On November 9, the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science will offer a unique course called “IT Career Preparation”. The course, which is numbered 70-296-3, will give students an opportunity to learn the skills and approaches needed to launch and maintain a successful career in information technology. The seminar will introduce students to the range of positions and roles available to them, explain how they can distinguish themselves from other candidates vying for the same positions, guide them on how they can keep progressing in their careers and avoid stagnation, demonstrate how their technology skills fit with an organization’s mission, and explain to them the difference between being a manager and being a leader and how their goal should be to act as a leader to effect change. These lessons will be shared with the students by industry leaders who are authorities on these topics, because they experience them every day as IT leaders where they work.
Our Computer Science students have great technical skills: they’re able to program in a variety of languages, they can design and build communications networks, design and write software that uses databases, write video games and simulation software, and assess and strengthen the security of an organization’s cyber infrastructure. However, although it pains a geek-at-heart like me to say this, technical prowess alone won’t help you snag your first job, and it won’t help you continue to advance in your work. You need to understand the bigger picture that captures your role in helping the organization achieve its broader mission. You have to appreciate your role as an agent of the organization whose special skill set advances the organization in unique ways. And you have to learn to back off the technolust at times because budgetary and political constraints suggest that solution B is the only viable one, even though solution A is far sexier from a technology point of view. These aren’t easy lessons to learn, and they’re even harder ones for Ivory Tower types like me who don’t wrestle with these notions every day.
We are certainly honored and pleased to have the Illinois Technology Foundation partnering with us in offering this unique opportunity to our students. The Illinois Technology Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that aims to strengthen the IT career pipeline in Illinois. They do this by sponsoring partnerships, projects, and the annual Fifty for the Future award, which five of our Computer Science students will be awarded in November.
The workshop will be held Saturday, November 9, from 9am to 4pm in Room AS-104-A. Students from any major who are interested in participating in the workshop should contact Dr. Ray Klump at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rest assured that it’s not going to be a day of Power Points and lectures; industry professionals will participate in panel discussions to give students insights into how to create a successful, fulfilling, enjoyable, and impactful career that takes advantage of their considerable technical skills.
The skills students will learn during this one-day seminar will help them start their new career and keep them happy and engaged as they pursue it. It promises to be a very important day for our students.