When Iris Saint Jean enrolled at Irvine Valley College, she was new to the United States. She needed to learn English, and though she had already earned college degrees in other countries, she wanted to learn practical skills that could be applied in any job she landed.
It wasn’t her first time having to acclimate to a new country. She had moved to Germany prior to coming to the U.S., and she learned that taking classes not only resulted in new knowledge, but it helped build relationships within the community.
“It’s always easier when you start enrolling in places around your community,” Saint Jean said. “You can meet people and socialize. It’s kind of a win-win situation, so that’s why my go-to is I take classes.”
At the recommendation of her friends and husband, she enrolled at IVC in 2017 to take English classes, and she thought she would try an Excel course, too. Originally from Mexico, she had already earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Instituto Tecnológico de Morelia and a master’s degree in International Business and Economics from the Schmalkalden University of Applied Science in Germany.
She had the business background but wanted more hands-on skills she could put to use in the workplace. So the one Excel course led to a second, and she also took a data analytics course.
She is now a few courses shy of earning a certification in Computer Information Management, which she plans to complete over time, as her work schedule allows.
Carolina Kussoy, Professor of Computer Information Management, describes Saint Jean as a highly motivated and data-driven student who is gaining the skills that will prepare her to embark on an emerging career path, particularly in the area of data analytics.
“The economy, the workforce, and the labor market are constantly changing – and students need the keen awareness and proactivity to discover potential new career opportunities that can effectively serve the future of work. This is Iris, preparing to make a career pivot with her newfound data analytics and visualization skills,” Kussoy said. “Most students start with a fixed mindset that they will pursue one career. In today’s reality, students will experience several and more iterations of their majors and minors in order to keep up with the changes in work.”
Saint Jean said Kussoy has been a great support to her during her time at IVC, and she also has benefitted from the resources offered by the college, including regular Career Chats that feature industry professionals to introduce students to different careers within a specific field. And Saint Jean said it was because of the college counselors that she was able to get her first job in the U.S., as an administrative assistant in the sales department at a Honda dealership.
“I came here very green without an idea of what to do. That gave me a good sense of what was the job market in the U.S.,” Saint Jean said.
Saint Jean now works full time as a project coordinator at Crown Castle, a provider of communications infrastructure.
“I would like to be a full-time student and be able to enjoy one hundred percent of the experience of the student,” Saint Jean said. “Because of my experience of studying abroad in Mexico and Germany, I can make the comparison, and I see there are so many good resources you can use [at IVC]. If you are a full-time student, there is so much you can do.”
To learn more about courses designed to offer training in hardware and software applications visit the Computer Information Management Department.