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Ben West

Ben West Adult Student Becomes Network Administrator

Ben West, Network Systems Technology, Class of: 1999
Being in the right place at the right time is always a good thing.

At least that’s what former JVS Adult Career Center student Ben West will tell you. He credits good timing as being one of the factors that led him to his current position as the network administrator for Ross Environmental Services in Elyria.

West graduated from North Ridgeville High School in 1995 with an interest in computers. He spent a short time at two local colleges but quickly realized the college track really wasn’t what he needed.

“In 1995 college computer degrees were focused on computer science and software development,” stated West. “What I wanted was hands-on computer system training,” he continued. “That’s when I decided to enroll in the JVS Adult Career Center’s Network System Technology Program.”

West entered the JVS full time job training program in 1998. “I chose an evening class because the instructors are usually people who work during the day in the industry,” affirmed West.

“Usually daytime ‘professors’ teach a lot of theory and often students have a difficult time relating it to real-world examples. When instructors, like those at the JVS, work with the technology during the day and teach it in the evening, the classes are much more pertinent to what’s really happening in the workplace. Their real world technical experience is invaluable.”

Ross Environmental Services contacted the JVS Job Placement Office in 1999 looking for someone who might be interested in helping them prepare their computers for Y2K.

“They needed someone who was interested in part-time work to help them apply software patches and install hardware on the few computers they had at that time,” stated JVS Job Placement Coordinator Bob Pogorelc. “I approached the NST instructor and he recommended Ben West for the job.”

“After the Y2K upgrades were done, Leslie Counts, the Information Technology Coordinator at Ross kept finding work for me.” West continued.

“We offered Ben a full-time position with the Ross companies after about six months of part-time work. Initially his primary responsibility was maintaining our personal computers,” stated Counts.

“Eventually, however, the vision of a company-wide computer network became a reality and we decided to give Ben the opportunity to design and implement the computer network system for our new administrative office center located in the Great Lakes Technology Park in Elyria,” continued Counts.

“I was very young to be given this large amount of responsibility,” related West. “But I was capable and ready for the challenge,” he affirmed.

“During the peak time of getting the new building ready to open, I was working 70-80 hours a week and loving it because I was learning so much. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a ‘computer geek’ like me,” West affirmed. “It was absolutely the perfect set of circumstances and I was definitely ‘in the right place at the right time’, working for a progressive company like Ross when they were in the position to design a computer network system for a new building.”

“What was meant to be a part-time temporary position working with personal computers ended up becoming a full-time position as the company’s Network System Administrator,” West stated.

Currently, West oversees the computer systems of all the Ross companies which include Ross Environmental, Ross Incineration, and Ross Transportation. In addition to this, he is also in charge of the phone, security, and audiovisual systems at the new administrative building.

“The best part of my job is that it’s very diverse,” he stated. “I’m never stuck in a rut, every day is different, and I always have new projects to work on.”

When asked what advice he would offer to students training for a career in the information technology field, West doesn’t hesitate to say, “Companies aren’t looking for someone with a lot of course work with no hands-on experience, they’re looking for someone with a little bit of both. Therefore it helps to get your foot in the door and work while you are taking classes, the more work experience you get the more employable you will be.”

And of course, it doesn’t hurt to be in the right place at the right time.
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