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Monday, November 19, 2012

If It's All About Who You Know, Then You Need to Know Someone

 

It was my first night of class when the idea popped into my head that MATC needs a mentor program. Although, I think mentor might be the wrong word for it, students need to have a connection with someone who is a successful member of the workforce. This connection would be someone who is currently working in the field that the student is pursuing a degree in.

The idea came to me because I was thinking about how as an educator part of my job was teaching students "the rules" of  how to act so they would be able to do well in the world. These rules were ones that they were not taught at home or in their community. I always value it when people teach me the rules because they aren't always so obvious.

Students here need someone to tell them what's important, not important, and what else you need to know beyond your coursework. I luckily have someone who is guiding me behind the scenes.  I am lucky enough to have a parent of two former students who works in the software development field. I often have many questions about programing because it is brand new to me.  The other night for example I was wondering how do I extend my skills in Java after my class ends, do the certifications from Oracle really matter,  and how do I get an internship. He answered all those questions for me with one email.  Connections also give you that information about things you don't even know to ask about. For example, a few months ago I was telling him what classes I was taking in the fall and said I was taking SQL. He said to me, "Don't say SQL, everyone in the field says "Sequel." These details are important to know and may alter a potential employer's view of your professionalism and experience.

Some of the instructors I have had so far fill in the gaps with information about what's important in the real job world. I always love it when they do that because otherwise how would someone with no connections or experience have any idea that that's how it is done.

Furthermore, I plan on sharing the information I am learning from this connection with future blog posts for those of you like me who need that inside information.