CROWN POINT | Surrounded by computer screens in his small office, Adam Graper admitted that, yes, he's a gadget guy.
"I've always liked computers, and I like new gadgets," Graper, the media and information technology director for the city of Crown Point, said.
"The best part of my job is when I find things that can create efficiencies in somebody's job. I like to take something that might be cumbersome and find something to free them up and make their job easier."
He doesn't subscribe to the philosophy of having to do things the way they've always been done saying, "If that was the case, we wouldn't go anywhere." The downside is it makes for long days.
He's usually at work by 7 a.m. to make sure all the city's computers and communications systems are operating properly and checking his calendar to see what is scheduled for the day.
On a good day, he said he goes home about 4:30 p.m. Frequently, there are a few calls to his wife to tell her he's still at the office.
And then there's those night meetings and emergencies that mean he's on call 24/7. That includes making sure things work even when storms rage and the power is out.
Graper has been the city's sole full-time IT guy since 2009.
"Since then I've taken the approach to get everybody the resources they need to work together as much as they can. You need to be a jack of all trades. When everything works, it's fantastic."
When it doesn't, that's when Graper gets the call. He's pretty much a one-man department, although he gets help from two firefighters who are knowledgeable about the communications system, 911 and computers.
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"There's enough to do," he said.
"If you think you're done, there are things you can be proactive on to stay busy. I do research or online training of what's out there that's new. I like to have a knowledge of new things so I know if there's anything the city can use.
"I like to get the best and the newest, but I have to see what is needed and what we can do within the budget. When we do put in new technology, I want it to be one that ties as many departments together as possible as efficiently as possible."
Making it all work for a wide array of personnel of all ages and different technological abilities is a challenge, but getting to play with all the new gadgets helps compensate for that. He doesn't get to spend a lot of time in the office, bouncing around to several departments on a daily basis to deal with problems, especially in public safety and the new public works facilities.
"When you can't get something to work, it doesn't matter how smart you are or how much training you've had, sometimes there are things you're not prepared for. Sometimes you curse the technology, but, when you're without it, you miss it and realize how much you need it," he said.
How I got the job: Graper began working for the city nine years ago under Mayor Dan Klein, first doing special projects and later under the title of governmental affairs. Part of that turned out to be working with the public safety departments on computers, phones and other technological needs.
"We didn't have any IT personnel. It was all contracted out. Each department had someone who knew a little bit, but it became a problem with resources," he said.
When Dave Uran became mayor in 2009, he decided the city needed a full-time IT person, and Graper was offered the job. The man who loves gadgets was happy to take it.
What the job pays: Graper said his salary is $63,000 a year, which includes working more than 40 hours a week, late nights and weekends. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2012 median pay for a computer systems analyst was $79,680. The median pay for a network computer systems administrator was $72,560.
Job growth: Graper said he expects expansion in the job nationally and perhaps his department as well, adding some needed help. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for computer systems analysts will grow 25 percent in the next decade, which is much faster than the average occupation. Jobs for network computer systems administrators will grow 12 percent, about as fast as the average occupation.