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IT systems engineer:
'Unofficial ambassador'

graphic
John R. Camp  

Name

John. R. Camp


Position

IT systems engineer for Schaffner Inc., located in Luterbach, Switzerland. Schaffner Inc. is a major worldwide electronics manufacturing company with a total of 2,000 employees worldwide.

I'm responsible for the entire IT communication structure, which means I take care of installing and managing hubs, switches, routers and firewalls as well as the IT server structure which includes Netware, NT, Linux and some Unix. I'm specialized in Netware but can manage the other three as well.

  QUICK VOTE
graphic Are you interested in an IT career "offshore" -- that is, outside your native country?

Yeah -- one of the great things about tech is that you can travel with it.
Maybe -- I'd rather get well-grounded in my career at home first, though.
Nope -- I'm just a homebody by nature and would rather stick close to my roots.
View Results

On a daily basis, I make sure everything is up and running smoothly and take care of problems when they arise as well as planning the next IT projects. This means talking a lot to other folks from other countries -- and luckily, English is international.


Years in position

Eight.


Age

I'm 34. I am originally from Dallas, and have been living in Switzerland since 1992. My wife talked me into it and I haven't looked back. I left home when I was 18 to join the Marine Corps and have spent most of my time outside the United States. I've either worked in or visited more than 30 countries up until today and have not once regretted it.


Education

High school, eight years active duty U.S. Marine Corps, Career Development Institute -- IT technician, Novell master CNE, IBM server engineer.


How did you get your current job?

I'd been working for Volvo IT at the time and Volvo decided to shut down the Central European Support Center. I knew I should stay in IT, but only with international firms. I found my current position through a headhunter -- and also by being in the right place at the right time.

"No matter which company you work for, things start getting ballistic on Monday mornings and Fridays. Monday mornings are always tense because of changes made over the weekend or co-workers coming back from vacation. Fridays are also tense because everybody has to have everything before the weekend starts."

How many hours do you work per week?

Normally I work around 40 hours per week but if a project is approaching deadline then I will put in 50 or 60. A lot of times, I have to work at night or on weekends because shutting down servers and networks during normal working hours just does not make people happy


What's the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning?

Fire up my Web browser and see what's new on CNN.com. Editor's note: No, we did not pay John to say that.


What time do you have lunch? What do you usually eat?

Lunchtime is between 12:00 and 13:30 (1:30 p.m.) and I usually take an hour for lunch. My lunchtime is very special for me because I only have to drive six minutes and I'm at home. I usually have a turkey or chicken sandwich with a cup of soup or a few carrot sticks.


What time do things get tense around the office? What makes it that way?

No matter which company you work for, things start getting ballistic on Monday mornings and Fridays. Monday mornings are always tense because of changes made over the weekend or co-workers coming back from vacation. Fridays are also tense because everybody has to have everything before the weekend starts.

  ENGINEER THIS SYSTEM
Schaffner has been in the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) business for more than 35 years. The company develops and delivers electronic systems to equipment manufacturers. Testing and calibration are among the specialties of the company's work, to evaluate product designs for effectiveness -- and to prevent "EMI," or electromagnetic interference between electrical and electronic appliances and systems. Schaffner Holding AG shares are traded on the Swiss Exchange. And we met John Camp when he used our submission form here at "A Day on the Job." If you'd like your day to be considered for a profile here at CNN.com/career, let us hear from you as Camp did.
 

If you're having a good day at work, what is it that makes it good?

It's good because I'm helping my fellow co-workers learn how to use a great tool so they can, in turn, provide good work for the company. In this day and age it is a strange site when a worker doesn't have a computer on his or her desk


How much work, if any, do you take home?

I don't take too much work home, but I do have a test network setup at home which is similar to my work network. I usually do testing at home first and then at work before releasing hardware or software in a production environment.


What does your work contribute to society?

A better understanding between international cultures and races. I like to consider myself an unofficial ambassador because a lot of people always ask my opinion about certain matters and I do my best to represent the United States in the best light possible. It's not always easy but I haven't lost a friendship yet.


Do you expect to finish your working life in this career?

Yes. Once a person finds the right work environment combined with a winning company and co-workers and is willing to commit, it shouldn't be a problem to stay on for quite a few years.


If you could have two more careers, what would they be?

Two other careers that I'd like to have would be diplomatic service and then helicopter mechanic.


What's an unforgivable trait in a colleague?

Lying. Once it starts, it's uncontrollable. I've found that true 100-percent honesty wins every time.

"I like to consider myself an unofficial ambassador because a lot of people always ask my opinion about certain matters and I do my best to represent the United States in the best light possible. It's not always easy but I haven't lost a friendship yet."

What do you do to relieve stress?

Usually work on my house or read a book. Doing something constructive for myself is a big stress reliever every time because it takes my mind off the stress.


What have you been reading lately?

"The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA" by Antonio J. Mendez (Harper, 1999) and " The Barbecue! Bible" by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 1998).


When you have one of those days on which you don't think you can face the job again, what is it that gets you out the door in the morning and off to work?

What gets me going is knowing that if I don't show up for work that either myself or a co-worker might not have the chance to learn something new.

Since I live in Switzerland it's a little bit harder because some days when I wake up, the last thing I want to do is speak German. But I know that there's a whole company depending on me to keep things up and running.

graphic


 

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