“Do you love your job?”
Valid question, I suppose… since they were actually witnessing a small glimpse of the chaos that is the weeks before school begins.
One would think that Summer work at a school equates to no work, as there’s no kids or teachers on campus. This is totally false, at least for the technology staff at our school. Summer for the ginormous staff of 2 (+1 temporary) in a campus supporting 800+ kids and ~65 staff was definitely not one spent lounging around in an air conditioned office with our feet propped up watching YouTube videos. Our project-filled Summer involved several tasks which could only be done while the classrooms were empty. Here’s just a few of the tasks that come to mind:
– Performed several classroom reconfigurations which involved shuffling computers around to different rooms based on their tech needs. Some classrooms had entirely new systems installed. Some rooms had their room layouts redone which required us to redo the wiring for the computers in that room. This probably involved somewhere around 270-280 computers overall.
– Planned, configured, and installed a new managed wireless solution in the campus with 25 (and soon to be 4 more) Access Points. This replaced our former paltry wireless solution of 10 to 12 APs scattered across 10-12 acres of property.
– Configured and deployed 40 brand new teacher and staff laptops and installed the accompanying hardware setup at their desks. Also setup and configured 36 Chromebooks for student use.
– Installed and configured 4 new servers to accommodate for newer software being rolled out this school year. Additionally had to wrestle with configuring this new software to get it working properly in our environment.
– Installed and configured new web filtering appliance
– Installed and configured new KVM server hardware
– Replace and adjust mounts for 15 new projectors.
– Add / remove / reconfigure approximately 900 user accounts in Active Directory
– Install and configure new ID card printer. Design new ID card templates. Take pictures for approximately 900 staff and students.
There are probably several other projects that I simply forgot, or maybe chose not to remember. Also, there are still a few more projects that have yet to be done due to various factors with the vendors and service providers we are dealing with. Those projects will likely get done when we’re back down to 2 staff as our 3rd is a seasonal employee because of college.
Before I got this job, I used to do this kind of work on a much smaller scale as it simply involved either my family, friends, or technology for my own personal use. Now that I do this for a living, I definitely have a different view about doing this stuff in my personal time. Just recently, I had to help out my dad’s friend with some computer problems that she was having. What sounded to be a simple fix actually turned out to be quite the headache. It took me around 8 hours of work on that computer to finally finish. Problem after problem would reveal itself as I tackled their primary issue. It didn’t even end in an actual solution, but I instead provided a work around to the problem they were having.
I honestly would have rather gone to work that day. At least the pay is better and I would have been able to spend it reducing the backlog that we have.
I suppose there’s a few things that help me keep my sanity as I work. One thing is that I actually do love technology. I like to tinker with things and to try out new tech. In some sense, our campus is simply a giant playground for me. Sure, I don’t exactly get to do what I want to do with the tech when I’m at work, but I get to mess with a ton of stuff I would otherwise have no access to in the home. The most recent example of this aspect would be me being able to try out and use the Microsoft Surface Pro. I was actually considering acquiring that device for my own personal use as a portable art workstation. Being able to try out the device has actually helped me to decide against it, due to the whole WinTab driver fiasco that’s still an issue to this day (though I believe a fix is in beta). I suppose the announcement for the Cintiq Companion helped solidify this decision as well.
Another thing that helps is the feedback and response I get from my clients. For the most part, they don’t really see the work I do unless a problem actually arises for them. A lot of the work I do probably goes unnoticed since keeping the campus running smooth is the ideal goal for technology. However, when problems do arise and I’m able to help someone out, I’ll admit I do feel happy when I receive their gratitude. Seeing their reaction when their problem gets fixed feels pretty good. Also, receiving praises like being called awesome or someone’s hero is also quite satisfying. I think the first time someone called me their hero, I was pretty surprised and flattered as I can’t really recall a time anyone has ever said that prior to me having this job. I was even gifted some home made cookies and treats, strawberries, candy, coffee, submarine sandwiches, and a few other things. I’ll admit, these occasional perks are quite nice for simply doing my job.
Working with people has also been an interesting aspect about this particular field. Among the staff, there are a few that have admittedly made me roll my eyes when I saw a ticket from them. These frequent offenders often have tech problems that aren’t truly tech problems, like failing to turn something on or plug something in. However, there are some who have had problems often enough that I’ve actually been able to become friends with them to some degree after repeat visits and conversations. I sometimes look forward to helping these people out because it gives me the opportunity to hang out with them more. I’ve only actually kicked it with two or three outside of the work setting, but am hoping to forge stronger relationships in the workplace. It’s kind of difficult to do so as I’m not as exposed to them as often as the rest of the faculty is to each other. They often work together within their own departments for educational and other various matters. Since my department consists of just two of us, my boss is really the only one I see on a regular basis. Outside of helping them out with tech stuff, I don’t know if I’m at a point where I could just drop in on a whim and shoot the breeze with anyone in particular. Well, maybe with some, but it’s kind of hard to do so as not to interfere with their work and with such an unpredictable work load for technology.
In general, I think the staff as a whole is a great group of people. I do enjoy visiting and getting chances to socialize with my coworkers. However, those occasions seem to be too few and far in between… at least in terms of being able to visit the people I actually do get along with well. I’m not saying I don’t get along with people there, but rather that I find it easier to get along with certain people more than others. I remember rubbing people the wrong way early on when I first started there due to some considerations I didn’t take into account and some oversights I made. However, I think that most people are okay with me now (at least I hope that’s the case). From what they’ve been telling me, I’m supposedly considered as the go to guy there when it comes to servicing their tech problems. With just two of us, it’s either my boss or me. Of course I’m happy to hear that.
Lastly, I simply need to remember who I’m ultimately serving while at work. Just as it says in Colossians 3:23-24, I need to do my work as I would unto the Lord. There are some who have a relatively high expectation of technology’s functionality and who are pretty adamant about expressing their dissatisfaction when something doesn’t work the way it should. I understand where they’re coming from, but it is a bit difficult to manage working in such an understaffed and under-budgeted department. I’m not sure if all the staff see or understand the ratio we have of clients to technology staff, which is like 450:1 when you include the students. Even if my work is looked down upon or was to go unnoticed, which it probably is most of the time, the Lord sees it. He is who I ultimately serve and I pray that I’m honoring Him in the workplace. I pray that my work ethic and etiquette points to Christ and that my clients see something different in me.
So, do I love my job? Sometimes, I’ll admit that I forget. Sometimes, I may even briefly fall out of love. However, the people, the occasional perks, and my real “Boss” help to remind me why I came into this position. Even if I didn’t like my job (like when I was doing reception work), simply remembering who I serve helps to carry me through and enables me to serve to the fullest of my ability, even when I may not feel like doing so.