Friday, November 21, 2014

Successfully Transitioning into a Career in IT

Information technology is a quickly growing and rapidly evolving field. As a result, there are more opportunities for professionals looking to build an IT career than ever before.

Over the next several years we’ll see a potential boom in IT that could be constrained by a shortage of appropriately educated and experienced workers. For example, Google alone is expecting to hire at least 5,000 people per year for the next five years in Silicon Valley alone, but will only be seeking candidates that are properly educated and have real world experience. This scenario is likely to play out with many different companies across the country seeking professionals to fill a variety of roles.

Many of these opportunities lie in the recent developments of areas such as virtualization, cloud computing, and the ongoing consumerization of IT (using your personal smartphone or tablet on a company’s network). But perhaps one of the most exciting technologies for students entering the field is the Internet of Things where everyday items from home security systems, to TVs, to cars are connecting to the internet. This industry alone is set to grow by 30% in 2015, and the pace will only increase from there. These “smart objects” will need to communicate real-time data across networks and as a result will create an increasing demand for IT professionals.

In the midst of these rapid developments, a solid foundation that includes a computer-related college degree and hands-on experience is more important than ever to fully prepare yourself to succeed as an IT professional.

Career Paths in IT

Depending on your interests, an IT career can take many different paths. Some students are more interested in programming and get a rush out of writing the code that commands a computer what to do and seeing those command executed. For others, computer networking - providing the infrastructure through which unbelievable amounts of information flows every moment - is more of an interesting career path. Similarly, information security has never been more prominent or more challenging and thus holds great career potential as well.

Academic Preparation for Today’s IT Professionals

At Peirce, we look to provide students with a balance of hands-on experience with new and emerging technologies along with timeless skills and habits of mind they’ll need throughout their career. Some of these valuable skills include critical reasoning and problem solving as well as communicating with users, understanding their needs, and providing them excellent customer service.

Other timeless skills include project management, systems analysis, and other approaches to succeed when the budgets are large and the stakes are high. Students learn how to make sure these projects are on time, according to specification, and on or under budget.

These timeless skills are combined with cutting-edge, practical skills you’ll need for a successful career in technology, a field that is perpetually reinventing itself. They include how to select, design, integrate, implement, evaluate and administer modern computer-based systems to meet user needs.

Things you can do to prepare

Aspiring IT professionals should make a special effort to stay on top of the industry as it continues to evolve. A few tips include:
  • Stay current on what’s trending on the web
  • Read the latest books in the particular areas you’re interested in.
  • Keep up with blogs that discuss the latest information and provide thought leadership.
  • Find top influencers on social media to follow and interact with. 
Another thing you can do to prepare is to seek out hands-on experience. Get involved with an open source project, volunteer your services pro bono, and look for temporary or contract work in the field.

It’s will also be extremely beneficial to spend some time in help desk, customer support, and tech support roles to gain a great perspective to use as a foundation to for your career. At Pierce, you’re required to take a course in tech support with a strong customer service foundation. The combination of experience along with a formal education is a very powerful recipe for getting connected with meaningful opportunities sooner rather than later.

As you can see, there’s plenty of opportunity for students looking to build their career in IT. If you’re interested in learning more about the programs at Peirce take a look at the various Information Technology degrees offered and feel free to reach out to us for more information. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Peirce Welcomes Jordan Greenwood as Legal Studies Advisor

We’re excited to welcome Jordan Greenwood to Peirce as the Legal Studies advisor! In this role she’ll help students who are pursuing degrees in Criminal Justice, Paralegal Studies, and Legal Studies in Business to plan for academic success and take advantage of the many resources Peirce has to offer. We had a chance to sit down with Jordan to discuss her role, thoughts on preparing students for today’s workforce, and advice for helping students achieve success at Peirce.   
Can you tell us about your background and why you came to Peirce?
My background is equal parts community outreach and academic advising, mostly within the Philadelphia area.  I earned my Bachelor’s from Temple and moved away from Philadelphia for graduate school.  When I finished my Master’s, I knew I wanted to come back and work with students largely from the Philadelphia area and as I narrowed down my search, Peirce kept popping up.  I took a closer look at the school, realized that its mission fit really well with my own goals and decided to apply for the Legal Studies advisor position.
Jordan Greenwood

Any goals or focus areas for continuing to improve/enhance the Peirce Legal Studies program?
The strong relationship between the Legal Studies faculty and the Advising Center is important and I’m excited for it to continue to develop.  Ed Miller and Bob Brzencheck, in particular, have been instrumental in making this happen.  Future collaborations between the Advising Center and the Legal Studies faculty will really help students to feel more supported and able to succeed at Peirce.

