My name is Tess Fulkerson and I have been with Ceres Terminals Information Technology Team for a little over a year. I decided to move to Nashville, TN directly after attending the University of Louisville in Kentucky, completing my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Computer Engineering. I chose Nashville because I knew the city would offer plenty of opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), as well as be a wonderful place to pursue my passion for music and photography. Initially, I had a lot of ideas of what role I would enjoy most in STEM and had a series of interviews lined up to explore where I might fit in best. More specifically, I was searching for a role that I could grow and thrive in with my knack and ability to connect and guide others. Ceres Terminals was offering a help desk role and was the first company I interviewed with, and it went so well I was given an offer later in the evening and I canceled all of my other interviews for the week! During the interview, I met the entire team and the energy felt so great, I knew it would be a great fit for me.
I will not lie – after accepting the position, though I felt the energy was perfect, I was still a little worried that the job itself would not challenge me enough or keep me busy and engaged after a rigorous and fast-paced four years of college. I would later conclude that this was definitely NOT the case. Every day I am faced with new problems to solve and my logical brain loves it. Working with a smaller team is also something I have always loved and was fortunate to find with Ceres. I have really gotten to know my team and the closer relationships that we have made amongst ourselves really cause the department to exude efficiency when it comes to doing our job, since it is very collaborative work. I also love that a lot of our end-users are from all over the United States and even in Canada! I never know what accent or perspective I am going to hear when I answer the phone and it keeps me on my toes. On top of daily problem-solving tasks and working with end-users, I have also been given ample opportunity to help complete outstanding projects that our department has lined up. I was actually told word-for-word that some of the project work I have done in the past year has been on my boss’s long list for many years. This makes me feel appreciated and like an asset to the company, which in turn pushes me to do more and better work for them later on down the line.
One of the bigger projects I completed this past year was setting up our Self-Service Portal. The Self-Service Portal is a site where users can submit tickets to us directly rather than calling in or emailing our group email address. The site also features frequently used links, helpful guides to common issues people submit tickets for, and houses all of our user forms. The Self-Service Portal has been very useful to my team as it eliminates the step of creating the tickets based on emails and the end-user can check back in the portal to see updates to their tickets – so that eliminates a lot of back-and-forth emailing, making the overall process more efficient. I learned a lot about our ticketing system in the time spent on the project, so now I feel very comfortable administering within the Salesforce and BMC Helix Remedyforce environment. This is just another tool I can add to my growing toolbox thanks to Ceres!
Though it has only been a little over a year working for Ceres, I feel that I have learned an ample amount from my team and co-workers about the marine shipping industry we work in as well as information technology itself. After four years of college, it amazes me that there is still so much to learn. Specifically, our data collection system and the entire process surrounding how we load cargo is very interesting and I enjoy learning about how it all works. Each of our departments in information technology play a crucial role in ensuring that the entire business model works! In fact, one thing most people probably do not know about our team is that someone is on-call 24/7, seven days a week in case something should happen and we need to be available. We rotate who covers on-call shifts, but there have been a few times when crucial systems have gone dark due to outages or other factors beyond our control, and I have had to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to start the work to resolve. Sometimes it makes me feel like a superhero who saved the day when a situation like this arises!
All in all, working at Ceres has been a treat. As a young woman, working in STEM fields can be challenging at times due to lack of representation and general stereotyping that goes along with that, but I can proudly say that I have felt nothing but inclusion and support at Ceres. Honestly, information technology is so special to me for these exact reasons. I am good at something a lot of women before me did not feel worthy enough to pursue, so standing confidently as the computer science nerd that I am is so important! In the future, I would love to grow with Ceres and continue using my skillset to improve business operations and solve real-time issues. Luckily, technology is always advancing, so I will have to be dedicated to being a life-long learner to stay in this field, which also means I’ll never get bored!