Hassan Davis, left, and Christian Jackson are externs at Microsoft.

Two excited graduates from Southside Virginia Community College’s Datacenter Academy just accepted externship offers at Microsoft’s datacenter in Boydton, Virginia. They are prime examples of hard-working SVCC students who have completed the IT program at the Center for Information Technology Excellence (CITE) located in South Hill, Virginia. For Hassan Davis and Christian Jackson, this externship allows them to hone their newly acquired computer networking skills. Microsoft’s involvement and dedication to the externship program adds another layer of success for these students. Both students are thankful for this learning experience.

The Microsoft externship program is an immersive experience that allows the student to receive ten weeks of hands-on training in a datacenter. Two scholars are selected each semester.

While this externship will usher in new experiences for Jackson and Davis, it is just the beginning as they worked tirelessly taking college classes and earning IT industry certifications. Each bring their own unique story of lives changed by passion and persistence.

Hassan, an adult learner, embarked on the IT Networking program at SVCC after he lost his job. After meeting with Kelly Arnold, SVCC’s apprenticeship coordinator, Hassan applied for a new scholarship that Microsoft recently provided to SVCC for underrepresented population groups. This scholarship was a chance to add the missing piece to his resume - college credit and industry recognized credentials. While Hassan had industry experience in IT, acquiring a job was proving difficult.

“The Microsoft scholarship and now the externship has opened doors that I never thought possible. I love this new chapter of my story,” states Davis.

For Christian Jackson, SVCC was a logical choice for college. She was already earning college credit through her dual-enrollment classes in high school.

She, like other 18-year-olds, was unsure of her career pathway. From a young age, Christian was always interested in computer technology but was apprehensive about entering a non-traditional career field for females. After she was awarded the Microsoft scholarship, she felt excited and believed that she could succeed.

“The classes were challenging but the teachers, students, and even Microsoft employees kept encouraging me along the way,” said Christian. This April she began an externship at Microsoft, and in May she received her Associate’s Degree in Information Technology and a CSC in IT Networking.

Earlier this year, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam tasked the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to develop road-maps for employment for all college students. When you combine this challenge from the governor with industries that offer these wonderful opportunities, students create a resume that allows them to secure jobs in a high-demand, well-paying job market.

“We take student success seriously at SVCC,” remarks Dr. Chad Patton, Dean of Career and Occupational Studies, “and Christian and Hassan are perfect examples of how our IT program is growing rapidly, and Microsoft has been instrumental in all the success.”

If you are interested in learning more about the program, please contact SVCC at (434) 955-2252 or drop by the CITE training lab in South Hill at the Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center. In August, the fall semester will begin and registration is ongoing currently.

At SVCC, students start new life chapters every day.