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Community IT Voices: Ben Nuest, Centralized Services Administrator
Join us for our series featuring interviews with Community IT employees. In this series, we talk about nonprofit technology career paths, career resources, skills, and certifications. We will also touch on mentoring opportunities as you start out on your career and ways to give back if you are further along. If you are wondering what it is like to work at a place like Community IT, you can learn about it here.
In today’s interview, Carolyn talks with Ben Nuest, Centralized Services Administrator, about his background in music and what it has been like joining Community IT remotely to work on the many systems that keep our clients’ laptops and devices running smoothly in the background. Ben says he didn’t start out interested in scripting, but found that he really liked it and obviously had a talent for it. And his job at Community IT lets him take on challenging and complex automation and feel good about serving nonprofits.
“I feel like I’m not working to fill someone else’s pockets. And I also feel like the people that we support are doing good and important work. Every time we get new client descriptions in, I love reading about what they do … we’ve got some really cool clients!'”Ben Nuest, Centralized Services Administrator
Ben Nuest, a native Kansan, is a Centralized Services Administrator. He joined Community IT in June of 2021. In his role, he handles development of scripting and automation for Community IT’s clients, in addition to development and maintenance of internal automation, custom reports, and reporting platforms. He is Addigy certified.
Prior to joining Community IT, he worked as a Technical Specialist, providing direct support to clients, monitoring backup systems, and doing scripting work as needed.
Carolyn Woodard has served many roles at Community IT Innovators, from client to project manager to marketing. With over twenty years of experience in the nonprofit world and marketing, including as a nonprofit technology project manager and Director of IT, Carolyn knows the frustrations and delights of working with technology professionals, accidental techies, executives, and staff to deliver your organization’s mission and keep your IT infrastructure operating.
Carolyn is excited to help manage Marketing at Community IT Innovators and is always looking for new ways to tell stories and reach people. She has a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from Johns Hopkins University and received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Williams College. She thinks the best thing about being with Community IT Innovators is the people.
Carolyn Woodard: Welcome everyone! And thank you for joining us for our Community IT Voices interview. My name is Carolyn Woodard, and today I’m interviewing Ben. So, Ben would you like to introduce yourself and tell us what your title is at Community IT?
Ben Nuest: Hi, I’m Ben Nuest, and I’m the Centralized Services Administrator.
Carolyn Woodard: And what are your responsibilities?
Ben Nuest: I do mostly scripting and automation related work, so I write a lot of PowerShell specifically, which does things like app installations for clients. It does some integration and like internal data pipeline between some of the different toolsets we use. And then I have a hand full of other, just sort of odd centralized service support duties, like I help with some on-boardings and other things.
Carolyn Woodard: So you’re on the centralized services team? What does that mean? You told me it’s an internal team that helps our clients kind of behind the scenes?
Ben Nuest: Yes, yeah that’s right. So the Help Desk does every-day individual support tickets for client end-users. The centralized services team does things like manage things like deployments to all of the computers at our client, for example. So whereas — where somebody on Help Desk is helping an individual with an individual problem, we are typically doing things that impact larger numbers of computers, like ten or more. So, yeah, like I said, lots of deployments, setting up policies, things of that nature.
Carolyn Woodard: So what do you do day-to-day? It sounds like you do a lot of behind the scenes things, so do you do coding? What do you work on usually?
Ben Nuest: So typically these kind of coding related tasks, I call it scripting, because it’s PowerShell, but depending on who you ask there’s kind of a really gray, blurry line between coding and scripting. I’ve done a little bit of — sort of both sides of that line, I guess. My role is pretty internal facing, as far as who I spend time interacting with.
I do talk to clients here and there but it’s pretty seldom, like maybe once or twice a month, and it’s usually only the point of contact. I have done client work, just not with not Community IT. My last place I had more of a Help Desk role.
Sometimes, [at Community IT] we get tickets from clients asking us to automate stuff, like we have clients who want us to automate settings in Office 365 or something, where it goes through every user and sets something on their account. Or we’ll have clients who — the most common one that we get is, we have a client that wants to install some kind of like third party application like Zoom, or TeamViewer something along those lines. And so we have to write and maintain scripts to install those, because every time they release a new version, we might have to change the script a little bit, not typically, but sometimes those things change.
And then, like I said a little bit ago, I also write integrations for some of our internal platforms. So right now, I’m working on something that will pull some billing and usage data from one of our platforms and then put it into our PSA platform, so that we can do reporting and stuff on that without having to log in to that other platform.
