Michael Tiema

IT Support Associate, College of Business

Michael Tiema

What year did you start working at NIU? 2019

Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
Chicago (hometown), Aurora (now).

Select your affiliated college/division
College of Business

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S. communications/pre-law; Keller Graduate School of Management, MBA

Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
No two days are ever alike. I’ve learned providing IT support is an ever-changing job. One day I may be in the office catching up on administrative duties such as imaging PCs, managing our various IT servers, providing support to faculty for classroom equipment requiring configuration, troubleshooting, implemented fixes, etc. 

Other times I'm busy managing our laboratory PCs and software, ensuring that all equipment is in a 100% working state and is available to students, faculty, testing, visiting companies, etc. Other times I'm working with faculty and students to set up and loan department laptops, so students have access to remote learning materials and NIU resources.

I also provide onsite and remote support to faculty and students at our DeKalb, Naperville and downtown Chicago locations.

What do you like about working at NIU?
I enjoy the people I work with. Everyone has a can-do attitude and a generally positive demeanor. I also enjoy working with my direct leader, Kelsey Johnson, who is super positive and provides an environment open to new ideas, as well as tools to support me on a day-to-day basis.

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Find something you're passionate about and surround yourself with people in that field. You'll find out that what seems impossible is actually within reach. All that's missing is the knowledge and time to attain your goal.

What is your favorite campus event?
My favorite campus event occurred in 2019. The NIU football coach and Mission the mascot came to Barsema Hall and hosted the Homecoming pep rally with the NIU Marching Band. Hundreds of people were in attendance in the Barsema atrium. 

That event embodied the Huskie spirit of togetherness and positivity. It also showed how the world looked before COVID-19 took its toll. People of various ethnicities came together to celebrate something that was both fun and positive.

In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
I see faculty offer students opportunities to succeed in their chosen fields. I’ve seen faculty offer classes on how to conduct successful businesses. I've also witnessed students securing their degrees while preparing for the workforce and having great job offers. These motivated students demonstrated they were willing to work hard to achieve their goals, and faculty responded by providing the knowledge, connections and tools necessary for the students to succeed in the workforce.

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
My favorite memory of NIU is how fast we pivoted and adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone was forced to shift to an online learning environment during the spring 2020 semester. Not all faculty were prepared, but everyone showed a willingness to adjust to the new environment and give the students the tools they needed to participate in online classes.

That spirit is a clear reflection of the great talent pool working at NIU and has become my favorite NIU memory.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
As a child I wanted to be a pilot. I grew out of that at the age of 12 when a childhood friend crashed my remote-controlled airplane. I eventually worked in the field of medical device sales and later became a senior account manager at a Fortune 500 company.

My wife and I wanted to start our family, and I was seeking work-life balance. At the time, my employer didn't have any local IT support. I had some IT knowledge, so I became the unofficial IT person for the site. As it turned out, I liked doing that more than my actual role and decided I wanted to transition to an IT support role. One thing led to another, and I ended up leaving that company after an offer to move from Illinois to Pittsburgh to work at their corporate office. I wound up finding a great IT support role with a local company and never looked back.

Today, I'm living my work-life balance dream as an IT support associate at the College of Business. I get to do what I love (helping others) and have little to no stress anymore. The best part is I actually have time for my wife and daughter and get to spend lots of quality time with them!

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I love spending time with my wife and 4-year-old daughter enjoying various family activities. I also like to read self-help, entrepreneurship/business and technical books. I love cars, power tools and all things tech. You can find me reading about or tinkering with both of these things from time to time!

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
Coming from the corporate world, I was afraid to take this role and transition to the field of higher education. I am glad I made the jump. I've met so many down-to-earth, friendly people. I believe truly good people make the world go round. I'm glad I've come across quite a few at NIU. I'd like to build my career with this organization and look forward to what the future holds for all of us. Take care and be safe!

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