Claudia Kretschmann is our Customer Relations Specialists. She has been with AlphaKOR for almost a year now and I can confidently say, she is an asset to the AlphaKOR team. Fresh out of university, she started at AlphaKOR with great enthusiasm and a lot of personality to offer.
Claudia is a resource of information for students who will or have recently graduated from college or university. She hopes to inspire new graduates looking for a career in the technology industry.
What does an average day look like for you?
As the Customer Relations Specialist, I provide our customers with a single point of contact for updates and scheduling. It helps them feel cared for and reassured that we are on their team.
Arriving at 7:30, I am one of the first people in the office. I check to see if there were any overnight emergencies or anything that needs to be addressed immediately. After that, the rest of my day involves bridging the communication gap between our technicians, our clients, and the account managers.
If random tasks pop-up I will address those, but for my day to day activities, I take care of emails, phone calls, and ticket scheduling.
What post-secondary education prepared you for this position?
I graduated from the University of Windsor with a double major in Business and Computer Science with a specialization in strategy and entrepreneurship.
How does your education help you at AlphaKOR?
I find that my double major fits my role well. I use both the business and computer science sides of my degree which is what I was looking for in a job right out of University.
I enjoy interacting with people and in my business studies, I took a lot of consumer behaviour courses which helped me understand how clients think. This also allows me to approach our existing customers with a strategy geared towards them.
Working at AlphaKOR, in a technology company, my computer science degree has become incredibly useful. It helps me diagnose the customer’s issue and assign the technician that will be the most effective for that situation.
Were there any pleasant surprises once you started working in the IT sector?
The IT sector is a big industry with dozens of different specialized areas. Each technician at AlphaKOR has different specialties and a pleasant surprise was seeing all the technicians come together and help each other out when they have questions or need assistance with an issue.
This is a team collaborative environment, so there’s not a bunch of unrealistic pressure on one person needing to know all of the information. It’s a very team-oriented setting and everyone uses their knowledge to help others.
Once you were in the job force, what is something that school did not prepare you for?
Getting used to the concept of ‘after 5 pm you go home’ was an interesting transition. I’m a big advocate for work/life balance and it took time to get used to not being in class every day, going home, and using my late hours of the week/weekends to study for exams. University didn’t prepare me for life after graduation, but I think I’m handling it quite well!
Is there anything that helps you unplug?
I drive all the way in from Amherstburg [30 minutes commute one way], so having that long commute helps me decompress and detach from my work state of mind. I find I have this mentality, if work needs me, they will reach out to me. So, I don’t stress on work while away from it.
It’s up to you to create your own boundaries. For me personally, I don’t have my work emails set up on my phone, so I never feel pressured to address work while I’m not there. I am always accessible, but after 5 my level of accessibility reduces.
What is a memory working at AlphaKOR that puts a smile on your face?
This year AlphaKOR celebrated its 25th year anniversary. I planned a day filled with celebratory events like a ping-pong tournament, a 90’s costume competition, gift baskets, and a big milestone art piece reveal. It was a little daunting because it is only my first year here and I wanted to make sure that the celebration lived up to the milestone.
Everyone’s reaction to the decorations, the cake, and the art piece we revealed was so overwhelming. Seeing the excitement and joy on all my coworkers face made me happy and all the after-hours work, running around and setup was worth it. Everyone having an awesome day makes me happy every time I think about it.
What have you learned at AlphaKOR that has helped you grow as a person?
Frank, you always tell us to never use the “B” word, which is busy. At first,I found it funny and it made sense, but since using it, I have applied it not only to work but outside of work. It has made me realize how important it is to value the time for people in your life, and not just at work, but also your family and your friends.
It helps put your time and your priorities into perspective. You no longer have that “oh sorry, I’m busy” scapegoat to fall back on. Instead, I find myself realizing what is important to me and what isn’t.
When I’m faced with an opportunity, instead of giving a non-committal excuse,I think back on what I would be doing instead, and if it’s not important then I’ll do it. It keeps me motivated.
What is your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of my job is the interactions I have with my manager and my technicians. They always find a way to make a tough, stressful day a really good one. We always have such an awesome time together. I appreciate the relationships I’ve built with my manager Liqaa and the techs. Work is work, and the people on your team really make all the difference.
Is there any area of IT you would like to grow into?
I would like to grow into the management information system role. With my business degree and my love for strategy and working with people I feel that’s what would best suite my growth in the IT sector.
I want to stay in the IT sector, and I think a manager role will help me grow as a person. Working closely with my team right now is helping me learn so much and strengthen my technology background, something that will benefit me in a management position.
Do you have any advice for new graduates looking for a job in the technology field?
My first piece of advice is to use your University as a resource. Your University will most likely post a lot of jobs and links to potential openings in different companies. That is how I found AlphaKOR, it was posted in the University of Windsor computer science group and I found the posting for the Customer Relations Specialist role listed. Use all the resources available to you not just in one sole location such as LinkedIn.
Secondly, don’t be discouraged by jobs or interviews that don’t work out or don’t seem to be what they really are. Finding your first job right out of University is a struggle. Prepare for many job interviews, but don’t be discouraged because the perfect fit will come around.
It’s tough to have this mindset when you’re fresh out of school, but interviews are a two-way street. You’re not only being interviewed to see if you would be a good fit for the company, but you’re interviewing them to make sure they’d be a good fit for you. Having a healthy company culture is irreplaceable in the workforce.
You can find out more about Claudia by visiting her LinkedIn Profile. She also has written a blog post for us on her views on investing in information technology and the benefits it offers to large and small businesses.