What I’ve Learned From Working in IT

As a freshman, I received a university scholarship that requires me to volunteer 75 hours each semester to the university.  A lot of students get similar scholarships, and thus it seems like half the university is staffed by students.  At the beginning of every year, we all have to go pick up our volunteer assignments and report for duty.  Most of us monitor computer labs or do basic clerical work.  Many “jobs” involve sitting at a desk and doing homework.  But not mine.  I got stuck in an IT office.

When I started working for Bill (name changed), I was declared as a basic business student.  To this day, I have no idea how they decided to put me in Bill’s office.  Bill is the head of all technology in his building, which happens to house one entire college of our university.  This means he buys, installs, maintains, and tracks every single piece of hardware and software for every single teacher and classroom in the entire college.  He’s the one teachers call when they can’t get their email to work, and he’s the one who implements new systems with heads of technology for other colleges.  He does a ton, and when I started, all of it was over my head.

When I started as a brand-new freshman, I was the first girl and the first business major that had been assigned to his office in years.  All his other student workers were guys majoring in computer science, computer engineering, business information technology, or mechanical or electrical engineering.  They all had an interest in how things work and a propensity for fixing.  And then there was me.

I had no idea what I was doing.  As student workers, we were responsible for documenting complaints and problems and then going out to fix them.  We also had to update and deliver “mobile labs” — huge carts full of 40 laptops each that professors could request for classes.  They weigh more than I do, I’m pretty sure.  I managed to push them around when I needed to, though, and I was good at documenting.  Often I would document calls that other students went out on — they could do the work, but didn’t want to document it, so I made myself useful that way.  But I spent the majority of freshman year following Bill around as he went to fix stuff that we students couldn’t handle.  I met a lot of professors that way, which was really helpful when I started having them for classes.

Gradually, I learned.  I kind of figured out how networks function.  I learned several ways to wipe a hard drive.  I figured out how to explain things I didn’t fully grasp to professors (who often didn’t fully grasp them, either).  I learned to be polite and sympathize when I couldn’t fix something, because I knew how frustrating it was when technology didn’t work.  I learned to work with people I didn’t particularly like.  Mostly, I learned to listen, because I learned that people don’t always communicate the way I want them to.

Disagreeing respectfully with a superior was a big thing to learn.  Bill is very conservative, and though he says he dislikes discussing politics, what he really dislikes is when people disagree.  He has a habit of taking a break and coming into the student side of the office to discuss current events or politics.  Usually, I just nod my head and listen, because (as I discussed some in my last post) I don’t like discussing controversial issues, especially with someone whose views are so different from mine.  But occasionally I do speak up.  Take this morning, for instance.  Bill was reading something about a Title VI document, and got hung up on the words “English is not the official or native language” (or something along those lines).  He started making comments about how English is the official language here in the U.S., and it irks him when concessions have to be made for non-English speakers.  He said he doesn’t think it’s fair for taxpayers to have to pay for everything to be written in more than one language.

Being a Spanish major, I couldn’t let that one go by.  I mentioned that we have a lot of taxpayers in this country whose first language isn’t English.  This was one of those times I wish I knew exact stats, but I don’t.  I tried to talk about how many Spanish-speaking citizens we have here (stressing the legal part, because I know how Bill feels about undocumented immigrants).  Bill did listen to me.  I didn’t expect him to agree or change his mind.  But by speaking up I at least attempted to stand up for my beliefs and worldview.  And though I know Bill doesn’t agree, I think demonstrating a different viewpoint does gain me some respect in his eyes.  He likes people who can think for themselves.  (And it reminds him not to put his foot in his mouth.)

Now, in my last semester here, Bill has gotten a lot more student workers and had to expand his office.  Having more of us means that there are fewer calls to go out on.  Not to mention the fact that the university really amped up its overall help desk, which reduced our workload a ton.  This was nice, because now professors and students can call the help desk for mundane tasks like resetting email passwords, and we can focus on bigger issues like smart boards that don’t work.  The problem for me, though, is that I was good at the mundane tasks.  I have enough computer knowledge that I can figure out which settings to change and which problems I can rule out.  But while I can fix relatively simple problems (and gain good rapport with professors in the process), I can’t fix the big ones.  When a projector malfunctions in the middle of a class and I’m the only one in the office, I leave professors feeling frustrated rather than thankful.  It doesn’t reflect well on me or the university.

