Category Archives: Industry Partnerships

CLRI Hosts Women’s Mentoring Event

Joanna Bidlack, Senior VP of Human Resources at Leidos, inspires women to succeed.

 By Kristy Gillespie

Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to celebrate women in the field of Information Technology (IT). The IT industry is experiencing exponential growth in Northern Virginia, leading to an increasing demand for qualified employees. While there are fewer women than men in IT, companies are actively seeking diversity of thought, recognizing that women will bring new perspectives and innovative ideas to the IT sector.

In celebration of women in IT, NOVA’s Information and Engineering Technology (IET) division recently held its inaugural Women’s Mentoring Session at the Annandale campus as part of its Career and Leadership Readiness Institute (CLRI) program, which trains IET students in the soft skills needed to secure in-demand technology jobs.

Joanna Bidlack, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Leidos – Intelligence Group, is a powerhouse in her field and served as the distinguished guest speaker for the mentoring session. Although she has 15 years of experience in HR, her career began with an undergraduate degree in graphic design, whereafter she co-owned a business focused on graphic design and photography, alongside a grocery store management venture.

However, the unpredictability of entrepreneurship led her to pivot towards the stability of the local government field as she pursued and earned a graduate degree in Human Resources and Organizational Development.

At the mentoring event, Bidlack shared her wealth of knowledge with female IT students and graduates, covering a range of topics including details about her professional journey, finding support in a male-dominated IT field, and providing tips on resumes, interviews, and effective networking.

Careers Are Not Linear

With a confident smile, Bidlack explained, “Careers are not linear. You are going to pivot. You may find that what you go to school for is not exactly what you choose to do, and that is okay.”

As women progress in their careers, she suggests that they will encounter defining moments such as marriage, the birth of a child, changes in their current job, or other factors that prompt them to question their chosen path.

“Pay attention to these defining moments and assess your satisfaction with your current situation. It’s important to find happiness in your career. If you experience stress, frustration, a lack of appreciation, or poor treatment, summon the courage to make a change, or at least devise a plan for change.”

Don’t Limit Yourself

Acknowledging that men are often more inclined than women to apply for a position even if they don’t meet all the job requirements, Bidlack emphasized that while meeting the primary job requirements is key, it’s not necessary to fulfill every single one. Job requirements should be considered more as a wish list for the employer rather than a strict checklist of must-haves.

“If a position within your company aligns with your interests, make sure to inform your boss about your interest. Your boss won’t know unless you express it.

Instead of pondering ‘what if I can’t do it?, start asking yourself, ‘What if I can do it?’”

Additionally, if a woman fails to celebrate her successes, there’s a high probability that others may not notice them. She suggested that a great opportunity to highlight achievements is during an annual performance review, emphasizing the value of keeping track of accomplishments throughout the year to include them in the review.

Highlights or Gaps in the Resume

Bidlack highlights the value of proficiency in additional languages, particularly in the IT field. Many companies are willing to offer higher compensation for multilingual skills. Therefore, women should ensure to focus on this valuable skill on their resumes.

In addition, if there’s a gap in employment history and the hiring manager inquires about it, a simple explanation such as “for personal reasons” or “due to a family commitment” will suffice. “Remember, employers are not permitted to ask for specific details regarding your personal life,” she explained.

She stressed the importance for women to conduct thorough research on the business they are involved with. Understanding the mission, purpose, and operations of the company is critical. Taking the initiative to familiarize themselves with the business, rather than waiting for others to educate them, will significantly benefit their careers.

Preparing for the Interview

Bidlack, offered numerous constructive tips, stressed the value of thoroughly studying the job description before an interview. She advised identifying skills, recognizing gaps, and ensuring overall preparedness. Bidlack recommended creating an Excel spreadsheet to list job requirements alongside personal and professional experiences. This spreadsheet can spotlight transferable skills and assist in addressing gaps, either by acquiring certifications or discussing these during the interview with the hiring manager.

In addition, generating a list of potential questions based on the job description and practicing them through role-playing with a trusted friend or family member can significantly enhance a candidate’s readiness.

While a comprehensive understanding of the company isn’t necessary, she pointed out the importance of studying its website. Knowing core operations, unique initiatives, and how

the applied role aligns with the company is key. Such preparation not only fosters confidence but also helps in providing specific and relevant answers when asked about one’s interest in working for the company.