Carolyn Woodard: So, I mean, it sounds like you’re talking about some things that are really helpful for our clients that you can do centrally and deploy as you said to all of their staff members. So, if they know that they want all staff to be able to access Zoom, each person doesn’t have to do it, you can do it, and then, when they log on, they can get into Zoom.
So, did you have a tech background when you started with Community IT? It sounds like you have a very technical job.
Ben Nuest: I did, yes. My last position, I started in sort of a Help Desk role and started picking up PowerShell and scripting stuff just kind of wherever I could. It was something that I thought for a long time that I would never have an interest in coding or anything similar. And, as I started kind of working with it, I discovered that I really like it quite a bit actually. And so, I started picking stuff up in my last role more frequently and that was never really my main job duty, I guess. But when they brought me on here that was — that’s kind of my main job – it’s the bread and butter of what I do.
Carolyn Woodard: How did you find out about Community IT and what made you decide to apply?
Ben Nuest: I actually have a friend who had been watching Idealist [https://www.idealist.org/] at the time which is like the Indeed for nonprofits and socially conscious organizations. And I had kind of been keeping an eye on Idealist, but I hadn’t looked recently at the time that she pointed out to me. And I looked at the role and I looked into the company. And the role looked cool, but it was really the company that sold me on wanting to apply.
A company that deals only in nonprofits and it’s employee owned? Those were just huge to me. So I jumped on it pretty quick. I was really excited when I applied for this role and even more when I got it.
Carolyn Woodard: So why are nonprofits important to you? Like, what in your background made you feel like you’re a good fit for that, or made it important to you?
Ben Nuest: One of my previous jobs, not my next most recent, but before that, I worked for credit union, which I don’t know if you’re familiar, it’s basically like the nonprofit version of a bank. It’s more complicated than that, credit unions are member-owned, and so they’re owned by the people that hold their money there. But that has always just felt a lot better to me than — I feel like I’m not working to fill somebody else’s pockets, and I also feel like the people that we support are doing good and important work.
Every time we get a new client descriptions in I love reading about what they do, they do some really cool stuff. We brought a client on a while back. And I realized not — or while I was working on their on-boarding that I had been following them on Instagram for like several years, like, “Oh, I know this client.” Really cool. We’ve got some really cool clients.
Carolyn Woodard: So it sounds like you came from a tech background and had an aptitude for technology, and then were keeping an eye on Idealist as a place to find job openings in this sort of area. Is that advice you would give to someone else who is coming up in technology and is looking for a fulfilling job, where they’re not just working for a corporation?
Ben Nuest: Oh, absolutely, yes. I had a hard time with this particular question because I feel like there was a great deal of luck involved. Like, I don’t have a degree. The formal schooling that I have had is actually in music. Like I said, I wasn’t even really watching Idealist all that closely at the time that my friend pointed this job out. So, I got very, very lucky that she happened to be watching and it was sort of the right job at the right time. I had a good amount of experience with PowerShell at that time, like if I — if the job had been posted a year earlier, it probably wouldn’t have worked out or something, either because I wouldn’t have seen it or I wouldn’t have had the experience and just it was kind of stars aligned or whatever.
Carolyn Woodard: I think a lot of people at Community IT have said that it was kind of serendipity that they changed careers, or they had a background in something else, and then like you said the right job at the right time came along and it was a good fit.
So when you are like at a party or introduced to someone and they want to know what you do, and who you work for, what do you tell them is Community IT? What do we do?
Ben Nuest: Usually, surface level answer, I’ll tell people that I work in IT or tech support. But if they look for anything more than that, I tell them I work for an employee owned company out of DC that contracts only with nonprofits, we work with some really great people, and then I say that I specifically work in automation.
Carolyn Woodard: It just sounds like you found a good spot for yourself. And I know that Community IT is really happy to have you doing this role that clearly you are well suited to. Thank you so much, Ben for your time today. I really appreciate it. Thanks for talking with me. This has been fun.
Ben Nuest: Yeah, I agree. Thank you for having me.
We hope you enjoyed this Community IT Voices interview with Ben Nuest, Centralized Services Administrator. Community IT is the right place for you if you find fulfillment in helping others succeed and want to work for a company that serves nonprofits.
Our employees stay and grow with us, and over half of our staff have been with us for over a decade. Community IT is an employee-owned company with a positive, sustainable workplace that promotes professional development and a healthy work/life balance. We have been 100% employee-owned since 2012. Check out careers with us here.