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Cybersecurity NOVA IET Career Pathways STEM Careers Student to Workforce Tech Equity Women in STEM

Student To Workforce Spotlight: Fandrea Tinsley

Fandrea Tinsley is a NOVA graduate who has been hired by Wal-Mart Cyber at a recruitment event after completing a NOVA IET resume and interview prep session. We thought we’d ask her a few questions and get some insights about her new career and how NOVA helped along the way.

1) Why is Cybersecurity important?

In the technology age that we live within, cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important because so many things connect to the internet (almost everything). Any device that connects to the internet can potentially be hacked! Since so many people use the internet daily the threat landscape is vast. This being the case, cybersecurity is not only important in our society but necessary.

2) What got you into Cybersecurity?

My husband, Farod! He is a NOVA alumnus and completed the same cybersecurity program in 2018. After which, he transferred to George Washington University (GWU) to complete his bachelor’s degree. I was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after conceiving our second son in 2019. While going through chemotherapy treatment, following our son’s birth, Farod recommended that I switch to cyber from the nursing program in which I’d previously been enrolled at Germanna Community College. I took a while to think about it but ultimately decided to take the leap due to me being at high risk during the height of Covid-19. Looking back, I can say that it has turned out to be one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made… thanks Farod!

3) What was your general experience at NOVA?

My general experience at NOVA was great! I’d taken some classes at NOVA when I was younger, directly after high school, but did not finish a degree program. As a returning student, I feel that I was better able to fully understand the importance of what NOVA has to offer and take advantage of this time around.

4) What did you enjoy most about your time at NOVA?

Everything! I enjoyed every class, every lab, every Saturday meeting with the AllCyber club, and forming relationships with classmates. All my professors were exceptional, and I appreciate EVERYTHING that they did to prepare me for the cybersecurity industry. They mentored and advised me until the very end and are one of the main reasons why I received this opportunity with Walmart Infosec.

5) How did NOVA IET help you get started along your career path?

NOVA IET provided me with all the knowledge, tools, and guidance to be successful in the cybersecurity industry. I continuously review everything that I have learned, in my mind, and apply this knowledge to every professional situation that I encounter. I feel that NOVA IET has really prepared me well and positioned me on the path to have a successful career.

6) What was your experience with the NOVA IET team, particularly with Dean Paula Ford?

My experience with the NOVA IET team was one of consistency and support. Throughout my entire experience, I received the same level of follow up, support, mentorship, and career counseling. Dean Paula Ford was an instrumental part of my NOVA IET team through her avocation for me and thoughtful leadership. Professor Kwabena Konodu followed up with me on a weekly basis to provide counseling and to ensure that my plan remained on track. A major part of my success so far is due to my NOVA IET team, and I really appreciate all of them.

7) What skills did you pick up from the mock interview, and how did it prepare you effectively for the real thing with Wal-Mart?

The mock interview helped to prepare me for the real thing by allowing me to “practice before the game”. I’ve been in other interviews over the years, but this was my first time preparing for a cybersecurity interview. The mock interview reinforced my confidence, bearing, and taught me how to structure my answers appropriately. This practice helped me a great deal to be prepared for the real thing, and I know that I would not have felt as confident as I did during my interview with Walmart Infosec, if I hadn’t participated in the mock interview.

8) Describe your confidence going into the interview, your mindset.

I would describe myself as a naturally confident person, and due to me having participated in the mock interview and all the preparation and support that I received from my NOVA IET team, I felt extra confident. I visualized myself already having the job before I even sat down for the interview.

9) Describe the full interview process with Wal-mart. What went well in the interview and what might you do differently?

As much as I tried not to look nervous during my interview, I am sure that I did. However, I’ve been told that I did well. Part of my interview consisted of my interviewer asking about me, my background, my skill set(s) and ambitions. I pride myself on my soft skills and communication, so I think that this part of the interview went very well. The other part of the interview was technical. Prepared as I was, I knew that I didn’t answer every question correctly. However, anything that I wasn’t totally familiar with, or unsure of, I confidently responded that I knew where to find the information and that I am always willing to learn more. I really think that the interviewer liked that.

10) How did your resume help you? Why was it effective? How did your employer refer to it to ask you questions?

My resume was effective in that it helped to get me in the door. My interviewer referenced my resume when asking me questions, for which I was prepared, and questions that weren’t related to my resume as well. Overall, I consider the process a valuable learning experience.

11) What do you do at Wal-mart on a day-to-day basis (that you can comfortably share) and what do you enjoy most about it?

