With the semester at an end,  I reflect on the wonderful experience I’ve had working for the CDC. When I entered the internship, I was rusty on most of my tech experience with only the few IT classes that I’ve completed to support me. As a non traditional student switching careers and breaking into a new industry, I am complete aware of what this internship was for. It allowed me to get a base knowledge of the IT industry but most importantly gain valuable real world experience. With almost any industry one must “pay their dues” and do your time in a profession which I feel this internship has gotten me off to a good start. These past few months feel as if they have gone by extremely fast but I was able to learn so much.

My final week was spent addressing tickets dealing with remote updates, security patches, and fixing unhealthy SCCM clients but most importantly I was given permission to use my credentials and attend a CompTia conference. CompTia is one of the global recognize organizations that offers IT certifications such as A+, Network+, and Security+. These are the base certifications that many of the major companies recognize and, in my case with the federal government, require for employment.

With that said, it was a great learning experience being able to network and listen to what the industry professionals are looking for or will be looking for in the next few years. The common theme that I’ve heard, not only in this conference but from CDC mentors and school advisors, is that professional certifications are nothing without the experience and knowledge to back it up. Another interesting area that several discussions touched on was the need for people with experience and knowledge in data analytics as well as AI. One of my favorite talks was on leadership within a multi generational tech team of “Boomers”, “Gen-Xers”, “and “Millenials”. I found this important because of its application in almost any professional field regardless of industry.

Throughout these months, I’ve accomplished all of my goals and have grown as an information technologist. The only negative thing I’ve personally feel I’ve encountered is the more I have learned in the IT field, the realization of how little I know sets in. I have also realized that I would like to focus on the area of IT leadership and project management it would allow me to apply my years of leadership experience from Disney and management from the military. I’ve also learned several lessons in leadership from my mentor, Sheila. The first is a sincere compassion in our success as employees. More often than not, she has been understanding of my physical disabilities that have affected me during this internship. In addition to that, she also stresses a work life balance and constantly checks our work loads to ensure we are given every opportunity to be set up for success. These are all areas that some leaders out their lack and quite often apply the “sink or swim” method treating their employees like replaceable cogs in a machine. I was one of those leaders but have taken a lesson from Sheila on how to run a happy, well balanced, and efficient department successfully. In addition to my primary career goal of leadership in IT, my interactions with Sheila at my internship and Dr. Voortman at Point Park have reaffirmed and inspired my secondary goal of teaching IT.
Even though I am saddened that the Summer semester has come to an end, I look forward to this short two week break. I am excited that I will be continuing my education journey once the Fall semester begins.

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