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Why Colleges Should Offer Techs a Course in End User Profiling 

Posted September 22, 2015by Mike Langlois

When people go to school to gain a degree in something IT-related, they mostly learn about logical answers to the how and why of technology. They learn that software is installed in a specific order. They learn that sometimes the difference between a working component and a non-working component is simply dependent of which driver they have installed. They learn languages, no I don’t mean German, French, Spanish or even Russian. I mean that they learn BASIC, C++, HTML, Perl, and Ruby. They learn Active Directory structures, GPO best practices, and the differences between security and distribution groups.

Hours upon hours are spent learning all of the intricate nuances of these subjects, yet rarely is there a single greenhorn that is fully prepared for the task ahead. I know it's shocking to think, yet I can promise you, that not one of these fresh graduates is fully prepared for the user. Be it a straight A honor roll student or the barely passed hooligan, that tech is not prepared to deal with the multiplicity of users they will be asked to support.

That Wasn't in the Training Manual...

User Profiling

Users… those loveable, huggable, stress-inducing users. Users come in so many shapes, sizes, attitudes, and types. There is the “Clueless User”, the polar opposite “Know it All User.” Add in the “Knows Enough to be Dangerous User” as another constant source of stress, and you may think you've seen it all, but nope. There is an even more frightening, “Thinks They Know Enough to be Good User.” All of these are real clients that the rookie IT guy will have to face, and that poor guy will have ZERO training on how to deal with any of them. These types of users are not the only ones that IT solutions providers will encounter. Behold the elusive “Good” user, every IT department's golden goose. Learning to find good users and nurturing them is highly important to the success of a help desk. Throughout my series, I'll help you learn how to do this.

Dealing with Demands

Now I am not an expert by any means, however when I was in school pursuing my degree, I had to take all of these general education classes like Psychology, Interpersonal Communication, and Written Communication. Colleges thought that these were the classes that would sufficiently prepare students for an office environment. While I thought they were great, not a single one of them helped me prepare for the day a user decided to yell at me about how the expensive color printer wasn’t “professional” enough. Dealing with frustrating client demands and expectations is a topic that is typically handled one of two ways: 1) IT people will either flat out NOT talk about it or 2) They will all get together and have a slamfest about how ridiculously stupid users are.

So, if you haven’t figured it out yet, no. This will NOT and I repeat NOT be a 600 word user roast. This will NOT be me clearing my head of the day’s, week’s, month’s worth of “idiot user” stories.

Techs, Take Note

Yes, you guessed it. I will be telling the misadventures of users in the land of PEBCAK, but only in the hopes of providing insight for the next generation of technicians. Hey, maybe even a few veteran IT folks out there will find my input valuable. I think perhaps the greatest gift I could give to the world with my blog series, however, would be if by chance some user just so happened to stumble upon it and learn that although it seems as though their IT guy is a god, he actually is a mere mortal and needs the same essentials that every other person needs: beer, bacon, and kittens on the Internet. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and remember folks, if a reboot doesn’t fix it, get a cup of coffee and reboot it again!

You should always be educating your end users. Try sending them these tips! 


See also:

Mike Langlois is a help desk administrator with Veriha Trucking, specializing in finding and testing new or existing products that could benefit the company. He lives in northern Wisconsin and spends most of his time riding motorcycles in the summer and watching hockey in the winter.

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