Well, since I just recently began my Walmart Infosec journey, I am still in the research/study phase. My Walmart Infosec team has shown me a warm welcome and I am so excited to be a part of this organization. I look forward to getting to know my teammates better as we work closely alongside each other.

12) How did NOVA prepare you to meet the technical demands of your job?

The cybersecurity program at NOVA is top of the line. Through classroom lectures and work that covers every domain within IT and cybersecurity, rigorous and realistic lab assignments, the AllCyber professional cybersecurity organization, and continuous career coaching and mentorship I feel very prepared to meet professional technical demands. Regarding my job, I have a foundational understanding of all the information that I have been presented with so far, which is an advantage to me.

13) How do soft skills and interpersonal communication play into the interview process and in your job from day to day?

Soft skills and communication skills play a huge part during an interview and on the job. To truly be a team player these skills should be almost second nature. Honestly, I believe that I’ve made it this far relying largely on my soft skills and communication. As I continue to increase my technical prowess, my interpersonal skills enable me to continuously communicate with others, identify needs, and remain an asset.

14) How does your life in the professional world differ from life as a NOVA student? What are the expectations?

Well, prior to entering tech I’d accumulated years of professional work experience in the healthcare industry. Having such experience over the years has fine tuned my work ethic and drive. So, I applied that same work ethic and drive to my studies, and I continue to do so in the professional tech world in hopes that it will continue to serve me well. One difference that I have noticed however, is the level and types of expectation. In school it is understood that assignments must be completed, quizzes and tests must be taken, and regular attendance is expected. In the professional world, some of that stuff doesn’t exist and a lot of expectation is placed on results. I’ve welcomed the challenges from both environments.

15) What are your ultimate career goals?

Well, I’ve already achieved one of my goals having been offered this great opportunity with Walmart Infosec. I think, as of now, I will just continue to focus, buckle down, and see where this journey takes me. I feel that my journey will be more exciting that way! Plus, this exploratory way of thinking about the future of my career seems unrestricting and totally freeing. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

16) What is your experience as a woman in the tech fields? What further steps for equality would you like to see in general in technology fields?

Since my start in tech, I have noticed a strong movement of women entering technology spaces. While I realize the tech industry is still predominantly male occupied, it is exciting to see and know females like me that go out there and pursue their dreams regardless of what others may think or traditional gender roles. If this movement continues to progress, I definitely see the future of tech being very bright for everyone, regardless of gender.

17) What would you say to current NOVA IET students who would like to follow your example? What should they do and what should they expect?

Network, network, network! I personally attended every hiring event available and pursued every opportunity offered to me. Additionally, ensure that you are prepared for these opportunities so as to present the best in you while taking advantage of them. You never know what’s waiting for you behind that next door.

18) And a fun one: Do you watch any TV shows about Cyber (Mr. Robot for example)? What does entertainment get right and wrong when they portray Cyber agents and hackers?

I don’t typically watch a lot of TV, but I have seen cyber related television programs and movies. Prior to entering cybersecurity, the explanation of actors/actresses portraying cyber roles seemed extremely technical and difficult to grasp. But now, if I don’t know exactly what one of these characters is saying, I can at least piece together what they are referring to. Being able to do that is so awesome and makes me feel like I am part of a special club, lol. However, I feel that these roles may sometimes take it a little overboard and not portray the human side of cyber players.

19) Anything important to add that we might have missed?

No, I think that you generally covered everything across the board. I just want to reiterate how appreciative I am for this opportunity, and I encourage everyone striving for a career in cybersecurity to keep pursuing their goals and “stay the course”! If I can do this, you can too!

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Amazon Web Services Artificial Intelligence Cloud Computing Computer Science IET Events Machine Learning NOVA IET Career Pathways Publicity STEM Careers STEM Networking STEM Workforce

IET Events In November

IET Speaker Series: Joshua Powers
Thurs 11/4: 6:30-8:00 pm.

Information Technology professionals are in high demand and essential to just about every modern business model, the need for qualified professionals is immediate! Joshua Powers is the Technical Director for Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning at Dev Technology Group. Josh has 25 years of experience in researching and applying artificial intelligence technologies to a wide variety of business and public sector challenges. Join us virtually for the third installment of our monthly NOVA IET Speaker Series and learn more about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and how they can be applied to Information Technology!

Register to attend at iet.novastem.us/Register


IET Speaker Series: Dolica Gopisetty and Christian Ramirez
Weds 11/10: 6:00-7:30 pm.

Dolica Gopisetty is a Solutions Architect at AWS in the Public Sector team and works specifically with customers in Higher Education. She helps them achieve their business objectives by hosting their mission critical applications in the AWS cloud.