Moreover, taking the initiative to familiarize oneself with the business rather than waiting for others to educate will significantly benefit a candidate’s career. Requesting a copy of the questions beforehand is acceptable, as it’s essential to stay focused during the interview.

 Creating a Professional Brand

Bidlack emphasized that creating a successful professional brand is paramount for a woman’s career success. It encompasses how they interact with others, their communication style, attire, and work ethic. Women should reflect on what they want to be recognized for in their professional sphere.

Maintaining a professional appearance at work is essential. If a woman is unsure whether an outfit is too tight, short, or revealing, it’s best to opt for a more conservative choice.

Behaving appropriately in the workplace and at work-related events is vital. For instance, when alcoholic beverages are offered, it’s advisable to adhere to a two-drink limit.

“It takes a lifetime to build your professional brand. It takes one situation to tear it down. It’s one outfit. It’s one interaction. It’s one crying fit session that you have in somebody’s office because you didn’t get your way,” she said.

Create a Network

Both Nga Tran, a student in the Cloud Computing program, and Maya Figueroa, an Engineering Technology student, were most interested in networking tips.

Tran expressed, “The one thing I hope to get from today is to hear everyone’s stories and to keep going. You know, see where I fit in and see where I am in everyone’s stories.”

Mya asked, “Do you have any tips on networking and meeting people that will help you further your career?”

Bidlack explained how it’s important for women to establish a supportive network of professionals within their field, whom they can approach for assistance when needed and with whom they can celebrate their successes.

She recommended setting a goal to engage with three new individuals during work events instead of attempting to network with everyone. By doing so at each event, women will gradually build a more meaningful network.

Receiving Feedback

For many individuals, receiving positive feedback is motivating; however, not every employer will provide it. Nonetheless, the most impactful feedback comes from within. For women, striving to do their best is what truly matters.

She advised being open to feedback, even when it’s negative, as it offers an opportunity for growth. Women should consider insights from individuals, even those they may not prefer, as there’s always something to learn from it.

“The most successful people in the world have failed so many times. So what we do as women is we expect perfection from ourselves, but that’s not realistic. You have to go into your career knowing that you will fail. You will make mistakes. It’s normal. Everybody does. Make your mistake, let it sting for a minute, and move on,” she explained.

 You Will Never Be Liked by Everyone

She expressed that being universally liked, especially in higher positions within a company, is unlikely.

“If I’m liked by everyone, then I’m not doing my job as a leader,” she said.

However, the most important aspect is for women to appreciate and like themselves. Women should speak to themselves with the same kindness and support as they would to those they care about. When negative self-talk arises, women should remind themselves of their positive qualities. They should embrace their unique skills and the distinct way they perceive things; that’s what makes someone truly special.

Uncomfortable Situations

Unfortunately, there may be instances when a male coworker puts a female in an uncomfortable situation. In such cases, Bidlack suggests that women consider these steps:

  • Be direct: Clearly ask them to stop their behavior.
  • Physically take a step back or remove themselves from the situation.
  • If the discomfort happens in a group, address it privately by speaking to the coworker.
  • Discuss the issue with their manager.
  • If needed, approach the HR department. If it’s not available, inform the manager. If their concerns are not taken seriously, reconsider working in such an environment.

Ask for Help

Bidlack stated that despite the tendency among women to avoid seeking help, it’s crucial to ask for assistance before feeling overwhelmed. Women should focus on a few things they excel at and be recognized for those strengths. Attempting to handle everything often leads to inefficiency. Instead of solely working hard, aim to achieve specific goals.

Seizing Opportunities

Cloud Computing graduate Asma Eldahshory mentioned, “I’d like to get confidence even to apply. I never apply. I say, what if they interview me and I can’t do it?”

Bidlack recommends reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, which illustrates that many successful individuals simply seized opportunities they were given, while unsuccessful ones missed those chances.

When an opportunity arises, “what you choose to do with it will either propel you toward your goals or you’ll stop and stay where you’re at. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You fail? Well, we already know we’re going to fail at things. You’re going to make mistakes? Well, we already know we’re going to make mistakes. So what does it matter, right? Give it your all – what could happen is, you’re actually successful.”

