Austin C.

January 6th – January 27th (16 hours) – Last time I was in at my site, my mentor gave me a problem that I had to solve on my own. I had to figure out how to get a program called tightVNC onto my Linux machine, with little to no help because my coworker Ryan left a few weeks back. However, all of the sources that I found online were how to set up a VNC server which is not what I wanted to do. So to compromise I found a different program that could fulfill the same role. I alternatively reset the virtual machine and installed the same software on there as well, so overall a success after I worked through the problem. What I learned from this experience is that when solving a problem in IT, you have to know the outcome that you want, or what exactly it is you are trying to accomplish.

One skill that I have undervalued up until an experience with my mentor, is taking and using all of the available and given information. During my last time at my site we went to help a person in human resources who had a monitor that was not displaying anything but a black screen. Immediately my mentor took in the information that the monitor was receiving power and was not getting a signal, as well as the fact that his other monitor was working fine. With all three pieces of information he deduced that the display cord had come unplugged which fixed the problem. By using all of the given information he was able to solve the problem quickly and let the employee get back to work. I only took in one of the three pieces of information and only guessed that the display cable was not plugged in. So what I learned from this experience was to take in all available information no matter how obvious.

Taking in all of the information allows a person to step back and look at the problem objectively as well as target that problem’s particular source. This process of analysis is key to any IT issue and can be applied to any problem. Not only to IT problems such as the display problem mentioned above, but bigger solutions such as setting up a piece of software differently for a different group of people. For instance if a department needed another server for backing up information, my mentor would first look at the available resources and servers before trying to create a new one. In looking at the available resources he is seeing if there are any solutions to the problem already that are made to fit that role. Either way taking in as much information as possible and stepping back and being objective are very important skills when it comes to IT.

A VNC server is a server that allows remote access to a particular computer. For instance around the building there are displays that play presentations. One of the monitors was having trouble so we had to use software called tightVNC to access that monitor and get it fixed to be displaying the current presentation about Trico.

October 29th – November 11th (0 hours) – A while ago I talked about the LAMP server that my mentor had me create. I talked about the whole process, and how I was almost able to finish the LAMP server myself. Then at the end I Ryan helped me and then the server was complete. In this reflection log I want to go into what I learned from this experience. I know that I was creating the server for myself, but I admit that I was a little scared to ask for help with this project. I even knew that Ryan was very experienced with the Linux terminal and able to help me with the commands to put in. If I had just connected the facts that he was experienced with Linux and that he could easily help me, I could have finished the server significantly faster. I think that I just wanted to complete it myself because that is how my mentor said for me to do it. However, I realize now that I probably should have asked for help sooner.

For me, maintaining a consistent schedule is very difficult because of how far away my site is from where I live. However, I managed to make it in at least once a month for every month. I could have done better if I had gone in sometime a bit before now because I have not been in since the first week of October. Overall, I would say my attendance on a regular basis was good, at least until school got crazy. Next semester I will be sure to fully plan out my schedule, because although I did that for this semester, I didn’t do it perfectly and I could have done better.

Overall I think I did a pretty good job managing the two through the first semester. However, towards the latter half of the semester, I lost some of the organization. As I mentioned in the last section I was overwhelmed with school and as a result I haven’t been at my site for quite a while. At the same time there were very few days off, so to make up for my absence I plan on working over Christmas break. Overall, my time management needs some work. I have gotten to the point where I know what I have to do, just not managing the time properly to get it all done. Next semester I want to work on budgeting rather than managing my time better. For example, I have assignment A, assignment B, and hobby A. So on Monday night I complete all of assignment A and then relax some and have fun with hobby A. Then on Tuesday night I finish assignment B and then continue having fun with hobby B.

SSD: Currently my SEP has to do with drive technology, and I have learned a lot about drives from my time at the internship. Mainly my mentor criticizes Hard drives for being very slow. He even went as far to say that sometimes he doesn’t know if the computer has a virus or just a hard drive. A solid state drive on the other hand (SSD) is a much faster type of drive that is becoming more commercially available to the consumers.

October 15th – October 28th (0 hours) – The last time that I was at the office, one of the things that I was tasked to do was to help set up a label printer for someone in the Member reps department. So Ryan, Robert, and I went over to her office when she had a chance. Then I took the label printer out of the box and set up the cables. For power the outlet was under her desk and with some cable routing the cable isn’t blocking anything on her desk. Then after that I plugged into the usb hub so that her computer had access to the printer, I put in the paper. For some reason this was difficult because the spool was not straightforward. Finally Ryan setup the software and printed a test label which worked out really well, so now she had a label printer. That wasn’t too hard.

The main person that I converse with other than my mentor is Ryan, who plans on being a computer programmer. Since I wanted to learn some about programming he helped me learn some of the basics when it comes to JavaScript. For some reason I was having difficulties with the LAMP server, at the end of when I was working on it. Then after I asked Ryan about it, I was able to finish the LAMP server in another 2 minutes. So in all he is really smart and helped explain some of the technical aspects of IT as well as programming. So when my mentor is busy I am usually conversing with Ryan and oftentimes I am learning from him all about areas of IT.

