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Workstudy internship


CIS497 Internship Course Project



The Computer User's Support Services has several divisions; Office

Automations, Networking, System Programmers, Operations, Hardware Services, Helpdesk Services, Computer Laboratories, Audio / Visual, and Switchboard. CUSS is responsible for the maintenance and development of the Purdue University Network Infra-Structure. As a division of CUSS, Helpdesk channels incoming requests for computer service from Purdue faculty and staff.

The Helpdesk Technician constantly monitors campus mail, voice mail, and answers the phone. Any and all questions or problems must be responded to with promptness and courtesy. Ideally, Helpdesk resolves the problem over the phone. When this is not possible, the technician goes on site armed with appropriate software and a toolkit to assist the user with basic repair. Any questions or problems requiring a higher lever of expertise or authority are relayed to specialists within one of the other divisions and a trouble ticket is created.

The Helpdesk maintains careful records of all correspondence with each customer. Each call is logged in 'Magic', a specialized database application. As problems are resolved, the solutions are recorded in an ever growing library of Helpdesk documentation. The objective in creating 'Tip Sheets' is to prevent the rework involved in frequently recurring problems. They facilitate prompt and efficient customer service. An extensive collection of reference manuals for all campus software is also maintained.


Nupop is a DOS-based, e-mail utility that is widely used among faculty and staff. The original developers of this software no longer support it. I took the initiative in collecting as much information as possible about Nupop so that Helpdesk could fill the gap and respond to problems.

When Banner was made available to Windows, a rash of users experienced difficulty. I responded by assisting in identifying the problem and had the satisfaction of participating in its resolution.

CUSS and ISCP sponsored the "Taste of Technology" open house this semester.

I was proud to represent Helpdesk during the activities.

Helpdesk itself is a team project. No one person can possibly answer all the questions or solve all the problems. We depend on one another as an information resource. Job activities must be coordinated to best provide quality service to our customers. The spirit of cooperation is essential.


Majoring in ISCP lays a good foundation for the skills required in Helpdesk. Helpdesk builds on these skills. A typical day includes, jammed printers, login problems, stuck keyboards, obscure error messages, forgotten passwords, virus outbreaks, equipment moves, burnt out monitors, stuck keyboards, smeared printouts, and memory shortages. There are the more esoteric software questions; "What happened to my Word macros? How do I use Reachout? How can I print an attached document in mail? How can I be included in Distribution E? What happened to my Toolbar? How do I unformat a disk?"

As you can guess, an effective Helpdesk Tech requires a goodly amount of versatility and resourcefulness. As representatives of CUSS and the University, they must remain patient and agreeable. Our callers are frequently experiencing frustration and may be irritable. The phones often ring continually. Often two or three conversations are conducted simultaneously. A good tech learns to take interruptions in stride. On Helpdesk you develop not just a repertoire of hardware and software knowledge. You develop people skills.


Throughout the majority of the Spring 96 semester, I worked full-time at the Helpdesk. This was a 40 hour week. The Helpdesk opens for business at 7:30 AM and closes at 4:30 PM. At that time, the phone lines are forwarded to receive voice mail around the clock; 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.


Every effort is made to keep the Helpdesk on a parallel with current campus technology. The Helpdesk is supplied with several PCs, a DEC terminal, and a Macintosh. The technician must also become familiar with every model of printer on campus; Panasonic, Epson, Toshiba, and Hewlett Packard. There is also exposure to printer netports, scanners, LAN cards, CD ROM, and the network infrastructure.

The software includes MS Office, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, Word, Word for DOS, Lotus, FoxPro, Netscape, PC Slots, McAfee, WordPerfect, and CCMail. As the faculty uses Nupop, Banner, Labres, Reachout and SPSS; these must also be understood. Helpdesk is also experimenting with Net Remote, an application that enables remote control of any computer on the network. Windows 95 is in the introductory stages. Its release on campus is under evaluation by a committee. Netscape Version 2.01 is also being evaluated for presentation on the network.


CUSS keeps a library of professionally prepared videos for the new Helpdesk worker to view. These videos discuss the responsibilities and skills of the Support Service professional. Additionally, technicians are encouraged to attend any computer related seminars or lectures available on campus. The Helpdesk is a fast-paced environment. For this reason, the majority of training is not formalized, but is acquired on the job. Training is non-stop and extremely wide ranging. If there is a lull in the course of the day, we take the opportunity to work on documentation or brush up our knowledge by reading one of the software reference manuals. The Internet has also proven an invaluable too resource.

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