Known for their distinct blue lab coats, the lab consultants at Seton Hall University provide technological assistance to all who need it. The lab consultants are student workers who assist students, faculty and guests with personal laptops, library computers, printers and any other technical difficulties they can remedy.
Jonathan Pinnock, a junior chemistry major, explained the group’s tasks and responsibilities. Pinnock stated that the lab consultants are responsible for helping patrons that are having technical issues, cleaning the computers, making sure the desktops are up to date and creating a friendly environment for everyone.
Since the lab consultants are dealing with such a high volume of people, their job is as much customer service as it is computer science. This challenges the students to develop patience and people skills, in addition to their skills in operating, analyzing and repairing electronic devices.
“I will say it has taught me how to interact with people better, because you have a lot of people coming up to you asking for help,” Erica Wiley, a junior physics major, said. “It really does train you to work well under pressure, and how to interact with multiple people at one time.”
Many requests for assistance are fairly simple for the lab consultants, as individuals of varying ages and tech skill use the library facilities. While the job can be challenging at times, the students working for PC Support Services (PCSS) feel prepared as they are thoroughly trained before they start working.
Pinnock noted that since the workers are interacting with people, they cannot have a bad day because they are responsible for everything that happens in the library.
“Under special conditions like finals or at the beginning of the semester when everyone’s trying to figure out how everything works, it’s about trying to be as efficient as possible,” Pinnock said.
Pinnock made it clear that while performing customer service can be challenging and labor-intensive, it is nonetheless his favorite aspect of the job. Pinnock stated that the most rewarding part of his job is becoming friends with those that are regularly in the library.
While the lab consultants enjoy and are challenged by working with people in general, there are opportunities that come with working specifically with faculty members.
“In addition to the students, I’ve met a lot of professors,” Sade Sampson, a senior physics engineering major, said. “I have met professors who have asked me to take their class while working here, and I actually took their class. You just never know who you could meet; sometimes the deans come across.”
Another aspect of the lab consultant position that students appreciate is the flexibility. Their hours never conflict with classes, and PCSS is reasonably accommodating with their busy schedules, they say.
“Normally at the desk, we’re allowed to do homework and keep up with our assignments once everything is in check,” Pinnock said. “Once the printers are up and running, and the paper is restocked, everybody in the library is happy.”
The Student Technology Assistant Program, which the lab consultants are a part of, has been managed by Marsha Philemon since 2007. During her time overseeing the program, Philemon has observed that students are increasingly familiar with technology.
“We’re now encountering a generation of students who are very much technology-savvy so the training for our Student Technology Assistant Program is not as rigorous,” Philemon said.
“Many of our students are no longer coming in requiring training for entry level tasks. They are ready to work, and are learning more on the job.”
Liam Brucker-Casey can be reached at liam.bruckercasey@ student.shu.edu.