How I Work: Sarah Benkendorf, Lab Systems Support Specialist, IT

Name: Sarah Benkendorf

Job Title, Department: Lab Systems Support Specialist

Current Mobile Device(s): iPhone 5S

Current Computer(s): Late 2013 iMac running Yosemite

One word that describes how you work: Obsessively (I tend to get focused on one particular problem and keep working at it until I solve it.)

Describe a typical day: I check my email on my ride in on the Red Line and start planning what I need to tackle as soon as I get in and what can wait for a little later in the day. After a brief walk from Park St and stop for coffee, I sit down at my desk and check Slack and Zendesk to see if the students working at the Help Desk the night before have reported any problems in a lab or classroom that I need to check out before a class starts. Then I spend the rest of the day alternating between solving problems remotely from my desk and visiting labs or classrooms in person in order to tackle some of the more puzzling or difficult problems.

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without? Why? Slack and Google Drive are pretty crucial to my day-to-day work. Slack lets me stay in touch with all of the staff in the IT Department, including the student staff who answer the phones at the Help Desk and go into labs, classrooms, and offices to solve problems in person. So a student can be troubleshooting an issue in a classroom for a professor and I can walk them through how to fix it over Slack without them ever having to leave the classroom or professor!

I use Google Drive to collaborate on projects with other people on my team and to write documentation on how to do certain things so that way if I’m ever out on vacation or sick at home, the other people on my team can read my documentation and know exactly what to do.

Outside of work, I use TickTick, a to-do list app which helps me keep everything else in my life a little more organized.

What is your office or desk like? Tidy or chaotic? I like to keep my work area fairly clean, which can be difficult with so many computers around, so I try to tidy up my desk throughout the day. Once it reaches a certain point of chaos, I stop whatever I’m doing and clean the whole area up. I always have some tea at my desk too, so if I’m ever feeling particularly stressed, I can stop and take a break by making myself a cup of tea. It’s a good way to take a step away from my work without leaving the office.


What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack? There’s a feature I love in Slack where you can have Slackbot remind you to do a task. If you type /remind me at TIME to DO THIS, Slackbot will remind you at that time to do that task even if it’s days or weeks away! It’s really helpful because a lot of the work I do is in the classrooms, which are usually jam-packed during the weeks, so having a little reminder that a gap in the schedule is coming up is great!

What do you use to keep track of your schedule? I use the OWA WebClient Calendar and the Calendar app on my phone.

What’s your favorite lunch spot around Emerson? I’m a fan of the Clover Food Truck that sits parked outside Park St Station. It’s a bit of a walk, but it’s always worth it. My go-to meal is the chickpea fritter with an order of rosemary fries.

What music do you listen to while you work? I listen to 8tracks a lot during the day because I like being able to pick and choose from a variety of super awesome, user-curated playlists. It’s like having a bunch of friends who all make super awesome mix CDs. Right now I’m listening to a mix called Fantastic Beasts, which is full of fantastical, instrumental soundtracks.

What’s your favorite GIF? No.

Leave a Reply