Christian Ramirez is an Associate Solutions Architect at AWS, where he entered through the TechU Program. Christian made the career switch after completing a Cloud Computing Certificate at East Los Angeles College, where he gained the fundamental knowledge to attain an AWS Solutions Architect – Associate certification.

In the fourth installment of the NOVA IET Speaker Series, Dolica and Christian will share their journeys to becoming an AWS Solutions Architect, provide a brief introduction to Cloud Computing, and share tips on how to navigate a career in Cloud Computing.

Register to attend at iet.novastem.us/Register


Women in IET & Computer Science Networking Event
Weds 11/17: 4:00pm

Join us in our third and final Women in IET and Computer Science Coffee Chat of the semester. In this virtual session, we will feature a panel of women in IT to discuss their personal journeys into IT, how taking the initiative to learn has helped them advance in their career and how they have built their own personal toolkit to help them persevere in the face of adversity.

Register to attend at iet.novastem.us/techwomen


IET and Computer Science Clubs

NOVA Coding Club Annandale Campus

The Coding Club is held on Fridays from 12:30pm – 1:30pm for students interested in programming (coding) or computer science.  It is open to any student interested in coding of any type.  Meetings focus on coding challenges, upcoming events, and current events in the industry.

For more information contact Aren Waheed at asw2167@email.vccs.edu

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Automotive Technology Career & Technical Education Fabrication HVAC NOVA IET Career Pathways Nursing STEM Careers Teacher Professional Development

Upcoming STEM Careers and STEM Teacher PD Events

STEM Careers

Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) STEM Outreach Program, NOVA SySTEMic, is offering STEM Careers Virtual Workshops – Career & Technical Education.

Zoom sessions are open to high school students, NOVA students and the community. In these sessions, NOVA faculty and staff will share information about educational programs and industry representatives will share information about careers and current issues in their field.  ​

Heating, AC and Refrigeration
Weds 11/3: 3:00-4:00 pm.
(NOVA Professor John Meeker & Women in HVACR President Lauren Roberts)

Nursing
Mon 11/8: 3:00-4:00 pm.
(NOVA MEC Interim Dean of Student Services Kimberly Nicely, NOVA Nursing Program Graduate & HCA Reston Hospital Critical Care Nurse, Diana Hernandez and Director of Critical Care Nurse Director of Acute Care Services, Novant Health UVA Health System Prince William Medical Center and Haymarket Medical Center, Eyad Abdel Latif RN, MSN, MBA, CCRN-K, LSSGBC)

Automotive Technologies
Tues 11/9: 4:00-5:00 pm
(NOVA Professor Laura Garcia-Moreyra & NOVA Automotive Technologies Graduate/Current BMW Automotive Tech Michelle Reyes)

Register at career.novastem.us/Register


STEM Teacher PD

NOVA SySTEMic is excited to announce the scheduling of STEM Teacher Professional Development for the 2021-2022 school year. Virtual and in-person professional development will be offered to educators in the areas of fabrication, programming, and technology integration. All sessions are free of cost to STEM educators within the NOVA region! For the latest session information, schedule, and to register, educators can visit http://teacherpd.novastem.us/Register

December Sessions

Micro:bit STEM Applications – Intro Sessions
Wednesdays: December 1st  & 8th from 4:00-6:00pm via Zoom

This course will introduce educators to the BBC micro:bit and applications to various STEM subjects. The 2-part intro series will focus on getting to know the micro:bit using block and text-based coding. Three follow-on sessions will be offered in 2022 in the areas of science, math/health, and art/music. Educators can choose which sessions they want to attend. All attendees will receive their very own micro:bit upon completion of the intro series. Attendance at the intro sessions or previous experience using the micro:bit is highly recommended for the subject-specific follow-on sessions. This two-part series is open to any NoVA region STEM educators.

Demystifying 3D Printing
Monday, December 13th from 4:00-6:00pm via Zoom

It whirs and bings, and if you’re patient, it prints you a cool miniature Han Solo, but once the novelty is over, how do you make better prints? Understanding your 3D-printer, and how the print settings effect everything from strength, surface quality, print time, and supports is crucial for success. In this session, we walk you through how the printer works, common troubleshooting solutions, print settings, and post-processing techniques. Session is targeted to educators with beginner to middle-level knowledge of 3D printing. Topics discussed are broad and translatable to variety of manufacturers. Sessions are open to any NoVA region STEM educators.

