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Karen Cook

Engineer

I joined RM after working for Hampshire County Council for over thirty years. At HCC I started as a mainframe operator having worked as a therapeutic radiographer in the NHS for a number of years. I moved into IT as I enjoyed the problem solving and helping people. I completed an O level in IT at evening class. I started as a trainee and progressed through various roles until I was a Service Desk Team Leader. For a while I supported the schools in the county. After taking voluntary redundancy I decided I would take time to look at what I wanted to do next. I was able to take a step back and look for a role which improved my work life balance and gave the job satisfaction I was looking for. I saw the role at RM and knew of them from my work supporting schools so decided to apply.

What I enjoy about working in a school is that you get to see the difference you make immediately. When you see the class in progress, the students working and know they are using equipment you’ve researched and installed for them then the job satisfaction is fantastic. A lot of the time you are faced with problems you don’t know how to fix, you need to be tenacious and do research and find the answers. I am proud to say that I haven’t yet found a problem I haven’t been able to solve. You also don’t know what you are going to deal with each week, no day is the same. I particularly enjoy this aspect of the role.

As well as the day to day there is project work. One exciting project I was involved in was setting up the infrastructure in a new building that had been built on campus. This was a challenging project as it involved lots of different skills. I felt a sense of pride when the building was formally opened and students started to use the classrooms and still do 18 months later.

The school is a fantastic place to work with a great atmosphere. They are very supportive and I’m seen as part of the teaching team. The role is as much about customer service as it is IT support. Communication is the key.

Lockdown has inevitably presented new challenges. In a very short period we have gone from being in a school to everything being out in the cloud. I have written many user guides with screenshots and had countless Microsoft Teams conversations with staff to support them. The school have responded really well and set up a school email address for parents to ask for support for IT. SLT were way ahead and over time we have set up 90 laptops which have been deployed to students along with broadband dongles.

Support from the wider RM community is always there to back you up and help with problem solving if you need it. You may be an on-site engineer but you aren’t alone. Working for RM there is also plenty of opportunity to further your career.

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