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An ITS staffer helps two students
Students receive tech help from Lyndon Joyce, Service Desk Tier 2 Supervisor

During the week of Fall Rush, about 30 ITS employees from across the organization supported the ITS Service Desk and students by taking shifts to address tech issues and questions from under the canopy in front of the Undergraduate Library.

By handling the most common and less complex issues, the volunteers alleviated the number of people going into the building for assistance, and students got help faster.

Busier than normal

This was an extra busy Fall Rush for the Service Desk. The University welcomed its largest first-year class. Also, a class of second-year students came to campus after most spent their first year learning from home. So, two entire student classes weren’t experienced with campus. Plus, most faculty and staff were returning to campus after being remote for a year and a half. The result? Service Desk staff members had a heck of a lot on their plate.

Supplemented inside support

To lend a hand, employees from across the ITS organization volunteered to supplement the Fall Rush tech support from a canopy in front of the Undergraduate Library. The volunteers were eager to assist and happy to interact in person with students and co-workers. Most of them have been working from home for the past year and half of the pandemic and had seen colleagues by only Zoom.

Assistant Vice Chancellor Kate Hash talks with a student
Assistant Vice Chancellor Kate Hash talks with a student

Many of these IT professionals normally don’t interact directly with students.

It was “nice to speak with them and see the nervousness and excitement of them starting their journey into the first semester at UNC,” said Gwen Moore, Executive Assistant to J. Michael Barker, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer.

Barker, by the way, also assisted students from the canopy.

‘Why we’re all here’

Rachel Serrano, Director of ITS’ Data & Reporting Environments & Application Middleware group, was another volunteer. “It’s always reaffirming to experience what bright, kind and patient people they are,” she said. “It helps keep in mind why we’re all here.”

The experience also reminded volunteers that these “mundane details that we take for granted can have a major impact to our users who don’t live and breathe that particular IT resource or service every day,” said Camilla Washington, Technology Analyst with ITS Managed Desktop Services.

Students very much appreciated the help.

Knowing that she was able to help students was rewarding, said Theresa Silsby, Director of the ITS Business Systems Help Desk.

One ITS staffer helps someone with a tech issue
Shumin Li of Identity Management assists a campus member on Sunday, August 15

“They all made us feel like their own personal superheroes,” Washington said.

Co-workers reconnect

The ITS employees who volunteered at the tech support canopy said the experience was rewarding even beyond supporting students and assisting the Service Desk staff. For more than a week afterward, staffers were still heartily expressing how much they enjoyed finally talking with and working alongside their fellow ITS employees. They also were glad to meet face-to-face with staff members who had been hired during the pandemic and therefore have never worked in the office.

Based on the success of providing extra Fall Rush tech support from outside the Undergraduate Library, ITS anticipates offering this service again.

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