A Graduate Perspective: Employed In an Informatics Field, Part 1

Before making this write-up I took some time to read through some of the prior posts that have been made in regards to employment in a tech driven field.  Most of these focused upon internships, which undoubtedly provide much needed experience to students, but I was unable to find many posts from those that are employed in a tech field.  Or, in a field that dealt primarily with data.  I felt that I could give the blog a bit more material in this area since I am a full time employee that deals with data and technology every day at Capital Region BOCES.  Since this is the first part of three, I suppose I will start with the most pressing question on a student’s mind…

“How do I get a job?”

(At least, that was the thought in my head when I was looking around.)

                It is not a very glamorous tale, to say the least.  A brief history of me before working at Capital Region BOCES would be include the following…

·         Graduated high school somewhere in the middle GPA wise.

·         Attended a community college, essentially 13th and 14th grade, graduated with an Associate of Science degree in Computer Science.

o   There was much rejoicing.diploma

·         Attended U-Albany.

o   Discovered that math was hard.

o   Switched majors to History.

o   Finished a semester late with a Bachelor of Art degree in History.

§  European Concentration.

§  Usefulness in the job market?

·         Marginal.

·         2008 financial crash happens.

o   History degree usefulness in the job market?

§  None.

So started a rather difficult time of myself living at home while pouring over what work was available, which unemploymentwere slim pickings at best.  To make a long story short I worked as a Field Modification Specialist (Landscaper) and then as a Data Entry person for Manpower and the Band of America.  To put it bluntly, I was not too pleased with my employment situation, so I turned to my county’s civil service exams, and that essentially opened the door to many opportunities.

Most entry level positions in civil service only require a high school diploma, and those that require higher education obviously pay higher.  I submitted my application to civil service, waited for a test to come along, took it, got an interview some time later and landed my first ‘real’ job…  Which, is not the job I have now.  Bullet time job history!

·         Greene County Clerks’ Office

o   Responsibilities?

§  Here I helped update the logs of land ownership by copying them into Excel

§  Modified the Clerks’ website

§  Maintained an Access database that housed a log of records that were taken from the records building.

o   Thoughts?

§  For an entry level position, that it quite a lot of work, and quite varied.  But, since it was part time I took the first opportunity I could.  Which led me to…

·         Catskill Middle School

o   Responsibilities?

§  Basic office secretary things.

§  The only tech part of this was using their web based software to manage students.

o   Thoughts?

§  This was by no means my dream job, but I stayed here for the better part of a year and decided that I needed more tech experience, so I left for…

·         Staples

o   Responsibilities?

§  Much more tech oriented, since I fixed desktops and laptops as they came into the store.  Troubleshot problems over the phone, etc.

o   Thoughts?

§  Many way have wondered why I quit my job at Catskill for something like this.  Essentially, it was definitely a risk, and I knew it, but this position helped my resume a bit since my actual tech experience was lacking.

It was during my time at Staples that I took more tests, using my experience that I have been gaining to find something more ideal.  A test came up for a position known as a Programming Technology Specialist, which accepted Associate level education with some outside experience on the side.  I applied for it, took the test, and received a call from the Northeastern Regional Information center (NERIC) which is a part of Capital Region BOCES.boces

This was an exciting time for me since this position could be made into a career, and to prepare for the interview I made sure to purchase some new clothes so that I would look as professional as possible.  That, however, did not keep me from being ten minutes late to the interview (not recommended).  The interview itself was actually not very technical in nature, but here are some of the questions that stuck in my head.  One of the first was the following:

“Do you know what BOCES is?”  Despite the time I spent on the BOCES website, I was still unclear about what exactly BOCES did.  I told my interviewer that, because it is better to at least try to find out information about your employer before going to an interview instead of not doing anything at all.  From that point I elaborated on my personal knowledge of BOCES, which was limited at best.  But, anything I could mention, I did.  The next question I remember was:

“How much Sequel experience do you have?”  To which I responded, “I am not sure what Sequel is.”  Of course, anybody worth their salt when it comes to databases knows that ‘Sequel’ refers to SQL.  At the time I really did not have any idea that it was phonetically called that.  However, despite that drawback, other questions focused more upon my ability to rationalize problems and how to prioritize workload, and I believe that I was able to gain ground again.  This was further helped with my professional and personal experience in computer maintenance.  Though, another question that I remember came around like this,

“It looks like you have been all over the place in your job history.  Almost like you do not know what you want and you’re looking for something.  What are you looking for?”  A rather important question, and here I went for the jugular.  The pay as advertised was what I was looking for, health benefits available and retirement to boot.  My response, paraphrased, was myself telling them that I have been looking for a technical work environment to commit myself to, and my previous employers were not ideal for me, which was the truth.  I mentioned that I was looking for a career that I could put my knowledge to work, and to also expand my knowledge with.

Despite being a part of a group of ten that they were interviewing for the position, I received a call after a second interview offering me the job, which I took, and where I still work today.  The next part in this will deal with the routine I go through at where I am employed.

David Auger – INF 423
Graduated in 2009 – Bachelor of History
Currently taking classes and planning to graduate Spring 2014

Image 1 via Becky Lang on the Tangenital {link to http://thetangential.com/2011/04/27/the-10-most-useless-things-about-college/}

Image 2 via Stuff Unemployed People Like {link to https://www.facebook.com/StuffUnemployedPeopleLike/notes}

Image 3 via BOCES of NYS {link to http://www.boces.org/wps/portal/BOCESofNYS}


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