“I’ve been in a lot of jobs where I had to hide a lot of who I am, and this is the first job where I’ve been able to be completely me, all the time,” says Amy, a media consultant who started with LSA Technology Services seven years ago.
Amy had past experience in media centers and with AV technology, so a friend encouraged her to apply. Having been working a lot of part time jobs without insurance or benefits, Amy was in “survival mode” upon starting. She found herself getting frustrated when she didn’t immediately know how to do something, but was quickly encouraged to ask questions: “I discovered I had this whole support system and was just not using it.”
As a media consultant, Amy spends the majority of her day helping faculty with technology issues in classrooms. The rest of her time she helps keep equipment organized and stocked, and likes to look for ways to make processes more streamlined.
For example, she would go troubleshoot in a classroom and find that the podium cables might be jumbled up or confusing and look for ways to improve that, such as color coding or labeling cables. She found that the engineering team was always willing to teach her things like how the components of the podium were put together so that she could better troubleshoot.
“I found it really refreshing coming here and finding it to be such an accepting environment. People who have engineering degrees and have had all kinds of training, they listen to me,” says Amy.
Now Amy likes to help new staff gain confidence with their weaknesses, but also find what they’re most interested in: “A big part of what I love about this group is that if you have an interest, you can ask about it and explore it. Some things I thought I was really interested in, not so much. Now I’m finding out that I’m good at other things. It’s been such a great growth environment.”
Stefan has had almost 20 jobs since getting his first job at 14 years old bagging groceries. He first entered the technology industry when he applied for a Windows 7 to 10 migration project position in Tokyo on a whim. He had always been interested in technology, remembering playing typing games on his mom’s Windows ‘95 machine as a kid, and later would build computers for himself and his family.
He worked in Tokyo for a little over two years, and upon his contract ending was ready to return to the US. Stefan considered himself a “transplant townie” of Ann Arbor growing up as he spent a lot of time in the area. He remembers going to U-M football games with his dad when he was little, and in general loves how Ann Arbor is “urban without being huge and unmanageable. A 15 minute drive and you can be in nothing but trees.” When one of his friends that he played Dungeons and Dragons with over Zoom shared that there was a Desktop Support Specialist opening in LSA Technology Services, he decided to apply.
Stefan quickly found LSA Technology Services to be a different environment than his dozen plus other jobs: “Something that is unique to LSA compared to other places that I’ve worked is that the organization is very open to giving responsibility to people that ask for it. That is not my experience in most of the other jobs I’ve worked, and certainly not in my previous tech job that had a very structured, corporate environment.”
After less than a year, a new posting came up within LSA Technology Services for the lead of the new Hardware Lifecycle Team. Stefan was thrilled to see the posting, as he found that it focused on the aspect of technology he found most interesting: “bringing order to chaos.” His supervisor encouraged him to apply, giving him the confidence he needed.
Now Stefan leads the staff computer upgrade process in LSA, standardizing and optimizing the processes of purchasing, building, distributing, and eventually returning and disposing of the computer. He hopes to reduce waste — of money, time, and effort — by better predicting needs, and ultimately improve the user experience. He also hopes to simplify work for his other colleagues, saving them time to focus on customer service for teaching and research.
“The biggest difference is that people actually noticed that I was working hard. They said ‘oh, you want to do more, here you go,’ as opposed to ‘don’t bother me with that, I’m busy.’ That made all the difference, that people actually noticed.”
As somebody who has been with U-M for 30+ years, Jim has seen first-hand how LSA Technology Services has evolved into the organization it is today. Jim started working with classroom projection services when he was a student at U-M. After graduating in 1990, he drove around the country for a few months before landing back in Ann Arbor, continuing to work with classroom projection services full time. Jim eventually moved to film projection services, which over time grew into his current team.
Loving Ann Arbor contributed to his decision to return. Jim appreciates the rich culture of dining and arts, and how he can hear multiple different languages being spoken as he walks down the street. He also believes he can make an impact in the city, as he finds that council members and other politicians are accessible and willing to meet.
Now, Jim schedules LSA Technology Services technicians to ensure that classrooms can get support when they need it: “I liken what I do to being an air traffic controller. We have a lot of rooms and more than a couple dozen technicians, and all of those technicians need to be in the right place at the right time on the right day, day in and day out, dozens of times a day.”
Scheduling technicians efficiently has become increasingly important as the technology used in classrooms has changed. Technicians used to focus on about a dozen auditoriums, but as the amount and complexity of technology has grown overtime, they now service hundreds of classrooms.
To help recognize the efforts staff are making, Jim is a member of our Staff Recognition Working Group: “Particularly with an organization as large as ours, I feel that it’s really important to recognize the effort that staff makes. Both as a way to uplift individuals and to communicate to other people within our organization what folks are doing and achieving.”
Jim has always been interested in service oriented work — he has a long list of odd jobs to prove it — and he appreciates how his colleagues strive to be detail oriented and maintain a strong reputation for great service: “Everyone is interested in providing the best possible service that they can provide.”
Learn more about some of our other LSA Technology Services staff members through our Innovate Newsletter InPerson articles.