Realistic Character Occupations: My Experience as a Computer Technician

To win readers over we need to write characters so authentic they feel like real people. How do we do this? By brainstorming a character’s backstory, personality, needs, desires, and their day-to-day world. Lucky for us, one aspect of their daily life is a goldmine of characterization: the type of work they do. 

Think about it: a job can reveal personality, skills, beliefs, fears, desires, and more, which is why Becca Puglisi and Angela created The Occupation Thesaurus, a writing guide that profiles 124 possible careers and the story-worthy information that goes with each. Because they couldn’t conceivably cover all possible occupations, I’m helping Angela & Becca supplement their project and sharing my experience as a COMPUTER REPAIR & SUPPORT TECHNICIAN. Maybe this career will be a perfect fit for one of your characters.

You can find the full list of Contributed Occupation Profiles and check out The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers at Writers Helping Writers.

OCCUPATION: Computer Repair and Support Technician

OVERVIEW
As an on-site computer technician for an education system, I was responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining the technology the school used, including computers (laptops, desktops, touch screens), printers, projectors, smart boards, cameras, scanners, software, and the back-end infrastructure (servers, networking, wireless) for a school. I also educated and trained staff on how to use programs and equipment. While I worked alone at the school, I was part of a district IT department I could draw on for support and assistance.

NECESSARY TRAINING
I started as a student worker/intern and worked my way up with on-the-job training. One of the reasons I was hired over other students was because I had taken computer repair courses in high school, but it wasn’t required (for an intern). There are a number of certifications that a computer technician can get. The job requires constant research, education, and adaptation to new technology.

USEFUL SKILLS, TALENTS, OR ABILITIES
COMPUTER HACKING, CREATIVITY, DETAIL-ORIENTED, DEXTERITY, EMPATHY, EXCEPTIONAL MEMORY, GAINING THE TRUST OF OTHERS, GAMING, GOOD LISTENING SKILLS, GOOD WITH NUMBERS, INTUITION, MECHANICALLY INCLINED, MULTITASKING, ORGANIZATION, OUT-OF-THE-BOX THINKING, READING PEOPLE, REPURPOSING, RESEARCH, TEACHING, WRITING, PATIENCE

SOURCES OF FRICTION
A component breaks at a critical moment
Unable to find the source of the problem
An unreasonable deadline
Poor communication among staff, school, or department
Fixing the same problem or training the same person for the same program over and over again
Working with someone lazy who doesn’t do due research and declares the problem can’t be fixed
Trying to educate or equip someone “old school” who doesn’t want new technology
Blamed for someone’s computer problems
People who demand you work now without going through due process to request the work (we used a ticket system to document our work, and all problems had to be submitted through it).
Finding pornography on a work or educational computer
Having a co-worker who does nothing but watch Netflix all day

WRITERS SHOULD KNOW…
Sometimes people are happy to see you (like when you bring them new equipment or something they wanted), but very often you only interact with someone who’s already having a bad day: something’s broken, and they’re unhappy about it. And any time someone finds out you know something about computers, they want you to diagnose and fix their technology woes.

People think that this job is glamorous and cushy—you sit in an office all day on the computer. They don’t see us carrying heavy equipment, pulling wires through dirty ceilings, and digging ditches to run fiber cables. Diagnosing technology problems takes a a lot of research and staying up-to-date. And when you call a company about equipment that is under warranty, you spend a lot of time on hold. But when you fix something, you feel great satisfaction for finding the problem.

Have any questions about this job? I’d be happy to answer. Just leave a comment below!

Angela & Becca’s note: a big thank you to Jessica Kaye for generously sharing her experience in this job role!

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Mark Stevenson
4 months ago

“Sometimes people are happy to see you (like when you bring them new equipment or something they wanted), but very often you only interact with someone who’s already having a bad day: something’s broken, and they’re unhappy about it. And any time someone finds out you know something about computers, they want you to diagnose and fix their technology woes.”

That part is very much my job. I am a level 3 tech and my official position is Desktop Support Analyst Level 3. I prepare laptops for employees and contractors, load software, deploy them to the end user,help them set up their email and chats, reset passwords, remote on to fix issues, reimage computers, take down and set up equipment, set up company iPhones, respond to chats and email appropriately. So the above is very much part of what I do.