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Career Story: Computer Specialist At A Small Private College

Computer Specialist At A Small Private College

Job Title: Computer Specialist

Type of Company: I work at a small private college.

Education: AS, Computer Science, Manchester Community College •• BA, Business Administration, University of Hartford

Previous Experience: I started out as a data entry and computer operator at the same company I work for now and moved up the ladder.

Job Tasks: because I work in a small office, my job has a number of responsibilities. A similar job, at a large corporation, would undoubtedly focus on a fraction of the things that I do.

My main job is to support users of the computer system that houses information about students and employees. This information includes admissions applications, grades, transcripts for students as well as payroll data for employees. Because I have to make sure all offices know how to enter the data, I hold training classes for new employees. But I have to double-check what people do even after I've trained them, so I create reports for the offices to check the data they've compiled. For instance, we have to ascertain who has missing grades for the most recent marking period and I run programs that create reports for the offices to use. I also create grade reports, paychecks and transcripts. Some of the reports we employ come with the system, others have to be custom designed.

In addition, I have to keep up on all the updates each year for payroll taxes and W2 forms and I attend meetings with my co-workers on a weekly basis to see how we can improve our workload, or share ideas with each other.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is meeting with the people who require my assistance. When a customized report is needed, I meet with the office involved -- payroll, for example -- and we talk about what they want, what data is available, what data we can add and what format to use. I then design a prototype for their review and the process begins. A project of this kind can take days or weeks, but I enjoy them because they are always challenging.

The worst part of my job would probably be the day-to-day checking to be sure that programs run okay.

Job Tips: Do not come into a work place with a superior attitude or the assumption that you know more than the people who've been working there for years. You should offer an opinion, suggest new ideas, but never, never assume that your way is better. It is insulting to your colleagues. If you don't know something, it is okay to say so and ask for help. Nobody expects a new employee to know everything. People like to help the new person. It gives them a sense of importance.

Additional Thoughts: As I stated above, some large companies have a computer specialist doing a very small portion of a big job. This may get monotonous after time. If you work at a smaller company, your job duties will probably be more varied. However, at a small company there is less room for advancement. This is something to consider when choosing a place of employment.

If you can get a summer job in your field, take it. It is the best experience you can have.

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