Student Profile: Sarah Do

June 15, 2021

Meet Sarah Do - Part of ITS Staff Profile Series

By Jim Phillips, Director of Campus Engagement (ITS)

Throughout this profile series, we have shared stories of student workers and ITS staff who set out with an interest in something peripherally related to technology and then gradually gravitated toward IT as a career or field of study. Never have we encountered someone so decidedly indifferent to technology, an attitude that ITS staff member Sarah Do held throughout her adolescence and even up until her college years.

UCSC student worker now ITS full-time staff member

Sarah's Photo

Sarah Do graduated from UCSC in 2017 with a major in Art and a minor in the History of Art and Visual Culture. From her earliest memories, she recalls that her parents generally resisted the promotion of technology at home. They had reservations about the potential negative impacts and the effects that too much screen time could have on a person’s ability to focus. 

Eventually, they did purchase a home computer Sarah recalls, “It resided in our living room and was used for the most part by my brother, as his love of computer games naturally dictated. While I sometimes enjoyed using the computer, I found the dial-up internet wait times very tedious, and discovered I'd rather go out and explore other things.”

Sarah began to question her family’s reluctance to embrace modern technological conveniences upon realizing that she was one of the last students in her high school to get a cell phone, “And of course, it wasn't a smartphone, but a small flip-phone, which was virtually indestructible.” Her parents simply placed more value on face-to-face interactions. And their influential stance, one that was instilled at a young age, would ultimately work to Sarah’s favor.

Hearing about a job in ITS

Hearing about a job in ITS from a friend, Sarah applied on a whim. “When I first started working in ITS, I had no prior relevant experience. I was a first-year art student and besides using my own laptop, was woefully confused by most things technical.” 

As most in ITS would agree, that sense of unsureness that comes with your first job in technology is not something that endures for long. “Confusion is the first step in learning,” as has been said. But, the learning process gets accelerated in IT due to rapid obsolescence. Sarah made fast progress, building proficiency at each successive level thanks to the support and encouragement of a qualified Residential Network (ResNet) team. 

“Working my first summer at ResNet was definitely a crash course in IT support, as we tackled mountains of routers, tricky viruses, DMCA notices, and of course, clients that were not always in a great mood.”

Two key members of the ResNet team had a positive impact on Sarah’s meteoric rise to technical proficiency, Naomi Gunther, ResNet manager, and Vanesa Gaspar, ResNet supervisor. They oversaw Sarah’s work but also helped to create that sense of community so critical to running an effective support organization. 

Vanesa, who was part of the team that trained Sarah’s class of new technicians, described that Sarah never struggled with the technical aspects of the job, “Sarah was one of the most reliable and resilient technicians we had, and I couldn’t have asked for a better co-lead.” Remarking on Sarah’s highly creative mind, Vanesa observed that “she was an excellent communicator who often looked at problems from a different perspective.” And, this is one of the great advantages of coming at IT from a different angle…or being “aggressively right-brained” as Sarah put it: You are able to discover solutions that others can’t see. 

Recalling their formative influence, Sarah couldn’t be more grateful for that early training and support, “Naomi and Vanesa made my time with ITS/ResNet so enjoyable that it really made me want to come back for more.” That initial experience changed everything. But to navigate the crash course successfully, Sarah used her people skills and tapped her underlying ability to adapt and completely reinvent herself.

Using artistic skills to create the ITS logoITS logo

One notable accomplishment that Sarah is associated with while being an ITS student worker involves her expertise in graphic design. “I am so honoured and proud to be the creator of the ITS logo.” First appearing in 2018, the ITS logo marked a new era as our division embarked on a massive reorganization.

One of Sarah’s big takeaways, “I’ve learned a lot about how much it takes to make a university work. Although ITS is very spread out and in some cases people may never meet each other, we’re all working to support each other and the university itself.” It is a matter of balance: That same empathy that Sarah brings to her customers, she also extends to her co-workers.

Joining the ITS Family

Fortunately for Sarah, soon after she graduated from UCSC, a full-time position as a desktop technician opened up in ITS. Sarah jumped at the chance to permanently join the family-like team, “Here is a position that perfectly builds on the skills I learned at ResNet, while exposing me to new parts of the university. I’m so pleased that I’m able to meet many of UCSC’s amazing staff members, and more than that, often be a positive part of their day when I’m able to help them.”

Nick D’arcangelo, Sarah’s current manager, was impressed by Sarah’s efforts and her role on the desktop team: “Sarah joined our team with distinct momentum from her previous job. In addition to her firm grasp of key support fundamentals, Sarah brought a valuable brand of professionalism and creative thinking along with her. Having swiftly adapted to the role, Sarah is now instrumental to our team’s success thanks to her dedication, skills, and positive attitude.

Sarah expressed appreciation for Nick’s management style, “He is always very open to any goals I might have, and is very supportive of me branching out and learning new skills. In this way, Nick has really been a guiding force in this early stage of my career.”

There is something to be said for the heroic work of operational support by staff who keep the trains running smoothly on a daily basis. It’s impact is largely underrated and there is a sense of quiet satisfaction that goes along with being on the team for those in ITS who tend to the quotidien use of technology.  

Sarah understands that it is in this daily grind of tech that relationships matter most, “I’ve learned how important it is to be empathetic and to find real value in helping your clients. Of course this is a job to me, but I also see my clients as people genuinely needing help with their computers, much like me before I started at ResNet. To be that helping hand to someone--when they are frustrated and often tight on time--is a great feeling. Even more, to be a person that can teach someone something that will help them in the future, is very valuable to me.”

Sharing advice for UCSC students

Sarah shared her advice for UCSC students thinking about working in ITS, “I’d especially encourage students that maybe don’t have the traditional background to look into positions in ITS, as there’s so many different units that utilize different skill sets. Also, try to get as much real world experience as possible. IT is about so much more than just the technology; it’s also about supporting people, and working with a team who will in turn support you.” 

As is evident in her career journey thus far, Sarah’s ability to communicate effectively with people allows her to grow in ways that leverage the positive that can come from change. And, in that sense, she will always be well positioned to succeed.