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Carpentry, traveling, and technical support with Ronald Thornton

Ronald Thornton, user services specialist, RU–Camden IT

Ronald Thornton, a user services specialist, has been a vital part of the Rutgers IT community for over 26 years. “It’s a really rewarding feeling to help people with their tech issues,” says Ronald, who works in RU–Camden IT. “You never know where your career might lead you, but I am glad that it led me to Rutgers IT.”

How did you get started in the technology field?
I first started working in construction as a carpenter, but I always had an interest in computers. When I went to trade school in Pennsylvania, I was introduced to the world of IT. I started taking computer classes while pursuing my carpentry career. At the time, there were a lot of layoffs in the carpentry field, so I shifted my focus and began pursuing a career in IT. It was the best decision I could have made. I fell in love with it.

How did you end up at Rutgers?
While I was still in construction, I worked for a company that was building the Philadelphia Convention Center and I started to work with more technical equipment. I saw a job opening at Rutgers–Camden. I applied but didn’t get the job. The interviewer held onto my resume and ended up calling me when there was an opening that was a better fit for me. I started working in the computer labs in Camden and eventually applied for the user services specialist position.

What do you do in your current position?
As a user services specialist, people need help with various tech issues, and I provide resolutions for their problems. To do this, you have to have knowledge in a lot of different areas. I deal with a large range of things, like forgotten passwords, issues logging into Canvas, problems with NetIDs, or anything else students, staff, or university guests need technical support for.

What has been the most challenging and rewarding time of your career thus far?
About twenty years ago, before webpage development was a big thing, I remember a professor wanted to teach a course on webpages. We didn’t have anything where students could create their own webpages, nor did we have a good platform for students to store those webpages. A few Camden staff members and I came up with a solution, which allowed students to publish their own webpages to the Camden servers.

After that, I taught several seminars where I showed students how to create, edit, and upload their own webpages to our servers. This project went on for several years in Camden. It was a great feeling coming up with that solution. I loved getting to know and support so many of the Camden students during that time and I really felt like I made a difference.

What career advice would you offer someone?
Always be patient and willing to learn. Don’t think you know everything or that you have all the answers. That’s helped me a lot in my job. You have to be very patient with people because you never know what kind of situation they are dealing with. Be willing to listen to their concerns with the goal of being as helpful as possible.

What interests/hobbies do you have outside of work?
I am definitely a sports nut. I play a lot of basketball and football. I am also really into traveling. I have a trip to Zambia planned for next month with a layover in Switzerland, which I have always wanted to visit. I’ve been to Zambia once before and I got to walk with a cheetah in the wild, take a ride on an elephant, go on a safari, visit Victoria Falls, and get to know some of the locals in the nearby villages.

Two of my other favorite travel destinations have been Italy and Aruba. I’ve visited Italy multiple times. It’s truly my favorite place. The country has amazing food and incredible historic locations to visit. And Aruba was so beautiful; it blew my mind. The locals were some of the kindest people I’ve met during my travels. And the weather being perfect every day was an added bonus!

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