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Meet Jobe Diagne, Tech Support Engineer

Jobe Diagne

Jobe Diagne

Jobe Diagne grew up in Cambridge. When he went to college, he thought he’d focus on marketing and communications. But then he took part in Year Up, an intensive training program for young people from the city. The experience introduced him to the technology field, and he’s never looked back.

“I just knew I wanted to be in IT,” he said. “I love what I do.”

Jobe is 32 now, and he’s worked in the field for eight years, largely in the IT departments of large corporations. He’s been at ComputerSupport.com for just a few months, but he’s finding the environment a pleasant change.

“I just like the management style,” he said. “They’re open to suggestions and changes.”

Another aspect of the work that he likes is seeing how different areas of IT operate. His job mostly consists of dealing with client issues, from simple things like resetting passwords to responding when a server goes down. Eventually, though, Jobe wants to get into networking and systems administration. Since ComputerSupport.com works as a team, he’s able to start getting involved in that area as well.

“This, to be honest, is the best stepping stone for me,” he said.

Jobe lives in Worcester, and when he’s not working he spends plenty of time with friends and family. In May, he became a first-time uncle when his twin brother had triplets.

“I don’t look at a computer when I’m out of work,” he said.

Meet Lane Smith, Technical Support Engineer

Lane Smith

Lane Smith

Lane Smith got his start in IT back when he was in elementary school in Arkansas. His father was a student at the time, and he had a job at a university IT department. He brought Lane with him sometimes, and the boy found the work didn’t look that difficult.

“At that point it was just kind of pushing ‘next,’ ‘next,’ ‘next,’” he said.

Lane discovered he could use even a little bit of technical expertise to his advantage. For school projects, he started building websites, and he found his teachers were impressed.

“In five minutes, I could have an A on a report,” he said.

These days, at 25, Lane has much more substantial expertise in technology. He needs to, because his job involves addressing all sorts of client issues, from minor hardware issues to server problems and email glitches.

“You have to be kind of proactive, staying up to date,” he said.

Lane has been with ComputerSupport.com for a little over a year, and he said one of the things he likes about the job is that there aren’t any low-level employees who have to follow a script to respond to issues. “Everyone kind of knows what they’re doing,” he said.

That means when clients call in, their questions get answered quickly, and the work environment stays calm.

Aside from working with customers remotely, Lane does on-site work at various offices a few times a week. “It’s kind of nice to see how the buildings are set up,” he said. “Kind of put a face and a name together.”

Of course visiting outside offices isn’t always possible. With one client in Sweden, Lane uses a webcam setup to take a close look at their equipment so he can diagnose whatever issues they’re having.

Lane isn’t just a computer person. When he’s not in the office, he’s studying history at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. He’s especially interested in the beginnings of the Cold War after World War II.

And beyond being a student and a full-time IT pro, he finds time to brew his own beer. One of his favorites is a strong winter ale. On occasion, he’ll even bring a few into the office for everyone to enjoy after finishing up the work week.

Why IT Consulting?

For some business owners, the notion of outsourcing anything to an outside firm might seem a little scary. It’s attractive to have everyone who’s doing anything for your company working as a dedicated full-time employee.

But these days most businesses can benefit from advanced technologies like cloud computing, remote backup and systems that integrate computer and phone networks.  Often, you won’t even know what technological solutions make sense for them until you see them in action.

That’s where IT consulting comes in. An IT firm can look at the big picture and suggest what investments might make sense. Because they work with multiple clients, they have up-to-date expertise in what other companies are finding useful, which means you can benefit from the experiences of others.

Consulting firms also have a surprising cost benefit. If a company has its own internal IT department, a handful of employees probably have to do everything from overhauling the entire email system to setting up voicemail for a new hire. That means they have to be seriously overqualified—and overpaid—for some of their assignments. With an outside firm, you’re hiring a team that includes people with a variety of experience levels. Often it also means you can have several IT professionals on hand when you need them and none when you don’t.

Here’s another thing about outsourcing IT—it’s probably inevitable, at least for some things. More and more of us are using the cloud every day, even if that just means throwing a file into Dropbox or sharing something on Google Docs, and that means trusting our data to outside parties. IT consulting firms can help businesses do these kinds of things in ways that are more secure—and that also offer extra benefits like emergency backup.

