the configuration and performance of existing cloud systems run using Amazon Web Services. Similar to the Salesforce Administrator role, this title may vary depending on the cloud platform used by an organization.|
|Network Engineer||Responsible for managing an organization’s physical and cloud networks used to host their devices, products, and other connected systems or third-party applications.|
|Security Analyst||Responsible for identifying and reporting cybersecurity threats to an organization’s systems and/or digital products.|
Feel free to join us on Discord to find tons of learning resources for certifications you can earn within the next few months to land a career in one of the above types of roles in tech!
How do we support our team?
Our goal is to partner with professional BIPOC and introduce them to working in tech by way of support engineering. To see our mission through, it’s a priority that we actively assist our team with their transition into tech by way of availing you to the training and hands-on experience needed to land a role. While our partnership with Arise will allow you the hands-on training you’ll need, we host weekly conferences to gauge your interests, connect you with other professionals in your aspiring field, and provide you with the tools you need to land & absolutely smash an interview.
We don’t gatekeep. We don’t micromanage. And we aren’t looking for lengthy commitments from our staff. We allow you to create an opportunity for yourself where you may have thought that there wasn’t one.
I hate to sound like a broken record, here, but if any of the above sounds like something that you can truly benefit from, join us on Discord for more information! You can learn more about our available support engineering roles, get some professional branding tips, and most importantly network with a gang of other like-minded professionals who deserve a slice of the pie just like you.