Enthusiasm about New Tools

Shamalee Jayakodi, a NOVA cybersecurity student who attended the event, was effusive about what she’d learned and felt that the session was “an amazing experience. I had an opportunity to meet powerful women who have proved that there is no limit to what we, as a woman, can accomplish. We are stronger when we support each other and cheer each other on. I’m grateful to be part of the women mentoring community.”

Nga Tran, a Cloud Computing student at NOVA praised the outcomes of the event by describing it as a “welcoming and inspiring meeting for me and great working advice for women in technology. I found heartwarming story-sharing and encouragement from fellow peers. The struggles and passion are now not only mine but for all of us to share and overcome. I found friends here and we will continue to be each other’s support throughout the journey.”

CLRI Graduates Network With Industry Executives

Education meets opportunity! Our 6th cohort of NOVA IET CLRI (Career and Readiness Leadership Institute) grads at Northern Virginia Community College used new skills to make industry connections at our recent networking event aimed at securing #InDemandTech internships and jobs!

We had a record number of students this Fall, with 61 students at the preliminary interest meeting and 65 students attending at least one workshop.

NOVA IET’s  M. Andy Chaves and Sedrick Settle have done excellent work inspiring students to get involved and understand the value of interpersonal relationships in the technology industry.

Overall, 41 students are on track to complete CLRI, ready to get ahead with valuable soft-skills (Building Your Personal Brand, Interview Prep, Professionalism & Accountability, Effective Communication, Trends in IT, and How to Write a Technical Resume) that are vital for their technology career journey.

During the program, students were offered at least 4 site tours to Data Centers and a microchip processing plant to gain a fuller understanding of what they are preparing for.

The big finish – an Executive Mentoring and Networking Event where industry professionals advised and conversed with students to help them build their network. Many of these companies will provide internship and job opportunities to CLRI participants, as has been the case every time we do CLRI!

Big thanks to the following executives and companies who invested their time, knowledge, and experience for our CLRI grads looking to launch their careers:

CoreSiteMiguel Ramos, CMCO
Sustainable Workforce Development Solutions (SWDS) – Daisy Saulls
FedHIVEMichael Cardaci
Amazon Web Services (AWS)Stephen Jolly
Micron TechnologyMichael Guttman
A Foot in the Door, Inc.Keith W. Francis
Technology Infrastructure Advisors – Ajay Bawa

The feedback we received from students was effusive. Here’s a few of the responses:

“CLRI is an incredible program from beginning to the end, every single day was filled with great opportunities to learn and explore new careers. The best program ever created to achieve students confidence at the door step of widely expanding technology industries in Virginia. I’m thankful and grateful be in this program and hope future NOVA students will continue to be inspired by CLRI.”
Shamalee Jayakodi Arachchige

It was fantastic! I had very thoughtful and insightful discussions with industry leaders. I feel much more confident in myself and in my speaking abilities. Thank you so much for the opportunity to participate, learn, and apply the concepts you’ve instilled in my CLRI teammates and I.” – Gabriel Diaz-Rosero

“Thank you for the the event. The mentors are so welcoming, open to share and listen. We are so glad to be a part of the community. I left with a clearer vision of my next step.” – Nga Tran

NOVA students who are interested in getting in on the 2024 CLRI sessions, go to https://bit.ly/CLRI24

More about CLRI at https://www.nvcc.edu/career-services/clri.html

Digital Realty Internship Leads NOVA Grad to Data Center Career

Photo: Alec Vaca during the interview at Digital Realty


Story by Kristy Gillespie, NOVA IET STEM Writer

Despite it being his day off, NOVA graduate Alec Vaca joined us in a brightly lit, spacious conference room, eager to discuss his journey from NOVA to securing an internship at Digital Realty and eventually progressing to the role of a Data Center Operations Engineer 1. Vaca was enthusiastic about the chance to share his experience with the NOVA community.  

When questioned about the moment he realized that Digital Realty was the ideal fit for him, Vaca explained with a smile, “it was at the end of my first three weeks here on this campus. I was like, this has to be it. I want to do the things that they are doing, to learn, to be as equipped as they are, because it’s amazing stuff we do here. And I really do enjoy it.”

