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Joining us on this episode is Tomasz Pazdrowski, the Information Technology Professor at Berkeley College.
Berkeley college haS 5 ground campuses in New York and new jersey, IN ADDITION TO an online campus. They are accredited by The Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Lee Doubleday: Hello and welcome to our second episode of our information technology career series on Imagine America Radio, where we focus specifically on information technology careers. Joining us today is Tomasz Pazdrowski, the information technology management professor for Berkeley College. Berkeley College has campuses in Manhattan, New Jersey, and online. For those of you that don’t already know, students have entered Berkeley with the aspirations of career success since 1931. And while the years go by, one thing remains the same: Berkeley College’s unyielding commitment to ensure that students who enter its doors are afforded opportunities to reach their career goals. From the initial class of 50 students in 1931 to the current combined student body of more than 4,000, growth continues at Berkeley College.
Today Berkeley College is convenient and accessible at campuses in New York City and New Jersey. Additionally, Berkeley College Online continues to expand as a popular and flexible alternative to the traditional classroom learning environment. Berkeley College is also accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher EducationToday we’d like to discuss the future of information technology careers. And as a leading provider of education in information technology, we couldn’t think of anybody better to call than Tomasz Pazdrowski, an information technology professor at Berkeley College. Let’s start by telling our listeners what kind of doors an information technology degree can open for you. Tomasz, can you talk about the career paths that are there for IT degree holders?
Tomasz Pazdrowski: Good to see everybody and be able to speak to everybody here. Indeed, in today’s reality and in today’s—well, economy, so to speak—IT is present everywhere. With e-commerce, every company that can walk into and start working for, one way or another, has some kind of information system employed and used. So having said that, pretty much it’s hard to find any area of economic activity or business activity where IT wouldn’t be applicable. So, it’s everywhere. Specifically, when you look into statistics, career in IT is quite promising. But it requires, of course, preparation and some level of education—some level of credentials that you need to present, and so on. Yeah. So having said that, I’m looking at some of the most popular, most common careers. And on the one hand, you can have computer programmers or software developers.. Also, you can expect some employment opportunities in careers such as web development—or web page development—database management, design, and stuff like that. All of those are quite common and available all across the board.
Lee: Right, yeah. So safe to say that pretty much any business in today’s economy is in some way, shape, or form touching information technology.
Tomasz: By all means.
Lee: All right. So now that we have a better understanding of what someone in IT does, can you briefly explain the career opportunity for IT professionals?
Tomasz: Well, again, statistics comes in—and they don’t lie, do they? [laughter] So just looking at the numbers that the BLS provides or has provided, the increase in employment opportunities between the years of 2020 and 2030—that is, into the future—they expect it to increase this 13%.
Tomasz: So, it’s a staggering increase. Therefore, we may say that the demand for people with credentials in IT might be hard to actually fill. That’s where we come in to, well, produce those graduates that will be able to actually apply for jobs and be successful at it.
Lee: Yeah. This country is lucky to have colleges like Berkeley College that can to enter the high-demand career fields like we’re talking about. Tomasz: Hard to believe.
Lee: Yeah. Well, I have a three-parted question for you, and this kind of touches on what we just talked about. But with this being such an in-demand field, should someone go to school to learn the necessary skills to enter this field? And what would you say to someone who maybe says they could just enter IT fields through a quick bootcamp or Udemy courses—why should they go through a more formal education like Berkeley College?
Tomasz: That’s a very good question, and the question about formal education pops up once in a while here and there people are asking, “Should we go to this college and go through the trouble and structure and everything?” I would say that all kinds of educations—all paths in education—are as good as the next one, or as valid as next one. It’s just that in the real world, potential employers or actual employers are looking for some tangible evidence that qualifications are there, right? And the school certificates or school diplomas are the ones that, well, nobody actually came up with anything better than that.
Lee: Yeah, right. Yeah, you know, the other thing I would say—and especially in the IT field—is that things are changing so fast. I think you really need to lean on the experience of a formal teacher to be able to kind of help guide you through what’s going to be a career path. I mean, it’s a really fast-growing career path—very rewarding, but difficult. And the other thing that I would mention is accreditation, right? I mean, you want to make sure you’re getting a diploma or an associate’s from an accredited institution. And sure, it’s nice to have the Udemy certificate on your LinkedIn profile, but there’s a big difference between that and a real accredited program like Berkeley College.
