Category Archives: Employers

Deaf entrepreneurs on the rise

Deaf entrepreneur Alec Satterly wearing a green shirt seated at a desk, working on a computer.

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.

 

From co-op to career

Christopher Robinson wearing glasses, bright green golf shirt holding safety glasses standing with CNC machinery

Name:  Christopher Brown

Hometown

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Degree programs

A.O.S., Computer Integrated Machining Technology, 2016

Year of graduation

2016

Place of employment

Place of employment Cyromech, Syracuse, New York

Job Title

Computer numeric control (CNC) operator

Work Responsibilities

Some of my responsibilities were to use blueprints to create precision products on the CNC machine. I set controls; inspected machines; and scheduled maintenance and repair to ensure operation, quality standards and correct specifications.

How my career relates to my degree from RIT/NTID

I learned much about blueprints, following directions, working on several products at once and how to use a variety of other machines: HASS lathe, manual lathe and mill and turning machines. My co-op gave me relevant work experience and helped me develop my knowledge and skills. At RIT/NTID, I learned time management, assertiveness, persistence and to work with deadlines. These skills helped me to succeed on co-op and will help me succeed in life as well. I appreciate the experience I got on the CNC mill machine because that was really valuable on my co-op. And, I have accepted a full-time job with Cryomech for after graduation.

Advice

Be responsible, be prepared, be assertive, be persistent and don’t give up. Fight for what you believe in and don’t let anything or anyone get you down. Maintain a positive attitude and stay motivated. Stay safe and avoid risky behavior. Most of all, grab your opportunity.

Providing cyber security training and job opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing RIT students

female student with glasses working on computer next to male student with other students and computers in background

While most RIT students are sleeping late and enjoying some free time during spring break, 23 deaf and hard-of-hearing students are participating in a rigorous, week-long training designed to provide them with experience in the rapidly growing field of computer forensics.

The first-of-its-kind Computer Forensics Boot Camp for deaf and hard-of-hearing students held March 21-24 at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, provides 32 hours of training toward EnCase certification – the standard in cyber forensics.

The boot camp is the brainchild of RIT/NTID alumnus Scott Van Nice, systems manager, Forensics Information Security, Cyber Security – Threat Intel at Procter & Gamble, who has been on campus throughout the week. Van Nice connected with fellow RIT alumnus and president and CEO of Guidance Software Patrick Dennis, whose company is providing the training and who visited campus Tuesday. Procter & Gamble, Guidance Software and Ernst & Young are major sponsors of the boot camp.

Students were selected based on their high GPAs and majors related to the cyber forensics area such as Networking and Systems Administration, Criminal Justice, Human Computer Interaction and Computer Science.

“We are incredibly grateful to Guidance Software, Procter & Gamble, Ernst & Young, and all of the companies involved in making this boot camp a reality for our students,” said Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean. “Patrick, Scott and their companies recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion in all phases of business. The students attending the boot camp represent some of RIT/NTID’s best and brightest, and they are eager to take advantage of this outstanding opportunity for training.”

Computer forensics, sometimes known as cyber forensics or cyber security, is a field that is becoming increasingly more important to companies of all sizes.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The proliferation of criminal activity on the Internet, such as identity theft, spamming, e-mail harassment and illegal downloading of copyrighted materials, will increase the demand for private investigators. Opportunities are expected to be excellent for computer forensic investigators.”

Throughout the week, students have been in classroom training from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., breaking for lunches and dinners featuring keynote presentations by Van Nice, Dennis and others. A career night for program participants Wednesday evening featured networking opportunities with representatives from companies including Prudential, JP Morgan Chase, the CIA, Cisco, Comcast, Procter & Gamble and Ernst & Young.  

Nearly 400 Students Attend RIT/NTID Job Fair

at left is a young man with cochlear implant signing to Sam Sandoval in red short with Harris corp. sign and display table

Representatives from more than 45 local and national corporations, federal agencies and non-profit organizations met with nearly 400 deaf and hard-of-hearing students—who are also prospective employees—at the 15th annual job fair on Oct. 21 at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The event was held in Lyndon Baines Johnson Hall on the RIT campus.

Company representatives conducted “on the spot” interviews with NTID students who are vying for cooperative education positions or full-time employment after graduation in fields such as business, finance, graphic design, engineering, computing, and more. Interpreters were available at each table, and in many cases, the company recruiters were NTID alumni. Companies included Microsoft Corp., Lockheed Martin, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Department of Defense, Dow Chemical Co., Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield, Harris Corp., The Learning Center for the Deaf, The Bank of New York Mellon Corp., and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, among others. Employers also had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion.

Maya Ariel, a 2012 business management graduate from RIT’s Saunders College of Business, attended the job fair as a recruiter for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. As a former student, Ariel was selected shortly after graduation for the organization’s Leaders in Motion program, a development program in which participants rotate through four different departments at DFAS before being permanently placed. Today, she is a financial systems analyst and returned to NTID’s Job Fair to search for future employees in the accounting, finance, human resources or information technology fields.

“My advice for students is to keep all of their options open, take advantage of every opportunity they can, and get a foot in the door,” said Ariel. “I’m a proud RIT graduate and based on my experience, I know these students are well prepared to enter the job market.”

Joao Paulo, a second-year accounting technology student from Brazil, was searching for a co-op placement during the job fair. He said he was nervous at first, but was able to relax and put his best foot forward.

“I came to the job fair for the first time today and I didn’t know what to expect,” said Paulo. “I just tried to be myself and worked my way through it. I spoke with about seven different companies, including Prudential and The Hartford, which both seemed like good matches. I made my way through the tables and I tried really hard to make a good impression and be relaxed yet excited at the same time.”

Samuel Sandoval, a 2013 information technology graduate from Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, returned for the second time as a recruiter for Harris Corp. He told students to be persistent.

“The employees at Harris Corp. didn’t really have much exposure to deaf culture,” he said. “Now, in addition to my job as a software engineer, I teach a sign language class to the employees every Monday.”

NTID’s Center on Employment also recognized three companies who consistently hire deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. One of this year’s local honorees was The Gleason Works.

Alicia Kalen, a human resources generalist at The Gleason Works, has worked with NTID computer integrated machining technology students as part of their summer internship program.

“This has been a very positive experience,” said Kalen. “We have established a relationship with NTID and our goal is to create a talent pipeline for advanced manufacturing positions at Gleason. The students are graduating with an excellent foundation in machining, blue print reading and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing. They learn how to work as a team—toward the same goal—and they have a good idea how a company is run. Today, I met students who are friends with five students who worked for Gleason last summer. The good word is spreading and Gleason is excited and happy to be here.”

Other companies recognized were Purple Communications, headquartered in Rocklin, Calif., and Seattle, Wash.; and University of California—San Diego (Moores Cancer Center).

“We have many deaf and hard-of-hearing alumni employer representatives who attended the job fair who are role models for our students and recent graduates,” said John Macko, director of NTID’s Center on Employment. “The NTID Job Fair allows these alumni to connect with our students and to demonstrate what it takes to be successful in the workplace. 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.”