IST student helping to impact technology on Capitol Hill as congressional intern

Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of profiles on College of IST students and alumni who are utilizing the skills and knowledge they developed at Penn State to make an impact in a variety of industries.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — While the first modern technology careers focused mainly on developing and maintaining computer systems, they are now expanding and reaching beyond these more simple origins. Nicole Generose sets out to prove that each day as an intern for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

"I think it was great to see a different side of what I can do with my degree,” said Generose, a senior majoring in security and risk analysis in the College of Information Sciences and Technology. “It seems like a lot of my peers work in consulting, which is super cool. But for me it was great to see how IST can apply to other industries.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and technology-related careers have a projected 13 percent increase in the coming years, higher than any other occupation. This expected growth in the field and the flexibility of her degree excite Generose because she knows that times are changing when it comes to tech careers.

"IST is diverse in numerous ways," said Generose. "You don't have to sit in a closet and code all day if you don't want to. Practically every industry needs IT in some way, shape or form."

She has spent the past two summers working in Allentown and Washington, D.C., gaining valuable work and professional-development experience.

One area that Generose has regularly experienced through her internships is working with people from different backgrounds. While the tech field isn't as demographically diverse as it should be, she explained how input from people with a variety of backgrounds has led to new ideas and better production.

"I think I've learned a lot about working with other people. There are a variety of students from different schools all around the world, and being able to collaborate with them is amazing," said Generose. "It was also really cool to apply things I've learned in class.”

The College of IST prepares students with hands-on training so that they excel in their internships and, ultimately, their careers. Much of the curriculum has a foundation of teaching in a real-world setting, so the transition for students from the classroom to their workplace is seamless.

For Generose, this meant learning the fundamentals of security and risk analysis, such as how to thwart online threats to protect data assets, and learning key skills like writing and communicating for nontechnical audiences.

Both of these, she said, have been among the top skills she has gained as a student in the College of IST.                                           



"I think that all of the concise writing practice in my classes has been conducive to my learning," said Generose. "A lot of things I learned in my SRA classes that detailed cyber and national security gave me that background knowledge to be able to go into briefings.”

On a day-to-day basis in her internship, Generose attends crucial briefings held on Capitol Hill where information is communicated to policymakers. Generose explained that exposure to these briefings — including one with representatives from NASA — is one of the “coolest” aspects of working in Casey’s office because it combines her interests in technology and political science.

"In a way I think it is just as technical doing database work for congressmen to use, but this internship is more policy and law heavy," said Generose.

Last summer, Generose worked in Allentown to maintain and work on software and databases for congressional representatives. However, this summer on Capitol Hill, Generose said she is “deeper in the action” because Washington, D.C., is increasingly driven by information technologies.

In addition to the IST-related responsibilities at her internship, Generose also helped to write policies for Casey's office. She credits her education with sharpening and growing her networking and communication skills, which allowed her to write her own policy and present it to her legislative directors.

For students seeking internships in a variety of industries, Generose advises utilizing the resources that Penn State and the College of IST have to offer, including the Office of Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement in the college

"It's also important to identify other passions that you have,” she said. “Right now, cybersecurity and computer technical skills are needed, so if you like fashion or even health care, you can easily combine it with a technology-related job."

Last Updated August 13, 2018