Clark Nickles always liked computers, so it’s no surprise to anyone who has known him for a long time that he has a thriving career in IT. Clark lives in the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota, and is an IT Support Specialist for the city of St. Paul. He got his start with computers as a teenager playing with early PCs, and even built one together with his Mom. After high school, Clark took computer classes at Hennepin Technical College and completed a certificate in desktop publishing. “Desktop publishing was good, but today that is done all online” he says, reflecting on the fast pace of change in his field. Hennepin Tech referred Clark to the Sister Kenny Institute for help with finding a job. Clark worked in Sister Kenny’s offices for a short while until they placed him at 3M headquarters in St. Paul where he learned and did desktop PC support. Clark was at 3M for 12 years before getting laid off in a round of downsizing.
The next couple of years were tough trying to find another job. Through Minnesota’s VR system, Clark was referred to an employment agency that found him a job washing dishes. Clark, always the hard worker, performed this job diligently even though it was not a good match and his real ability was in computers and IT. Things turned around when his advocate (who is also his Mom) got his case reopened and assigned instead to Kaposia, a superb employment services agency in St. Paul. Kaposia had an existing relationship with the St. Paul city government, and when Clark came along they readily matched him with a great position. Clark joined the Operations Division of St. Paul’s Office of Technology and Communications in 2005 and took to his new job immediately. His job coach from Kaposia commented on how Clark would volunteer for assignments and how he was teaching her the job. In short order, Clark was working on his own with no coaching required.
A typical workday for Clark starts early, often before dawn. He commutes from his home in a Minneapolis suburb to his office in the City Hall Annex in downtown St. Paul, sometimes stopping on the way for a latte or a caramel macchiato (he’s partial to Starbucks). He reaches his desk by 7:30 AM where he prepares for the day’s work. When asked what he likes best about his job, he replies “Variety and change, I get to do a lot of things.” Sometimes he orders and configures new laptop computers for city employees, including special ruggedized laptops to be installed in police squad cars. He helps maintain many of the information systems that the various city departments need to get their work done, e.g., keeping Westlaw up for the City Attorney’s office. Lately he’s been learning more server administration, and been responsible for giving employees rights to the various IT systems they need for their jobs. “St. Paul can be complex”, Clark says. “Fire and police departments are totally different from parks and recreation, or from human rights. I get to work with all of the city departments, and that’s fun.”
Outside of work, Clark still enjoys spending time on computers, his Sony PlayStation, and keeps up with new gadgets and advances in consumer electronics. Sports in general, and baseball in particular, are of keen interest. Clark likes going to Minnesota Twins games and buys season tickets every year, often attending games with colleagues from his office. He is especially looking forward to next year’s Major League Baseball All Star Game that will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis. He also takes frequent trips with his Mom and sister, visiting favorite places like Washington, DC, or Florida for the Twins spring training camp.
The future is bright for Clark. When asked what he is looking forward to next in his job, he says “learning more server administration.” A couple of years ago Clark was promoted, and he continues to learn and advance his skills. One of his goals is to work for St. Paul until he retires so he can collect his pension and retirement account savings. And, at the rate he’s going, he will make it there with flying colors!