My work placement at Shackleton Technologies, by Greg Jennings, IT Apprentice

As Greg Jennings, IT Service Desk Apprentice, approaches the end of his two year apprenticeship this summer, we know how important it is for him to make decisions about what the next step of his IT career will be. We always try to give our apprentices as many opportunities as possible, and we are so grateful that Shackleton Technologies in Dundee agreed to give Greg Jennings a week’s work placement last month.

Greg kept a journal of his work placement experience:

“On Monday, I met with the managing director and senior staff members who welcomed me to the Shackleton team. On my arrival, an account was set up for me to access their systems along with a laptop and desktop computer. I was introduced to the main systems such as their:

  • call management system;
  • database which includes client information;
  • remote monitoring and management system which is used for remotely connecting and managing client services and desktop connections.

    Greg dealing with support calls

Shackleton’s technical support team deals with a range of technical queries which are categorised as “service requests” and “incidents”. They are later on filtered as “Level 1, 2 or 3”, depending on the urgency and level of technical difficulty. On my second day, I was introduced to Level 2 tickets and was guided through the process of resolving them. Using the experience gained from my apprenticeship at the University of St Andrews, I was assigned a few and managed to work around them. Later on, I shadowed an IT engineer who controls and monitors client servers and switches, ensuring no major problems arise and minor ones are dealt with as soon as possible. Right from the first hour, I recognised the vast difference in the systems used by Shackleton and a few similarities that I was able to point out. I was surprised at the amount I did understand even though these systems were completely new to me.

On the third day of my visit, an engineer and I visited one of Shackleton’s main clients to assist with a recurring network problem. We were able to identify a problem with one of the cables connecting two switches together on either side of the building. As the cable run through the loft area of the building, the incident had to be raised to a 3rd party company to assist with the resolution. I observed how they engineers performed a technique called “Ping test through CMD” that requires reversing each individual network cable from one switch to another and ensuring network connectivity runs smoothly. An engineer from Shackleton’s offices was also assisting by running a recurring ping to the problem IP address and providing real-time updates on the network’s status.

Later on the day, I was given a ‘mock interview’ by senior staff members for the post of a “Level 1” Support Analyst. The feedback I received was very positive and this experience will definitely help me deal with any future interview situations.

On Thursday, one of Shackleton’s engineers and I visited some more clients to help me understand more about the work they do at Shackleton. On our first stop, we had to set up some Windows 7 machines that were pre-built by Shackleton. I assisted with their configuration and upgraded them to a newer operating system. The day continued with our visit to the second customer where we dealt with a chip and pin machine that was having trouble connecting to the network. We investigated a patch panel on the back of the building and fixed one of the network cables that was inserted into the wrong port.

In the afternoon, we returned to the office where I dealt with more level 1 and 2 tickets, familiarising myself even more with the systems Shackleton uses to support its clients.

On my final day, I worked with the technical support team, providing help over the phone and dealing with ‘Level 1 and 2’ tickets where appropriate. I also had the chance to catch up with colleagues and discuss the lessons learned and what I can share with the team in St Andrews.”

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