Role Insight: Technical Support Engineer - by Stacey Roberts
My name’s Stacey Roberts. I study computer science at the University of Leicester, and I’m a Technical Support Engineer for Microsoft Dynamics AX in the EMEA SMS&P Support department of Microsoft, based in Reading. Firstly, one thing to mention with Microsoft (as I’m sure with every company) they are crazy about their acronyms! Secondly, I know Technical Support sounds unbelievably dull compared to any roles within App development or Xbox, but there is a lot more to my role than just “switch it off and on again”.
My internship started with building my own server, multiple virtual machines and then networking them together. I think if someone had told me that before I’d started, I’d be running in the opposite direction. But even though my team here is small, they all offered so much help to get me all set up. Next I was given the challenge of starting to learn a new coding language, X++. X++ is Dynamics AX’s very own object-oriented programming language, and it’s an unhealthy mix of C++, XML, SQL and almost everything you can think of! But in my role I didn’t need to go into too much depth, I just needed a vague knowledge.
So to begin with, even switch turning it off and on again in Microsoft Dynamics is complicated. Dynamics AX in short is a highly customisable, multi-language, multi-currency, industry-specific global enterprise resource planning (ERP) software product. And yes it is as complicated as it sounds, but the Lotus F1 team use it! So complicated thatI was told on my first day I’d be sent on a training course just to learn how to install and configure it, not to mention the fact that the training course they’d booked for me was in Sweden. So three months into my internship I was off travelling to Sweden, and I hadn’t quite got over the excitement until I was sat in a classroom with a group of middle-aged men who’d been working in the IT industry and as technical consultants since before I was born!
I mentioned earlier my team here is small – in fact there are only 8 of us – and not one of us does the same role as one another. This is because our team is based all over Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), which means I have daily calls with people from Sweden, Romania, Denmark, Dubai, South Africa, all over the place! Due to the engineers being based across over 20 different countries, there is one week every year where we get to travel to one central location and meet everyone we’ve been working with. So this year, I get the opportunity to meet all the engineers I’ve worked with in a few weeks in either Milan, Madrid or Barcelona – and I can’t wait. As the engineers are spread across many countries, all the support requests we receive are based across many countries too, which is usually eventful if the customer only speaks Russian!
So other than all the exciting travelling, I get to sit at my desk with 4 screens surrounding me, solving problems and software crashes for some big companies all over EMEA. After a few months of training and working with others in my team, I’m finally getting to resolve cases by myself – and it’s always a great feeling to know when I’ve found a fix to someone’s issue.
At the start of my internship, I was so keen to get involved in so many things outside of my role, as I was scared I’d be sat in front of my monitors going a little bit insane. There are so many teams to get involved in, so I’m part of a team called Get On Schools, where we go into schools for careers fairs or presentations to talk about different roles in IT and the opportunities that Microsoft offer. I’m also on a fundraising team where we will plan different events for all of Microsoft UK, from the Microsoft Great British Bake Off (there really is always cake somewhere!) to a fun run around the campus here in Reading, or even the big 3 peaks challenge. I also got to help with organising an event called DigiGirlz for 160 Year 9 girls to visit the Reading offices to learn about careers in IT, as well as volunteering at campus party to give windows 8.1 demos and a youth event called Innovate 4 Good.
So to finish with a bit of advice, stand out from the crowd and be honest! Throughout my application I used very specific examples of competencies. I managed to use examples from charity fundraising, to visiting the English Language Teaching Unit (ELTU) at my university, and even my A-level textiles course. I also said in my interviews I wanted a technical role where I get to talk a lot, so they really did match me up to my role!
All the best and good luck with your applications! :)