Saturday, January 22, 2011

what I do

From time to time, I am asked what I do. This is always a reference to my profession. And I give various answers: computer geek, programmer, IT Manager, work with computers. I think I assume people don't want detail, and/or wouldn't understand what I do.

My usual day runs like this. I get in, login to my computer. I make sure I can access the databases I am responsible for. I open our techsupport mailbox, so I can respond and route requests throughout the day. I check on our facebook page, and our twitter account. I check my office email, so I can respond to requests that come there as well. I run a few informational queries that let me know where we are with registrations, that certain back end processes are running. Then I divide my time between working on database projects or programming projects, and responding to what comes in. This might be a request for information from a vendor or partner or some other department in the institution (how many left handed physicians from idaho took courses lasts year?). It might be a registrant who can't retrieve their transcript online. It might be a staff member who needs help with their software, or needs to market a course with an email blast. I forward tasks to our web programmer or tech support analyst - anything I can get off my plate, I do. I am learning to delegate. It's hard, but is better in the long run.

If there is a problem, everything else drops off while I deal with it. If the website is down, that becomes my priority. If we can't authorize credit card charges, that's the priority. I do a kind of technical triage all day long -- what has to be done, what can wait.

I have a lot of meetings. I am on the Executive Staff team at work; so we have regular meetings for that. I meet once a month with my team, so we update each other on projects, issues, schedules. I meet with our web support folks once a month. Once in a while I go to our advisory board meetings, or to the coordinators team meetings. I meet with prospective vendors, to look at software and hardware we might be purchasing. When we hire for certain positions, I am part of the interview process. There are meetings with other folks at the institution outside our department. I try to tell myself that meeting time is not a waste -- it is all part of the job, so even if it doesn't feel productive to me, it is still work.

I do administrative crap. Purchasing. Approving bills. Time Sheets. Reviews. Approving leave. I only have two people to manage so it isn't horrible, but I like it least of all I do.

I love the problem-solving aspect -- the struggling to get something to work and then figuring it out. It keeps me challenged, and thinking. And I love the people interaction -- the helping aspect. It really energizes me to be able to help someone do something in a way that makes it easier, or better, or just plain possible. If I can take a problem off of someone's shoulders, it makes my day.

so that's what I do. The labels -- programmer,database administrator, web administrator, manager, business analyst -- are just words.

No comments: