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So It’s Been a While …

May 27, 2019 -


Nic Reichelt

My life has been a whirlwind the last 9 months, but in a good way. I have had a career shift, finished a major project, redesigned my website (as you may have noticed), and have found a solid footing in my life. 

What has kept me busy, primarily, has been a job I started back on September 4th, 2018. A buddy of mine from my time at Verizon told me about an opening at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) as a Service Desk Technician. It was a risk because it was an Emergency Hire position that had an expiration date of 6 month, but when I talked it over with the wife, we decided it would be a good opportunity to get my foot in the door. I applied in early August and got called for an interview on August 24, 2018. A week later I was made an offer and was to start the following Tuesday. I felt bad giving such short notice to Progressive, but I could not let this opportunity pass.

CalOES is essentially the state’s FEMA. They work with all emergency services throughout the state and coordinate Planning, Response, Recovery, Logistics, and Administration of Emergency Management. It is a very unique state agency from what I have seen. Due to the nature of the work, I have had the ability to learn about other aspects of the agency outside of just my role. For more info on the agency you can visit their site.

My position was Client Support for the Joint Field Office (JFO), Area Field Offices (AFO), and various remote sites. I was hired with four other technicians to support users on the agency’s hardware and systems. This was both CalOES personnel and staff from other agencies. The duties I had included: 

  • Identifying and resolving system, hardware, and network issues users would experience
  • Asset management of laptops and mobile devices
  • Documentation creation for technicians and users
  • A lot of printer installations on staff computers

The nature of the job kept me working long hours, and it took me a while to find my groove and to feel solid in my role. The job can be very busy some days and slow on others. The ebb and flow gave me the opportunity to learn new things, though,  which I will cover in more detail further in.

This job was created to support the recovery of the fires from July 2018, and they wound down a lot faster than anticipated. I was going to be the only technician kept on by the beginning of November 2018. The day before the last two technicians were going to be let go, the disastrous Camp Fire in Butte County started. At that point our management opened up our positions to Limited Term (LT), as we knew this was going to be a long recovery. It was hard to feel good about the change because of the reason for it – you have work because of bad things happening. I was both grateful for the stability LT would provide and heartbroken for the losses due to the disasters.

With the support for response and recovery of the Camp Fire in Butte County and the Hill/Woolsey Fires in Ventura County there was a lot more travel. Our team of six had to support the JFO, two AFO’s (for both disaster areas), and supporting sites in those areas. We had a number of staffing changes on our team, with some members leaving to get permanent positions with other state agencies. One of the other techs and I took on additional responsibilities during this time. I took on managing our team’s schedule and acting in a more lead capacity. The two of us also took on a major asset deployment project for the recovery operations in both areas. With the unprecedented disaster, we learned some things the hard way and created some new processes. 

In March 2019 an opportunity was posted at HQ for the agency. It was an IT Specialist 1 position. This was a step up from the IT Associate position I was currently in. It was on the voice services team, which is managed by the supervisor I was reporting to at the time, and I felt this was a really good opportunity. It was still LT, but being at HQ had a much higher likelihood of going permanent.

I applied and got an interview a few weeks later. I was supporting the Butte County sites and had to drive back down to Sacramento for the day to go to the interview. A couple days later my manager called and offered me the job. I knew there was some stiff competition for the job and was overjoyed at the opportunity. I started April 15, 2019 and have been settling into the role. I am doing more process management, creating documentation for our techs and agency staff, and taking on a lead role within our team of six.

I also found out recently that this position was approved in the budget to become permanent, so sometime after July I will be a permanent employee of the agency. I am hoping to make this my home for the next few years. 

CalOES has not been the only thing going on with me, not by a long shot. I have completed a client project I started last year, and I have a separate post for that here.

With all of this change, it has been hard on my family and relationships. I have had to go back to some of my prior articles to remind myself to be present and to focus on what matters to me. I have also been slowing things down. I tend to rush to get to the destination but have been learning to enjoy the journey more. I had lots ideas of what I wanted to do, which I have gone over in prior posts, and some of those have not panned out. This has mainly been due to a change in priorities for myself. I am trying not to make long term plans for specific things anymore. I am really wanting to focus on what’s next.

Lately this has been finishing my site redesign and determining my next project. The site redesign went live today with this article. I am now working on learning WordPress to make themes/plugins. I found this opportunity after talking with my supervisor who was making a site for his family’s business and hearing some of the gripes he has had about updates breaking changes he made to the theme. I know I was against it before, but I have to make smart business choices for myself. With how prominent WordPress is, making products that are compatible with the platform is something that could be worthwhile. I will post about those projects as they come.

I am also getting into graphic design more. All of the icons and graphics on my site I made myself. I want to make that a more solid part of my business going forward, so I will be spending some time learning these two things and making them a priority for my business.

I have been trying to specialize less and be more of a “jack-of-all-trades” in I.T.. I like working with all levels of I.T. infrastructure and system administration. I have been learning more about my hosted server and the LAMP stack it has. Furthering my knowledge in Linux has been a key thing here. Working on the back-end of an Enterprise environment has broadened my view of I.T. and shown me avenues previously unknown. I am exploring the routes I want to take.

The last thing I am planning at this time is to go back for my Masters by the end of the year. I am still deciding on my program of study, but I really feel it will help me in my career and in expanding my knowledge.

A lot of things in the works, but I am taking it slow and trying to do them right.

I am happy with where this road has taken me. Taking the risk to leave Progressive last year and come here has been worthwhile. With my job becoming permanent, I am planning on staying here for the foreseeable future. I am going to continue to further my knowledge and experience though. I will not become complacent here and will work towards becoming a better technician, employee, friend, husband, father, and person. I feel good about the direction my life is taking.