IST Emily Lautenbach fixes a computer

Penn State Mont Alto IST Student Lands a Job before Graduation

Penn State Mont Alto Information Science and Technology student Emily Lautenbach is set to graduate in May, but she’s already landed a job.

In January, she began working as a JAVA Developer for the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) in Mechanicsburg (Pa.). She received the job offer when she attended a Penn State IT job fair expo held twice yearly.

NAVSUP officials interviewed Lautenbach on the spot, at the career fair, and asked her to start immediately.

It was a big surprise to be hired before graduation, she said.

 “They wanted to hire me on part time as a student trainee. So, when I graduate, I would have some experience already,” said Lautenbach, a commuter student from Chambersburg, Pa.

She attributes her success to the high quality, yet small IST program at Penn State Mont Alto.

 “Penn State has a name and a brand that’s known worldwide … I like the small environment at Mont Alto. I like that the professors know who you are, and they remember your name,” she said. “The professors are phenomenal.” 

“Whenever I had a question, the professors were always there to answer, help and clarify. They have been really great,” Lautenbach said. “I think the professors are one reason I have gotten so far, because they have always been so helpful. And they have always pushed me to be better.”

Lautenbach earned her associate degree in IST in 2017 and will earn her bachelor’s degree in the same major this May.

Lautenbach’s IST adviser and IST Program Coordinator Paul Bart wants to make sure all his students can hit the ground running by offering internships with local companies, as part of the degree requirements.

“At least half, if not two thirds of our internships turn into job offers. We’re unique in being able to place so many students in jobs right out of college," Bart said.

The IST faculty meets regularly with an advisory board to ensure Mont Alto’s IST programming is in line with employer need.

 “We are very sensitive to the needs of employers,” Bart said. “And I come from an extraordinary background as a practitioner. So, I always try to use that as the framework and ask myself, ‘what would I like to see in the perfect candidate for a job.’”

The IST program continues to evolve to offer value-added programming to meet the ever-changing needs in the workplace.

“We’re looking at a new technical focus in network engineering. I know of no school in the area that offers that,” Bart said.

Students would graduate with an IST degree with a secondary skill set in network engineering, he explained.

With curriculum changes in the works, Bart said IST students could graduate with a business minor, which is very different than most computer science programs.

“Employers are now chasing me to get access to our interns. If they (students) listen to the advice and they do what Emily did, I expect the bidding war will heat up,” he said.