 

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Information Technology NOVA IET NOVA IET Career Pathways NOVA Rankings Publicity STEM Careers STEM Degrees STEM Workforce

NOVA IT Degree Programs Ranked Top 10 in the Country

NOVA IT Degree Programs Top 10 in the Country

According to Value Colleges.com, NOVA’s online information technology degree programs for 2022 are in the Top 10 for the country. The methodology for ranking the best online associate’s in information technology starts with the editors research of accredited, trustworthy colleges and universities known for return on investment. Then they ranked programs according to student reviews, graduate salary, and cost, according to current Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and Niche data.

When you add that all up, they came up with the top 25 online information technology associate’s degree programs. NOVA, with its extensive online IT courses landed at number 10. The Information and Engineering Technologies Division offers nine of its thirteen IT programs (AAS and CSC) completely online. Students can complete everything from Cybersecurity to Information Systems Technology, or Application Programming to Network Administration. There are plenty of options for students seeking the flexibility of fully online programs.

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for computer support specialists was $55,510 in 2020. This is representative of the average associates degree in information technology salary, but actual pay varies depending on your role. Many IT fields value experience along with education, and if you’ve combined earning an associate’s degree in information technology online with employment, you can find higher paying positions. It’s easy to discount the opportunity for higher paying jobs because you “only” have an associate’s degree, but the field of IT is one that rewards people for knowledge, education, experience, and intuition quite nicely.”

Full Article: Top 25 Best Value Online Associate’s Information Technology Degree Programs for 2022

 

 

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Business Engagement NOVA IET STEM Careers Virtual Events

LCPS Career Camp Equips Students for Workforce

 

Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) IET Division, NOVA SySTEMic and NOVA faculty members partnered with Loudoun County Public Schools to offer a virtual week-long Summer Career Camp for rising 9th graders through graduating seniors July 19-23, 2021.

During the career camp, students learned how to create effective resumes, developed their team building skills through interactive virtual activities, and participated in interview workshops.  Students also completed a mock interview and participated in virtual networking activities with industry partners and NOVA faculty and staff. Students who attended all camp sessions were sent a Certificate of Completion.

One participant shared the following: “My experience at the Career camp was phenomenal. I was taught a large spectrum of things, from the importance of networking to ways I could improve my resume. Additionally, I participated in a mock interview where I got the opportunity to polish my communication skills and socialize with possible employers. I am so glad I got the opportunity to participate in the camp, it was such an amazing experience.”

#WeDoSTEM

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CLRI Community Partnerships STEM Careers

NOVA Students Recognized for CLRI Success

The Career & Leadership Readiness Institute (CLRI) at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) celebrated the completion of its inaugural year with a virtual celebration for 35 NOVA students and alumni who received certificates of completion and an address from NOVA President, Dr. Anne Kress!

Requirements to obtain the certificate included completing a variety of workshops including topics such as Resume Preparation, Interviewing, Networking, Diversity & Equity Inclusion in the workplace, communication and conflict resolution and other sessions highlighting how to professionally stand out from the crowd. Students delivered a final project to complete their CLRI certification.

Over 500 individuals attended activities throughout the semester and late last-year.  Orientation sessions were offered from November-January and 21 workshops, panels and information sessions led by 29 various community partners were offered during 8 weeks of the Spring 2021 semester.   Captioning services were provided for every session and as well as an opportunity for NOVA ASL interpreting students to practice their interpreting skills.

CLRI’s first goal is to provide opportunities for students to engage in career and leadership readiness training and networking activities with the NOVA community and employers to increase career connections.  The second goal is to prepare NOVA students with the knowledge, skills, and awareness to navigate a diverse workplace. It is an optional program for NOVA students and does not have any academic credits or grades tied to it.

Participants at the Virtual Recognition Celebration received a NOVA Polo, an embossed padfolio, and an engraved NOVA pen along with their certificate of completion. Community partners received a special NOVA engraved pen.

The CLRI is a 2020-21 InNOVAtion Grant sponsored by the NOVA Foundation. This grant sponsored initiative was submitted and implemented by Brittany Hollis, IET Career Coach and Tiffanie Rosier, SySTEMic STEM Education Coordinator.

A couple of responses from students who completed the course:

“I appreciate very much all the enthusiasm and dedication you have transmitted to us through your excellent work. The knowledge and skills acquired are and will be very valuable for our professional development. Thank you for your time and continuous monitoring so that we can complete each required step. I would absolutely recommend you for future activities!”
Kelly S.

“Thank you to all the Employers/Partners that came to the CLRI workshops. You were wonderful, helpful, kind and insightful. You were an amazing group of men and women who work in the fields of interest and were able to answer our questions and give us amazing feedback and connections for the future.”
Marijane D.

