Computer science students prepare for life after graduation

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By Charles H. Featherstone, Columbia Basin Herald

tom willingham

Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald Tom Willingham teaches computer science and job hunting skills at Big Bend Community College.

MOSES LAKE — Tom Willingham came to Big Bend Community College to teach computer science. You know, hardware, software, programming, networking. The stuff of computing.

But Monday night found him in a small classroom inside BBCC’s computer science building talking to a group of students about résumé writing, job interviews and how best to make that 20-second pitch or that 30-second “commercial” for themselves.

In short — how best to sell themselves to potential employers.

“What are those things that best describe you?” Willingham asks his students. “You have to figure that out.”

“I’m going to school,” responds 28-year-old Suzanna Diaz. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can, and I’m looking for work at a data center or something like that.”

Willingham nods his approval. It’s all part of the program.

Officially, that program is a two-year Associate in Applied Science degree that BBCC offers in computer network systems administration. Along with classes in programming and network technologies, and industry certification courses, students have to take English, math, psychology, sociology and public speaking.

These classes help students learn the “soft skills” needed to successfully find and keep jobs after they graduate.

“We give career advice,” said Willingham, an adviser in the program, outside the classroom. “And we start with advice to make sure they’ve chosen the right career.”

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