Education and Internships in IT | EPISODE 2

On episode 2 of the 101 Digital Podcast, Craig spoke with James Yahr, our intern, about his experience with the GPS Internship and what he's learned while working with 101 Digital.




CRAIG: Hey everyone. Welcome back to the 101 Digital Podcast. I’m Craig Meyer, the co-founder and CEO of 101 Digital, and I’ve got James Yahr here today, one of our interns, and we want to talk about the GPS Education Internship program that, you know, essentially brought us together. So, I want to talk about how we got involved with it, how James got involved with it, and then the benefits that101 Digital has seen and also that James has seen from it.

So, we’re going to try to make this kind of versatile and talk about different things in different episodes. But on the first episode, we just wanted to give you a brief introduction to ourselves and the company, the things we’re doing where we’re at, how we got here and just talk about some of the basic stuff. So, I guess without any other further intro, Craig, do you want to give an update of who you are and how you got here?

CRAIG: So, first thing is the way that went 101 Digital heard about it was actually a previous teacher of mine at Naperville Central. So, you know, I went there way before, James did. I graduated back in 2006, but Brett Thompson, he reached out to me actually on LinkedIn and he said that, you know, “Hey, it looks like 101 Digital is doing good things over there. Would you guys be in a position to potentially take on an intern?” And I said, “Absolutely.” Because, you know, obviously I had gone there, definitely want to give back to the community. We’ve done a lot in the community as of recently and really kind of trying to just build that community presence. So, it was something that, again, 100% wanted to be on board with. So, you know, worked with Jeff over at GPS Education to actually get us fully ingrained in the program. Very easy sign-up process and essentially from there, we were kind of on our way.

And then from the benefits side, you know, a lot of it happened really quickly from, James coming on board, being able to be a really good asset almost immediately. But also just, some of the things like even before you came on, that we thought about. Right now, the job market, it’s really been hard to find really good talent. So, we saw that as like a benefit of being able to work with the schools and find young talent. Obviously, we know the Naperville School District and the districts nearby do a really good job. Again, I went through the school district, so I knew about the IT programs. I took the same ones that James took.

They’ve obviously changed over time. But yeah, we really knew that we were going to get someone that was going to be a good addition to the team. So that’s really why we wanted to get into this program. But yeah, James, can you just give us a little background of how you heard about the program and some of the benefits that you’ve got, not only from the program, but, while being here?

JAMES: Yeah, So I’m a senior at Naperville Central High School and last year, my junior year, I had actually taken a couple of the IT courses and programing courses at Naperville Central. And, you know, I really just wanted to improve in the field. I knew that I wanted to go into IT and I knew that I wanted to go into cybersecurity.

And one day I just opened up my email and saw an email about an internship opportunity. And that really piqued my interest. I’m like, you know, what could this be? What can I make out of this? Right? So, I signed up with their little interest form. I put in some personal information and some of the courses I had taken, and then within a week, two weeks, I heard back with a comprehensive process of what I was going to have to do in order to prepare for this whole process and actually applying for internships and eventually interviewing.

So, I think it was a nine or ten step process where I had to make a resumé, I had to submit that resumé, they had to go over the resumé, tell me things to change. They had to check it over. And then, I actually had a mock interview as well where they went through all the possible questions that I might be asked.

It was a lot of general interview questions, but definitely prepared me a lot for especially building up my nerve in order to really do my best in the interview. And then after that, they just sent me a couple of companies that they matched me and that they thought fit me best. And so, I emailed Craig and I said, “Hey, I’m a student here at Naperville Central High School and I really want to interview for your internship position”, got an interview, and I feel like it went pretty well, obviously, since I’m sitting here today.

CRAIG: Yeah and, like you said, I personally think they prepared you very well. I think, you know, obviously a lot of that was also just even before going through that process.

CRAIG: But, yeah as you mentioned, you were nervous during it, but it didn’t really show right? And I think, again, that’s kind of the benefit of going through this type of program. A lot of students, and myself included, I didn’t have anything similar to this. I really wish when I was your age that I could have done something like that, got an earlier start in my career and really knew what I might want to do because, you know, as you’ve been with us, you’ve now been able to touch things like the Sophos firewalls that we use, not only from a physical install perspective, but also, from the software side.

And a lot of people that we see that we’re trying to hire these days that have maybe 2 to 3 years of experience, some even five. They just don’t have that level of hands on. Maybe they don’t have the certifications, those types of things. So, you coming on board, you’ve kind of been able to have a crash course in all of that and also an accelerated path to it, right? So, going off to college now you’re already going to have three steps ahead of everyone because you now have that applied knowledge. You’ve worked at a company that does all of that. So, can you just talk through, really quick, some of the things that you have done here, some of the certifications that you’ve gotten and you know, different things like that?

JAMES: Yeah. So, while I’ve been here, only for a few months now working pretty limited hours with my high school schedule, I’ve done quite a bit. When I look back on it, as you mentioned, I’ve done a couple of the Sophos certifications for firewalls, switches, endpoints, everything that we use from them. And I actually was able to go one day on-site when you installed that and help with that whole process, which was definitely incredibly helpful for just seeing how everything actually works because it’s one thing to just set it up at my desk here. It’s another thing to go into someone else’s office, set it up, let them know, what you did, how it works and everything like that. Another couple of things that I’ve done, I’ve gotten really ingrained in a lot our systems here.

So, our ticketing system, our MDM system, our documentation system are all things that I’ve become incredibly proficient in recently. And I mean, all of these things really just show me the actual world of IT and what it’s like because it’s pretty easy to say, “Oh, I want to go into IT or I want to be this, I want to do that”. But, until you actually live the day-to-day life of doing it and seeing what it’s actually like, you really don’t know for sure. Because I don’t want to commit to going to college for something for four years without really knowing what it’s like and if I’m actually going to enjoy it. And that’s one thing that this process has kind of affirmed for me is that IT/cybersecurity is something that I want to go into, something that I can enjoy and that I can commit the next four years of my life to, to get a college degree, to then improve my career going forward.

CRAIG: Yeah, and I think it’s really exciting that you’ve also been able to put on a couple of different hats of different positions. So, you know, a lot of people may not be familiar with some of the positions within a managed IT organization, but, we’ve got kind of like a Tier 1 technician, Tier 2 technicians, service desk manager, which is essentially facilitating the technician and then working with the customers to make sure things are getting facilitated properly. Project managers and some other positions. And James has already gone through even some of those trainings of like how to become a service manager, how to become a project manager.

And it just gives you now a sense of, what do all these positions look like?

What are some of the skill sets that are going to be needed?

Because again, as you now go off to school, you’ll be able to kind of fine tune that craft and say, “okay, I want to work towards being a service manager, I want to work towards being a CSO right, like there’s all sorts of positions that now you fully kind of have been ingrained in and you can start to figure out which way you want to go. Whereas, again, speaking from my experience, I’d never really had that. Like, I actually thought I was going to go to school for computer science and I didn’t realize that was more development side, right?

So, if I had known these different paths that I could have taken, it would have been very beneficial.

But yeah, I think that’s really what we wanted to talk about today. Give everyone a good sense of what this GPS Education Program has done for 101 Digital, has done for James and why more students and companies should be a part of the program because, it really has been mutually beneficial.

And I think the more companies that get involved, the more students that will be able to get placed. As more students get involved, more companies will be able to have the same benefits that 101 Digital has had. So really appreciate everyone tuning in and we’ll talk to you guys again soon. Thanks.