“I was so excited. This is a new path, a new journey, a new chapter in my life. And thankfully, it worked out,” he added.

Vaca started his journey at Micron as an intern and spent three years working in fabrications. During that time, he built an impressive background at NOVA, having earned an A.A.S. degree in Automotive and another in Engineering Technology. Before marking his one-year anniversary with Digital Realty in September, he spent six weeks interning.

During the internship, Vaca had a variety of experiences. Some of his favorites included learning how to run the remote operating center, which he explained is like the “brain” of the building. He also had the opportunity to try on an arc flash suit used for critical switch manipulation. In addition, one of the projects Vaca was most proud of was a handbook that he created for future interns.

Vaca encourages NOVA students to intern at Digital Reality, a business that supports the data center and colocation strategies of firms across six continents, over twenty-five countries, and more than fifty metros. In fact, there are over fifteen locations in the Northern Virginia area alone. Vaca works at the IAD39 data center in Ashburn.

Vaca explained how his internship at Digital Realty helped him recognize his capabilities and potential within the company. During this experience, he gained valuable insights into the day-to-day operations of a data center and their direct impact on customers and their equipment.

When asked for advice he’d give to NOVA students interested in an internship at Digital Realty, Vaca emphasized the importance of open communication with professors. He suggested letting professors know about their interest in the internship opportunity. Additionally, he stressed the significance of humility, patience, and staying relaxed, as securing such opportunities often takes time.

We also had the opportunity to talk with John Limbacher, the Data Center Manager for IAD39, who, as a military veteran, acquired a technical background during his service. When asked about what Digital Realty looks for in a potential NOVA intern, he emphasized that students should have a willingness to learn, collaborate in a team environment, and possess essential soft skills, including communication, creativity, and problem-solving, among others.

Just prior to his internship at Digital Realty, Vaca had recently completed NOVA IET’s Career and Leadership Readiness Institute (CLRI), a free program offering NOVA students, particularly those in IET fields, the opportunity to enhance their competitiveness as job candidates. Vaca highlighted the CLRI’s benefits, citing his significant learning experiences in communication skills and resume building. “I’ve learned so much at NOVA and I’ve grown as a person through it,” Vaca said.

When describing a typical workday, or rather, a worknight for Vaca, he explained that it starts with discussions with the engineers to gather information on ongoing tasks and important updates. Following this, he conducts checks to ensure the stability of the Building Management System, which acts as the center’s eyes, and to address any potential need for replacing critical batteries.

For NOVA students interested in future opportunities at Digital Realty, Limbacher advised seeking out education reimbursement programs and completing certifications such as data center professional certifications, design, and construction certifications.

Limbacher also highlighted the diverse career pathways available within the company once an individual secures a position. In fact, beyond data center operations, employees have opportunities to transition into various roles including design and construction, implementation, portfolio management, marketing, sales, cybersecurity, and more.

Although there is a lot that Vaca enjoys about his career at Digital Realty, he mentioned that having positive relationships with his team is at the top of his list. He explained, “I have a voice and I can say, ok, this is a good idea, let’s go for it, or let’s talk about this because it doesn’t seem right to me.”

With an infectious smile, he added, “the biggest thing that hit me when I came here was strong relationships and I really enjoy it. I like how we communicate and that there’s good open dialogue.”


Information About Internships

Applications for Digital Realty internships can be accessed through NOVA’s Career Connection portal. Click here for DCO and here for Remote Hands. Postings will be up through November 17th:

Internships will be over the holiday break between semesters for 4 weeks up to 40 hours per week. Interns will be based at the Digital Realty locations in Ashburn and will be paid $20 per hour, with a maximum earning of $3,000.

Digital Realty is a valuable partner to the college in providing accessible pathways to in-demand technology careers. The NOVA Foundation has also provided outstanding support by establishing the NOVA IET Fund, which directly supports NOVA IET programs such as internships for the Data Center Operations program.

