Collins was hired as the campus information technician at Tennessee Wesleyan College a month before obtaining his degree crediting this to his experience with Cleveland State’s cooperative education and computer information technology programs.
Cleveland State’s cooperative education program gives students the chance for hands-on training in their career field, offering them the opportunity to earn college credit while working or volunteering. While involved in CSCC’s cooperative education program, students will learn about proactive interviewing, create an effective resume and develop a personalized job search strategy.
“After high school, I obtained an associate’s degree from a North Carolina community college, majoring in automotives technology. Subsequently, I spent four and a half years working in a service department at a dealership in North Carolina,” stated Collins.
“I got laid off from that job and at the time, I decided to pursue a different field and go back to school to get a different degree. Fortunately, part of the requirements for my degree at CSCC was to get involved in the co-op class with Susan Webb-Curtis (director of Cooperative Education and Service-Learning). Even if it weren’t required to fulfill the requirements of the degree, I would definitely have taken this class and still pursued the co-op program because it was such a help in so many ways in preparing for future employment and with interview skills.”
During his time at CSCC, Collins worked in the computer repair lab on campus under the leadership of Bob Uhl, associate professor, and worked as the assistant manager his second year. His responsibilities included maintaining the students’ schedules and managing the workflow system.
“Working with Bob helped me tremendously. It gave me a little bit of background to learn more about real world situations and time management skills before actually having to enter the workforce. In addition to that, it helped with the ability to see technical situations in a controlled environment.
“Words cannot express the gratitude that I have for the opportunity to have been a part of Bob Uhl’s classes and to have had the experience of working with him during my second year as his work study and computer repair shop supervisor. In his teachings, Bob is excellent in tying his extensive background in the field of Information Technology into the curriculum in a practical and concise manner,” he said.
Uhl stated, “Mr. Collins is a perfect example of what students in the computer information technology program can achieve when they apply themselves. There are several other success stories of students that have excelled in their careers around the Tennessee Valley just like Mr. Collins. The hard work these students put into their training is very appreciated by their prospective employers and really pays off for each graduate.”
Collins also took advantage of the resume and interview workshops while enrolled as a student at Cleveland State.
“It was a great help to see examples of completed resumes, what they look like—basically the language that a proper resume should be written in. I will forever be grateful for Susan’s help and guidance throughout the co-op process. She assisted me in creating my own resume and even helped me proofread it one final time before I submitted it to the college to apply for this job. She basically assisted me with every aspect of resume writing. The combination of her attention to detail right down to creating the course notes and documentation proved to be a very welcome asset to someone like myself that had been in a single career and at the same job for a number of years. The resume and interviewing workshops also proved to be a great help to prepare for the eventuality of preparing a new resume and participating in job interviews.”
As the campus information technician at TWC, Collins’ job is to ensure that faculty and staff computers are being maintained correctly. He also performs various Help Desk functions for students that have problems logging into their email or their education management systems.
Traci Williams, TWC Assistant vice president of institutional research and retention, said, “We have many transfer students that come to us from Cleveland State and they are so successful that I knew when we were looking for a position in I.T. that those students would be just as successful here, not necessarily as students, but also as employees. Patrick has really fit in so well. He had a good base knowledge in I.T. and has really hit the ground running. We are happy to have him here.”
Collins went on to state, “I can’t say enough about the assistance that was given to me by both Susan Webb-Curtis and Bob Uhl in obtaining my degree and my career. I had a great experience in the I.T. program—all of my professors—Bob, Megen (Dr. Megen Saez) they all helped to prepare me for this. I could not have asked for a better experience. I had the job at TWC one month before I even graduated from CSCC. I feel very fortunate to have both TWC and CSCC in my life experience.”
Webb-Curtis said, “Patrick Collins was one of those students who took full advantage of the resources available to him at the college. He attended career workshops, participated in co-op to gain hands-on experience in his new career field, took the time to get to know his professors well, excelled in his college courses, and followed the job search advice we provided.
“Patrick was a bright, enthusiastic and committed student, and we know that TWC has gained an outstanding employee. We have many other students like Patrick who are looking for co-op experiences and will be wonderful employees. We are always looking for employers who would like to provide a co-op placement for our students and we are always here to help students looking for hands-on field experience as well.”