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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Savvy students work for LTS

Published: October 26, 2007
Section: News

Not just any student can work for LTS. In addition to being computer savvy, students need to understand the inner workings of other technology as well, such as those cool Cisco phones that Brandeis gives us upon entering.

David Finstein '08 has worked with LTS since 2005 and works with the UNET help desk as a senior manager. He oversees all UNet operations in addition to providing technical support to undergrads, faculty and staff and works with two other co-managers under a boss who is assistant director of student technology services.

Ive always been into computers, so thats primarily what got me into it, Finstein said, describing his reasons for choosing the job. He chose to work for UNet specifically because it was what was available at the time, and it wound up being pretty cool.

His is a job that he would absolutely recommend to other students. The job has taught Finstein people skills, professionalism, and how to work in a bureaucracy. Finstein clarified that working for UNet itself isnt like a bureaucracy, but certain tasks involved in the job can become political such as who has access to sending out mass emails.

Finstein said that hes definitely gotten a lot of great experience in terms of what [his current job] might be like as a career because, especially working as management, but more importantly just as a technician here, we get the chance to work with a lot of the actual staff members [of Feldberg LTS]. He described how there are some pretty brilliant and pretty cool people who work there and how the chance to work with people that actually enjoy their jobs and are good at what they do and are willing to try new things and implement new kinds of systems and work with [the] campus community and make things work its a really interesting opportunity because you dont see that on a lot of campuses because a lot of campuses would simply fix the problem for you. Finstein clarified, however, that at Brandeis, they work as a community to try and develop something thats better and he said that this kind of working environment is pretty amazing.

Finstein described virus outbreaks, such as the one of 2005-6, as a difficult part of his jobs. Such outbreaks require LTS to reinstall Windows for people who are shut off of the network, a very time consuming process.

Finstein described the most challenging aspect of his job as two-fold and involving knowing how to handle customers when theyre upset due to the reality that computers are peoples lives in our present day. He explained that it is tough to find a balance to do your job the right way and follow procedure, and keep the customer happy. Doing that and training our staff to do that is probably the hardest thing, he said, because as a manager, he must make sure the staff is adequately trained and equipped to deal with all types of customers. Trying to show people how to find a good balance there is an intriguing task-its not impossible, weve done a pretty good job I think.

Finstein said that its rewarding to see an idea that you had actually go and become real and be successful such as the new tick-tracking system which the help desk has implemented which can track the history of peoples technical problems, including phone problems.

Finstein also mentioned that now, the help desk is seeing a lot more consistent feedback from our customers and user base which is rewarding. He added that in terms of quality control and efficiency, making sure problems get solved in a timely fashion, its really turned [LTS as a department] around.

As a whole, the coolest thing about working for LTS is the people you get to work with and the different kinds of projects you get to do as a resulthaving the kinds of resources that we all have as students is pretty incredible, and taking that to a new level as staff kind of brings it full circle because you get to see it from both sides, and that opportunity is really important and beneficial for anybody who works in LTS. You walk out with a lot more knowledge and experience than you would ever imagine.

Ben Douglas '08 began working for LTS in the spring of 2006, when he started out in the Information Technology Resource Center, now known as the Information Commons. This semester, he works with WaLAS (Web and Library Application Services).

At WaLAS, Douglas assists development of the Brandeis website and helps the people who are in charge of their respective department websites when problems arise. He also helps set up forums and perform other tasks related to website technology. He further mentioned how his department, but not him specifically, deals with the library checkout system database. Initially, Douglas chose to work for LTS because one of his roommates was working there and he knew of an open position. Douglas explained, it seemed like the perfect job that I was capable of and it included all of the skills that I already hadand I really loved the coworkers. He said that he enjoys working with the faculty and explained how his current job is different from his previous one since now he does more email work. In the library, he explained, the work was more one on one in person, teaching people how to use software.

Douglas is a job which he would definitely consider pursuing after college. He described it as a job thats easy enough for me not to be stressed out by and its something that I can enjoy since he has always had a fascination with solving problems like thinking of tech problems and puzzles to solve. Douglas would recommend the job to other students if they have the skills and said if so, then its definitely something to look into. He referenced the good pay, flexible hours, and friendly and accommodating coworkers. He said that if you have some experience in the skills, it definitely advances that and you can put it on a resume and that looks great.

Patience would be the biggest lesson that working for LTS has taught Douglas. I was patient [before], but Ive learned more patience with working with the faculty because some people are definitely technophobes [and] dont know anything about computers, and just being patient with them has really paid off.

Douglas also explained how hes learned how to respond to support questions in a much more professional manner and how to not only answer a question, but to provide further detail, further information so that they can later on help themselves with it so they actually learn how to solve the problem, rather than just solving it for them. Douglas referenced the occasional frustration when a problem simply fixes itself after he invests a long time trying to fix it. He decided that the most challenging aspect of the job is patience since it is difficult to teach people how solve a problem rather than simply doing it for them.

The thank yous are the most rewarding aspect of the job, according to Douglas. He told of how rewarding it is to receive gratitude from people who never thought something could be possible and who email LTS expecting theyre not going to understand anything or not going to get help. He also described how nice it is to provide the help that they need in an informal manner.

Douglas also was proud that LTS is working hard on beautifying the Brandeis website, making it a lot better and easier for departments to update their sites and that theyre in the process of slowly switching to an online content managing system

Editor's note: Ben Douglas is the Backpage Editor for The Hoot.