IT firms can work with companies a variety of ways—from troubleshooting email problems to developing a cloud strategy for connecting remote offices. But you probably won’t know which solutions might make sense for your office until you start asking.

Meet Liam Shea, Manager of Customer Support

Liam SheaAs a kid, Liam Shea always liked playing with computers—“seeing what I could do, seeing how I could make it run faster,” he said.

Even while he was in college studying for a career in criminal justice, he found himself pulled toward technology, working for an IT outsourcing company to put himself through school. Four years ago, he came to ComputerSupport.com, where he’s now manager of customer support, and he has no plans to do anything else.

Liam’s work involves overseeing the company’s help desk and making sure that customer IT issues are always resolved within 30 minutes. That requires not just strong technical skills but also the ability to work with busy businesspeople so that technological problems don’t interfere with their work.

Beyond that, Liam meets regularly with ComputerSupport’s clients to strategize about ways they can improve their information systems. Using tickets that have been put in as guidelines, he’s able to make recommendations about areas for improvement within a given company—“how we can be proactive and kind of cut down the ticket volume,” he said.

Liam’s also responsible for making sure ComputerSupport employees who are stationed at clients’ offices stay in the loop with their coworkers at the main office. The company has daily meetings that the remote workers call in to, which help everyone learn from the work that others are doing. But, since the company tries to be a friendly place to work, Liam admitted the meetings usually involve some talk about the Celtics or the new blockbuster movie that everyone saw over the weekend.

Liam said one of the things that drew him to the company was the chance to get in on the ground floor of a fast-growing enterprise—“kind of experience the benefits, as well as the pains of a small start-up company,” he said.

When Liam’s not in the office, you can find him spending time with his nearly four-year-old son, talking superheroes, playing with action figures or heading off to the zoo.

“We’re never sitting still,” he said. “When I’m not here, that’s where my time is usually being allocated.”

What Muppets Mean For Business Communication

In the latest twist in the saga of Greg Smith’s very public departure from Goldman Sachs Group, Reuters reports that the firm is now scouring the company’s internal email in search of the word “muppet.”

In his New York Times op-ed attacking his former employer, Smith alleged that his coworkers there fobbed off bad investments on clients and insulted their intelligence. In particular, he said the firm’s managing directors referred to their clients as muppets—British slang that refers not to Jim Henson’s creations but to stupid people.

The Reuters story reports that the company is reviewing Smith’s allegations, in part by scanning internal emails. That action should serve as a reminder for office workers that nothing they communicate electronically from the office is their private business.

By now, most employees are probably well aware that it’s inadvisable to send an application for a new job on office email or visit inappropriate websites on a company computer. Back in 2007, the American Management Association found that 66 percent of employers monitored their Internet connections and a full 28 percent had fired a worker for inappropriate email use.

But Goldman Sachs’ actions show that workers need to watch what they type even if they’re pretty sure their boss wouldn’t bat an eye at what they’re saying. If a company comes under scrutiny for any reason, there’s a good chance someone will dig into all interoffice communication. Sometimes, it’s an internal investigation like Goldman’s. Other times it’s a political thing—like the way reporters dug through the largely mundane emails from Sarah Palin’s time as governor of Alaska when they were released last year.

The biggest worry for most companies is that they’ll end up in some kind of legal dispute and have an aggressive lawyer wading through their internal emails. They may even get an IT consulting firm to help pull out messages that the sender and recipient thought had been permanently deleted.

Even failing to archive old messages can be dangerous in a legal battle because it might suggest that the company was trying to hide something.

The question of what to keep out of official business communication can become even more complicated when employees use company laptops or smartphones, or even when they use their own mobile devices for work purposes. Social media also blurs lines since it can be easy to lose track of whether a Twitter handle is a work tool or a vehicle for personal expression.

As with most things, it’s always a good idea to be cautious. At most companies, the best practice is probably to use email for uncontroversial work topics. Off-topic conversation, jokes and—especially—rants about a situation that’s causing problems should be saved for the water cooler or the bar after work.

And if you feel an urge to call a client a muppet, it’s probably a good time to just bite your tongue. After all, that’s what Kermit would do.

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