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What do you do in conjunction with your Academy?

I'm wondering, what (if anything) do you do in conjunction with your Red Hat Academy to help your students, thereby increasing the value of their Red Hat education?

In our case, we have a student club called the Cybersecurity/Linux Users Group (CSLUG). It is open to the public. The Linux part is obvious (well... we do examine distros other than Red Hat). The cybersecurity part is because our school is a Center for Academic Excellence in cybersecurity (CAE2Y).

[What follows is a bit of a brag session -- and rather lengthy. However, these ideas help improve the value of our Red Hat Academy to our students and the community at-large.]

We invite people from industry and government to come speak. We've had people from the FBI, an autonomous vehicle company, banks, construction companies (who have their own NOCs / SOCs), health care providers, managed services providers . . . you name it. They usually present for 30 - 45 minutes on the specifics what they do while tying it to what we teach. In return they get to meet potential recruits. This relationship has helped them, and us.

Afterwards, we have an "after party" at a local sports bar (that has a big patio space). This is a chance for everyone to relax and get to know one another better as people (not "student," "professor," etc...). We're building our human networks. I am happy to say that many (many!) of my students have obtained jobs and internships while at the sports bar. It proves that who you know is as important as what you know.

Once a year (this year it is in April) we have a big blow-out type meeting. This year's theme is: What skill sets do you need to be successful in the industry?  We'll be having hands-on workshops in the early afternoon. This will be followed by a pizza party which will be followed by professionals from industry doing presentations, returning alumni doing one-on-one sessions with attendees, and recruiters ranging from small companies to Fortune 100 ones. We're actually having people from New York City and San Francisco coming to our little ol' community college.

This has led to an interesting phenomenon: I have former students hiring current students. This is happening because the former students know the value of, and have applied, the education they’ve received from our Cisco, cybersecurity, and Red Hat Academies. In fact, we’re into a second “generation” now (I just entered my fourth year as residential faculty at my community college); that is, former Student A hired current Student B, which leads to former Student B hiring current Student C.

Anyway… I hope this is inspiring to someone. I’m always looking for new ideas. If you have something, please share! 😊

Program Lead at Arizona's first Red Hat Academy, est. 2005
Estrella Mountain Community College
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