Unleashing Potential: The Power of Xchange Chicago Apprenticeships
In a dynamic city like Chicago, where innovation and opportunity converge, the Xchange Chicago initiative is at the forefront of transforming lives through the mighty...
‘Tis the season for making spirits bright, and this month we’re shining our Employee Spotlight on Chicago-based Security Services Engineer Antonio Rodriguez, who deploys steadfast authenticity and abundant good cheer to brighten the days of his customers and colleagues all year long—whether the weather is frightful or not.
How did you get your start at SDI?
I started as a Desktop Support Technician for a large municipal transit client. I still look fondly back at my days wandering the halls of the office, singing in the stairwell with every opportunity I had. They have really, really good acoustics in there.
Humor aside, I learned a ton while I was there, and I can safely say it spurred quite an evolution in me. I don’t think I could even hope to handle my current role without the time I spent there.
Tell us about your current role.
These days I primarily support the ID badging office at a major airport. As every employee at the airport needs to be badged, I’m sure you can imagine how busy that place gets. From time to time, people make mistakes, things break, or some combination of the two occurs. It’s my job to resolve all that with deliberate speed.
I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
What is your team like?
My team can only be described as a band of brothers. Seriously, anyone can go into boring details about competency, but telling you that my boys are the best of the best does nothing to tell you who they are. Everyone here is a marvel to work with, which is saying something. I’m all too familiar with the nature of keeping people in the workplace at arm’s length, but I never need to worry about that with the team here. We always get our business done and done well, but we’re sure to have the best energy around when opportunity strikes.
After being cooped up all alone in the office for two years, I’m happy to know that every member of my team can appreciate the humor and energy that I bring on a daily basis. We laugh, we cry, and we sing campfire songs when no one’s listening. Also, a colleague is going to name his baby after me.
Truly, I could not ask for better in my environment.
How do you describe what you do for a living to family and friends?
Exaggeratively. I have a penchant for hyperbole, and I don’t hold back. I’ll gladly take a moment of gently easing the customer’s concerns and transform it into a glorious tale about channeling immense charisma to inspire the masses to stand firm in the face of adversity while placing all their faith in me.
It’s just more fun that way.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Looking back, a samurai: the long hair, the undying loyalty, and swords…how could one go wrong? But I found out quickly that both samurai and my runner up (Power Ranger) weren’t going to be happening, so I settled on most kids’ first dream job: firefighter.
I always admired warriors for the ability to put their lives on the line in battle, and the firemen of the world deserve that same admiration, because they fight a battle for the sake of others; often many, many others. To call them heroes is to barely scratch the surface of what they are.
Are there any professions other than your own that you’d like to attempt?
Oh, this is a good one. I’d like to try being a private investigator or having some other involvement in detective work. I’ve always held a strong appreciation for the value of deductive reasoning; nary a day goes by where I don’t find myself making use of it, examining the finest details of a situation to reach a conclusion. There’s an otherworldly joy in finding answers in places no one ever thought to look, and I revel in that feeling.
Otherwise, I could see myself working as an entertainer. I love to sing, and I can see my lavish expressions garnering attention easily (for better or for worse). I like making people smile.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you have ever received?
“You need to get a haircut.”
You might be surprised to hear that I consider this the best advice I’ve ever received, but there’s a good reason I chose it. I have been met with this statement many times throughout my life, often in vicious and threatening manners. It was a popular sentiment that I was setting myself up for failure by choosing not to be “clean cut and presentable.” But hidden in all the hurt that people threw at me for my choice, I found something of value: a willingness to accept the challenge they so vindictively presented before me. Every opportunity that came to me, I made sure to have my locks on full display.
So, the advice I’ve most strongly resisted truly is also the best I’ve ever received; not because it was inherently good, but because it gave me something I could be daring enough to challenge and draw out the best of myself. This mane is one I carry with the utmost pride, because it carries the weight of every victory over all who dared to challenge it.
What professional accomplishment(s) are you most proud of?
If I had to choose, truly, my best accomplishments came in the form of the things I have been able to provide to those I’ve worked with. Whether it was teaching a colleague a skill they never knew or providing in-depth training to the customer on the usage of our hardware and software, I revel in the activity; not only in the act of imparting knowledge and aid in their personal and/or professional growth, but also in contributing to that process in an enjoyable manner.
I will give you all the knowledge I have to offer, but the best gift I’ll ever give you is a smile.
If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be?
Sleight of hand (à la magicians). This was a way harder question than I would have expected it to be, and I really wanted to play fair with it. I chose this skill not just because sleight of hand and magic tricks are incredibly cool, but because it would also give me a better understanding of perception from all directions. It’d be a unique way to broaden my horizons, not to mention making me at least 70% cooler.
How do you unwind at the end of a busy day?
I may have mentioned this once or twice, but anyone who knows me knows I love to sing. The moment I leave the office, you’ll hear me singing down the halls, on the train platform, even on the train itself. Nothing relaxes my heart more than singing a song; it’s the most therapeutic activity in my world.
Setting that aside, long walks, bike rides, or laying back and reading a book often get the job done.
This year is almost over; what are your favorite things about winter and/or the holiday season?
You might be surprised to hear this, but I’ve never been one to partake heavily in the holiday cheer. I’ve always been a bit of a wanderer. Be it on foot or on bike, roaming anywhere and everywhere without a destination has always been among my favorite pastimes. During the winter, I love to direct this energy to the local forest preserves, walking the snowy paths, spotting fauna, and taking in the scenery. As far as I’m concerned, the best days of the season can be found right there.
That said, I have to admit–now that I am an uncle, it is my sworn duty to watch the greatest Christmas movie ever to grace cinema with my niece and nephew.
What movie is that, you ask? Jingle All the Way. Do yourselves a favor and watch it sometime; it’s an experience you will never forget.
We celebrate diversity; the views expressed above are those of the interviewed individual, not SDI.