 What do you see as the biggest challenge facing students entering today’s legal field? How do you plan to help students overcome that challenge?
The biggest challenge is staying ahead of new developments in the field – particularly in terms of technology.  Fortunately, there are so many resources for students to take advantage of at Peirce.  The Criminal Justice and Legal Studies in Business programs have been completely revamped so that they better match current skills needed by employers, and the Paralegal Studies program has recently added several new technology-oriented classes.  I’m looking forward to working with students as they chart out their degree plans to help them make the most of these new offerings.  Students are also able to work with Career Services to market these skills in the best way possible towards prospective employers.

What advice would you give a student who isn’t sure if a career in the legal profession is right for them?
Talk to Legal Studies professors!  Talk to Career Services!  The biggest piece of advice I have would be to reach out to the many knowledgeable people they already have access to as Peirce students.  If that goes well, I would recommend taking an introductory course – but the first step is to reach out and start the conversation.

What are some goals students should be setting, academic or otherwise, as they prepare for a career in the legal field?
Organization skills, time management, and professional growth.  These three are pretty interrelated, and they are crucial for success in any field.  A well-developed organizational system that works for you makes managing your time so much easier.  Likewise, both organization skills and time management techniques can help you plan for professional growth and see where it fits in your day-to-day career. 

What advice do you have for busy working adults looking to pursue a degree?
My strongest piece of advice is to be mindful of your commitments.  I love working with students that are excited to come to Peirce and to finish their degrees – but the best way to do that isn’t necessarily to overload on courses every session until you earn your degree.  By being mindful of their commitments, students are able to evaluate the amount of time they can devote to classes each session and focus on succeeding in those courses. 

What are some common pitfalls students should avoid related to academic achievement?
Time management is probably the largest pitfall for students, in terms of academic achievement.  Fortunately, it’s also easy to improve. The Walker Center runs workshops that help students improve study skills and time management techniques, and we’re always happy to help students plan manageable class schedules at the Advising Center.  Once time management skills improve, many other pitfalls – missing classes or assignments, taking on a heavy course load – tend to fade. 

Thanks, Jordan for that insightful interview and welcome to Peirce! Students who have questions about Legal Studies or want to discuss planning out your academic program, can reach Jordan via email.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Former Deputy Director of FBI to Share Insights with Aspiring Legal and Criminal Justice Professionals

Legal students, join us next us next Monday, November 24th at 6:00PM for a special event with Bill Esposito, a 33 year veteran of the FBI. During the event Bill will share his wealth of knowledge accumulated over a long, storied career that culminated in his appointment as Deputy Director of the FBI, the agency’s second highest post.

Esposito has either investigated or overseen many high profile cases including, Jimmy Hoffa, and the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.

Bob Brzencheck,
Assistant Professor for the Criminal Studies Program 
His presentation will include insights on the different nuances it takes to be work for the FBI, his experiences, and how he was able to build his career with the FBI. At the end of his presentation there will be an open forum where Esposito will dive into the nuts and bolts of applying to FBI and the ins and outs of an FBI career.

The event will be held Monday November 24, 2014 from 6:00 – 7:00PM in Room 42.

Students of Legal Studies, including those pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice, Legal Studies in Business, and Paralegal Studies will benefit most from attending. Though front-line agents tend to be the most visible, it’s important to keep in mind that in every branch of criminal justice system there are different subsets and different jobs within those subsets.

During the presentation you’ll learn about some of these positions and how every employee has an important role and mission within the agency. From clerks, to lawyers, to counter-terrorism, there are a number of different players that work in the agency to help and support each other and help sustain the mission of the FBI.

