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Alum applies LTS experience and values in serving U.S. veterans

Michael Zurat

Michael Zurat ’04 ’05G worked for LTS from his freshman year until completing his graduate degree. Here he reflects on how this experience influenced his career.

When I arrived at Lehigh during my first week of school, I applied for a position to work at the LTS Help Desk. The Help Desk manager told me it was policy not to hire freshmen, but I was persistent! I started on a trial basis, but eventually became a Help Desk student manager. Throughout graduate school I also worked there as a Presidential Scholar.

In LTS, I learned library research and answered reference questions, and acquired professional core values—such as teamwork, responsibility, and confidentiality. As an experienced Mac user, I was hired by the Client Services support team for the College of Engineering, where I assisted faculty and staff with computing problems.

My experience working in LTS has made my resume stand out to other employers, and I credit my LTS experience in helping me land my first "real job" working as a library assistant in the United States Supreme Court right after completing my Master’s degree at Lehigh. In that position, I treated everyone with the same level of respect and courtesy just as I did when I was working as part of the Lehigh family. Eventually, I moved onto other areas of government relations.

For the past four years, I’ve had the privilege of taking the LTS customer service values to a national level. I manage a team tasked with creating software tools for implementing the transformation of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs national call centers. These call centers serve forty-million U.S. Veterans, and log over three-million calls per year. Before the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software tool was implemented in our call centers, customer satisfaction was at the bottom of the scale, and quality, along with accuracy of information was averaging below 50% nationwide. Today, a year after our first nationwide release, accuracy is over 90% and customer satisfaction results are near industry leading levels. There has been many challenges and roadblocks to overcome, but I brought my strong work ethic, the “Lehigh Engineer” problem-solving mentality, and intellectual curiosity to every work situation. Everyone has problems, from the Supreme Court Justices down to our enlisted men and women.

Overall, the experience I received at LTS started my career and instilled in me core customer service values. If anyone has ever called an 800 number lately, you know this is a rare commodity. I hope my work will continue to spread Lehigh values in all of my future endeavors.