ATETV Episode 37: Careers in Telecom and Biotech are Booming

This week, we hear from employers and educators in two of today’s fastest growing industries — Biotechnology and Telecommunications — and learn how they are working together to prepare students to emerge as tomorrow’s technicians.

In our first segment, we head to San Diego, a hub of the country’s Biotech industry, where Southwestern Community College is working hand-in-hand with area Biotechnology companies to design the curriculum and develop the classroom skills that will enable students to launch Biotech careers as soon as they graduate.

“We have over 500 Biotechnology companies here in San Diego, and all are in need of entry level technicians,” explains Southwestern’s Nouna Bakhiet, PhD. She adds that when the school’s Biotechnology program was first created in 1999, Southwestern reached out to industry to learn about its specific needs, which enabled them to carefully design the program’s course content. Over the years,industry has come in to co-teach some of the program’s Biotech courses, providing students with firsthand instruction in specific applications. The end result: Students emerge from the program armed with experience and ready to go — many of them actually become managers within only two years of their hire.

In our second segment, we hear about another program that is also preparing students to hit the ground running — this time in the rapidly growing and changing field of Telecommunications. “[Today's Telecom industry] encompasses many things,” explains Andrew Maynard of Springfield Technical Community College. “It encompasses networking, it encompasses computer programming, [it encompasses] web programming.” In fact, the Telecom world today is actually a convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunications, as the use of voice and data are becoming one.

And, as Springfield student Steven Worthing tells us, the school’s relationship with the Telecom industry has provided him with the hands-on experience that is critical for success in such a rapidly changing industry. “I studied a broad course in Computer System Engineering Technology,” explains Steven. But he says that his experience working as a part-time computer telephone technician repairing telephone lines for CRA has really given him the edge when it comes to mastering the skills needed for the field.

“CRA is a nine-year old company, serving the small- and mid-sized business, helping them to successfully navigate working with the telephone companies,” explains CRA’s Laura Bernstein. “We find that [this type of Telecom training] is rare, so we reached out to Springfield Technical Community College to find students that seem to have the predisposition to be good [at this field] and the students seem to be very excited about the opportunity.”

It’s a good match all the way around notes Springfield’s Andrew Maynard. “It’s really nice [for our students] as they’re out there competing for jobs. Not only do they have a degree, but they can demonstrate that they went the extra distance and gained experience, which really shows a certain level of commitment…and understanding of the subject matter. It’s helped many of our students gain employment.”

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