Every year the NTID Center on Employment gives awards to employers who have a sustained record of hiring RIT/NTID students for co-ops and permanent jobs. This year’s winners were Solar Turbines and OhioHealth.
Representatives from more than 40 local and national corporations, federal agencies and nonprofit organizations will meet with hundreds of deaf and hard-of-hearing students—who are also prospective employees—at the 16th annual job fair, 12:30–4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The event will be held in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall on the RIT campus.
“Employers will have the opportunity to recruit talented deaf and hard-of-hearing students in associate and bachelor’s degree programs such as business, finance, graphic design, engineering, computing and more,” said John Macko, director of NTID’s Center on Employment.
Interpreters will be available at each table, and in many cases, the company recruiters are NTID alumni. Companies include Aetna, Baxter Health Care, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Dow Chemical Co., Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Harris Corp., Internal Revenue Service, The Learning Center for the Deaf, Lockheed Martin, and the U.S. Department of Defense, among others.
NTID’s Center on Employment will also recognize companies who consistently hire deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. This year’s honorees are Solar Turbines based in San Diego, and Ohio Health Corporation based in Columbus, Ohio.
“Employers continue to want highly qualified employees who bring the necessary skills and who will fit into the company culture and contribute to the company’s success,” said Macko. “Our students are well trained and can hit the ground running at companies right here in Rochester and all over the country.”
There are a few openings available for employers who want to participate. For more information, email Mary Ellen Tait or call 585-475-6426.
Benjamin Polstra from Noblesville, Indiana, completed a summer co-op at GEICO in Chevy Chase, Maryland, that turned into a fulltime job. Polstra, who will graduate in sping 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in information technology, worked as a GEICO summer intern.
Polstra was responsible for a significant information technology (IT) business project—bigger than any project he had ever worked on before, and to complete it, he had to learn different tools and concepts along the way. He used his information technology skills on individual assignments and team projects, attended meetings and gave presentations. He was able to reach out to and receive mentoring from team members and members of the IT management team. By the end of the summer, Polstra felt he had become a better developer with the increased confidence that came from handling a project of that size. He also learned how an insurance company runs and how they practice customer service.
He says that taking courses that taught the fundamental and advanced level of object-oriented programming, such as Java or C#, was valuable. The courses he took that teach client and server programming were necessary as well. The software design, principles and patterns, organizational behavior and apps development practices courses all were greatly helpful in his summer responsibilities, and taking on a leadership role gave him valuable experience in how to work with a team. He also learned that no matter where you work, asking a lot of questions is a must-have skill.
Polstra believes his degree will open doors to many opportunities. The coursework associated with it has prepared the fundamental bedrock, which he can use to demonstrate his knowledge of the IT field, and to work confidently with new concepts and ideas. He says that GEICO is the manifestation of how he’s been preparing himself; it has been changing, abandoning old traditions and embracing new ideas. The company has expanded its IT department rapidly to enable their growth spurt. That’s how he sees himself—growing rapidly to become not only a better IT person, but a more accomplished software developer.
Polstra offers the following advice for other students. “Don’t just work hard; play with what you like to do. If you are majoring in photography, play around with a camera.If computer science is your major, play around with a computer. Share with your friends and find mentors who can help you grow. You shouldn’t be discouraged by a challenge. Just try hard, and when you are successful, you will end up enjoying your success a lot more. Don’t think about grades so much because you will already excel at what you do, if you enjoy whatever you are doing.”
On co-op at Annex Business Media in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, Curtis Martin applied his design and imaging technology training and enjoyed a number of new experiences that helped him build a professional portfolio to share with potential employers. More
Benjamin Polstra, an information technology major from Noblesville, Indiana, spent the summer on co-op at GEICO in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He used his information technology skills to work on business projects and other assignments, both individually and as a part of a team, and was pleased to discover that he and GEICO have something in common—both are interested in casting aside old traditions and embracing new ideas. He was offered and has accepted a full-time job at GEICO and will be starting work there as part of their Technology Development Program.
Ruth Carroll from Queens, New York, is a design and imaging technology major working her co-op at VaynerMedia, a social media/digital advertising agency in New York, New York. In her position as a studio intern, she works with the studio production team assisting with video shooting of advertising footage, transcribing dialogue and editing videos with Adobe Premiere.
La Shea Murray from Feasterville, Pennsylvania is a design and imaging technology major working her co-op at RMS Graphics in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. In her position as a graphic design technician intern, she works with the art director to make, modify and produce designs for various commercial printed materials using Adobe software, and assists with putting together custom fulfillment kits.
