While Jerry Daniel may have been working every odd job he could find in the mid-1990s, he knew his future path was in technology. So in between jobs as a plumber, a roofer, a restaurant worker, a telemarketer and a ditch digger, Daniel was working on computers.
“I basically thought to myself, ‘These new computers are going to be a good area to go into,’ so I just read every book I could read, played with any software I could get my hands on and learned how to build them,” said Daniel, who now is an information technology professional associate in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ mathematics department.
In all, it took Daniel five years to become fully comfortable with computers and get his first IT job.
“The various jobs that I’ve had prepared me for this kind of IT stuff because I never know what’s going to happen, it happens really fast and it can be stressful,” Daniel said.
While a bachelor’s degree in history-something he earned using the Tuition Assistance Program while working at UGA-may not be a direct path to a career in technology, the skills Daniel learned have helped tremendously.
“A lot of times you’re doing something you’ve never done before so you have to research and learn about it,” he said. “My history degree helps since I can do research work in a library like nobody’s business.”
As an IT professional associate, Daniel ensures that networks, servers, computers and software are running smoothly. He helps with upkeep for the math department’s computer labs that 5,000 students use to take their tests. To do that, he takes a proactive approach to prevent breakdowns at inopportune times.
“My job is to do all the computer upkeep so that faculty can do cutting-edge research and students can learn and get their degrees,” Daniel said. “I’ve always liked helping other people, and this lets me do that.”
Another way Daniel helps a lot of people is through his role as chair of the executive committee of the Staff Council. Daniel was elected to that role almost four years ago, and his term will end June 30.
“It’s been very rewarding; I’ve grown a lot personally and professionally,” Daniel said. “I’ve also met a lot of great people in private businesses and at UGA.”
Daniel said being Staff Council chair has improved his communication, time management and leadership skills. He also feels he has helped make an impact on the lives of other staff members.
“Some good policies have come out of Staff Council,” Daniel said. “Moving furlough days to lessen the impact for employees who get paid biweekly really affects somebody’s life.”
Once his time as Staff Council chair is over, Daniel still will have plenty to do between maintaining his rental house, raising his nine-year-old daughter and traveling with his family. He also plans to continue working in IT.
“To me this technology stuff is more like playing,” he said. “It would kill me to work on a factory line putting the one nut in the widget or doing something else.”