#InDemandTech #DigitalRealty #Internships #DataCenterOperations #DCO#InterpersonalSkills #BoldlyNOVA

Story by Kristy Gillespie, NOVA IET STEM Writer

NOVA Launches DCO PD at ACTE Conference in Denver

NOVA IET launched the DCO PD (Data Center Operations Program Development) grant award with ACTE at their National Postsecondary CTE Summit in Denver on September 21st, with a call to action for college and secondary educators to participate in a DCO Fellowship that will bring them to NOVA for professional learning, then return to their schools and institutions with an action plan to implement and expand DCO in their service area.

Data Center industry experts  Anthony Hatzenbuehler, from CoreSite, Vanessa Kennedy, from STACK Infrastructure, and Jeffrey Cassar from Cologix, Inc., added their valuable insights as panelists at the launch presentation led by NOVA SySTEMic Director Josh Labrie.

Labrie opened by noting that “the DCO industry is growing fast and markets continue to strengthen across the U.S. DCO’s goal is to raise awareness for the national need for data center operations education and to increase capacity for DCO education at community colleges and technical colleges around the nation.”

One way this will be accomplished this is by bringing college and secondary educators to Northern Virginia Community College for a Professional Learning Fellowship.

By a wide margin, Northern Virginia is the No. 1 site for data centers in the country and the world. With NOVA’s upcoming Data Center Training Facility underway at the Woodbridge campus, the region is an ideal locus to facilitate training that will act as a catalyst for expansion throughout the country.

After the fellowship, participants will complete an externship at a data center in their region and develop a DCO Education Action Plan that can applied in their professional practice, inspiring and equipping more people to get into Data Center careers, no matter what their background.

Cassar stated during the panel session that “someone with a solid base education and  who’s motivated has so much opportunity within data centers. It’s a career, it’s not a stepping stone.”

Hatzenbuehlar added “what I’m looking for is somebody who has the drive, desire, and the aptitude to keep going and furthering their knowledge even beyond the education system to the industry they’re in.”

Kennedy highlighted the importance of fostering industry awareness and talent: “Data center growth in employment is outpacing the economy. There are so many career opportunities. We’ve been really big on pushing internship programs and diversity, trying to get women into the data center and technology sector. We need that talent. STACK has been partnering with NOVA to do these internships with a goal of finding them a place in the industry. We want everyone to be successful.”

Hatzenbuehlar later capped off the panel by stating “that’s what we’re looking for in partnering with NOVA – we’re really in need. there’s a ton of demand for operators and very little supply. We need to partner together to build that supply chain.”

Educators can apply for the DCO Professional Learning Fellowship here. 

Read more about DCO PD at www.nvcc.edu/systemic/dco-pd-nsf-grant.html

NOVA IET is looking forward to working with Association for Career and Technical Education and co-principle investigator, Sophia Ward-Alston on DCO PD.

Special thanks also to Thomas (TJ) Ciccone, Albertine (Laury) D.,  Josh Levi and the Data Center Coalition.

DCO PD is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

#DCO #DataCenterOperations #MissionCritical #InDemandTech

 

CLRI Kickoff Our Biggest One Yet

The Career and Leadership Readiness Institute (CLRI) kicked-off at the NOVA Annandale campus on September 7th and this Fall’s group is our biggest one yet with over 50 registered participants.

CLRI is free and provides NOVA students the opportunity to become more competitive job candidates.

NOVA IET’s M. Andy Chaves and Sedrick Settle have established a highly regarded program that equips NOVA students with career readiness and priority consideration for paid internships with industry partners.

The kick-off event is intended to give CLRI participants an invested and friendly opening to what’s become a vital program at NOVA.

Just from the kick-off alone, surveyed students responded with the following feedback:

“This was an amazing session, something I needed for a very long time. Today I found my brand with the help of two amazing mentors. Looking forward to gain more valuable tips.”

“Thank you for being genuine and for sharing personal experiences with us.”

“It was great! The guest speaker went over all communication skills in great details, provided great examples and requested the crowd to participate as much as possible. Best workshop so far in my opinion.”

“It was interesting and educative. I’m glad I joined this program. I really need a mentor in life.”

“It was a great experience, learned a lot of tips and important aspects of interview techniques. In fact, it helped to build confidence and hope in me. Great workshop.”

Fall CLRI sessions are are currently underway. where CLRI students are training how to interview, create a resume that stands out, network effectively, manage interpersonal skills in a diverse workplace and more. For NOVA IET students, the CLRI is a vital component in learning soft skills to complement technical skills.

