Adaptability and open-mindedness are key traits when working for Infotech Consulting. After all, to sift through and understand mountains of data and then find keen insights from it, one has to be able to problem solve – a skill for which those traits are a necessity.
After graduating with his Masters in Economics from UF and joining the Consulting team amidst a pandemic that postponed his trip to Europe and thrust him into the middle of an unprecedented experiment in remote team-building, it’s safe to say that Infotech Consulting’s newest Data Management Specialist, Michael Smith, is more than prepared for the role. As he planned to enter his career, he said, he was given some good advice during the transition:
“Don’t forget to live your life, my friend.”
“I’m very driven and I find satisfaction in striving towards goals, but it’s also easy to be consumed by them. I think it’s important to remain mindful and it’s something I try to work on every day,” he said. (You can read up on the mental preparedness Michael practiced leading up to his GRE here.)
Even over a Zoom call, it’s evident that Michael genuinely does follow this advice. His demeanor emanates an awareness of optimism and steadiness. He mentions a book, The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor, that greatly impacted his approach to his future.
“The premise of the book is that we’re taught in life that if we work really, really hard and we’re successful, then we will be happy,” Michael said, “But Achor says that we have it all wrong; if we focus on being happier in the present, it’ll actually make us more productive, more creative and more successful. There’s a TED talk about this concept, too.”
It’s rare to find a team more present and happy in their work than the Infotech Consulting crew, and Michael fits right in.
“I’m really excited to be here, because I think it’s meaningful work. I enjoy working on something that contributes to positive social outcomes. And I think that doing something that has a purpose behind it is really meaningful to me.”
His path to a career in data management started early – quite early, in fact. In middle school, he started working at the local rec center as a scorekeeper for the basketball leagues.
“I quickly learned how to be detail oriented. I kept the score and the stats and the men were definitely very, very competitive, so if they knew something was wrong they would be on your case about it. I definitely had to be on my A-game at all times.”
When the Consulting team met Michael at his intern interview they knew he was the type of employee Infotech strives to hire, according to Paul Manning, Data Management Director. Michael was young, Paul said, but a year later when he accepted a summer internship he proved their first impression was right through his diligence about his work and conscientious approach to getting the job done right.
“He is curious about all we do and why, and is just a really nice guy,” Paul said. “It was a no-brainer that we would offer him a full-time job when he graduated.”
A self proclaimed extrovert, Michael said that remote work hasn’t been as much of a challenge as he thought, and although the pandemic put his post-grad travel plans on hold, it inspired a new routine for connecting with old friends.
“In college, I got to meet so many different unique cool people, a lot of whom I’ll have lifelong relationships with,” Michael said. “Now that we’re scattered across the country, whether for graduate school or working, honestly it’s almost been better than before because we never really took the time to try to connect with video calls and having this situation sort of incentivized us. I feel like it’s a habit we will probably carry on even after this is all over.”
Along with Zoom catch-ups, social distancing is a great opportunity to catch up on shows that one may have missed during the last decade of content on the silver screen. For Michael, that included a first-time viewing of the number one Netflix show of 2019, The Office. Though, he’s not entirely sure why it has that spot on the list.
“I would go as far as saying it’s overrated. I mean, you can put that in my article as a defining characteristic of my personality – completely editorial – you can throw it in: Michael thinks that The Office is a bit overrated and I’ll take all the heat,” he said, with a good-humored shrug.
All fictional offices aside, Michael said he’s excited for the day he does get to join his coworkers on the third floor of the Infotech headquarters in Gainesville. Until then, he’ll enjoy the time at home with his two puggles, Lulu and Toby, and plan his trip to Europe for another day.