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Client support: 'Solutions to difficult problems'

Blair Skidmore
Blair Skidmore  

Name

Blair Skidmore

Position

I'm a client support specialist in Atlanta with Sequitur Corporation, which makes software for undergraduate and graduate college-recruitment programs. My job is to support users of our software. This includes both technical support (when they have a problem with the software) and consulting (when they have a task to perform and they want some ideas as to how to accomplish that task using our software).

I also work on special projects, which include building custom pieces for clients as well as some minor software development.

Years in position

Two.

  QUICK VOTE
graphic Blair Skidmore talks to us about sometimes wishing he could work more directly in college admissions again, as much as he enjoys working in software that supports them. How would you like to go into the tech side of your basic line of work?

I'd like it, actually. I'd like to get into that side of things.
Not sure. I like direct involvement but the tech development is cool.
Couldn't take it. I'm an end-user, hard and fast, need that in-person side of my career to be happy.
View Results

 

Age

I'm 28, Libra.

Education

I have a BS in drama from Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky.

How did you get your current job?

I worked in admissions for three-and-a-half years -- as an admissions counselor at Union College and as an assistant director of admissions at Lees-McRae College in North Carolina.

As assistant director, I was responsible for overseeing our data-management system. Lees-McRae is a Sequitur client, so I became very familiar with the product as its administrator. Through my own calls to tech support, I got to know some of the Sequitur staff. During a visit to the company, I was asked if I'd like to come back for an interview and work in the companys support services group. One year after first seeing their software, I was working for them.

How many hours do you work per week?

I work 40 to 55 hours per week, usually 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. But on heavy weeks, it's more like 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"We help colleges and universities recruit the students they want to enroll. We do this by giving admissions officers a tool that makes their job easier and more efficient, in cost and time. This gives them more time to concentrate on the students as individuals."

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

Check the support e-mail and voice mail for any problems that may need immediate attention.

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

I usually go to lunch between 12 and 1. We have lots of local restaurants, but my favorite is Monterrey's, a Mexican restaurant.

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

When you work in tech support, the busiest times are usually right after an upgrade. Clients are calling in more often because they have questions about new features. We also get lots of calls from new clients as they're beginning to use our software for their first recruiting season.

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

When I've helped to make one of my clients have a good day. I often get calls from clients who ask about something they think will be difficult to do in our software. When I show them how to do it in just a few minutes, that really makes their day.

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

Currently, I don't take much work home, but I often go over current projects in my head. Many solutions to difficult problems that I'm working on have actually occurred to me when I'm at home.

  ADMISSIONS OFFICE
Sequitur Corporation, for which Blair Skidmore works, was founded in Atlanta in 1984. Its key software product is Sequitur Recruitment Plus. It's a data-management package for college and university admissions offices. The software helps staffers target and recruit students who meet a given school's goals. Outgoing communications can be automated by Recruitment Plus and related data can be tracked on each student involved from initial contact through the application and matriculation. And we met Skidmore 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 at CNN.com/career, let us hear from you as Skidmore did.
 

What does your work contribute to society?

We help colleges and universities recruit the students they want to enroll. We do this by giving admissions officers a tool that makes their job easier and more efficient, in cost and time. This gives them more time to concentrate on the students as individuals. If they're spending more time talking to a student, then it's going to benefit the student -- he or she can make a better decision on where to go to college.

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

Maybe. I never expected to work in the computer software industry. I've had no formal training on computers. I bought a computer the day after I graduated from college.

Everything I now know about computers has been either self-taught or has been the result of trial and error. Most of my clients think my degree is in computer information systems. They're really shocked when they find out I was a drama major.

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

If my eyesight were better, I'd be a helicopter pilot for the Army. The Blackhawk is an amazing piece of work.

I'd also like to go back into an admissions office as a director or dean. I miss the daily interaction with students and their families.

What's an unforgivable trait in a colleague?

No motivation or flexibility. When you work in any small business, you have to realize that you may be asked to do things that aren't a part of your job description. I don't like it when someone refuses to do something just because it's not their responsibility. If a small business is going to survive, it's employees have to be able to adapt.

"Everything I now know about computers has been either self-taught or has been the result of trial and error. Most of my clients think my degree is in computer information systems. They're really shocked when they find out I was a drama major."

What do you do to relieve stress?

Go home and play with my Boston terrier, Nash. He's the best stress-reliever I know. I also go skiing once a year. There's nothing more relaxing than standing at the top of a mountain, looking out over this great land -- and then skiing down it like a bat out of hell.

What have you been reading lately?

I just finished Tom Clancy's "The Bear and The Dragon" (Putnam, 2000) and am starting Tim Pat Coogan's "The Troubles : Ireland's Ordeal 1966-1996 and the Search for Peace" (Denver, 1966). I visited Ireland for a month in 1996 and loved every minute of it. I'd like to take an extended vacation there in the future.

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?

That's simple: pride in my work. If I'm not at work, then that means that someone else has to do my job. Also, I enjoy working with my clients and my colleagues. At least once a day, I'm asking myself, "How did I get here?"

graphic

 

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RELATED SITES:
Lees-McRae College
Sequitur
Union College


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