Alumni Stories – Andy Gray | South Hills School of Business & Technology
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Alumni Stories – Andy Gray

2016 Information Technology Alumnus Andy Gray
 
“IT allows you to work in any industry. The possibilities within this field are truly endless.”
 
Describe your current role and your duties and responsibilities. What kind of projects do you work on, etc.?

Andy Gray: I work with 150 end-users, and manage anything related or tied into our network, email, cloud desktops, local infrastructure, cameras, door systems, routers, switches, etc. I also manage our marketing team for the dealerships and the PA Roundhouse Rally.

How did South Hills prepare you for this career?

Andy: Two words, Guido & Joiner. Both of these instructors gave me the tools I needed and showed me exactly how to use them. One thing I remember Guido telling us is that as an IT professional, we will always need to be learning and investing time in keeping our skills current since technology is rapidly changing.

Do you have any professional highlights you’d like to discuss? Accomplishments, achievements, favorite projects?

Andy: I assisted with the implementation of a new Level 3 Data Center Facility from the ground up, assisted in starting up wireless internet service for Spring Mills, Aaronsburg, and Millheim areas, as well as building the website for the PA Roundhouse Rally.

Why did you choose South Hills?

Andy: My girlfriend at the time signed me up for a South Hills tour after we had talked about me going back to school, and this is something I’m still very thankful for to this day. After speaking with an Admissions Representative I worked with at that time, and seeing the campus, every reason I thought I had to not go back to school went out the window. My only regret is that I didn’t start here sooner.

I had a million reason why I didn’t go back to school sooner. I wasn’t sure how I’d pay for school, I had concerns about how well I’d do after being out of high school for so long, I wasn’t sure if I could juggle work and school at the same time, and I thought I didn’t need a degree to find a job. But…after working a few different kinds of jobs and realizing I needed the training to advance and to get the kind of positions I wanted, I knew having the degree would help me reach my goals. South Hills helped me through the Admissions and Financial Aid processes and answered all of my questions. If I could advise someone that was hesitating about going back to school, I’d say, “DON’T OVERTHINK IT!”

What was the most valuable lesson – inside or outside the classroom – you learned at South Hills?

Andy: To challenge yourself, even if it is outside of your comfort zone. Guido, IT Instructor, told us always to say “Yes!” [to projects and requests] and I carried this mentality to my internship. I told myself I wouldn’t say “No” and I’ll try any project that comes my way.

Do you have any favorite South Hills classes or instructors?

Andy: My favorite class was Ethical Hacking. I also really enjoyed the Capstone project. Guido allowed us to have the freedom to do what we wanted, and my group created a fictitious check-in kiosk at the school. This kiosk allowed individuals to check into the school, find their class schedules, a map of the school, and more.

My favorite instructors were Guido Santella, IT Instructor, and Jeff Joiner, IT Instructor. Guido was always upbeat and positive, and you could tell he truly wanted his students to succeed. Joiner is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He has so much technical knowledge and was able to answer any question right away.

Patty Helbig, Business Administration – Management & Marketing instructor, was also very helpful. Her classes were very laid-back and made you want to get involved in the discussions we were having. She always made us think outside-the-box. Holly Emerick, who was the Altoona Campus Director when I attended South Hills, was very helpful, and always had her door open if a student needed something. Everyone at South Hills was super friendly.

Where did you do your South Hills internship and what role did you play?

Andy: I did my internship at Cloud My Office in State College, and my position was a help desk/field tech. I discovered Cloud My Office from the annual Network Career Fair that is hosted by South Hills’ Career Services Team. The Career Fair provides South Hills students to meet many regional employers to learn about internship and job opportunities. After meeting with the owners, I knew this company was my first choice for my internship site. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the position. After my internship was completed, I was hired on as a full-time employee.

 
 
What was most valuable about the internship experience?

Andy: The real world, hands-on experience I got through the internship was very valuable. My position allowed me to see how IT is performed in multiple locations. Everywhere is a little different, but half the battle if knowing where the point of failure is that may be causing an issue. IT allows you to work in any industry and the possibilities with this field are truly endless.

Through my internship, I had opportunities to learn many facets of IT, from app development, to website design to installing and maintaining hardware to helping with desktop and email support.

Describe your Career Path after graduation. What did you do right after you left South Hills?

Andy: I continued working at Cloud My Office, which is where I did my internship. Through my work there, I started making connections with different people in the industry, and that is how I met my current boss, Dave Burgmeier. I was working with him part-time for a while until he saw a need for a full-time IT position. I really enjoy the company I work for and the company culture is very family-oriented. The owner wants to make sure the employees are happy and he does a lot of things to make it a good place to work. The company is also very community-oriented and they do a lot of charity work, which also means a lot to me.

What advice do you have for current or prospective students?

Andy: Don’t be afraid to ask a questions either in class or on the job if you don’t fully understand something.

What were the most important things you learned while attending South Hills?

Andy: I learned that you do not need to have all of the answers; you just need to know how/where to get them. I learned how to do research online, search IT community forums, and to network with other IT professionals to share advice and information.

If you could describe South Hills in three words, what would they be and why?

Andy: Fun, challenging, and hands-on. The classes were small, which allowed for more interaction and hands-on time in the classroom. It also made the environment less stressful because we all knew each other and got along well.

What are your interests, actives, volunteer activities, hobbies, etc.?

Andy: Being an uncle to my niece and two nephews, golfing, watching stand-up comedy, playing Xbox, and everything tech!

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