Computer Operations Specialist Learned Skills on IBM Mainframe


Jerry Maguda, computer operations specialist, helps Wesleyan employees and students solve their computer problems.
 
Posted 04/15/05

Q: When did you come to Wesleyan, and were you always a computer operations specialist?

A: I started July 7, 1977 or 7/7/77. A lucky number? I was hired as a computer operator, and in time my title changed to production manager for administrative systems. I left Wesleyan in 1982, because at that point in my career I felt I needed more exposure to ever changing technology. From 1982 to1985 I worked 2nd and 3rd shift jobs for different employers ranging from a computer operator to a plastics mold injection operator. During that same time I worked as a daytime temporary employee for Wesleyan for what was then known as the Computing Center processing and printing materials at the peak times during the academic and fiscal calendars. When a permanent job became available in 1985, I was hired permanently. I had just two requests, that the salary was at least the same and it was first shift only. The administration agreed, so I came back as a permanent employee in the role of computer operator.

Q: What does your job title, computer operations specialist, mean exactly?

A: During the years the responsibilities have changed, but basically I respond to and resolve requests in the request tracking system operations@wesleyan. I also support ITS’ desktop support, help desk and technical staff by adding and removing computer accounts, processing printing requests, restoring files, solving access issues and creating and adjusting e-mail lists.

Q: What’s a typical day like?

A: Most of my time is spent on my computer. I communicate mostly via e-mail and phone. The only direct contact I have on a regular basis is with ITS staff.  On any given day I could spend a lot of time on unanticipated issues, as well as routine technical maintenance. 

Q: What are typical problems you help people solve?

A: People contact me with a variety of problems. It can be anything from “my e-mail isn’t working” to “the Internet is down,” or “Saturn is down.”  “PeopleSoft gives me a blank screen,” “I am getting denied access to these files,” or  “I have lost a couple of files, can you restore them from last Tuesday?” They’ll also say that MeetingMaker is suddenly asking them for a password, and that it hasn’t done that in two years, and they want to know what their password is, or “I am a new faculty calling from California, are my computer accounts setup yet? How do I access them from here?”

Q: What has been one of your most memorable problems?

A: One of my most unique calls was from someone saying, “I keep getting denied dial-in access so I went out and bought a new phone, can you help me?”

Q: What lead you into computer-type work?

A: After high school in 1974 I worked at Fafnir Bearing in New Britain and my coworkers, who had been in factory work for many years, all told me that I should get out of factory work.  I have since realized this was very good advice. I checked out the Computer Processing Institute, CPI, in East Hartford. It no longer exists, but I went there in 1976, and earned a diploma in operations. At that time I trained on IBM mainframes 360/370.

Q: What are typical programs or programming languages you use at work?

A: Visual BASIC is still being used in the programming area somewhat, but now it’s mostly    C++, SQR, Procedural Language/SQL, Java and COBOL. These are mostly for business applications. There are different languages for math and statistical and web applications.

Q: Do you prefer PCs or Macs?  

A: I prefer PCs. My first computer was a Mac, which I liked, but Macs are mostly used to start your computer exposure in grade schools or high school, or if you work in publications or art. 

Q: Do people ever use their keyboard trays for coffee mug holders and end up with disasters?  

A: Of course, haven’t you? I can get an entire lunch just by turning my keyboard over and shaking. Desktop support specialists deal with this all the time.

Q: At home, are you on a computer much or do you try to stay away?

A: I do have a computer, a PC. This is where I do personal stuff like emailing friends and relatives, banking, buying stuff and research. I’m not much of a computer game player, and don’t spend much time ‘surfing.’ There are times when I do work-related projects from home, but not often. It’s funny how different your mindset is when you’re on your computer at work versus home.  

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: My hobbies seem to center around physical activities. I like to play squash here at Wesleyan, and have met many people in other departments who also play that otherwise I would not have met. I feel fortunate to work for an employer that provides opportunity and encourages exercise at lunch time. Also, I have played racquetball for years at the YMCA in New Britain. I like to rollerblade, play tennis and lift weights. 

Q: Where did you grow up and where are you living now?

A: I was born in Kensington but I have lived in Southington for about 12 years now. I have four sisters and a brother. Three sisters and their families are local. One sister and her family lives in Massachusetts. My brother lives in Cape Coral, Florida.

Q: What do you like best about working at Wesleyan? 

A: To choose something I like best is difficult because I like so much of what I do.  But mostly I enjoy working with a diverse and interesting population. In a given hour I can speak with students, faculty, alumni, parents, staff or vendors. I like that each phone call and each e-mail request exposes me to a different challenge in my work day. I never know what is in store for me. That’s the beauty!

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor