Andrew Mack, Skils’kin’s IT support specialist, will successfully conclude his internship next month, marking the end of yet another successful internship experience provided by Skils’kin.
Andrew’s deep passion for IT work began at an early age: “I remember as a kid, I used to call tech support whenever an error message would appear on my computer,” Andrew explained. “I always wanted to know why things weren’t working, and I couldn’t rest until I found a solution. And once I figured out how something worked,” Andrew continued, “I would be ecstatic.” As he grew older, Andrew’s passion for technology and problem solving only intensified, leading him to pursue information technology as his chosen field of study.
Driven by his passion for IT work, Andrew pursued and completed an Associate’s of Applied Science in Information Technology from Spokane Falls Community College. While he was working on his degree, Andrew worked at a grocery store as a courtesy clerk and at Spokane Falls Community College as a desktop support technician. He also performed some help-desk work in the college’s library. As his graduation approached, Andrew began searching for his next opportunity and heard about Skils’kin’s IT internship. He applied and interviewed for the position, and sensing his passion for technology, Skils’kin CFO Nicolle Laporte awarded Andrew the internship in early July.
Skils’kin proved to be the perfect place for Andrew to hone his skill set while feeding his passion. Skils’kin partners with Cycrest Systems, a managed IT services provider, for IT support. Andrew’s role is to provide in-house IT support while also serving as a conduit between Skils’kin’s IT needs and Cycrest by collaborating with Cycrest to troubleshoot and solve issues. As such, Andrew is in the ideal position to immerse himself in the world of information technology – an opportunity he greatly values as a fresh graduate: “This internship is a great opportunity for anyone who is looking to build their résumé and get into the technology world. If you are someone that just got a degree and need experience, this is a great opportunity because you are in the middle of it all, learning from other professionals and directing support where it needs to go.”
It is clear that Andrew appreciated the immersion of the IT internship, as it created a space to learn and grow. While serving as Skils’kin’s IT support specialist, Andrew has had countless opportunities to refine his skill set and proficiency with computer systems, network administration, information security, and desktop support. However, of all the skills Andrew has learned during his time at Skils’kin, he finds the soft skills, such as communication, to be the most valuable takeaways.
“The one thing that school doesn’t teach you is soft skills,” Andrew explained. “That’s the one thing I couldn’t fully learn in school. Communication skills. People skills. IT companies are looking for people who can work under pressure and have great communication skills, over the phone or in person,” Andrew continued. “Someone who is inviting to talk to, someone that people will gravitate towards. Those qualities are just as important as technical skills, and you can only get those skills through direct experience.” This internship was Andrew’s first job in an office environment, so he found the opportunity to work and interact with users in a professional setting immensely rewarding and illuminating.
As Andrew experienced during his internship, solid communication skills enable IT professionals to always push technological problems towards their resolution. “You almost have to probe people,” Andrew explains. “You’ll hear that something disappeared or something isn’t working, and then you have to do a discovery and work backwards to figure it out. The information on the help ticket doesn’t always cut it, so you have to be able to work with the customer in a friendly, reassuring way to get to the root of the problem.”
In addition to providing ample opportunities to develop soft skills, the internship also gave Andrew an opportunity to gain insight into potential career paths. As requested by Nicolle, Cycrest gave Andrew an inside look at their work environment and the work that they do, and he came away from the experience impressed: “Cycrest has a great team environment. They are very collaborative, they talk to each other, and they ask each other questions.”
After seeing how Cycrest operates firsthand, Andrew has determined that he wants to find a similar work environment. He is open to all IT opportunities, but his goal is to find a collaborative environment like Cycrest’s where individuals pool their knowledge to find solutions. “I really like environments where you can work as a team and work with others to solve problems,” Andrew explains. “Cycrest emphasizes teamwork: they want you to go to the right people at the right time and be willing to work together and to work off of an online knowledge base to solve problems.” That is the kind of work that Andrew sees himself being a part of, and he was only able to determine this career path because of his experiences during his internship.
Andrew’s experiences also solidify the notion that Andrew has what it takes to thrive in IT. After job shadowing Cycrest several times, Cycrest was impressed with Andrew’s mindset and drive. As Cycrest Support Manager Gerry Falkner explains, “Andrew showed real curiosity and get-up-and-go. “He’s a high-energy guy who wants to help. He’s real curious and asks all the right questions. He’s going to be a great asset for someone.”
Andrew is driven to find solutions to pressing needs, and he will not rest until he finds those solutions. “I like the challenge of unique problems,” Andrew explains. “I’m tenacious and have a determined personality. I always want to know why something isn’t working, and I like to work until I get to the bottom of something.” This passion for problem-solving and information technology is what pushes Andrew to continually refine his craft. In addition to successfully completing this internship, Andrew has also been studying online for his Bachelors of Science in IT from Western Governors University, so he can deepen and enrich his skill set even further.
With his internship nearly complete, Andrew is eager to find his fit in the workplace and is excited at the prospect of working in an environment where he can continue to feed his passion and, ultimately, solve problems and help people. Andrew’s path to IT work emerged from the frustration of problems and the thrill of solutions, and to this day, that moment of resolution, where he and others can feel that thrill, is what drives him: “At the end of the day, my favorite thing about IT work is the actual moment when I fix something. I get a big grin on my face, and then the person I am working with gets a grin on their face too.”
“That,” Andrew concludes with a smile, “is what it’s all about.”
Skils’kin prides itself on being a conduit to greater successes within the community, and Skils’kin’s IT internship embodies this concept. Thank you, Andrew, for making meaningful impacts as a member of our team.