To get the most out of the event there are a few things you can do to prepare. A good start would be to visit the FBI’s website  and check out different departments and missions of the FBI and how they work together to sustain and implement the role and efforts of the FBI.  Another resource to check out is USAJOBS - The Federal Government's Official Jobs Site. Here you can learn about the various federal criminal justice opportunities and check out positions that are available.  Included in these positions are co-ops and internships that will help you get boots on ground experience to compliment your Legal Studies education. Lastly there’s the Office of Personnel Management, the clearinghouse for hiring federal employees.  This will help you to get a sense of what the federal government looks for in employees, the hiring process, and opportunities for career development.

These Legal Studies events bring in real-world practitioners from a variety of careers. They are designed to help educate and prepare the 21st century legal and criminal justice professional. The events serve as another component within your toolbox to help you further advance toward your end goal of achieving a position in criminal justice. We can’t wait to see you there!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Peirce College Welcomes Two New Trustees!

Peirce is excited to welcome Dr. Sharmain Matlock-Turner and Ken Sickles to its Board of Trustees! Their vast experience in the community development and technology fields combined with their leadership in thriving local organizations will add valuable insight as we continue to develop and expand upon our career-focused degree programs.

A pioneering female leader, Matlock-Turner has over 15 years of experience serving the families and communities of Philadelphia. She currently serves as the first female President and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition, where she is dedicated to improving and changing the lives of youth and young
adults, building wealth in low income communities, strengthening the grassroots nonprofit sector, and forging strategic partnerships across communities. As the commencement speaker for Peirce College in 2014 and the recipient of an honorary doctorate, Matlock-Turner has already begun to impart her professional insight onto the students of Peirce College.

Sickles brings 20 years of product management and marketing experience to Peirce College as the current Vice President of Product and Strategy for 1WorldSync. A forward thinking leader with an in-depth understanding of market demands and customer needs, Sickles is successful at developing business strategy and managing the launch of new software-as-a-service products. Sickles is focused on the impact that big data and social, mobile and location-based technology have on business intelligence and commerce.

Their combined experience offers Peirce students an expanded portfolio of professional contacts and new relationships within the workforce. Please join us in welcoming our newest Trustees! 

For more information, read our press release.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Long History of Innovation at Peirce

Thomas May Peirce founded Union Business College in 1865 under the innovative idea that returning Civil War soldiers and others might want a business-focused education. Moreover he had the radical idea for the time that this education should be offered to both men and women. Founded on innovation, Peirce has always looked to the future and embraced technologies that would aid students in the classroom and in their careers.

In the early years, Peirce promoted Spencerian Method penmanship courses to ensure graduates would be best prepared to conduct business in Philadelphia and beyond. A few years later the invention of the typewriter transformed business writing, and Peirce offered classes in typing as early as the 1870’s. In 1884, the school introduced courses in stenography.

Typing Class
Early Accounting Student
Moving into the 20th Century, Peirce was quick to recognize the power of radio. Various Peirce faculty members appeared on WDAR, an early Philadelphia station broadcasting out of the Lit Brothers Building on Market Street. In the 1920s, Peirce hosted a series of radio spelling bees for school children throughout the Philadelphia region, and began hosting regular business-oriented programs, including one called “Philadelphia Leads America.” Back on campus, faculty began recording their lectures on the Ediphone, an example of can be viewed in the Library.

Auto Tutor
Following the Second World War Thomas May Peirce, 3rd became the Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Peirce, and he looked to create innovative yet practical new programs for the school.  By 1960, Peirce offered courses in office automation, and a few years later, computer programming. To accommodate the large computers of the era, the automation and programming courses were held at the WCAU building at 1622 Chestnut Street, now home to the Art Institute. By the 1970s, computers were an integral part of nearly every program. Peirce continued to innovate as the 21st Century approached, launching its first website in 1996,and one of the first fully online programs in the country in 2000. 

Automation Brochure

Office Automation


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Use Informational Interviews as a Tool for Success

Informational interviews are a great way to learn more about your field while also creating a valuable networking opportunity. In some cases, it could even be a precursor for a job interview. An effective informational interview will provide insight into what it’s really like to work in your desired field and help you better understand how what you’re learning in the classroom will one day be applied.

Informational interviews can potentially lead to a mentorship, internship, or job opportunity as potential employers will recognize the initiative taken to learn more about your field.
Since informational interviews typically aren’t advertised, it will probably take a little preparation to find and connect with the right person. However, by doing this you’ll not only secure a valuable meeting, you’ll also improve your networking skills which will be particularly useful when looking for a job.

