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Don’t assume cruel intentions when asked to start at the bottom

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in Your Office Coach

Q: “I would like to transition from my current secretarial position to a job in our information technology department. I discussed this with my supervisor and mentioned my interest in taking some technical certification courses. Today he sent me an email asking if I would like to begin this career transition by working part-time on our computer help desk.

“I’m not sure what my supervisor's real motives are for making this suggestion. Most technicians view the help desk as an undesirable position, because you have to sit in one place and take calls all day. If I’m trained for the help desk, I may be stuck there forever. Am I being too suspicious?” Concerned

A: Your supervisor may indeed be trying to kill two birds with one stone, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If he can help you meet your goals while simultaneously addressing an organizational need, that’s just smart management.

Radical career changes usually require a “stepping stone” approach. Because most managers are reluctant to hire a complete neophyte, you must first find a job in which your previous experience adds value. This initial move will allow you to acquire new skills and eventually qualify for more desirable positions.

If the help desk represents a logical first step, your boss may be offering you a valuable opportunity. And once you are actually doing technical work, your company is more likely to fund that technical certification training.

To keep your career on track, you need to look out for both opportunities and pitfalls. Here are a few times to be careful: Ten Critical Career Moments.

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