Occupation: Informatics Specialist at Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) Public Service Pension Centre (PSPC) in Shediac.
Education/Training: NBCC Moncton Certificate: Computer Support Technician: Network Support; NBCC Moncton Diploma: Computer Network Technology: Network Design and Administration
Natalie Melanson got her first computer when she was 12 years old and has always been fascinated by it. “I was always curious to know how it worked,” says Melanson. “I even had my own website on geocities! It was basic, but for a 13 year old kid, it was lots of fun!”
Natalie completed a Certificate in Computer Support Technician, Network Support and a Diploma in Computer Network Technology, Network Design and Administration from NBCC.
Upon graduating, Natalie began her career at PWGSC in July 2008.
“I hope to be a Network Administrator and eventually design networks,” says Melanson. “Knowing that's my career goal always has me on my toes and ready to learn, and do what it takes to reach my goal.”
Natalie was also a recipient of the Wage Gap Action Plan Scholarship. “Not only does the Wage Gap Action Plan Scholarship look excellent on my resume, it helped me financially throughout my two years in college,” says Melanson. “It gave me the chance to pursue my dreams, and I hope it will for many others.”
Was Information Technology (IT) something you were always interested in as a career?
Of course. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in IT.
How did you start on this career path?
The first time I worked in IT was at Nav Canada at the control center in Riverview. It was through a high school practicum. I had lots of fun there, and then proceeded to college, studying Network Design and Administration at NBCC Moncton.
Can you explain what an Informatics Specialist does?
I primarily take care of the help desk, supporting over 700 users in 5 locations. I am the first point of contact when an employee has an issue with their equipment, or when they need to be provided access to an application, etc. Lots of troubleshooting.
What is a typical day at work like for you?
We usually receive over 60 support calls/requests per day. I make sure all of our employees have their systems up and running, and then proceed with requests. I often travel between our five sites.
Are there any myths or misconceptions about your job that you'd like to dispel?
The biggest misconception would be that women rarely work in IT. I will agree that it is a male dominant field, but you see a lot more women getting involved in IT.
I don't know how many women have approached me about working in IT. I tell them it's a challenge like anything else, but it's a very rewarding job. We are always learning as technology never stays the same. I encourage them to seriously consider a career in IT if they are interested. Every job in the field is different, there's a lot of room for growth.
What kinds of qualities or skills are needed to be a good Informatics Specialist?
You need to know how to prioritize your work. A lot of support calls and requests come in and you can't complete them all at once. You also need to have an open mind, and always be willing to learn. Like I've mentioned before, technology is always changing and you need to keep up with the changes. I also find you need to be patient, as a lot of the clients you'll deal with know very little about IT, and they can be very frustrated when things don't work or go their way. Being a good teacher is important.
What do you love most about your job?
Continuous, hands-on learning. I also love the challenge.
What excites you about going to work everyday?
Knowing that today will not be the same as yesterday. Everyday is different.
Tell us about some of the rewards and challenges of your job.
The biggest reward is personal growth and learning. The biggest challenge is keeping that knowledge. I find if you learn something, but don't always practice it, it's easy to forget. A lot of material I've learned in college, I don't use at my job, and it's very easy to slip and forget what I've learned. It's important for me to brush up on my skills every so often. You never know when you're going to use them.
What would you say is a personal career achievement you are most proud of?
Becoming a full time, permanent employee with the Federal Government of Canada at the age of 20. Not everyone gets this chance, and I am very proud of this accomplishment.
What advice would you give to students interested in your field of studies / career?
Never give up, as you will run across many obstacles along the way. Hands-on training is the best way to learn, as it's a lot harder to forget. Always be open to learning. If you think you'll never have to study again once you graduate, think again.
What do you believe is the key to success?
Like I've said many times before, be open to continuous learning.