During the time when I was last at the office, I went out with my mentor to go see one of the linemen. That linemen and my mentor are good friends and that is why we went over to his office. I don’t remember the details of the conversation exactly because it was over a month ago. However, Matt is a really cool guy and I was pretty relaxed in the conversation, except for the fact that the chair I was sitting in was broken and trying to dump me out. As I mentioned in the last reflection log one day my co-workers played a game at lunch and Matt was one of the people there. I distinctly remember that his answers were really funny and in the future I would not mind talking to him more at all because, as I said before, he seems like a cool guy.

At TRICO most of the computers people use at the office are called nucs. Pronounced like knuckle, a nuc is a very small computer with the best parts in them. The typical one is only 4 by 4 by 2.5 inches which is incredibly small. By the best parts I mean a Solid state drive and an intel I7 processor.

October 1st – October 14th (7.5 hours) – During the last time that I was at my site I learned something interesting, sometimes people do fun things during their lunch break. I knew that Robert mentioned it once or twice but I didn’t realize that is was actually going to be fun. After the site visit which went great my mentor brought in fibbage in which the IT department, a few other co-workers, and I participated in. I hesitate to mention this experience but it was a lot of fun, to be honest I was not very good at the game because it had to do with trivia. Either way it is interesting to reflect on because I never realized that sometimes fun things happen between co-workers. I guess that when the word work comes to mind that I assume that people are only concerned with work all the time, almost as if they don’t have lives too. Strange how I and possible others get to have that perception.

Conditional statements/logic: During the hours that I have gone into my site I have been learning about some of the aspects of programming. One of the most important functions is the if function to specify if one thing happens then do this other thing. This is what a conditional statement does, which as I have learned, allows the programmer to be able to do much more that it seems like could be done with the statements.

September 17th – September 30th (42.5 hours) – This week my mentor gave me what ill refer to here as a loose assignment to get to understand how the internet works better. The assignment was to create a LAMP server, which can be easily understood as a html website. I was able to accomplish this, for the most part without help. However, near the end I got some help from Ryan and also put a neat program on the website so it’s not just a blank website with text. Back to the LAMP server, I did all of setting up on a machine with a Linux distribution, manning a version of Linux. Overall the experience taught me how a website is setup and I can see that there is much more that can be done. I mean I didn’t even dive into html, which would allow me to further customize the website.

I would say overall, I tend to prefer in person communication, which is what I tend to use most at my internship site. For example when I am at my site, I talk to my mentor about my schedule and let him know what days I plan to come in and confirm those days with him. However, when I first got hired I couldn’t really talk to him in person, in which case my next most preferred option would be to use text. This is because he has explicitly stated to me that is his preferred form of communication and that is also my next best form of communication as well. The reason I have not needed to use this form much is because in IT there is always some down time that I can talk to my mentor verbally, so as I mentioned before I just do that for the most part. If there was something that I wanted him to know ahead of time, for instance if I plan on going in on a school day in October, I would use text to tell him what day after I tell him verbally that I plan to come in October at some point.

For me specifically I have never been timid about my way of communication. I would say that I am confident, so after a check to make sure there is no simple grammar mistakes I will send what I need to send. As I mentioned in the last part I generally talk to my mentor in person as a form of communication. This is because it is hard to have grammar errors when I am talking to him in person and he is an awesome mentor. He has told me that he is willing to work around my schedule so it is not hard to bring up my schedule for the next couple of weeks in conversation. But if I do end up coming in later in October I would send him a text on what date, or range of dates that work for him, I would be coming in because deciding those dates takes a long process.

I talked earlier about a LAMP server which I will define here. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, these are all the parts that is takes to make a fully functioning website from scratch which I was able to accomplish. At one point I was pretty happy because I was able to accomplish this and my mentor saw that and was in-turn happy.

September 3rd – September 16th (5 hours) – During the last 5 hours at my internship site a couple of meaningful things happen. For the first 2.5 hour session I was working with another intern who for the time taught me about coding. He himself uses python and he taught me about tuple, lists, and definitions, I got some time to practice but not a whole lot. During that time he taught me how to install a distribution of Linux onto a computer which was pretty straightforward. Then at the second 2.5 hour section My mentor and the other intern taught me about virtual machines which I will elaborate more in the next section about. Another experience was following one of the other people who work in IT to go fix a problem, I got to see how to manage a problem. The employee made sure that the guy had saved everything that he was working on, installed the software that he needed, then rebooted his computer.

The industry specific vocabulary that I learned this week was what a virtual machine is. A virtual machine is a computer that in essence is separate from any hardware, so for instance you could have a Mac OS virtual machine on a windows computer. This is really useful for software that gets outdated, since sometimes the software that the power company uses does not work with windows 10 but needs to be used.

