Fatima Shareen comes full circle from NOVA cyber student and CLRI to NOVA IT employee.
By Kristy Gillespie
Fatima Shareen is a recent NOVA cybersecurity graduate and now works as an Information Technology (IT) Support Technician at the bustling Woodbridge Campus, future site of NOVA’s Data Center Operations Training Facility and where NOVA’s Information and Engineering Technologies (IET) program is based.
Her current career pathway was trailblazed from her time as a Prince William County Schools (PWCS) IT intern when she was a NOVA student. From the beginning, the 150-hour internship at Forest Park High School provided flexibility as she could choose between an eight or six-hour day, giving her the freedom to efficiently manage her busy schedule at work and at George Mason University, where she is pursuing a cybersecurity bachelor degree.
Like many technology students at NOVA who are looking to develop their soft skills, Shareen previously completed NOVA IET’s Career & Leadership Readiness Institute (CLRI): “I loved the CLRI program. I actually enrolled twice because the instructors provided great support for the interview process and helped with resume building.”
Shereen highly recommends that NOVA IET students take advantage of CLRI so they have better internship opportunities, as being a CLRI grad played a pivotal role in securing her own PWCS intern spot.
Her key tasks during the internship included computer imaging (which involves the installation of operating systems, applications, and settings) and computer scripting for automating tasks in websites and web applications. She utilized Configuration Manager, a systems management software product, to handle a total of 3,000 laptops.
At Forest Park High School, Shereen progressed through her internship in a “warm and welcoming environment with supportive individuals.” One person who had a profound influence on her was Sylvia Avila, an IT Support Technician. “I’ve been working for the last six, seven years, but never encountered someone like her. She was simply amazing and incredibly helpful,” Shareen said.
The PWCS internship significantly bolstered her resume, enhanced her teamwork skills, expanded her IT knowledge, and provided valuable hands-on training. Shareen emphasized how those skills acquired during the internship continue to support her in her current career, particularly with diagnosing and resolving computer errors or technical issues: “If you are in the IT field, troubleshooting is the most important thing that you should know.”
Shareen has come full circle, from NOVA student to NOVA employee. Reflecting on those who made a positive impact during her time as a student, she singled out IET Professor Michael Spiller as her favorite instructor: “The way he taught was different from other teachers. He always showed up to class stating that he was the boss and we were his employees. I took 3 or 4 classes with him. He was amazing.”
In her professional environment, Shareen is keenly appreciative of NOVA’s “positive vibe,” with friendly people and job tasks similar to those performed during her internship.
Looking forward, Shareen aspires to venture into entrepreneurship and develop her own business, possibly through the Fulfillment by Amazon platform.
Shareen’s heartfelt message to NOVA students is: “your time at NOVA is an invaluable investment in your future, and I encourage you to approach it with dedication and belief in your capabilities.”
PWCS IT Internship Opportunities are currently available for NOVA students. Apply by December 13 through the NOVA Career Connection portal
More about NOVA IET at https://www.nvcc.edu/academics/divisions/iet/index.html
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