The Download: Feature Articles
Developing Our Future IT and Technology Leaders
By Victoria Z. Lubas. Video by Jayson Miller. | January 28, 2020
The NYU IT Technology Leadership Program Gives Recent Grads Hands-On Experience
Nothing teaches you the ropes quite like hands-on experience. This is especially true in the fast-moving, always-changing world of technology. NYU has a large, sophisticated IT infrastructure. Maintaining and evolving that network takes agility, dedication, and skill. Where better to get the skills you need to become a leader in such an environment than in that environment? And where better for NYU to find people with those skills than among recent graduates who developed them at NYU? This is the question NYU's Global CIO Len Peters asked, and the solution he created is the NYU IT Technology Leadership Program (TLP).
What is TLP?
TLP gives recent graduates direct experience with NYU's dynamic, globe-spanning IT ecosystem as paid employees who spend 18 months rotating through three different areas of technology based on previous coursework, experience, and professional interests, as well as criteria determined by TLP program administrators. TLP is open to graduates of all universities and is not exclusive to NYU students. Application is not a guarantee of acceptance into the program.
TLP associates are mentored by current leaders within the NYU IT organization and attend career development courses to help them enhance their professional and technical skills. During the program, associates have an opportunity to work on important initiatives and learn technology tools. By the end of their 18 months, they will have gained a wealth of experience which, Peters says, will bring them one step closer to becoming the next generation of technology leaders at NYU.
“NYU IT strives to continuously improve," said Len Peters. "The Technology Leadership Program is one of the ways that we create organizational vitality that drives innovation, diversity and growth.”
An Associate’s Perspective: Jose Castro
Jose Castro, a member of the program’s inaugural cohort, greatly enjoyed his time working in TLP and feels it has changed his entire career trajectory. Castro said, “Eventually I want to be a director, and I never thought I’d want to be a leader one day. I like to fix things, and I’m an introvert. This program allowed me to come out of my shell.” Castro also praised his first supervisor and mentor, Gary Cooper, for helping him identify a career goal that he could not pinpoint when he graduated.
During Castro’s first rotation in the program, he worked as a cloud administrator. In this role, he developed User Compute Platform for App Stream 2.0, worked with virtual private cloud (VPC) security apps, contributed to development in the Microsoft Azure environment in Cloud, and helped administer NYU Box. Most recently, Castro has been working in the Office of Information Security (OIS) as an analyst, helping to assess the security of NYU cloud apps. He will return to NYU IT's Cloud Services & Technologies when he starts his full-time position as an IT employee.
Castro emphasized the positive support system inspired by the cohort. By rotating through the same three areas within NYU IT, Castro said he bonded with the other TLP associates because they were able to share their common experiences and help each other. Castro feels the project on which he collaborated that most impacted the NYU IT community was the TLP cohort presentation to the IT Leadership team. In this presentation, the TLP associates recommended areas of potential improvements in how NYU IT provides services to the University.
TLP Helps Streamline TLT
TLP associate Kelly Xie joined NYU IT's Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) as an experiential designer and hit the ground running. Xie joined TLT around the same time they gained access to VR-building software Wonda VR Spaces. Xie developed her Wonda skills to the point where she was appointed TLT's Wonda point person. Dave LaSala, team leader of Interactive Development in TLT, supervised Xie's progress as she became instrumental to the Wonda offering, helping with the augmented reality (AR) and VR projects that TLT presented at the 2019 Research Day. LaSala said that having Xie act as the resident expert, ready to help other members of the team and apply her knowledge, greatly improved NYU’s ability to support Wonda VR Spaces as a cutting-edge technology.
From Applicants to Associates
Andrew Maliszewski and Manish Devjani of the Enterprise Data Management (EDM) team became involved as TLP mentors during the application process for the second round of Associates. Participating in the program from a selection perspective gave Maliszewski and Devjani an inside look into the many ways recent graduates can enrich NYU IT teams. Maliszewski and Devjani worked with TLP associate Farwa Iftikhar and consider her a valuable member of their team. As a junior Business Intelligence (BI) developer, Iftikhar performs research on technology pertaining to the BI Storefront.
Maliszewski considers TLP beneficial to projects and community building, saying “having another person’s help and support on projects is just wonderful [as well as] knowing we’re helping them on their career path.” Devjani notes that a rotation-based program like TLP is ideally situated for a large organization like NYU IT because it gives associates the “opportunity to work with different IT departments and get exposure to so many different variations of careers and skill sets that can be leveraged in day-to-day activities.”
TLP Cohorts Making a Positive Impact
Castro, LaSala, Maliszewski, and Devjani all agree that the Technology Leadership Program has a very positive impact on their individual departments and on NYU IT at-large. TLP inspires increased productivity, provides a fresh voice, and invites a positive atmosphere. The program also gives IT professionals the chance to help an entry-level professional get solid footing on the road to future leadership.