RCCC partners with Microsoft

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A partnership between Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and Microsoft provided nearly 350 new Information Technology (IT) certifications at no cost last month.
“Certifications are expensive and that’s a barrier for some students,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “Our faculty and staff are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs and increase opportunities available to our students. This partnership with Microsoft is a perfect example.”
The MTA Test Fest — which stands for Microsoft Technology Associate — was a first-of-its-kind opportunity for the college. Microsoft donated all of the tests taken during the event.
“Each individual who tested saved about $50 per test,” said Ian Stevens, associate dean of information technologies. “Additionally, of the 100+ people who attended, many walked away with more than one certification — nearly 350 successful certifications were earned in just three short hours!”
In conjunction with the college’s testing center, the college transformed all of the Cabarrus Business & Technology Center (CBTC) computer labs into satellite testing locations. Faculty supported the efforts by serving as test proctors. The college’s designated testing center is in the process of expanding services to offer more industry testing on-site.
“While the MTA tests are fundamental, basic level certifications, acquiring these credentials puts students one step closer to a job,” said Stevens. “Employers tell our faculty that the first thing they identify to screen applicants is certifications. This certification helps applicants get their foot in the door. Of course, additional certifications and training are available here at Rowan-Cabarrus for more advanced students.”
Students were leaving the testing rooms saying “I didn’t even know that I could do this!”
People of all ages and backgrounds came out for the event. There was a party-like atmosphere after the tests were complete. There were prizes available, including X-box games, “Geek” hats, pens, water bottles and T-shirts.
Food for the event was provided by Cengage and the college’s Student Government Association.
“By securing the certifications, students validate what they learn in the classroom — it proves that it’s real world and applicable to their future jobs.”
The partnership with Microsoft provided students with vouchers to become certified in 12 different areas.
Recent meetings with industry representatives and advisory boards in the IT field provided the college with important feedback. Faculty recognized the increased importance of certifications being a solid framework for future success.
“Certifications prove to the employer that you have the skills needed — that there are fundamental skills they won’t need to teach you,” said Stevens.
Students interested in pursuing careers in the IT field also need to be prepared to be their own boss. Industry reports that more and more freelance IT consultants are now employed in this field.
“Students need to be prepared to constantly market themselves and their skills,” said Stevens. “More and more we observe contract work in demand, and students need to understand the soft skills that go along with this unique working relationship.”
For more information about IT courses for beginners, career-changers or seasoned professionals, please contact Ian Stevens, 704-216-7138, ian.stevens@rccc.edu. For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).