IT Co-op: from School Books to MacBooks
“First day of your first job ever, no pressure”, said my mother. I was in a new city, going to a ‘big’ company and into a new role. That morning, I walked out of my apartment very excited and nervous, and promptly… got on the wrong bus (just like my sister predicted). Thanks, sis 😐
Luckily, I’m overly punctual so I still arrived at the office an hour early. I walked inside a little tentative but soon relaxed because everyone was so welcoming. I began to feel at ease. Here I am, my first job and Hootsuite’s first IT Department co-op!
Me & IT: Three Lessons
Like many 90’s kids, I grew up playing classic MS-DOS games which led me into being a computer hobbyist. As I grew up, I went through multiple phases, and it wasn’t until high school that I got the chance to reconnect with computers again. I learned that my school was offering a Java elective, and I was absolutely ecstatic to enroll in that course. This, ladies and gentlemen, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship with computer science.
First Lesson: This is not the task you’re looking for…
My very first task at Hootsuite was to create an accurate baseline of our inventory in Procurify. The IT Gods were smiling on me – I take organizing to a level of perfectionism. I started right away – counted the mini-display cables and made sure they were in the right cupboards, neatly stacked the RAM sticks, wireless keyboards and mice on one side and wired on the other, desk phones were stacked properly, then last but not the least, all the cupboards were labelled with what was inside of them.
Done, right? Kinda. As the day passed I learned that this wasn’t about organizing, it was about understanding – understanding of our IT equipment, so I would know exactly where to look when I’m asked for an extra Magsafe, or an ethernet cable, or a new monitor.
Second Lesson: Start Simple
I used to think that being in IT is about being a hardware engineer, but once I started my co-op, I realized that there is a great deal of diversity within the IT department. There are a variety of opportunities and positions: helpdesk, support, purchaser, system administrators, and technicians.
A typical day in the helpdesk position revolves around resolving issues/tickets reported by employees. When it comes to solving helpdesk tickets, you have to learn how to turn stressful situations into doable, positive ones. This is a lot more than politely asking “Have you tried turning your computer off and on again?”. I have learned not to overthink every ticket, and to start with the simplest steps. For example, one of the my first tickets was regarding a flickering monitor. I thought about the possibilities: a corrupt power source? Dead pixels? Bad video card? Then it just came to me, ‘Why not try changing the monitor cable?’. Ta-da! One of the things that I absolutely love about my IT and my co-op is that I get multiple opportunities to develop my technical skills as well as polishing my people skills, because I’m constantly helping other people.
Final Lesson: It’s All About the Team
The main reason I applied for an IT position was because I knew so little about this field and wanted to learn more about it. I am developing my technical skills, but my final lesson is that it’s more about the team than about the technology. My team – affectionately known as the ‘NerdNest’ – is my support network and a big reason for my success. All of the ‘Nerds’ have been both patient and helpful – each has taught me something useful and interesting. Something I’m most proud of about this team is that we work hard to be the reason that our staff are so comfortable approaching us with questions and problems. I’m looking forward to continuing this beautiful friendship with IT.
Thanks to Kimli Welsh, Colette Baber, Noel Pullen for reading early drafts of this post. Thanks to the NerdNest for all the great help.
About the Author
Shameen is a co-op student, halfway through her 3rd year in Bachelors of Computer Science at Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops. She is part of the Hootsuite helpdesk team, and their first co-op. In her spare time, Shameen like reading fiction, playing badminton, and volunteering as a mentor at coding events. Follow her on twitter at @rendevouz09.