Many CLRI grads have landed internship and job offers from tech industry partners directly through the program.

New Spring sessions will be available to sign up for in Jan 2024. Fill out our Interest Form and we will alert you when registration is available.

More about CLRI at www.nvcc.edu/career-services/clri.html

 

AFCOM Interns Celebrate Completion

The AFCOM summer internship concluded on August 16 at Top Golf in Ashburn with job offers for NOVA Students!

Hard work paid off and career pathways were established after the completion of the 2023 AFCOM Internship. This year, $25,000 was donated to NOVA DCO students through the Wendy Darling Scholarship, established by Stuart Dyer, a board member of the Potomac Chapter of AFCOM, and managed by the NOVA Educational Foundation.

During the internship, students experienced working at 2 and sometimes 3 different companies, gaining a much broader understanding of how their role as a DCO technician impacts the business and keeps the critical infrastructure up and operational 100% of the time.

Out of the 20 AFCOM interns, 16 were from NOVA. Every NOVA intern was given a job offer, and while some declined in order to continue their education, many decided to take up the offer and pursue their careers with data center partners. Of those who accepted, 4 went to Iron Mountain, and 1 each went to Google, Aligned, Coresite, and Iconicx.

AFCOM is an association for career advancement of IT and data center professionals. The 10-week internship program lead by the AFCOM Potomac Chapter, connects students to industry partners and is centered around building the data center industry by partnering with NOVA’s IET Division and providing paid summer internships to students in the DCO programs.

For those of you who would like to take advantage of this opportunity for next summer, be on the lookout for applications in early 2024!

STACK Infrastructure Wins NOVA-Nominated “Creating Excellence” Award

NOVA IET nominated STACK Infrastructure for the Virginia Department of Education and Virginia’s Community College System State Postsecondary Business and Industry Partnership “Creating Excellence” Award and they won!

STACK is Northern Virginia Community College‘s strongest ally in expanding its Data Center Operations program, serving on advisory boards, assisting with developing and improving curricula, and hosting site visits and a summer bridge program for high school students.

Chad Knights, VP of IET and College Computing at NOVA, alongside Thomas (TJ) Ciccone, VP at STACK Infrastructure (and NOVA DCO Adjunct Professor) and Anthony Antonellis, Asst. Critical Operations Manager at STACK, were on hand to receive the award at the Four Points Sheraton, Richmond on June 8.

STACK has actively worked to expand the DCO program by including additional industry partners and stakeholders, providing guidance, securing funding, preparing and teaching DCO programs of study, and presenting alongside NOVA at industry conferences.

They have been a long-time supporter of the Northern Virginia educational community, from participating in the AFCOM Internship Program to contributing to NOVA IET and NOVA’s Student Success Fund.

Ciccone reflected “Being a part of this project from its inception and watching it grow into such an impactful and meaningful program has been rewarding beyond words. The bright individuals that I’ve had the pleasure of teaching through the NVCC Data Center Operations Management class are truly going to have a lasting positive impact on our industry. Being able to witness the success of former students, some of whom join us here at STACK, is an honor that I hope to continue for many years to come. I’m proud to be a part of a program that is ushering in the next wave of data center talent.”

Antonellis added ““As an NVCC Data Center Operations program graduate, I can confidently say that the deep institutional knowledge gained in this class has been instrumental in forging a clear career path. Now I work within one of STACK’s Northern Virginia data centers, and whenever I support or lead the onsite student tours, it is always a pleasure to watch their enthusiasm and interest grow as they learn about an industry career with exciting upward mobility and a wealth of options for growth.” 

Congratulations STACK, we’re proud to partner with you!

For more on DCO at NOVA click here.

#DataCenter #DCO #northernvirginia #InDemandTech #HighDemandHighWage #YoungTalent

Educator Externship Participants’ Embark on Engineering Tech and Data Center Site Visits

The DCO Tech Secondary Externship Program for secondary educators and career counselors is grounded in the necessity to guide students into successful, in-demand tech careers.

A major component of the externship is visiting these state-of-the-art engineering technology and data center facilities to bring first-hand visuals of daily operations and knowledge gained on-site back to their classrooms.

