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I'm a senior studying CS and slated to graduate in about a year. I'm planning to become a web developer, but I have an opportunity to spend more time working in an IT support role.

That seems like a detour from my chosen career path as a web/application developer. Is this true, or are there valuable skills I could pick up from a few years in IT?

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closed as off-topic by MichaelT, GlenH7, gnat, Corbin March, Yusubov Aug 28 '13 at 11:46

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Working is better than not working. You can take this job and keep looking for a development position. –  kevin cline Oct 18 '11 at 1:47
Welcome to Programmers! This is a not a career advice site, so please don't edit this post to make it even more specific to your situation than it already is. I'm gonna try generalizing it to be more about "what can a web developer learn from working in IT?". That way it'll be a general question, potentially useful to other people in the future, and more in keeping with our career-related question requirements. You can then draw your own conclusions from there. –  Anna Lear Oct 18 '11 at 2:03

6 Answers 6

It would be useful experience, how much depends on how you approach problems, (i.e. automating tasks with bash/powershell etc.) and it also depends somewhat on the platform you'll be administrating.

If you end up just point-clicking through Windows Server dialogs, it won't be much value, except you'll be earning money.

Of course, you can always quit if it's not a good fit.

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Support is different from regular development. Not all support jobs are the same. However, if it involves fixing code, then it is not trivial.

It can be confusing since some systems are poorly documented. You also need to be very careful with promotion procedures, production data, etc.

The plus is that it exposes you to real system life cycle. You see all pieces working together. You also get to see how the system is coded and this is a very good experience.

The main thing is, if you don't like this role, don't hate programming.

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I've alternated between IT support and web development throughout my 14 yr career. The most helpful thing you can learn is how everything works under the hood. Thoroughly understanding how HTTP works allows me to better design a web app. I'm able to manage my own development environment and I can recommend a RAID level for a database server. Most importantly: When something isn't working right, I can almost always immediately tell whether it's the systems or the software. And in most cases, I can fix it in either location.

Read up on the OSI model. The OReily book on TCP/IP is awesome.

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I believe that everyone should spend a bit of their career in IT support (I did a year straight out of university)

It teaches you a lot about customer interaction, exactly what users expect and how they react to changes and errors. It also teaches you a lot of patience

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You get to see one thing in IT support that developers rarely see first hand: end users and their problems. This can make you a much better developer because you get the chance to truly understand the problem you are solving and why some things can and can't work. I know I wouldn't trade my years on the Helpdesk in for anything.

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In my opinion that experience would be valid, plus you would be getting paid to do it. And you can keep honing your web development skills during your free time, working on your own projects.

Not to mention that you don't need to stay if the work is not what you expected.

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What specific experience gained in IT support would be helpful/valid for web development? –  Anna Lear Oct 18 '11 at 2:06
The question was edited, but it mentioned that there would be a lot of Perl scripting involved, which can be used in web development too. –  daniels Oct 18 '11 at 15:13

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