Life in Information Technology (IT)
Alabama Community College System (ACCS) highlights Nathan Burnett. Nathan studied Computer Information Science (CIS) at Wallace Community College in Dothan, Alabama and shared his experience with us to provide insight into the Information Technology field. After graduating from Dale County High School in Midland City, Alabama, he attended both a community college and a university.
The CC Experience
“My favorite thing about attending WCC was how you were more than just a number or a face sitting in a room. The instructor scared about your success. They would know you by name and they would continue to ask how you were doing in other classes even if you didn’t have them for class anymore. They were always interested in your progress.” He identified some major differences between attending a community college and a university, stating, “The big difference to me is that there are smaller class sizes, the instructors connect with you on a more personal level, classes are cheaper, and you get more hands on experiences.” He addresses the assumptions many have that students attending community colleges are not as intelligent or capable as university students. He said, “The students that attend a community college are just as smart as students attending a university. Going to a community college is a better financial choice in most cases since tuition is cheaper.”
Nathan’s favorite part of the CIS program at WCC was the opportunity to experience different areas of the computer technology field. He chose the programming route which provided him with experience in various programming languages, such as: C++, C#, Visual Basic, HTML, and CSS. He was granted hands-on experience in learning how to tear a computer apart and put it back together, learning the name and function of each part, and learning how to troubleshoot hardware issues. He also learned how to hack basic networks to gain access to computers.
In the Field
He currently works as an IT Tech at Wallace Community College and has been working there for six years. He landed a job as a help desk technician at WCC while still in college and held that position for three years while he finished his degree. He was hired for a full-time IT Tech job in 2017. When asked about his day-to-day job duties, Nathan shared, “I set up new computers in offices and classrooms; I respond to tickets put in by students and staff for various technology issues; I troubleshoot hardware and software issues with computers; I install software for instructors; I help maintain the projectors and sound equipment installed in the classrooms, and I troubleshoot network issues and help install new network wiring.” Nathan cleared up some misconceptions surrounding the field of computer science. “I think most people view IT as a job for antisocial people. I think people also think that if they work in the field they will be considered a “nerd” and maybe you wouldn’t get the respect you think you should. Working in Information Technology is probably one of the most social jobs you can have. In most cases, you are having to interact with people the majority of your work day. In my experience working in the field, people have a great deal of respect for you and are really happy to see you walk in if they are having a problem with technology.”
Advice for IT Students
When asked what sparked his interest in the career field, he answered, “When I was in high school, I was usually the student that had to help the teacher out when something went wrong with their computer or projector. I like that you get to solve problems and that no two days are exactly alike.” He advised students considering this path, saying, “Always be willing to learn something new. The Information Technology field changes pretty rapidly. Learn all you can in your spare time whether it’s reading IT related books or watching informational videos on YouTube. Work on being able to take a complex idea and break it down to where someone with little to no knowledge of the subject would be able to understand. You don’t want to come across as talking down to someone when working in IT.”