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Education and technology provide the perfect balance for Help Desk supervisor Caryn Sarnicki

Caryn Sarnicki, help desk supervisor

From astrophysics to education to technical support, Caryn Sarnicki has quite the resume. Currently, she works as a Help Desk supervisor in the Office of Information Technology (OIT). “I had an interest in IT, but I went to school for teaching and really liked working with students during my time at Rutgers University–Newark. So, I found a way to do both,” says Caryn, who mentors and trains OIT Help Desk student workers in remote support, customer service, and technology solutions.

How did your Rutgers journey begin?
I came to Rutgers in my late 20s and started off as a nontraditional student. I got my bachelor’s in astrophysics and first got involved in technology by working at Digital Classroom Services, where I did a lot of work with audio/visual equipment such as helping professors with podiums and setting up their classrooms. After I graduated, I worked as a computer labs manager for the Physics department at Rutgers–Newark while I got my master’s in physics education at the Graduate School of Education.

How did you decide to get into IT at Rutgers and how did your previous work experience make an impact?
I had an interest in IT, but I went to school for teaching and really liked working with students during my time at Rutgers–Newark. So, I found a way to do both. One of the main things that I found, especially when I got my graduate degree, was that my previous experience teaching helped me become a trainer. A lot of it had to do with understanding how people learn and the best way to train them. That became a big component in what I do with student workers at the Help Desk today. I aim to teach them “soft” skills for the future, like customer service, group work, and leading projects with other students. I feel like my team has a lot of influence on students when they work for us, so I want to help them succeed.

What is your favorite thing about working at Rutgers?
My coworkers. I very much enjoy the people that I work with and that is a very big aspect of why I am happy with my work. I love working with the students and seeing them grow. I also love learning new technical aspects of the job. I’m a big logic person. I like logic problems and puzzles, so being in an atmosphere where there are things that you always have to figure out how to answer is a lot of fun for me.

In three words, how would you describe Rutgers IT?
Knowledgeable, dedicated, and inclusive.

What’s the most common tech question people ask at Rutgers?
We have a few frequently asked questions. A lot of them are NetID-related like questions about forgotten passwords or signing up for Duo or students that live on campus need help mabbing their devices, like their game consoles and their smart TV’s. Things like that. Our Canvas help desk gets a lot of Canvas-specific questions from faculty, staff, and students too.

What tech advice would you give to students?
Create a very good password for your NetID and make sure that you understand Duo and you have a second device registered for Duo. That’s a big one, because if you lose your phone or your phone breaks and that was your only link to Duo, you can’t get into Canvas. You can’t get into myRutgers. You can’t get into a lot of different services that you need. So, I would say check out the knowledge articles for Duo and make sure you activate a second device. And if possible, definitely get a campus job for some different experiences, and if you want to work for the Office of Information Technology, please come work for us.

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