Tomasz: That’s very big point. Again, as I said before, all kinds of education are good and welcome. So, they should be practiced, but accreditation is a huge thing. Credentials that graduates receive—they need to be confident that they weigh something in the real world, and accreditation is that weight that makes a difference. All other kind of institutions or courses, or crash courses that people can go to, will do all the good. And they are, as you said, they’re good to be put on the resume. But again, they will not ever replace accredited credentials.
Lee: Yeah, I agree. I agree. Okay, now let’s talk about the length of program. How long is a typical IT program? And maybe you can speak to Berkeley College in particular.
Tomasz: So, we have to—generally speaking, in every line of education, we have two levels. I mean, three levels, actually, but two are all across the board: associate’s degree and the bachelor’s degree. Associates, I believe, can be obtained in about a year and a half, and bachelors can be obtained in less than three years. I might be off here in one way or another here or there.
Lee: Yeah, and I would say if this is something you know you want to get into—information technology—then why bother spending more time to enter the workforce? And you know what? The real world doesn’t take vacation time like colleges do either, so—
Tomasz: Some students actually go to school to extend their time off in life, right?
Lee: Right. Not the Berkeley College students.
Tomasz: No. No. We are designed for conscientious students and young people, and even older people. We have a significant amount of students that come back to college, or actually maybe come to college first place, at the mature years of their lives. And they really appreciate whatever they can get from us, and especially that the pace in which we work with students.
Lee: Right, right. Yeah. And especially now, it’s even more important what you guys are doing. And I commend Berkeley College because it’s so important that we have institutions like Berkeley College that can train individuals to enter in-demand career fields in this country desperately needs. So, I just really appreciate all of your efforts there at Berkeley College. Now let’s say I’m a student and I’m interested in an IT program. What are a few things that I should be looking for? Because it seems to me that it’s important—and we talked about this a little already—that the school is accredited. But what else should I be looking for? Is it flexible hours, teacher experience? We kind of touched on that a little bit. And then the biggest thing, in my opinion, would be relationships with employers. Can you give me sort of a checklist on some things that, if I’m listening to this podcast episode and I think, “Hey, this is something I’m going to pursue.” What should I be looking for in an IT program?
Tomasz: I think you just made a checklist—flexible hour, teachers’ experience, relationship with employers—all of those things. I would say small classrooms. That’s one thing that would allow our students to be in better direct contact with the instructor or with the professor. That’s important. I mean, me being student 5,000 years ago, that’s what I actually found missing in my educational experience that my professor was too distant from me. In our situation, our students are really at the hand reach and the other way around. We professors are very accessible to them. So that’s important. Also, another thing that I think we are known for is our relationship with employers
Lee: Yeah, that kind of leads into my next question, which is, we deal with high school counselors and parents all the time through our scholarship programs. And some of these individuals may be looking for ways to guide their students or family members into a career that’s the right fit for them. So, what would you say are two to three personality traits that make a great IT student that might help identify people that are great for this career choice?
Tomasz: Yeah, that’s an excellent question. What kind of personal qualities make successful graduates and successful people in the future? I would say in IT, you need to be curious. That’s one thing. You need to actually strive to find out, to learn new things. Also, I think in IT, typical IT person is a—I mean, a successful IT person is the one that is not shy against challenges. So, I think people like to be challenged who want to be challenged, and they want to overcome challenges. Of course, just obvious things such as ability and willingness to learn and ability and willingness to work hard and all of those things—but I think those extraordinary traits such as curiosity and welcoming of challenges, those are things that’s setting those people apart.
Lee: Right. Yeah. You have to be curious enough to want to solve the problem and then adapt and be able to overcome the challenges that come your way in order to solve the problem.
Tomasz: And when the problem occurs, you don’t throw your hands up. [laughter]
Lee: That’s right. Yeah.
Tomasz: Because problems will occur all the time.
Lee: That’s right. That’s right. I mean, people, a lot of times they call IT because there’s a problem.
Tomasz: There you go. There you go. We love those calls. [laughter]
Lee: All right. Well, hey, we couldn’t think of anybody better to join us today than Tomasz Pazdrowski. Thank you very much for joining us today. We had a great episode with Berkeley College talking about the future of IT careers and what makes a great IT student, the typical career program—or the careers that students enter after graduation, and what to look for in an IT program. Thank you very much, Tomasz, for joining us today.
Tomasz: Thank you for listening. My pleasure.