Stories

Women in IT: Shelly

Women in IT: Cheryl

Alumni in Action: Andrew

MAKING A CONNECTION

“The instructors are really in-tune with the students.” That’s what HTC graduate Andrew Prosser says in describing what he liked about his experience at the college. Completing a degree in computer programming in 2011, Prosser had earned a degree in cabinetmaking from the college in 2005. He enjoyed that work, but when the economy faltered in 2008, he decided to return to the college to prepare for a new career. He was able to benefit from a federal program that paid for his tuition and other education expenses.   

 Andrew Prosser

One week after graduation, Prosser began his career as a software architect at WAND Corporation, which has over 100 employees at its headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. WAND is a global technology leader for the restaurant industry, partnered with the most well-known and world-class brands. With a mission to be the greatest restaurant management and technology partner in the world, WAND offers digital menu board, point of sale, back office, and business intelligence solutions.

“I like the work environment at WAND,” says Prosser, “because your co-workers are more than colleagues – they’re your friends.” Proud of graduating from HTC with 4.0 grade point average, Prosser has continued to strive for excellence. He was named WAND Employee of the Year for 2013.  

“HTC students get hands-on, applicable training, not vague theories,” observes Nate Reimers, corporate recruiter for WAND, who has attended three career fairs at HTC and also posts open positions with the college. “It’s a good foundation for starting a career.” 

Vikram Jairam, vice president of technology at WAND, agrees, adding, “Honestly, I believe that two years of intense training is more relevant than a four-year degree.” He has a direct interest in curriculum and sees a relationship between colleges and small businesses as an important connection -- for students, their future employers, and the college.

For Andrew Prosser, training at HTC has helped set him on a path to a successful career. Making that connection is one of the reasons he’s glad he chose Hennepin Technical College. 

Alumni in Action: Gregg

A NEW DIRECTION

When Gregg Hemken was ready for a career change in 2011, he focused his search on training programs that would make the most of his strengths in technology and computers. That led him to HTC and the information technology program, specifically the network administrator A.A.S. (Associate in Applied Science) degree.

Gregg Hemken

“I started doing some research and found that HTC was very affordable, compared with private, for-profit IT training institutes,” says Hemken, “and the Eden Prairie campus was convenient since I live in Chaska.” He started classes in August 2011, and graduated in May 2013.   His previous career in ministry involved working a lot of evenings and weekends, which was fine, he says, but Hemken knew he was ready for a change. Finding a job after graduation was particularly important.

“I checked out the placement rating for the college’s IT graduates, which was very high,” Hemken explains. “That was good because I didn’t want to invest in training and not be able to find a job.” As it turned out, Hemken got a full-time job in the field after his first year of training, working on the IT help desk at a document management company.  That opportunity provided an advantage beyond a paycheck.

“I got to apply what I was learning,” says Hemken. “There were specific situations that I would run into at work and I could talk about in class.” In Hemken’s estimation, that kind of real-world exposure is what makes HTC’s hands-on approach to training valuable. He liked the fact that his instructors had industry experience.

 “At HTC, you get to learn and see it through the lens of real industry,” emphasizes Hemken, adding that the instructors share new technology developments or, as he says, “the buzz” in the industry.

Working the help desk, Hemken troubleshoots problems clients have in printing and scanning documents. He won the company’s Step Up Award for going above and beyond the call of duty. In fact, he closed 2,300 calls at the company in 2013. As part of his award, Hemken got to spend a three-day weekend at the Minnesota Twins spring training camp in Ft. Myers, Florida.

“The college has instructors with experience in the field, and they take the time to know their students and make sure you have the skills you will need,” says Hemken in summing up what he liked best about his experience at HTC. “Nearly half of the students in the program were like me, changing careers or updating their skills to help them get promoted.”

When he reflects on his decision to try a new career, Gregg Hemken is glad his search for training brought him to Hennepin Technical College