But I’m going to leave this job on my resume, because it shows a lot of things.  For one, this job has taught me to work effectively with a team.  It’s heightened my communication skills.  And it’s allowed me to better understand what the crap people are talking about when they tell me to map to a certain drive or boot a machine to the BIOS menu.  It shows that while I may not have a natural affinity for technology, I can learn.  I’ve been very frustrated these past four years, because it takes up a lot of time and is difficult.  But ultimately, I’m thankful I got stuck here, because it has helped shaped me into who I am today.  It’ll be a sweet goodbye when I leave.  But there will be a tiny bit of bitter in there, too.

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Our super-official password generator (not — it’s actually to scare new students)

 

Spring 2017 Goals

Well, it’s that time of year.  I started doing seasonal goals in the summer, and really have seen a difference in how deliberate I am about doing or not doing certain things.  So it definitely makes sense for me to continue that.  My dilemma now is that I don’t really like New Years’ Resolutions, per se, because I never keep them.  I think it’s better for me to create seasonal goals, and update them until I either achieve them or they become a habit.  So these are my goals for my final semester of college — January through May.

Life Goals

  1. Be intentional about communicating with others, especially roommates.  I really hate confrontation, and I want people to like me, so I tend to just shut up and tolerate it when someone does something that makes me uncomfortable.  While the roommates I had last year were really awesome, there were a few things that did bother me, and I bottled it up and let it get to me rather than just talking to my roommate about it.  This semester, I have two new roommates, and while I’m not going to be unreasonable, I am going to voice concerns if I have them, and I’m going to try to prevent problems rather than solve them.
  2. Get physically stronger.  When I was in high school, I had a routine I did almost every day, and I had great muscle tone and concentration.  College changed that — my schedule changed and I didn’t really have the room to do my routine in the dorm.  Now, I walk to campus every day, so I normally count that as exercise, since it’s at least movement.  But I need to be doing something more, and I definitely need to be in the habit of exercising once I graduate, because it’s likely I’ll be driving to a job — goodbye, built-in exercise.  Since I’m bad at exercising for the heck of it, and I’ve noticed how much weaker I’ve gotten since having to carry heavy cameras and tripods around all the time, getting stronger is my goal to reach for.
  3. Find ways to support causes I believe in.  Since I’ve been in college, I’ve really come to solidify what I believe in, and I’m to the point where I want to be more active than just talking about an issue or sharing a video on Facebook.  This might be a little tricky, because I can’t contribute to anything financially right now.  But I may be able to volunteer a little, or something like that — I just need to research.
  4. Read more non-white authors.  I mentioned a couple posts ago that I’ve noticed how few non-white authors I read, so I’ve been trying to add new authors to my TBR.  I’ve already marked a couple off my list (I highly recommend Diane Guerrero’s In the Country We Love), and plan to continue this.  I may not have a ton of time to devote to pleasure reading, though, so we’ll see how this goes.
  5. Food: Continue cooking at least once a week; stick to ~$15/month on coffee purchases.  I do cook fairly regularly, but I also end up eating frozen microwave meals or fast food quite a bit too.  I actually kind of enjoy cooking, and I eat a lot healthier when I cook.  I just need a reminder to continue doing it.  Also, this is my continuing experiment on how much I really spend on coffee.  During cold months, I like brewing my own coffee at home, but I like cold coffee when it’s warm.  Lucky me got a French press for Christmas, so I’m planning on using it to make cold brew when it gets warm to cut down on iced coffee purchases.

Education/Career Goals

  1. COB Ambassadors:  Try to help project manage an event.  This is a continuation of one of my fall goals.  I don’t know if this will be possible, because I’m not sure how crazy the semester is going to be.  But I’ll keep my eyes open.
  2. Apply to ~5 jobs a month at least.  This is going to be an -ish goal.  Normally when I sit down to apply for jobs, I do 3 or 4 at a time and then don’t look again for awhile, because it takes a few weeks for new jobs to be posted.  Regardless, I don’t need to be neglecting this.  It won’t be the end of the world if I don’t, but I’d really like to have a job lined up before I graduate.  How’s that for a goal?

I may end up adding to this list as the semester really gets under way, but those are the main things I want to focus on in the coming months.  This is already quite a lot, so I don’t want to overload myself.

Finally, here’s a random life update: my aunt, who helps manage a new-ish church in Alabama, contacted me recently to be the church’s webmaster of sorts.  I’ll be updating the site and content every so often, and I’m really excited about that!

