An Eye-Opening Experience: Examining the Different Roles and Environments of IT Professionals
Written by: Alex Curtis | Posted Mar 4, 2016

Guest post by Jennifer Guenst, Senior at Franklin High School

When many people think about IT jobs in today’s world, they might think of a lifeless environment where no one communicates. They may think that all people do is sit in their secluded cubicle writing code. While I didn’t think that this would be entirely true, it did cross my mind. To my relief, that was not the case 99% of the time on our Leap Day field trip that we took on Monday, February 29, 2016, to three completely different, but at the same time, rather similar businesses.

Our trip began on a bus ride to LifeWay, a Christian publishing business. We were welcomed by the bright smile and personality of Jim Forrester, the Director of Information Services at LifeWay Christian Resources. He handed us our tour badges and quickly brought us upstairs to get started on the tour. We were then introduced to Michael Shaw, Rick Stephenson, and Terry Bridges, who were our guides for the time we were there. What shocked me while walking through the building with the guides was that, although there were some cubicles, there were also rooms that had a more collaborative, open feel. Also, no matter where you were, everyone working still communicated and voiced concerns to one another. The tour at LifeWay was a wonderful experience, as it showed me how a larger corporation would format their IT department.

After finishing up at LifeWay, we walked a block or two only to arrive at Morton’s Steakhouse. Sadly, we couldn’t have lunch there, but to make up for that, we got to go to HPA. Sal Novin, the Head of HPA Service Business Unit, couldn’t have made the tour of their facility more enjoyable. He showed us the bots that HPA creates and monitors constantly, and even let us play some games like a slider puzzle or minesweeper against the bots. Their working environment was so much different than Lifeway’s. They had ping-pong tables, a gong, and a remote controlled segway with an iPad attached so you could video chat with someone giving the office less of a corporate feel.

The last place we visited was Centresource, which happened to be my favorite place of the day. Rami Perry, the Software Product Consultant, welcomed the group with her infectious personality and a smile that lit up the entire room.  She introduced most of the 16 or so staff at Centresource. Her wonderful coworkers showed what it’s like to work in a small company like theirs. They used one example throughout their presentation but what really stuck with me was each person’s personality has to work with another’s to get things done. Joe Hajek, who is the Senior Design Director at Centresource, and Tomiko Peirano, the Senior Strategic Consultant, showed us a sneak peak on a project they are currently working on and how they developed it. They started by describing how the client interactions work. Telling us to keep reasonable goals going into the project for a client to hit less roadblocks was very helpful. Tomiko, Joe, and the others also talked about the steps from constructing a quick sketch of a wireframe to testing the website. Overall, visiting Centresource was a fun, exciting, and mind-blowing experience to say the least. All of the people were so kind and welcoming. The way they worked was so different though. All of their presentations and examples truly showed all of the different possibilities for an IT professional.

Every workplace on the Leap Day field trip was different, as we started at a large corporate building and ended up at Centresource’s small, home-like office space. Daily tasks varied from place to place, but held true to my expectations. I would like to thank everyone at LifeWay, HPA, and CentreSource for letting us into your world for a few hours and giving us insight on our near and later futures.