Building on a Foundation

Coming into college, I wanted to pursue a career in IT security.  I did not know exactly how it would all play out, but I knew I needed to build a foundation of experience and knowledge. 

With that in mind, I began my freshman year at Pitt looking to get involved in something IT-related and had a sense of what I needed to do to kickstart it. 

I was fortunate enough to discover a student-worker position on campus and decided to go for it.  The official title of the position was IT Associate for the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences.  Essentially, I was what you would call the “break/fix” guy, meaning something would suddenly stop working or break, and I would fix it for that person.  I was fortunate because this was the perfect “foot in the door” into the IT industry.  In terms of career progression this was my starting point. In the industry, this is described as desktop support and is a place where many IT professionals begin their careers.  Being an 18-year-old and obtaining such an opportunity, I would say my career began on the right track.

However, I felt this opportunity on its own would not be enough to advance my career to the next step.  I wanted to come up with a way to further solidify my resume, and so, I turned to industry certifications.  The summer after freshman year, I was able to pick up my first certification, the CompTIA A+.  Getting the first certification helped me in two ways.  First, it reassured me that getting certifications are worth the time and effort you put into them.  Second, it allowed me to make that next step in IT.

Second semester of sophomore year, I interviewed with a company called Range Resources and was offered a position.  I accepted the offer and became an End User Support Associate.  This was a step up in my career, as this position encompassed everything I did at the university and also introduced vital IT fundamentals.  These fundamentals provided me enough of an edge for the next step in my career.

The next step involved sending out numerous applications to companies seeking a cybersecurity internship.  Schneider Downs was one of the companies that responded to my application and scheduled an interview with me.  At the end of January 2021, I accepted an offer made by Schneider Downs and became a Cybersecurity Intern. 

Everything I have done since the time I came into college has been for the betterment of my career in IT.  I have always stressed to myself to keep progressing every year, gain knowledge and hands on experience, and stay on track with my progression.  This mindset is what drew me to Schneider Downs.  The ability to be at one of the region’s top accounting firms, further develop my IT knowledge and gain hands on experience daily, is another important step in my career progression.  This opportunity is one that I am extremely grateful for, as I continue to build on the foundation I began not too long ago.

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