 

Categories
STEM Careers STEM Education STEM Grants

Grant Award for NOVA Engineering Tech/DCO

NSF Funds DCO Tech: Expanding Regional Capacity for Engineering Technology and Data Center Operations Education.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded NOVA a three-year grant, set to begin in July 2021, to advance NOVA’s educational pathways to engineering technology careers.

Principle Investigator (PI) Josh Labrie, Director of NOVA SySTEMic, the college’s STEM outreach program, is excited to build community awareness for NOVA’s engineering technology programs: “This is an excellent moment to raise awareness at the secondary level for these high-paying and in-demand career opportunities in the region by reaching students, educators and career counselors through the grant.”

Co-PI’s Amir Mehmood and TJ Ciccone, NOVA IET faculty members for the engineering technology and data center operations (DCO) specialization, will lead several pieces of the project including a 2-week summer bridge program and additional data center industry engagement. Ciccone, who is Vice-President of Operations at STACK Infrastructure alongside his NOVA IET Faculty role, said “I couldn’t be prouder to participate in this program and provide students the access they need to build the lives they want. I believe in the power of education to transform lives, and this grant is just one of the many initiatives to support that mission.”

Virginia has the largest data center market in the United States – almost as much as the second-through-fifth largest markets combined. Due to favorable regulations adopted by the Virginia legislature, data center capacity is forecast to continue growing. As advanced computing techniques, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, increasingly require access to cloud-based infrastructure, the need for data center technicians, engineers, and technicians will grow quickly alongside data center capacity.

Correspondingly, Micron Technology has announced a $3 billion expansion in northern Virginia to address the need for trained technicians and engineers.

DCO Tech: Expanding Regional Capacity for Engineering Technology and Data Center Operations Education is primarily focused on studying and expanding the educational pathway of students preparing for careers in engineering technology. The grant will expand NOVA’s newly revised engineering technology programs through improved recruitment, employment training, and by fostering a community of practice between industry, secondary educators, and NOVA faculty. It will also expand the workforce pipeline for engineering technology in the northern Virginia region and partner with industry to ensure that students are prepared for careers in the data center industry.

DCO Tech will increase the regional supply of engineering technology technicians through the following components: (1) a two week summer bridge program  focused on career exploration and hands-on learning; (2) an internship preparatory programdesigned to support students in developing career readiness; (3) an externship for high school educators and industry professionals to develop first-hand knowledge of regional career pathways for engineering technology; and, (4) a veterans outreach program to inform military-connected students of NOVA’s engineering technology programs.

If interested in learning more about NOVA’s engineering technology or data center programs go to www.nvcc.edu/iet or contact IET@nvcc.edu

 

 

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IET Newsletter STEM Careers STEM Events Virtual Events

STEM Careers Upcoming Events

NOVA and several industry partners are collaborating to host a series of Free Career Exploration & Readiness Virtual Workshops for NOVA students.  The first series will be offered on select Wednesdays from 11AM-12PM and 3PM-4PM beginning May 6 and ending on June 10.

The series will include the following dates and topics:
May 6: Navigating the Job/Internship Search (NOVA)
May 13: Building a Stand Out Resume (NOVA)
May 20: Security Clearance Information Session (Squadron Defense Group)
June 3: Industry Certifications:  Identification-Cert Your Worth. (PRISM Inc.)
June 10: Use Online Power Tools to Build Your Career.  (NOVA Workforce)

Registration is open at career.novastem.us/SpringWorkshops

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IET Newsletter STEM Careers STEM Events Virtual Events

STEM Careers Activities Recap

STEM Careers Virtual Activities Recap – March 2020

NOVA SySTEMic hosted a series of Career Explorations Activities during the month of March for potential Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Students and current NOVA students.  These activities were previously scheduled to occur in person throughout our various campuses, but were changed to Virtual Events utilizing Zoom Online Meetings.

The Career Exploration Fair included presentations about several STEM, CTE Programs and Student Services at NOVA.  Current NOVA students and area high school students were able to participate virtually, ask questions and learn more about NOVA.

Six Interviewing Skills Workshops for Northern Virginia Community College students were facilitated by The Career Engineer which included; Interactive Participant Activities, Mock Interview Simulations and time for Questions & Answers.  One participant shared, “I’m happy the virus didn’t cancel the workshop. Thank you for adapting during hard times”. 

Thank You to the faculty and staff members who helped support these STEM Careers events.  One faculty member shared feedback from their students, “My students are saying they thought it was incredibly helpful and they learned a lot. Especially around confidence and anxiety…Thanks so much for organizing this really great event. It’s a wonderful resource for our students!”

Click here for info on upcoming STEM Careers Events