August 20th – September 2nd (2.5 hours) -Since this was only the second time I had been into my site and not a whole lot happened. However, I did get to know my coworker much better than I did before. His name was Ryan and he helped me set up the computer that I will use while I am at work. First we did a clean install of windows on the computer which took some effort because I did not remember the key that takes one into the boot menu. After booting windows we installed some of the programs that I would be using such as Microsoft office. Somewhere in between I was able to make the profile picture of the computer a silly picture of my mentor. Anyway while waiting for the in between steps I was able to talk to Ryan personally about some of his interests. I learned that he is into dnd and he actually runs a campaign for his roommates. He also has a 3-D printer that he uses to make the pieces for his campaign.

One of the easy expectations that I must follow is that I have to wear pants and a collared shirt. Another that is unspoken of course is that I must be willing to learn and listen attentively. This is partly because I haven’t worked in IT before but also because I don’t know much about IT in general. After I put in the hours I am responsible for putting the amount of hours into a time sheet so that my superiors know how much to pay me. My mentor also expects me to tell him when I am going to be in so that he can be ready for me. This is because he has to shift his hours some to be there when I am there, since he usually works 6 to 2:30 but when I am there he works from 7 to 3:30.

I think this position is is well tailored to my personality because it is what I like to do. I really enjoy the technical aspects of what I have to do and I find problem solving really enjoyable. My mentor said that this job is never the same every day, and I have to say I enjoy that diversity, it’s what keeps me motivated. Although I do not know this for sure I can say this with certainty because of the people that I am working with. However, there are still some things I need to work on, such as learning what positions the people I am helping do, and finding my way around the huge office. Despite these adjustments I feel like this will be a really fun internship and I look forward to working more hours.

One vocabulary word that I have learned very well from my last visit is the concept of a server. A server is a non-public entity that can serve multiple purposes, one is internet access. Another is the fob system that the employees use. Each employee has a fob which gives them access to the parts of the workplace that they need access to, this can only be done because it is managed through a server.

August 6th – August 19th (2.5 hours) – The first day that I went to my site, which was last Wednesday I was only at the site for 2 and a half hours, but only some of the time I spent with my mentor. This is because a good amount of the time I was taken on a tour of the workplace for safety, all the fire extinguishers as well as where the 4 AEDs were. Then I had to fill out paperwork that I had to do for the internship program. However, the small amount of time that I got to spend with him was really meaningful. He at that time was dealing with a computer that had a really high threat level from a recent server scan. The server scanner gives arbitrary numbers to what the threat level is on each of the computers in the system. With this computer the Microsoft Office was trying to update but it was an older version that wasn’t supported, so my mentor was reinstalling office to bring the arbitrary threat level number down. Then he also showed me where I would be set up, which was in a relatively small office with the 3 other full time people in the IT department and another IT intern who seemed pretty nice to me. Lastly before he left for the day, he showed me the platform that was collecting data on the threat level on each of the computers on the system, he went between multiple screens that contained all kinds of different data. All I can say at this point is that I am excited to learn more and spend more time in the workplace.

July 18th – August 5th (0 hours) – I would say the most novel experience, so far, was the interview that I had at my site. The first reason was that the entire IT department, which consisted of only 3 members, were present at my interview and every one took initiative in the interview. This not only gave each of them a part but also gave me some insight into each of them. Once again though, although I don’t like to admit it, I really did not prepare much for this interview, other than a little help from my mom. However, I think this was the right choice because I do not operate well on an internal script unless I have it memorized. Additionally, I tend to improvise, especially in an interview, because to an extent the interview is about me and selling myself. With that kind of goal I don’t think that I need a lot of practice and I would not have been able to anticipate all of the questions anyway. I do not think that I had the best interview, however, I learned much about the people I would be working with as well as improvising can only do so much.

Overall, from the internship as well as Mrs. Wahl there are two main things that I really want to learn, to start from Mrs. Wahl I hope that I can learn to organize myself and my schedule better. Last year in school I ended up forgetting multiple assignments just because I did not remember them, I hope that my requirement to keep a calendar can help me fix this problem. I can already say that there is an improvement because it is easier to not have to remember and just look at what I have to do in the calendar, additionally I haven’t forgotten any assignments or meetings yet. For what I hope to learn from my mentor, I overall hope to learn how to problem solve to a higher degree. Currently I don’t have that much knowledge in the area of IT, but from my time in photography I feel I have to ability to learn the technical skills necessary as well as being able to work with people. Since I have partially developed these skills I would hope to better develop problem solving as well as general IT knowledge to allow me to accomplish that.

One thing that I have learned as a student this year from, from exploring myself more as part of one of my classes, I work best under pressure. Although I do not work well with stress, when there is pressure I find that, no matter how long it takes, I can continue to focus on the task that I am given. For instance this past weekend I sent almost 2 hours working on a Lab report and had it done on Saturday. I think this will carry over to my professional self, but not in the best way. I get assignments done on time because of the pressure to get them turned in on time. As for my professional self I have once again seen that when I desire to listen I will remember every word of what I am being told. Since I take an interest in IT, this will be a huge help when I am learning the required technical skills necessary to get the job done.