Virtual networking sessions help students prepare for careers

Virtual networking sessions help students prepare for careers

Each spring, Georgia College’s IT Advisory Board holds an annual student networking event. There, students receive valuable career information as well as work on their social and professional networking skills.


“While the annual event is open to all computer science and information systems majors and minors, the students currently in the ISCS Professional Development course are required to attend the event,” said Dr. Tanya Goette, chair of the Department of Information Systems and Computer Science.


Originally scheduled for mid-April, the format had to be reworked after Georgia College instituted an online format for all programs and activities due to the coronavirus pandemic.


The departmental advisory board sponsors and creates the program for the annual student networking event. In the last few weeks, Goette asked if they would be willing to do a virtual version this year, and 12 volunteered to participate.


“My board members are awesome and always support our students in so many ways,” said Goette. “I never had to wonder if they would be supportive or not; it was just a matter of what form the support would need to take.”


The 88 students in Goette’s class were divided into small groups and assigned to an online session. She wanted each group to be small enough for students to be engaged and interact. Most had around 7-10 students.  


Predictive analytics shows cases in the U.S.
Predictive analytics shows cases in the U.S.

Siggy Tetteh has been an IT advisory board member for more than four years, and is the Director of IT Rural Health—responsible for the Information Technology of Rural Hospitals (Navicent Health Baldwin, Peach Medical Center Navicent Health and Monroe County Hospital). He hosted one session where he not only discussed the work and responsibilities of project managers and data analysts, but also connected that work to the current situation facing the U.S with COVID-19.


He showed predictive graphs of the number of deaths expected and when the cases are expected to peak—all created using predictive analytics and data analysis.


For Tetteh, he hoped to not only give students a glimpse into the work of their future careers, but also an opportunity to connect with him as a professional.


“Student networking is a crucial part of the learning experience to better prepare students to look at IT in a very positive and fulfilling way,” said Tetteh.


In his presentation, he highlighted the typical salaries for professionals and discussed in-depth the specific areas the students showed interest in. Although the format of the event had to be slightly changed from in-person to online, he hopes students still see it as a valuable experience.  


“For all the years I have been participating in this event, I have seen the tremendous benefit that it affords the students in honing their decisions about a career choice that will help them flourish and succeed,” he said. “We are technology nerds, so it is a great way to use the techniques of our trade to the fullest so that social distancing will not stop us from achieving this goal.”


Goette encourages her students to take advantage of professional development throughout their college experience to set them up for success in their future careers.


“Students do not know what they don't know. Many students have held retail, food service, landscaping or babysitting type jobs, but the number who have worked in an office setting is limited,” said Goette.


“Whenever we can expose them to executives and technologists in the field, the students can learn something that they can take with them and apply to other situations or other classes,” she said.