Eighteen educators and counselors from Arlington Public Schools, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County Public Schools participated in industry tours in April and May to Data Centers such as CoreSite, Equinix, Iron Mountain, QTS, and STACK Infrastructure, as well as Lockheed Martin and Micron Technology. These companies are thoroughly invested in the formation of tech career pathways and provided informative tours of their facilities while fielding questions about careers in the industry.

The NSF-funded externship began in March with an introduction to NOVA’s Engineering Technology and Data Center Operations degree programs, and will conclude in July with a tour of the NOVA Fab Lab where educators will begin to work on their Plan of Action to take back what they have learned to their schools and their students.

Action Plans submitted from last year’s cohort resulted in NOVA SySTEMic school presentations, class field trips to NOVA campuses, and industry site visits by educators and their students.

Applications for 2024 Externships will be open next January. They will be announced in our newsletter and through NOVA IET Twitter and LinkedIn.

For more about Engineering Technology and Data Center Operations at NOVA, click here

CLRI Celebrates Spring Graduates at Networking Event

On March NOVA IET hosted the Executive Mentoring (EM) and Networking event at the Annandale Campus as the culmination of the Spring Career and Leadership Readiness Institute (CLRI). 

CLRI students completing the program networked with nine industry professionals from various organizations including Microsoft, Coresite, Iron Mountain Data Centers, HRTech, Simple Technology Solutions, Cytalks, AWS, and Lockheed Martin.

A total of 23 students completed the Spring CLRI program and were recognized for their efforts with a short ceremony where they received CLRI leather portfolios and a CLRI T-shirt. They participated in facilitated roundtable discussions with the industry professionals who shared insights into careers in the IT industry before a catered networking event with CLRI grads eager to learn and build their networks.

The industry professionals shared their stories, provided career advice, and encouraged learning and professional development as keys to starting an enriching career. The CLRI program depends on the participation from industry professionals both as workshop presenters and EMs.

The Spring CLRI program offered a blended approach including virtual and in-person workshops, Technical Resume Writing, in-depth discussions about Government vetting and clearances, Mock Interviews, a team project formulated around a case study with a community service component and the EM and Networking event.

All sessions were recorded and are available through Canvas.

NOVA IET’s Sedrick Settle and M. Andy Chaves lead this Spring cohort and served as mentors and guides to encourage attendance, participation and completion of the CLRI program elements.  Many of these students have applied for paid summer internships offered through various NOVA IET strategic partners.

For more about CLRI go to www.nvcc.edu/career-services/clri.html

 

 

IET Career Days Bring 400 HS Students to NOVA

Our inaugural NOVA IET Career Days were a huge success, with nearly 400 high school students attending from all over northern Virginia.

Held on March 23 (Woodbridge Campus), March 30 (Annandale), March 31 (Alexandria), April 14 (Manassas), and April 28 (Loudoun), Career Days are geared toward bringing students to a NOVA campus and informing them about in-demand technology education and career pathways. More about NOVA IET here.

Career Day events featured presentations and panel discussions by industry experts, including representatives from Google, AWS, Johnson Controls, Leidos, CBRE, QTS, Digital Realty, Deletek, and NOVA, covering a range of topics, including cybersecurity, cloud computing, data center operations, computer science and more.

Industry partners discussed the latest trends and technologies in IET fields and offered advice on career development. Attendees were able to ask questions and gain valuable insights into the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in these in-demand fields.

IET Career Days are an effective example of the burgeoning collaboration between industry and academia as we continue to connect students and professionals with industry partners. Overall, the events successfully showcased NOVA’s commitment to supporting students and professionals in the fields of IET and Computer Science. Many Career Day attendees expressed their desire for similar events in the future.

“My students and I had a great time. It was a great opportunity to hear from a diverse group of professionals about their career journeys, and I have already heard from a few students who got excited about studying computing/IT/security, and about opportunities at NOVA. My students seemed to especially enjoy the tour, and the tour guide did a fantastic job of getting them excited about the facilities and resources at NOVA.”

~ Chris Jones, Counselor, Wakefield High School


NOVA’s Career Days were organized by NOVA IET’s Career and Technical Education Coordinator, Amira Alexander. You can reach her at aalexander@nvcc.edu