An Early IT Allure
For Bentley Clarke, the decision to pursue an education in computer science and IT was a no-brainer. There was something about technology that had always intrigued him.
“Ever since I was a kid, I had an interest in computers,” Clarke says. “I was always fiddling with them, taking computers apart and putting them back together again.”
His parents saw the spark of interest, too, and figured why wait to start their son thinking about college and a career path?
“By my junior year in high school, I was considering college and what I wanted to study,” Clarke says. “I earned my A+ certification and started taking a lot of PSEO [Post-Secondary Education Option] courses so I could get my general requirements for college out of the way early.”
Not only did Clarke jump into completing a number of PSEO courses, but he also began scouring the Internet, looking for Minnesota colleges and universities with IT programs that appealed to him. That’s how he found the Information Technology Infrastructure (ITI) program at the College of Continuing Education. He liked the industry-driven, no-nonsense structure of the program and wanted to learn more about it. So, Clarke set up an appointment with Anthony “Tony” Scott, an ITI adviser, and went to the meeting with his mother.
“We talked about my goals and the format of the ITI program and made sure that all my PSEO credits would transfer over to the U of M,” Clarke remembers. “Tony was really helpful in answering our questions.”
After that, Clarke’s decision was made: He set his sights on the ITI program. It was a choice that his parents approved of because of the business and management course requirements in addition to the applied studies. Their son would be making a smart move as an undergraduate entering a competitive field upon graduation.
An ITI Experience
As an ITI major with a computer science minor, Clarke immersed himself in the subject that had always fascinated him. He is now poised to graduate in the spring of 2017, having completed his major and minor in just three years.
“I really grew to like my schedule in the ITI program,” Clarke says. “All my classes were at night, which allowed me to have time during the day to focus on other coursework and to review lecture material before my ITI evening courses.”
He also enjoyed the fact that all of his instructors in the ITI program were adjunct faculty who were working in the IT industry and had real-world examples to illustrate what they were teaching. “It made the material easier to understand,” Clarke says.
In his Storage Administration course, for example, he found his instructor’s examples so interesting that he started recommending the class to all of his computer science friends. “Learning about other mediums of storage was fascinating,” Clarke says. “And the instructor had so many stories to tell about real-world storage issues.”
The course that really blew Clarke’s mind, though, was Network Administration. The subject matter opened up a world within ITI that Clarke could see himself pursuing as a career.
“I realized that I’d enjoy being a networking engineer. I started exploring job opportunities,” Clarke says.
Though he has not yet graduated, Clarke has already interviewed for and been offered two networking jobs. For both offers, the employers are willing to wait for him to finish his degree before starting.
“One of the companies I interviewed with was fascinated by the ITI program and hadn’t heard of it before,” Clarke remembers. “He said the program taught exactly the kind of work that his company did. I was able to answer every question asked in those interviews and offer examples, too, based solely on my ITI coursework.”
Clarke now stands on the edge of his college education, preparing to leap into the next challenge: putting his degree to work. He’s ready.
Bentley Clarke is the recipient of multiple scholarships, including the CCE Tuition Assistance Program Award. Of the scholarship, he says, “It was a wonderful blessing.”