Meet Eric Woelfel - Part of ITS Student Profile Series

May 21, 2020

eric pictureInterview with UCSC Alumnus and Current ITS Employee, Eric Woelfel 

Ever since he was young, Eric Woelfel had a strong interest in technology. In his teenage years, he put out flyers in his San Diego neighborhood and effectively started his own private computer business. He used Google voice to establish an “office” phone number. From that formative experience helping others with computer issues, Eric knew that he wanted to work in IT.

Eric Woelfel graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2011 with a major in Information Systems. He now works as a Vulnerability Management Engineer in the Information Security unit in ITS.

Eric chose ITS over other student jobs on campus. Here’s why:

I came to UC Santa Cruz as a transfer student from San Francisco State where I worked for their IT department. In my work there, I focused on a number of areas: ResNet, network management, IT support for students, faculty, and staff, and computer lab management. I got a lot of experience working with a variety of technical issues there, but San Francisco State is a commuter school and there is not much of a sense of community. So, I was happy to transfer to UC Santa Cruz. And, when I did I looked for a similar job in ResNet in ITS.

Randy Garrison and Aaron Melgares in ITS helped launch Eric’s career:

Randy Garrison and Aaron Melagres made a dramatic difference in my career!

I worked in ResNet for 2 years with Randy. He oversaw the student techs. He is super knowledgeable about technology and was patient and showed great poise in stressful situations. I consider Randy to be a close friend. He taught me almost everything; how to troubleshoot computer issues, splitting tasks into individual pieces, keeping things simple. We worked through tough situations and got a lot done. He had a huge impact on who I am today as a professional.

Then in 2008 budget cuts hit our campus and I was hired in ITS as a temp employee for two years under Aaron Melgares. He taught me about staying calm and seeking to understand the questions fully before answering. Aaron really went the extra mile to support me and the other staff. He always stood up for us and showed us great respect. When issues came up, Aaron made time to discuss them. Through his actions, he showed me what true leadership looks like.

Eric’s big takeaways and advice for new UCSC student workers in ITS:

  • Early on in your career, take on as much as you can, work with various groups and people, and try to integrate yourself into the different social settings that exist in our organization.
  • Start thinking about the differences between working at UC Santa Cruz versus your potential work experience in Silicon Valley. Decide to embrace the UC Santa Cruz lifestyle (or not): It’s like a family here, and a person can maintain a positive work/life balance. Working here is a lot less cutthroat than working over the hill (most of the time). Or, decide that you want to go to Silicon Valley and start out there. This is your choice! You can always change your mind later.
  • Find a mentor if possible: Ask questions when you don’t know something. Now is the time to learn (when you’re young)!
  • Remember to maintain your academics, school is the most important thing.
  • Continue to take initiative: Ask for more responsibility once you have your routine down, show that you want to help the university and have talent and capabilities beyond just attending university.
  • Show your supervisor that you are a professional. Even as a student worker, arrive on time, complete tasks you say you will complete, and communicate if expectations can’t be met. There’s no harm in asking for more time in most cases. The key is to communicate.

Why continue to work in ITS at UCSC? 

Eric now works on a team in Information Security that has a lot of camaraderie and does important work for the campus. Through hard work and a clear understanding of what he wanted to become, Eric has created a career for himself that can take him in a number of different directions. ITS is fortunate to have him here, and Eric is happy to work in a place like UC Santa Cruz, helping to support our campus mission.