Fall 2016 Goals Update #2

Another month, another update.  Without further ado…

Goals for Employment

  1. Apply for entry-level jobs in marketing.  Still doing this!  The day I wrote this post, I actually had my first interview ever for a big-girl job.  I think it went pretty well, and I am excited about the possibilities with that company.  So we shall see!
  2. Utilize university resources.  Check — I went to a resume workshop, both to polish up my own resume and to give a COB Ambassador presence.  I think my resume looks quite a bit better than it did.  Also, we’re doing mock interviews in my Spanish class, so that will be awesome practice.

Goals for Extracurriculars

  1. Video Production Team: Work at least one game per sport.  I’ve worked a lot of soccer, a couple volleyball games, and am signed up for almost every basketball game we have in November.  It’ll be busy, but basketball is really fun, and the paycheck will definitely be nice.
  2. COB Ambassadors: Work one event a month.  This month I worked the Majors Fair on preview day, and the resume workshop also counted as an event.  Coming up next month the COB will be hosting its own career fair, so I’ll probably be involved with that somehow.
  3. COB Ambassadors: project manage one project before graduation.  Still working on this.

Goals for Daily Life

  1. Don’t add unnecessary stress.  This is surprisingly still going quite well.  I got really bad road rage driving to see my family a few weeks ago, but honestly that was warranted.  There’s just something about vehicles that make people do stupid things.  And I know I need to not let things bother me that I can’t change, but sometimes that’s just how it goes.
  2. Cut back on buying coffee.  *closes eyes*  It’s kinda weird how my list jumps straight from 1 to 3…oh well.
  3. Make time for friends.  The semester has gotten a bit busier than it had been, so I’ve slacked off on this.  But a few friends and I are planning a Netflix night next week, and another friend’s birthday is this month as well, so that should remedy that.
  4. Make time for myself.  Again, class work has started to creep into my free time, but I still find some time to read or watch a show or two.

And finally, the goal of goals:

  1. Enjoy senior year.  So far, so good.  I’m very tired of being school — I would much rather being doing something than sitting passively in class all day, but the end is near and I’m trying to remember to relish the time I have left at college.

This semester has gone by so fast.  Here we are at the end of October, and I feel like September just started.  My very last advisement is coming up, and graduation is starting to feel so close!  I’ve started a list of what I want to do and get involved in once I graduate.  Really moving out on my own is so exciting to think about.  Here’s to the rest of my second-to-last semester!  Next time I post a goals update, I’ll be studying for finals.

Forpy: Grad and Grindstone

Well, folks, I’ve done it. I finally graduated high school! Woohoo!

insert victory dance here

In doing so, I also neglected to do my Forpy post at all last week, instead of just posting late as usual. I’ve also been working quite a lot lately as well. I would do a rundown of high and lowlights from the past week, but really, the list would be short. I graduated! I had a great weekend with my family and friends and now I’m looking forward to what’s next. College orientation and choir tour are coming up, and I got an iPhone as a graduation gift from my parents (on which I am currently typing this). Other than that, nothing much is going on but work and more work. Which I’m okay with.

I will have something slightly more interesting for you to read shortly, as I’m working on finishing up my next book review. Stay tuned!

Forpy: Semblance of Busy

I am a busy bee with an illusion of nothing to do.  I am a slacker with a semblance of busy.  I’ve been reading the Traveling Pants series over again, and the way Ann Brashares writes gets into my brain.  The woman is a genius at writing.

Pits

  • I make way too many dumb mistakes at my job, and I may or may not have overheard my manager talking with a shift leader about a new employee who asks dumb questions.  I have no idea if they were talking about me.  Sigh…
  • Also, I’m having a lot of scheduling issues at work, like the one where prom and a speech competition and a probably-mandatory work shift all coincide.  Why can’t life be simple?
  • I really have a lot of stuff to do, but summer break mode is stealing over me.  Can I just read and watch movies and go out with my friends?

Peaks

  • Other than the dumb thing, my job is going fairly well.  I now know what it is like to be a mascot, and it is freeing.  (I danced around Market Square to the beat of the drums.  Alone.  I would never do that without a disguise.)
  • Ummm…

Really, nothing too exciting is happening in my life right now.  But I’ll go ahead and make the other lists…

Prayers

  • Remember how I mentioned I was a slacker?  Well, that goes for my God-life, too.

Praises

  • I actually have a lot of fun stuff to look forward to this month (or technically next month…), not least is graduation.  Finally!

Not very meaty lists, but the best I can do under the circumstances.