- Information Technology
As someone who has been fascinated with computers for as long as she can recall, Alicia can’t imagine a more thrilling career field. As an IT instructor at Penn College, she shares her passion for problem solving with the next generation of thought leaders.
TAKING THE LEAD
Q&A with Alicia
WHY DID YOU PURSUE A CAREER IN IT?
IT is unique in that it is a field that is always growing and changing. With that growth and change comes career opportunities in many areas. Every organization needs IT. I knew that IT could open many doors for me and that change meant that it would always be interesting and challenging. This goes hand in hand with the fact that IT impacts so much of our daily lives. I like knowing that I can use my skills to help others. The challenge of helping individuals by applying critical thinking skills to solving problems with technology is very rewarding.
WHAT DREW YOU TO PENN COLLEGE?
The value that Penn College places on a hands-on approach to learning is the number one thing that drew me to this position. I find that students often learn best by applying their skills. I can talk about a concept and demonstrate a concept, but when students have the opportunity to apply the concept and analyze it, they gain a deeper understanding. I find it overall more engaging for students. The fact that the environment at Penn College is also very supportive is another factor that drew me to this position. The environment is very student-focused where student success is the priority. Teaching is at the heart of what we do.
WHAT IS THE MOST FORMATIVE PIECE OF CAREER ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED?
Keep going. Don't be afraid to push boundaries and to get out of your comfort zone. That's how we grow. And if we fail, we are wiser for the experience.
WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
WHAT SKILLS DO YOU UTILIZE EVERY DAY, BE THEY TECHNICAL OR OTHERWISE?
Organizational skills go a long way. There is so much to learn in this constantly changing field. It is exciting. But you need to know how to manage and prioritize your learning while being effective at what you do. Having these skills gives you the foundation needed to keep learning.
WHY IS HANDS-ON LEARNING VALUABLE IN THE FIELD OF IT?
We talk about theory and provide this as a basis for learning, but being able to see the theory applied provides a deeper understanding. When taking a theory, providing a real-word application and giving students hands-on experience, they can experiment and ask better questions. I find this often engages students more in their learning. It also provides students with the ability to hit the ground running when they are employed since their theory is paired with practical, hands-on experience.
HOW DO YOU THINK AN ORGANIZATION CAN BENEFIT FROM MORE DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT AND TALENT?
We are creating technology for other people in order to improve lives. We need to better understand each other to do so. We cannot do this alone; we need the insight, abilities, and experiences of others to help us grow and meet the needs of a constantly changing world.
WHAT TYPES OF REAL-WORLD LEARNING EXPERIENCES ARE YOUR STUDENTS GETTING?
There are many real-world learning experience opportunities. We have industry speakers present to students. We have gone on trips to industry conferences and have traveled for employer site visits. In classes, we use projects and industry standard software throughout our curriculum. For example, in one of the game and simulation design courses the focus is emulating real world development. Students work in teams to design and build a game/simulation while working with several industry standard tools and using industry standard agile development methodologies. Another benefit from this teaching approach is that they learn how to work and communicate effectively as a team, which is critical in IT.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE CONSIDERING PENN COLLEGE?
Take the lead in a diverse field that connects us all.
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