Getting to know datacenter employees: Sarah Ward
Datacenter Employee Spotlight is designed to bring recognition both to DC Techs who went through the Datacenter Academy or support their peers through mentorship and volunteerism. The spotlights also work to illuminate real-life examples of pathways into IT careers and provide potential role models to those looking to access to the digital economy.
Introducing Sarah Ward
Employee since 2019
Sarah grew up in Colorado with two brothers and spent a lot of time camping, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors. After graduating from Colorado State University with a botany degree in 2002, she spent time with the Colorado Division of Wildlife on the Southwest Regional GAP Analysis project, identifying plants and soil types all over the state. She and her husband then spent four years in Alaska enjoying the flora and fauna; there, Sarah tried out her skills in a different capacity with the tourism and hospital industries.
In October 2007, Sarah and her family moved to beautiful Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she worked first in the direct care services field helping folks with intellectual and physical disabilities, before deciding to switch gears.
The path to technology
While Sarah started out in a natural resources career path, computers have been an ever-present part of her daily life. During the summer of 2018, she was volunteering at Laramie County Community College (LCCC) when she read an article in the school newspaper called “Silicon Prairie.” When she saw that there were scholarships and the opportunity for online study, she decided to enroll, getting her family involved with quizzing her before tests. There were many “aha!” moments as she studied computers and cloud infrastructure and Sarah eventually attained CompTIA A+ and Server+ industry certifications. When employees from the Cheyenne datacenter came in to speak with her class, she was intrigued by a career with Microsoft.
Sarah finds that collaboration is one of the best parts of the job. “Although we don’t see each other as often due to COVID restrictions, we still use Teams chat to cheer each other on and suggest ways to solve the tough stuff.” She also enjoys looking at new machines and tackling longer tasks. “You get a real sense of accomplishment when you look at all the clues and figure out what needs fixing.”
A day in the life
Working in the datacenter means you don’t sit very long! One of the things that surprised Sarah was the size of the datacenter. “You do a lot of walking to obtain parts, follow links, or find the right tools. I like that you can have a complete variety of things to do in a day too.” Although Sarah isn’t new to the datacenter, she still runs into tasks that are new and unfamiliar. “I think it’s fun to challenge myself to learn new things and the support I receive really makes it possible to stretch my skills and make a difference.”
Favorite Childhood Food
Sarah’s grandmother had raspberry bushes in a sunny, fenced section of the backyard so Sarah would eat the sun-warmed berries straight off the bush!