desktop support specialist, troubleshoots problems Wesleyan employees may
encounter with their computers.
Desktop Support Specialist Learned Programming on IBM Mainframe
|Q: When did you come
to Wesleyan and for what department?
A: I came to Wesleyan in July 1998 as a desktop configuration specialist for
the PeopleSoft Team in Information Technology Services.
Q: Explain what a desktop support specialist does.
A: It is the responsibility of a desktop support specialist to perform
trouble-shooting and remediation of software and hardware problems on
computers and peripherals and install and configure new desktop computers
and peripherals. We also provide support/coordination for special projects
requiring technical expertise within supported departments and ITS.
Q: Who are the other members of the desktop support team? How many
student-workers does the office employ?
A: Phil Dean, John Hammond, Sean Gomez, Shawn Hill, Todd Houle, and Ben
Jackson. Each desktop support person has access to one or more student
workers. ITS employs students in many capacities including the helpdesk, the
store, classroom and lab support and more.
Q: What led you to be a desktop support specialist?
A: Desktop support is my second career. For 20 years I was an
analysis/portfolio manager/trader for the Travelers Investment Management
Co. (TIMCO). Our group at TIMCO had the first PC on the market, an Apple,
and then the first IBM PC. There was no such thing as desktop support and I
learned applications and operating systems from documentation, vendors and
books. Desktop support was a natural second career given my background with
computers. Previous to being at Wesleyan I was a desktop support specialist
with a specialty insurance company.
Q: What is your background with computers? Are you self-taught or is this
something you learned in college?
A: I started programming in college on an IBM 1620 mainframe that was as big
as the office I share with Ben Jackson and Sean Gomez and as powerful as a
calculator. When I went to college in the 60s, personal computers had not
yet been invented. I taught as a graduate assistant the only undergraduate
computer course offered at the University of Connecticut and used the
mainframe in my graduate work. At TIMCO I did lots of programming on the
mainframe in FORTRAN, FOCUS and BASIC. Then when PCs were invented I started
using PC-based applications such as LOTUS 123 and Turbo BASIC. I have taken
several programming and application courses and one PC hardware course but I
am mostly self-taught. I enjoy learning by solving challenging problems.
Q: What are your degrees in?
A: I got my bachelor of arts in math education from the University of
Connecticut School of Education in 1969, and a master of science in
statistics also from UConn in 1971.
Q: What are typical concerns Wesleyan employees have with their computers?
A: E-mail, MS Office Suite, printing and home computing top the list of
employee concerns. Recently, spyware/malware/adware has been one of the
biggest challenges that concern us all at Wesleyan. By clicking on what
seems to be an innocuous Web link, one can install programs that run in the
background. These programs will spawn many processes that will use system
resources and render the computer non-functional.
Q: Are the issues you deal with pretty standard or is every visit a new
A: Most printers, laptop and peripherals purchased through the Wesleyan
Computer Shop have been tested in the Wesleyan environment and are pretty
standard. Printers and computers purchased outside of Wesleyan may have
incompatibilities with our systems. Non-standard computers, laptops or
desktops, are very time consuming to work with since we may not have ready
access to standard images and device drivers. The biggest challenge is the
hand-held device including smart phones. These devices come in so many
different models with rapidly changing technology. We often havenít seen a
particular device when asked to install and configure to work with Wesleyan
systems. We have found that some do not provide the functionality people
want or expect within the Wesleyan environment.
Q: Can you think of an example of a computer issue that really stumped you,
but later you were able to overcome it?
A: Many times I canít solve a problem without doing some research. One
recent issue was setting up the Blackberries to download Wesleyan email. The
first Blackberry was easy but the second was not. I found that during the
first installation some information was stored on the Blackberry server that
was suppose to make subsequent installations easier. I knew what information
needed to change but I had to work my way through the Blackberry customer
support tiers to find a person that understood the issue and could tell me
how to solve it.
Q: How many ďcustomersĒ do you see on an average day? How do you prioritize
your work load?
A: On average, probably six or more in person and more on the phone or by
email. I try to schedule part of my day with non-urgent requests, such as
newer equipment to those who have older working equipment. My first priority
is to work with those who canít perform their job functions and remedy the
situation as quickly as possible.
Q: Do you perform regular equipment maintenance on all machines or do most
people just call in when there is a problem?
A: Some maintenance is done automatically. For example, Microsoft updates
and security patches are pushed to faculty and staff computers from a
central server. The same is true of updates to Norton Antivirus. We do not
have a regular maintenance program but I check on the health of a computer
when ever I visit one. Most problems are not maintenance problems and people
call, email or submit issue to my queue.
Q: If a new employee is starting at Wesleyan and needs a new computer, what
is the process to get that employee a machine and all of his or her software
and network connections?
A: The purchase of a new computer rather than a used must be approved and a
budget number provided. I will work with the user department to determine if
the customer needs a laptop or a desktop and order the equipment through the
store. The store provides me with the computer complete with standard image
which will already have most commonly used Wesleyan software, such as, the
MS Office Suite, Eudora and MeetingMaker. When a new employee is entered
into the Human Resources system, a process is initiated that includes ITS
operations setting up accounts for standard Wesleyan systems. I will then
customize the computer by naming it, adding it to the Wesleyan domain,
adding user accounts, adding the computer to inventory, setting up our
back-up system, configuring email and MeetingMaker and installing and
configuring any additional software or hardware. I then setup the computer
on the customerís desk and try to meet with them on their first day on the
Q: What are the most positive aspects about your job?
A: I enjoy working with all the different staff and students and seeing them
succeed. The ITS team is great and have a great relationship with my office
mates Ben and Sean. We often get return visits from ITS student alums who
have gone on to successful careers.
Q: Do you personally use a PC or Mac?
A: I have always used a PC at home. Some of the applications I use, such as
Microsoft Access, are not supported by a Mac.
Q: What are your hobbies and interests?
A: Iím an outside person. I have a rowing shell housed in the Jaycees
Community Boathouse in Hartford and Iím a coxswain for the Hartford Barge
Club rowing out of the same boathouse. Rowing fills my mornings from 6 to 7
a.m. After work and on weekends I try to cycle four or five days a week on
group rides with various cycling groups. My real passion is alpine skiing
and Iíve skied all over the United States, Canada and Europe. Iím hoping for
early snow in the mountains.
Q: Where did you meet your partner, Jeff?
A: People get a kick out of finding out that Jeff and I grew up four houses
apart on the same street and went to the same schools. He is a competitive
rower, strong cyclist and fearless skier.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection