Michael Culbreth, Class of 2015
Associate of Science in Information Sciences and Technology, Integration Focus
Network Engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton, Solomons, Maryland
“In my current role, I patch various network appliance operating systems to maintain the network’s security posture. Having performed patching while working at the Penn State York Help Desk, I felt confident that I could patch the appliances without causing loss of network connectivity.”
Entering the workforce in any industry is easier with practical skills and experience. For Michael Culbreth, working at the Penn State York Help Desk and completing an internship while earning his associate of science degree in Information Sciences and Technology (IST) gave him the hands-on experience he needed to begin his career in network engineering.
“Understanding how networking components interacted with one another to allow traffic to flow between users and network resources was a useful skill while I worked at the campus help desk,” said Culbreth. “I learned what I needed to know through the networking and telecommunications course, then gained practical experience by solving problems at my on-campus job.”
Culbreth continued working at the help desk through June 2016, as he began pursuing his bachelor’s degree in IST, which he completed in 2017. He was able to cover the cost of both degrees through his Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits.
“For my internship, I built a website for a disability advocacy group in Baltimore, Maryland. I used the requirement-gathering and resource-allocation skills that I developed in my system analysis and web design courses to complete the internship,” Culbreth said.
In addition to internship and student employment opportunities, Culbreth took advantage of the Graham Fellows Program for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which reinforced the lessons from his effective speech general education course. The more experiences students can gain before graduation, the easier it is to connect information from their course work to real-world applications.
“I used the communication skills I learned in class to develop professional relationships with other Graham candidates,” Culbreth explained. “I believe my experience working in a team environment with a broad range of people of different ages, genders, ethnicities, and religions will help me achieve my professional goals for the future.”
Improving soft skills and building a professional network can make a real difference in anyone’s career trajectory. Penn State York provides ample opportunities for classmates to connect during their time in school and stay connected after graduation. Each year, Culbreth is invited to an annual dinner that’s open to all IST and Information Technology (IT) students and alumni.
“I attend the annual IST Dinner held at Heritage Hills. The dinner is an excellent opportunity to connect with classmates, meet students from previous graduating classes, and students that will graduate in the near future,” he explained. “Graduates share their success stories and the hurdles that needed to be cleared to become successful.”
Culbreth encourages all students to work closely with professors to achieve goals throughout their college career.
“Don’t be afraid to approach your professors,” he said. “I found that the professors want you to succeed almost more than you want to succeed yourself.”