IST’s Corporate Associates mentor, empower future tech leaders

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Many college students have a support network of family and friends to help them work toward their career goals. But in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), students are able to tap into another powerful resource — some of the most prestigious and powerful companies in the world.

The Corporate Associates Program allows students in the College of IST to connect and learn from companies such as Deloitte, PPG, PwC, and the National Security Agency, and benefit from these organizations’ extensive networks of technology expertise. These connections often lead to internship and career opportunities for IST students.

The program, facilitated by IST’s Office of Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement, helps students in the college prepare for — and maximize — their careers. The associates, a total of 15 companies and government agencies, are eager to provide IST students with the tools and resources they need to succeed in the global marketplace.

Nicklaus Giacobe, research associate and lecturer in IST, knows that consistent networking opportunities and corporate engagement in the classroom makes for a well-rounded experience for students. In return, by mentoring students through enrichment seminars and workshops, the associates also have recruitment access to IST students when they are pursuing their post-graduation career plans.

“This year, I helped connect the chief security officer (CSO) from a global corporation with students in an SRA [Security and Risk Analysis] class,” Giacobe said. In the class, the CSO detailed the day-to-day security operations of his corporation, weaving the lessons the students were learning into real-world applications. “While he certainly made a pitch to invite students to their info session for recruiting, the class content was all about the security issues that [his business] deals with on a daily basis,” Giacobe said.

Giacobe also facilitated a meeting this year between General Electric and students in the Competitive Cyber Security Organization (CCSO), which focused on high-level technical content that students could utilize for future cyber competitions. The presentation also included reverse engineering and cyber forensics training that many of the students had never experienced before, explained Giacobe.

These specialized workshops are just one of the many advantages of the Corporate Associates Program for IST students, explained Brianne Lippert, assistant director for IST’s Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement.

“Corporate associates invest in students beyond their basic educational needs. They provide opportunities for field trips to their facilities, offer professional development activities on and off campus, and fund internship opportunities at no additional cost to students,” Lippert said. “In exchange, these companies get to interact with our students in a more meaningful way, building a positive reputation within the student body at career fairs and in seminars and training events.”

Lippert said that corporate associates see value in the program and are motivated to engage with IST students more than a typical company. “Our students have a good understanding of technology skills, but also have soft skills, like leadership and project management, communication, and teamwork,” she said. “They can do the really tech-heavy jobs, and then they can present that to the client. Corporate associates often remark that this combination is something they don’t often find in other programs.”

Rita Griffith, assistant director of Student Professional Development for Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement, organizes two career fairs every year for the College of IST that are attended by the Corporate Associate Program: Pro Expo in the fall and Future Forum in the spring. For these fairs, Griffith said, corporate associates receive complimentary tables with premier locations that put them front and center with the students who attend.

“Because they hire so many of our students, there’s a large population of IST alumni at many of these companies,” said Griffith, who said that corporate associates want to come back as alumni to recruit, connect with and mentor students so they can continue to deepen their connection to IST and build upon that network.

“We’re proud to be able to provide enrichment opportunities for students and fund it through these corporate partners who care so deeply about IST and our students,” said Lippert. “We’re educating the next generation of leaders for the 21st century.”

The complete list of Corporate Associate Program sponsors can be found at https://ist.psu.edu/students/careers.

Last Updated June 16, 2017