So how do you convince someone to take time out of their busy schedule for an interview? In many cases, professionals willingly speak with students who express a strong desire to follow their footsteps. They look at it as a way of contributing to the field and helping to prepare the next generation of practitioners.

Below are a few tips to help you secure the interview:

Determine who you should ask for an interview.
This may not be as easy as it seems. Start by making a list of the ideal companies you’d like to work for. Add to the list the positions or job titles you’d most like to learn about.
Once you’ve compiled this list perform a search on LinkedIn. Be sure to use the advance search function that will allow you to search by company, position, keywords, location, and other criteria. LinkedIn’s advance search could also be a valuable tool to discover companies you may not be aware of by searching for keywords and titles while leaving the company field blank.

Send the request
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to the 3-5 top people you’d like to interview, you’re ready to send the request. Sometimes their email may be listed on the company website. If not, a couple of other ways to find an email address could be a simple Google search, connecting with them on LinkedIn and sending them a message (the most effective method), or finding them on Twitter.

When you email them be clear about why you’d like to meet with them and that this interview is for informational purposes only. Perhaps tell them a little about yourself, your interest in the field, and why you are reaching out to them specifically. Let them know you understand how busy they are and that you’re only requesting about 20 minutes of their time.

Many people will appreciate the fact that you’ve reached out them (they’ll probably even be a little flattered). Most professionals enjoy helping others who are eager to enter and advance in their same field.

If they don’t’ respond to the first email, wait about a week and follow up again. It may take 2-3 different attempts or you may have to reach out to 2-3 different people before securing one, but the benefits are well worth the effort.

Great, I’ve landed the interview. Now what?
You’ll want to prepare before you go to the interview. Research the company, their position, and identify what specifically you want to know. Since you’ll most likely have less than 30 minutes with them, you’ll want to make every question count.

In addition to the “how did you get started” and “how did you end up in your position” questions, here are a few ideas you may want to consider:
  • What specifically do you do? What are your job duties and responsibilities?
  • How do you see your industry changing over the next five years?
  • What are the different types of jobs available in the field?
  • What are the growth opportunities for professionals in the field?
  • What’s your favorite thing about working in this field? Most rewarding?
  • What skills or personal characteristics are best suited for the industry?
  • What is the most important thing that someone planning to enter this career should know?
  • What other departments or job titles do you regularly work with?
  • Can you tell me about an interesting project you’ve worked on?
  • Are you a member of any professional organizations? Are there any you would suggest?
  • My current career is ________________________.  Any advice for transitioning from that career to your career?
  • What do you wish you'd known before you entered this field?
  • How can I best prepare to be successful in this career, both in the classroom and outside of it?
After the interview thank them for their time. Send a follow up thank you letter and if you’re comfortable that the interview was a success, ask them to keep you in mind for any internships or job openings that they think you’d be a good fit for.

If you’d like to learn more about preparing for success in your field, email or call Career Development Services , or stop by our office on the 6th floor of College Hall! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Degrees and Salaries: The Cost of Not Going to College

We’re all aware that the higher degree you earn, the more income you’ll make over a lifetime. A recent infographic by Pennsylvania HigherEducation Assistance Agency (PHEAA) brings this point home by visualizing the differences.

While the contrasts in salary are clear when looking at it from an annual perspective, the gap is magnified if you consider what these numbers mean over a lifetime. For example, a high school graduate will earn $976, 550 over a 30 year career span. Compare that with an associate’s degree and the earnings jump to $1,196,520, and for those who go on to compete their bachelor’s degree the lifetime salary jumps to $1,619,280.

But annual salary isn’t the only financial benefit for getting a college degree. College graduates are much more likely to be employed throughout their lifetimes. This is particularly true during slow economic periods and recessions. From 2007 – 2011 during the Great Recession, the highest unemployment rate for high school graduates stood at 11% while the unemployment rate for college graduates was half of that at 5.5 percent. As of September 2014, the unemployment rate for college graduates had dropped to 2.9 percent.

Here’s the infographic from PHEAA. What are your thoughts on the connection between college degrees and salary?

*Click here to enlarge.