Up until Fall 2007 I was an Independent / Freelance Writer, Website Designer, HTML Coder. I wrote news articles, reviews, and editorials on video games at various sources Eternal Gaming.com, Wii’re Gamers.com, and Worthplaying.com just to name a few. I love writing, it gives me a way to express myself and in a way that’s also why I enjoy Website Design/Development work. Web Development gives me a chance to build something from nothing and when you finish the project it gives you this warm fuzzy feeling, the feeling of accomplishment.
However, my job position as a student IT worker at The University of Toledo didn’t quite allow for creativity, though it did give me the enjoyment of troubleshooting difficult problems and finding solutions that others couldn’t come up with. I also had the ability to build and maintain several servers such as a Windows Deployment Server, VMWare ESXI Server, Windows 2008 R2 Print Server, as well as several more.
This isn’t to mean I hadn’t done any web development work at UT. One of the more notable projects was when I designed and developed an Inventory System that used ASP, HTML5, CSS3, and SQL. I also helped in several massive projects including McAfee Endpoint encryption deployment to 400+ PCs, the creation of 2 new computer labs, and re-imaging 350+ Lab Computers at the beginning of each semester. Needless to say my position at UT was as fun as it was challenging and offered a great learning experience.
Even though working at UT was fun and challenging I felt it was necessary to explore other work environments because of this I sought out an internship at Therma-Tru, for nine months beginning the spring of 2011 I was employed by Therma-Tru. At Therma-Tru I was able to grasp the reality of IT in the office workplace, what I found was a list of strict policies and sometimes confusing management. I was of the lowest tier, a simple help desk employee, this meant I answered calls all day and dealt with the worst tempers the employees could throw. It took some time to get used to but once I was able to the know the people and how technically savvy they were, or weren’t as the case might be, the problems became much easier to solve.
At Therma-Tru I was given a thorough tour of the Active Directory structure, how it works and why it’s crucial. I was also introduced to Citrix, Great Plains, Crystal Reports, and a host of new software I hadn’t touched previously. In the end Therma-Tru was a simple IT help desk position however I did learn a lot both about the new software I had to troubleshoot and the role IT plays in a business. If technology was at fault for stopping the assembly line you can be sure the IT guys will be working until it is resolved and it had better be quick because time is money. I feel I have matured because of my experience at this employer, and for that I am most grateful.
After college I found employment at Shopmetrics on February 2013, I built SSRS reports with an ever growing understanding of SQL as well as help build / maintain company dashboards for many of the Mystery Shop Providers (MSPs) around the world. It was a very demanding, stressful job that left me feeling emotionally exhausted at the end of the day. Trying to keep up with tight schedules and reliable delivery of custom dashboards and reports is at best difficult and at worst a horrendous experience of nearly sleepless nights. That is not to say I haven’t personally benefited from having worked there but if I had to choose between fighting a lion and dealing with an upset MSP; I’d choose the lion.
Nevertheless, I am grateful for having worked there if only because of the experience of working for a small, more or less flat hierarchy based start-up. The work environment when compared to Therma-tru is completely night and day. On one hand, with Therma-tru, everything was done by the books, there was a policy on everything, and the entire business was built on a classical business hierarchy. On the other hand, with Shopmetrics, the entire organization is as flat as flat can be. There’s the CEO and then there’s everyone else. The polices that are in place are loose and there are always exceptions. I found that both types have their pros and cons. Therma-tru’s style was far more organized and predictable but lacked freedom and autonomy. Shopmetrics’ style has been chaotic and unpredictable but did offer a great deal of personal freedom and autonomy.
My current employer, since August 2015, has been The University of Toledo. I’ve been filling the role of College Computing Administrator. This position is quite unique; the best way I can describe it is Help Desk mixed with System Administrator-lite. My day to day tasks including helping anyone and everyone in my college with technical issues of all sorts whether it be hardware, software, or on byod devices but then there are the more grandiose items like planning and rolling out Windows 10 upgrades, VMWare vlab images, server upgrades and maintenance, and more Sysadmin sort of things.
Being a College Computing Admin was quite exciting at first as there was a great deal to catch up on. My first task was to complete an inventory of all the hardware in the building and find a way to keep on top of it. In the end I used OCSinventory-ng, an open source tool that has a client that pings the device. It’s helped tremendously in knowing who has what and what software is installed and may need upgraded. Then there was the Windows 10 roll-out. Upgrading several hundred devices to Windows 10 was daunting at the time as I didn’t have a procedure in place to work with.
My college is also unique in that it is the only one, that I know of, where a third of the devices I am to support were Macs. Having had little knowledge on macs and the troubleshooting thereof, it took some time to get my bearing. Now I can say with certainty that I can support Macs, Windows, and Linux devices, the trifecta. We are also one of the only colleges that still has a laptop checkout system, others had moved on. So, just as before, I had to devise a deployment system. I went back to WDS for the windows portion, but with our labs also containing macs I was also tasked with learning JAMF, and how to deploy with it’s tool Casper. I can go on and on with the tools I’ve learned at my position here but I feel it would be best to visit the Skills section of my website to gain a full understanding.
Overall, my experience here in a quasi leadership / autonomous role was quite rewarding. Having had a staff of student workers I am less nervous about managerial positions, though, frankly I still like doing the technical work myself as I find it more rewarding than tasking one of my students to take care of it. Regardless, it is nice knowing that I have that capability now.