Behind the Desk: The Help Desk Confessions

Put yourself into the shoes of a technology help desk employee. You walk into the shift of your job with the phone ringing off the hook and a line of eight people needing assistance with computer issues. The person working the shift before is in a rush to get out the door and dump the workload on you. Meanwhile, the printer is jammed with paper and the main desk computer is down.

Thankfully, this is not an accurate depiction of the student job at Teaching Learning Technology.

“I usually just browse the internet until somebody comes to me with a problem either in person or if I have to answer the phone,” said sophomore Abdullah Elgabrowny.

This short description sums up the main duties witnessed by someone who enters the TLT. However, working behind the desk is not limited to what that an average customer can see. There is actually a progressively larger scale of issues that each student worker must keep an eye on at all times.

The TLT was developed as a resource to students in need of aid with technology. It was also started with the goal that it can be run with student employees, who is led by a student manager each academic year.

It all starts with the process of applying for a student assistant’s position at the beginning of each school year. Each student has their own reason for applying to the position.

“I needed some extra cash for the school year, and I thought the TLT would be a good place to apply so that I could learn some new things about technology while working,” explained freshman Tessa Thomas.

“It was mostly for the money. I wanted to learn about the Information Superhighway,” said freshman Adam Hopkins jokingly.

 If they are lucky enough to receive this position, they are required to go through a week of training in order to know what to do in the various scenarios at the TLT. Even if the student is not majoring in anything technology related, they can still learn everything they need to know through the training sessions. The training is primarily on the software packages and technology-based equipment that the employees will be working with during their shifts.

The software training helps to sharpen the employees on how to navigate various software tools. Students will often come in with questions on software packages, such as iMovie or Photoshop, that the employees are expected to give the correct response to.

Students are also trained to use the required equipment at the help desk.

“When I work on a computer, I am usually helping students get out of [network] remediation.  I also unlock accounts, help students with the scanner, map [network drives], and other various computer problems,” said Elgabrowny.

“[I work on] a lot of networking issues, answering the phone, and helping students with projects on programs such as Excel, iMovie, Word, and PowerPoint,” explained Thomas. These are only a fraction of the programs that the students must be trained on.

Once this training is complete, the employees must be ready for the new and returning students of the academic year. During this time, all the employees collaborate to help students primarily get onto the campus network. Even with the simple networking issues of the initial weekend, the student employees can still run into some problems.

“Every once in a while, you get someone that has a really ridiculously hard problem and you can’t fix it, so you just kind of play around with it until the next shift [comes in],” said Hopkins.

Once the weekend passes, the amount of networking problems eventually trickles down to a minimum. It is around this time that the employees get comfortable working at the TLT and find it more of a relaxing environment.

“It’s a very homey atmosphere here. I feel really close to all the people I help. I just feel like they’re all a part of my extended family,” admitted Hopkins.

“Everyone is extremely nice, and when we are not working, we all like to have a good time and joke around with each other,” said Thomas.

It is in these relaxed times that the true character and spirit of the TLT is revealed. The easygoing atmosphere allows the employees to bond in less stressful times. When asked of their most enjoyable experiences, they all had humorous moments.

“[Many times] I’ve walked in to see an almost disturbing [Photoshopped picture] of one of my co-workers,” said Elgabrowny with enjoyment.

Despite these times of relaxation on the job, there are also times where the employees must get serious, especially when they are inescapably face-to-face with a computer issue that they cannot troubleshoot.

“There are definitely a lot of issues that are hard to work out while at the TLT, so I would say yes, from time to time I run into some difficulties,” admitted Thomas.

Even with these difficulties, the workers find aid from the experienced full-time employees that work in Campus Technology Services. Through this experience, the students learn from their and grow in a work-related environment. When asked if they would be continuing their jobs for the next academic year, they all had varied responses.

“I see myself [being promoted to] Training Manager, since I got the job,” said Thomas excitedly.

“I can easily see myself continuing this job. I’ll probably still be behind the desk,” said Elgabrowny.

There was also little that the students wished to change about the position in the future.

“I would like to be paid more. I would like there to be an Xbox 360 in here. I would also like a TLT puppy to play with but not have to take care of,” Hopkins said jokingly.

At the end of it all, the students of the TLT help desk prevail in accomplishing the tasks that are set before them. The job allows the students to grow in a work environment, while they still tackle their course loads provided each semester. This position allows the students to take a hands-on approach to a career environment, while still retaining a level of comfort in knowing the program is developed to guide students towards success.

Author: Steven E. Croner

Hey, everyone. How are you? I’m doing pretty well. My name is Steven. I’ve been living in Pittsburgh for a few years now. What sort of projects have I been working on, you ask? Well, I’ve assisted with several indie film productions in that time, mostly directly behind the camera or working with camera operations. It has been pretty fun. I’ve also been working on several other projects individually. This website is a collection of those projects that I do on in my spare time. Please click on the links above to learn about some of the work that I do in digital media and writing. I hope you enjoy my collection, which is a combination of old, archived work and new content I am compelled to share with you. Please feel free to interact, engage, and help me make some friends and colleagues in the creative media communities!

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