(WACO) – Four Texas State Technical College in Waco students working as interns at St. Paul’s Episcopal School on Columbus Avenue ensure nothing disrupts their students’ education.
“They are our Information Technology department,” said Head of School M’Lissa Howen. “They keep us going so the kids can learn.”
Technology is a vital part of education today, but if the system goes down, it can bring a halt to education. For the past semester, the interns have worked to guarantee teachers and students at St. Paul’s have the fastest and most secure software and hardware.
“They do everything from installing the new server to moving the computer lab for us and helping us troubleshoot daily problems,” said Deborah Bennett, assistant head of school. “The other day they even caught a security breach and fixed that quickly,”
TSTC and St. Paul’s have worked together for the past five years. The internship is unpaid but provides students an opportunity to earn real world experience.
“It’s amazing for these students to have practical real world training before they graduate. They can learn these skills in lab, but out there, you’ve got the teachers and students relying on you to do your job. It gives them a new sense of priority and urgency,” said John Washington, an associate professor in the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program at TSTC.
Chad Vana, a Cyber Security and Digital Forensics major set to graduate in December, said the internship helped him to grow in his abilities and provided valuable professional experience.
“This is a career change for me and after I lost my left eye, I worried about what I would do but this job doesn’t give me any trouble with depth perception and is something I thoroughly enjoy,” Vana said. “To a student this opportunity is amazing, because it may not pay now but it will in the future.”
The interns work a minimum of 15 hours a week and serve as representatives for the IT department during school board meetings.
“When we have our board meetings and the head of the Technology Committee has questions, it’s great to have the interns serve as representatives because they can answer any questions and provide reassurance.” said Howen.
For many of the interns, it is a career change and an opportunity for hands-on learning in the classroom. Working in a professional environment also sold them on selecting TSTC.
“I already had a degree, but TSTC offers something special that I’m interested in that you don’t see many schools offering,” said Roy Gordon, a CNSA major. “I mean, you get hands-on training, work experience and you’re out in two years.”
As these interns graduate, St. Paul’s will look for more students interested in interning and welcomes students to apply, but they should be prepared to fill big shoes.
“Every student we get from TSTC is amazing, but this group has just raised the bar even higher,” said Howen. “They are passionate and proactive and professional and we have been very blessed.”
For more information about St. Paul’s Episcopal, go to speswaco.org.
For more information about TSTC, go to tstc.edu.