Student workers troubleshoot tech problems

GVL / Sara Carte
IT Help Desk worker, Grant Miller, helps students rent out laptops in the Mary Idema Peew Library on Sept. 23.

Sara Carte

GVL / Sara Carte IT Help Desk worker, Grant Miller, helps students rent out laptops in the Mary Idema Peew Library on Sept. 23.

Lucas Escalada

Printing issues and password resets. Those are the two most common issues the Grand Valley State University IT Help Desk assists students and faculties deal with. That, however, is only the beginning of the ways they help students.

John Wezeman, the help desk supervisor at GVSU, works to ensure the students and faculty at the university have the technical support that they require. He also provides leadership and support for the students who work at the help desk.

For GVSU faculty and staff, the help desk can provide complete support. Since GVSU owns the computers they work with, IT can help with more personal, hands-on aid. Students may receive help with software issues related to myBanner, GVSU email, or printing, but the IT Help Desk does not provide hardware support for students, Wezeman said.

A large part of the help desk’s purpose is to ensure that students can access the technological education they need to succeed. Part of that education deals with ensuring students are safe online, and understand how to protect their information.

This year, phishing emails—emails that ask for personal information like one’s username and passwords—are an issue that the help desk is placing emphasis on.

Wezeman said phishing emails are not new, but there have been more of them recently. Some emails say that the user will lose connectivity or receive better internet speeds if they provide their username and password.

According to Wezeman, that form of social hacking or social engineering is challenging to work against, especially since so much depends on the student’s awareness.

“Until you can educate people to take a close look at that, and see ‘does it come from IT?’” Wezeman said. “Even if it says it does, Grand Valley will never send out an email requesting your login ID and password.”

Even if an email appears to be from the IT department, Wezeman emphasized that GVSU will not ask for personal information. If the help desk needs a student or faculty member’s help to fix an account, they will always choose to make a phone call or schedule an appointment first.

When students and faculty call or visit the help desk, they are interacting with fellow students who work there. The student who work with IT are important in educating other students, as they can often direct them to the right place for help.

Customer service is the most important skill for student workers, as they must help students with a variety of needs, and help educate them on what they don’t know, Wezeman said. Other IT students do not work directly at the help desk, but go around campus to various computer labs.

Meredith Brady, a student who works with IT, goes to her assigned region in campus to replenish printer and office supplies at the computer labs. She also troubleshoots lab stations and classroom presentation technologies.

Brady said her job is mostly a customer service job. Interacting with students or professors who need help is a given, so workers need to be equipped with the skills to handle multiple kinds of issues.

She said it is important for students to understand the need to be safe online. Students need to be willing to get help or ask questions if they are unsure about something.

Brady said students should call the IT Help Desk or a student wearing a blue IT Help Desk vest for help if they have any questions regarding GVSU online services.