From cashiering to coding: One student’s journey to a career in Computer Science

Alex Riester came to Ivy Tech in 2019 to study Computer Science, not realizing the impact the College was going to have on his life and career.

“When I first enrolled as a student, I was working as a cashier and had no coding or programming experience at all,” he explained. “I did not know the difference between Java and JavaScript.”

Two years later, Alex is finishing his Associate of Science – scheduled to graduate this May. In addition to his studies, Alex is participating in two internships; one with the CCEC’s Launch Lab in the North Meridian Center and the other as a CRM intern with the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Before his internships, Alex was a student ambassador, which is how he first learned about the Launch Lab opportunity.

“I first met Alex when he was an intern for the Admissions office,” said Drew Carey, School of Information Technology Career Coach. “He would work at the front reception desk in NMC, and we’d chat briefly whenever he was working. One day he was leading a tour of prospective students and parents, and I saw him standing outside the Launch Lab and invited them in to see it up close. It was then that I learned Alex was an IT student majoring in computer science!”

The Launch Lab had an open Federal Work Study internship at the time and Drew encouraged him to apply. As a result, he was offered the job in August 2021, and the team has been impressed with his skills, especially ensuring lab technology is working appropriately to meet the needs of students.

“The lab would not be as technologically advanced as it is today without his knowledge and innovation,” said Tailor Fields, career experience specialist. “While technical skills were a huge part of his learning goals for his FWS experience, he has also been supportive of School of IT resume reviews, HireIvy data gathering and tracking, providing technical support for workshops, and showing exceptional customer service to anyone who comes into the lab seeking assistance, even if it falls outside of his job duties. He’s got a bright future ahead!”

In November 2021, Alex attended the School of IT’s Career Fair, which is where he learned about the opportunity to intern with the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Upon submitting an application and having an interview, he landed the internship! He puts that same work ethic into his additional role with the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, supporting the rollout and effective use of its new CRM (customer relationship management) software, collecting data on needs and contributing best practice implementation.

Upon graduating from Ivy Tech this May, Alex will transfer to IUPUI to continue toward a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. While still defining his career goals, his internship opportunities have allowed him to learn what areas he is interested in, including software development and implementation, data analytics and coding.

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