Leanne Bailey realized she had a knack for understanding how computers worked during a college work-study job troubleshooting in a computer lab. "I had never taken a computer class, but I seemed to be the person people came to with problems," she says. That knack kept leading her back to an IT career.
Graduating from college, Bailey wanted to be an actress, but — in need of a day job — she landed a computer help desk role. She eventually realized that she didn't like the "starving" part of acting and started to pursue some IT certifications, including the CompTIA A+ credential. Changing IT jobs several times, looking for a "good fit," Bailey gained experience in help desk, technical analyst and system administration roles while continuing to pursue certifications.
She worked in technology a total of about 10 years, ending up as a team lead of a group of Windows system administrators, before deciding to go back to school for a master's degree in forensic psychology. Interning at a probation department for her graduate degree, Bailey says she realized that, "Although I enjoy working with people and in the legal system, I really missed technology."
While looking for a job as a psychologist, Bailey started her own IT service company targeting the home technology needs of women. "A lot of my single female friends kept me in the black during graduate school with side work," Bailey says. "Sometimes it was just easier for them to speak with another woman, especially when doing house calls." Deciding she didn't like being her own boss, she later took a job overseeing technology systems at a Park Ridge, Ill., high school.
Bailey, 37, began her current position, as help desk supervisor for Deerfield, Ill.-based Corptax, a leading provider of corporate tax software, in September 2012.
Education: Bachelor's degree in psychology, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana; Master's degree in Forensic Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Certifications: CompTIA A+; also previously earned Cisco Certified Network Associate, Microsoft Certified Professional, and CompTIA Network+
Tell Us About Your Current Job
My current job entails supervising the four help desk employees. We serve a total of 350 users. I also do project management for the infrastructure group. Projects range from product implementation — we are revamping our infrastructure management and monitoring — to managing the technology side of our user conference in Orlando this December.
My tasks vary widely day to day. Some days I work on trouble tickets, as I am the first escalation stop for our help desk. Some days I spend hours planning projects and meeting with stakeholders within the company.
I work with a small but excellent team of technology specialists in the technical operations department and get to know all of the company employees as I help with troubleshooting desktop and administrative issues.
Troubleshooting can range from network to desktop or server and active directory management issues. I've helped in troubleshooting email problems from the desktop to the server. Knowing how to use and manage Windows operating systems is an important part of my job as is understanding how networks function as most of our company is not located in Illinois. I visit our other office locations in Texas and California when the need arises.
What's the Best Part of Your Job?
The best part of my job is working with lots of different people on a daily basis, from vendors to our great infrastructure crew. The variety of tasks I work on keeps the job exciting as well.
What's the Worst Part of Your Job?
The worst part of my job is telling someone I can't fix their problem over the phone! It's hard when so many employees are remote and you can't get your hands on the equipment to fix a problem. We have great software that allows us to work within the operating system, but if there is a hardware problem, we're out of luck!
How Do You Stay Up-to-date With What's Happening In IT?
I rely on my network of friends in the industry along with blogs and general interest Internet sites. I still keep up with a lot of co-workers from past jobs, and we talk a lot about where we see businesses going, especially in infrastructure. I really enjoy reading about technology as well.
What Is Your Advice to People Thinking About Pursuing a Career In IT?
There is nothing like hands-on experience. If you can spend time in an internship learning about technology, do it. I love school and classroom learning, but to really understand technology you have to build it and work with it. If you have the resources, build a test lab and install different pieces of technology. Break it, fix it, and break it again! The knowledge you gain from hands-on experience will come in handy for interviews and when you get that first job. Plus it shows great initiative to those conducting the interview if you tell them all about the things you've learned on your own.
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