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ICOM Academy Prepares San Diegans for IT Work in a Covid-19 Economy

December 15, 2020

San Diego Continuing Education’s Cisco Learning LabSan Diego residents in search of pandemic resilient jobs can enroll in San Diego Continuing Education’s (SDCE’s) ICOM Academy (Interactive Competency-based Online Micro-credentialing Academy) for essential information technology skills. Noncredit classes are available at no cost, and due to the pandemic are taught fully online.

176,000 workers are unemployed due to COVID-19 impacts in the San Diego region, reported Sandag in October 2020. 

“I was worried like everyone else to lose my job,” said Danielle Nadeau, SDCE student and information technology (IT) manager. “Fortunately, the current climate is reaffirming why we do what we do in the first place. Everyone needs IT support right now.” 

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared the communications and information technology sector part of the essential workforce on March 19, 2020. 

“The technology industry will survive the pandemic and will be here long after a post COVID-19 Economy,” said Carlos Osvaldo Cortez, Ph.D., SDCE President. “For people in immediate need of job security, ICOM Academy is a great place to start.” 

Dr. Osvaldo Cortez created ICOM Academy to reach students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, especially for those who lack resources or support to go to school. Adult students achieve a professional certificate in an online environment.

The San Diego-Imperial Center of Excellence for Labor Market Research identified 27 pandemic-resilient middle-skill occupations—jobs that require more education than high school but less than a four-year degree. Computer Occupations, Computer User Support Specialists, Computer Systems Analysts, and Cybersecurity/Information Security Analysts are named.

Like many San Diego residents who need to upskill, Nadeau looked forward to being inside SDCE’s lab classrooms but adapted to the change. Remote learning provided her unique opportunities, recorded lectures, virtual operating machines, and free computer software. “As an IT student, I have access to (discounts for industry certification exams) and virtual machines. I don't have a Linux machine or Windows Server at home, but I can build and work with a virtual one through the VMware software provided to us as part of the online class,” she said.

SDCE’s ICOM Academy offers face-to-face, live interaction with faculty and other students in a fully online classroom equipped with free network simulation software and textbooks. Among the career education options are Cybersecurity Analyst, Virtual Datacenter, and Programming with Python.

Debora Green, SDCE student and Amazon AssociateSDCE student, Debora Green started a temporary job with Amazon this month while she awaits an employment opportunity in cybersecurity.

Green came to SDCE’s information technology program with a background in law wanting to work for the federal government. In June, Green completed a Cybersecurity Analyst certificate and is currently taking additional courses at SDCE.

For 18 weeks, students earning a Cybersecurity Analyst certificate, learn practical and analytical skills needed to perform threat assessments, vulnerability management analysis, and remediation. “SDCE professors teach you how to work in the federal sector. With government work, we are dealing with sensitive private information and it is our job to protect people,” said Green.

SDCE’s Career and College Transition Centers helped tailor Green’s resume for careers in the federal and private sectors. “The job developers at SDCE know how the IT market is and what the coming years will look like,” she said.

caption Danielle Nadeau, SDCE student and IT ManagerNadeau has been working her way up in the IT field for years, a career industry she did not know was available to her when graduating from Boston University. After completing the Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) certificate, CompTIA N+ and A+ certifications through coursework available in SDCE’s ICOM Academy, she was offered a  contract opportunity through LinkedIn with TekSystems, a computer staffing company.

“SDCE allows you to stand out on your resume with education and specialized certifications. You will learn things in class that you would not learn on the job,” said Nadeau.

Six months into her contract, Nadeau was offered direct employment with Bristol Myers Squibb, a Global Biopharmaceutical Company,  and was hired full time as Systems Manager for Laboratory Operations. Nadeau now leads a team of technicians, “My colleagues have a desire to learn and build certain skill sets that we don’t necessarily have direct experience for here, so I refer them to take classes at SDCE.”

In addition to IT, ICOM Academy offers free certificate programs for business, automotive, child development, and healthcare.

SDCE is enrolling now for the spring semester. Classes begin Monday, February 1, 2021.

Allura Olympia Garis