Marlet Mancera’s co-op experience as a corporate accounting intern at Caterpiller taught her many things among which are that employers value excellence, commitment and teamwork. Her RIT courses helped her develop skills in Microsoft Office, Excel and other software related to her business and accounting interests. She is sure that her business administrations degree and accounting training will guide her to a successful future.
Mary Karol Matchett, of Brighton, N.Y., has been named assistant vice president for student and academic services at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
Matchett will provide direction and oversight for a number of NTID programs and services, including the Counseling and Academic Advising Services Department, Student Life Team, Summer Vestibule Program, First-Year Experiences and Career Exploration Studies programs, NTID Psychological Services and Substance and Alcohol Intervention Services for the Deaf, NTID’s Title IX deputy/liaison, and NTID Financial Services and Student Scholarships.
Matchett will also serve as a member of NTID’s senior leadership group, the NTID Administrative Council, and will report to NTID’s associate vice president for academic affairs. She will be responsible for ensuring that students receive appropriate academic support services through collaboration between faculty and staff across departments. She also will work closely with RIT’s vice president for student affairs to ensure that NTID student needs are represented across the university.
“Mary Karol’s experience as an RIT/NTID student, admissions counselor and parent makes her uniquely qualified to bridge our students’ academic and social success,” said Gerard Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “Her energy, enthusiasm and knowledge of the factors that contribute to the development of well-rounded students will be invaluable in this role.”
Matchett earned a bachelor’s degree in social work at RIT, Master of Social Work degree at Syracuse University and doctorate in executive leadership at St. John Fisher College. She previously served as interim chair of counseling and academic advising services at NTID and prior to that, as special assistant for student success, focusing on RIT/NTID retention efforts.
This article about the growth of Deaf entrepreneurship by W. Scott Atkins, a business studies professor at RIT/NTID and nationally recognized deaf entrepreneurship expert, originally appeared in the Rochester “Democrat & Chronicle” and is reprinted with permission. (Photo credit: A. Sue Weisler, RIT)
Deaf entrepreneurs on the rise, locally, nationally
There is a revolution happening in Rochester and all across the United States. The number of deaf people running their own businesses has grown by leaps and bounds. Technological advances have made it possible for these individuals to access networks, customers and suppliers. There are now growing networks of deaf entrepreneurs.
Last weekend, I attended an event for local deaf entrepreneurs sponsored by Convo, a deaf-owned video relay service (VRS), and run by CEO Jarrod Musano, a deaf graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. There were 30-35 deaf business owners at the event, and they were grateful for the opportunity to network. I overheard a deaf realtor say to a deaf business owner who owns several rental properties, “Contact me and let’s see if we can do business together.” Convo has coordinated these types of events in other cities and has invested in a “Deaf Business Ecosystem,” which includes the creation of an online directory that now contains information on more than 250 deaf-owned businesses from all over the country.
Last semester at RIT/NTID, I was involved with a student business competition called the Next Big Idea, sponsored by VRS provider ZVRS, which provided opportunities for students to work on cross-disciplinary teams to innovate new products and services. This year, 15 teams competed for the opportunity to win cash prizes. It is my hope that many of these concepts will develop into full-fledged businesses.
In a class that I teach at RIT/NTID, called Introduction to Entrepreneurship, deaf and hard-of-hearing students create their own business with less than $20 of their own money. One student, Alec Satterly, established a bike repair business and was able to earn $650 during his winter break. Over the next few years, Alec participated in several entrepreneurship efforts on the RIT/NTID campus and has been very successful.
In 2014, his team, Cenify, won the ZVRS Next Big Idea grand prize of $5,000, and that summer, he and his team gained entry into the Saunders Summer Start-up Program, an incubator program at RIT. Cenify has since moved into RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator, which helps companies move to the next phase of their businesses. This is just one illustration of how RIT/NTID fosters entrepreneurship on campus. In addition, RIT/NTID brings alumni who are business owners to campus to speak with students. Alumnus and RIT Trustee Rob Rice, owner and founder of the Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm BayFirst Solutions, presented last year. RIT/NTID also works closely with RIT’s Simone Center for Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship in an effort to boost the number of deaf entrepreneurs on campus. Currently, we have two all-deaf teams who are part of the Saunders Summer Start-up Program.
This is only the beginning. There are many deaf and hard-of-hearing people who want to create their own businesses, but they are not sure where to start. It is important that we invest in new infrastructures to make this happen. This requires a collaborative effort by universities, agencies, corporations and other entrepreneurs. With their support, I am optimistic that we will continue to see the growth of a new generation of deaf entrepreneurs, especially here in Rochester.