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Joseph Smith interns with Eden IT department

Apr 8, 2019

WENTWORTH – When Joseph Smith was a kid, playing video games “was a big thing,” he said. “I would spend time on computers, and would have computer problems, and I would want to know how to fix them so I wouldn’t have to go get anyone else to fix them.”

That’s also how Taylor Rorrer became interested in information technology as well: “I would break stuff on my computer, and then figure out how to ‘unbreak’ it.”

Smith and Rorrer have followed a similar path – both IT students at Rockingham Community College who were recommended by the head of their program to intern with the City of Eden. Smith’s internship began in late February; Rorrer’s began eight years ago, and led to a full-time job.

Kevin Taylor, Eden’s director of IT, was involved in a Lunch and Learn event several years back, with business leaders from across the county.

“One of the things that came up during that meeting was internships. It got me thinking, what can I do to help somebody who is going through their information technology program get the experience that employers are looking for?” Taylor said. He approached RCC, and took on Rorrer as an intern.

“Man, he was impressive when he got here. Talk about a quality candidate … he and Joseph both … Joseph has impressed us to no end since he’s been here,” Taylor said.

“At the time we did the internship for Rorrer, I was the only IT employee, period. But once he got through the program, I didn’t want to let him go.”

Taylor kept him on board part-time, then transitioned him to full-time.

“When you look at even entry-level IT jobs, they’re all asking for two-plus years’ experience. It’s very difficult to get a job to get the experience,” Taylor said. “Internship programs – whether it’s IT or skilled trades, welding, HVAC – are important because they give the students a chance to get hands-on, real-world experience they can put on their resumes.”

He said he would love to see internships in lot of the businesses in Eden and in the county. “It helps our students tremendously that are in the job market, and it also can benefit that employer that’s granting that internship,” Taylor said. “They may find diamonds in the rough like we found with Taylor and Joseph, that at the end of the internship, they’re going to want to hold on to. That keeps our students local and working in the community, and it really benefits all of us.”

When Taylor started his job with the city in 2006, there was just a handful of servers. One of his initial projects was to put mobile data terminals – MDTs – into police vehicles.

“Our technology footprint has grown exponentially since then. Right now we’re supporting 21 to 22 servers, roughly 140 to 150 end users, along with all of their devices like tablets, smart phones, printers, everything,” Taylor said. And public Wi-Fi was added to the downtown areas, and soon will be available at Freedom Park.

Rorrer came in and focused on desktop end users to free up Taylor for projects, planning, server maintenance, security and more. Over time, Rorrer has taken over much of the project work, including being in charge of the city’s desktop computer and MDT life cycles.

“We don’t want our technology to stagnate. It’s counter-productive to hold onto a computer for so long that it’s slowing down work,” Taylor said. Computers are replaced every four years, and MDTs every three years.

Taylor said the role of an intern like Smith is to supplement and work with Rorrer on end-user support and projects. Smith will be involved in setting up nearly two dozen new computers, working with employees to back up their data and get it onto their new computer. He is also helping Taylor get surplus equipment ready for public auction.

But an internship does more than provide experience for the intern and relieve work load for the department; because interns are usually still in school, they have new, cutting-edge ideas from the classroom.

“Joseph has been bringing some ideas to the table … some really good ideas on policies, ways we can engage the users … ideas that are definitely benefiting us,” Taylor said. “I hope we are benefiting him, as far as getting hands on with technology.”

Smith let out a resounding “Oh yeah!”

One of Smith’s first projects was to re-purpose some old computers to run free iSpy software, which displays much clearer security camera footage than what the city was using.

“It was trial and error. I had to learn to use quite a few different pieces of software,” Smith said.

After one computer installation is done, the IT department uses FOG – Free Online Ghosts – to take a snapshot of the process so it can be easily deployed to the other computers.

“Joseph set up the Windows load and software on a virtual machine under Hyper V. We guided him to take an image from Hyper V onto the FOG server and then he deployed that to the six PCs we are tasking for the video screens,” Taylor said. “He got his hands on Hyper V, Ghost, iSpy, Windows 10, Enterprise Install, joined it to the domain with Active Directory, and set everything up to start automatically.”

He’ll get a taste of that again when new computers arrive, plus he’ll install applications that are department-specific.

“I’ve had hands-on things in class, but not like this,” Smith said.

Taylor said Smith was extremely beneficial when IT had to handle problems with the finance server, by running the help desk calls from everyone else. “He did a phenomenal job,” Taylor said.

Any businesses interested in having an intern from Rockingham Community College’s extensive list of programs can call 336-342-4261. Prospective students can find more information on what RCC offers by visiting www.rockinghamcc.edu.

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Gerri Hunt is director of public information at Rockingham Community College. She can be reached at huntg0780@rockinghamcc.edu or 336-342-4261 ext. 2170.

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Rockingham Community College
215 Wrenn Memorial Rd.
Wentworth, NC 27375

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336-342-4261
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info@rockinghamcc.edu