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Making Connections with MN High Tech


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A success story from the MN High Tech Tekne Awards, about how a MN High Tech scholarship recipient connected with Unisys executives and landed an internship that turned into a full-time job as Associate Systems Engineer

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Making Connections with MN High Tech

  1. 1. From an empty chair … to a job as engineer A story of how people in the Minnesota High Tech Association community who are passionate about STEM education made a special connection
  2. 2. There was an empty chair ... ...beside Ilhan Dahir. Her guest wasn't able to accompany her to the 2017 Tekne Awards. She was one of 20 students who had received a Minnesota High Tech Foundation scholarship and had been invited to the Tekne Awards event on November 15. Ilhan was seated at the table of Unisys employees. Since the chair next to her was empty, Kelsey Bruso, PhD, distinguished engineer at Unisys, sat down.
  3. 3. They started a conversation … “I asked him how to pronounce the name Unisys,” says Ilhan. YOO - neh - sis
  4. 4. They talked about education … Ilhan had spent two years at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, then transferred to Augsburg and was pursuing a degree in computer science. Kelsey talked about his time at the University of Minnesota, getting a PhD in computer science.
  5. 5. Conversation led to talk on tech careers … Joining Kelsey and Ilhan in conversation at the table was Chuck Lefebvre, Unisys Twin Cities Technology Center executive director and a member of the Minnesota High Tech Association Board of Directors. They talked more about their careers and interests in technology. Kelsey Bruso Ilhan Dahir Chuck Lefebvre
  6. 6. A global high-tech career Kelsey talked about his work with Unisys over the past 37 years, contributing to the company’s global IT security software and services. He travels frequently for work. He had spent the month of April in India.
  7. 7. Visions for a high-tech career Ilhan talked about her interests in STEM careers. She was initially a pre-med major, focused on taking classes in biology, chemistry and math. Then she had an internship with Fairview Health Services in IT. “It exposed me to the IT business side of the tech world,” says Ilhan. It inspired her to major in computer science.
  8. 8. Visions for a career in STEM lhan’s experience in tech included a SciTechsperience internship with Software for Good. SciTechsperience is the STEM internship program based at the Minnesota High Tech Association. Ilhan and her co-worker were featured in this recent blog post.
  9. 9. The business cards ... … that the Minnesota High Tech Association had printed for Ilhan and all the other scholarship recipients to use for networking at the Tekne Awards event came in handy. At the end of the event, Ilhan gave a card to Chuck. He tucked the card into his wallet.
  10. 10. The next day … … Chuck stopped to chat with Kelsey at work. “I said, ‘Kelsey, what do you think? Would Ilhan be a good candidate to bring in for an internship with us? He said, ‘Yes’ right away. We got the paperwork going with HR.”
  11. 11. The internship offer … … was extended to Ilhan two weeks later. “Our team was unanimous in recommending to get an offer out to her,” says Mike Rist, senior engineering manager, who hired Ilhan.
  12. 12. The internship … to full-time employee Ilhan started a part-time internship with Unisys on Jan. 28, 2018. Mike worked with her to arrange her schedule around classes for her final semester at Augsburg. “I’m working with a team developing software to integrate into Unisys’ standard products,” says Ilhan. After she graduate in May 2018, she was offered a full-time internship. In October 2018, she was offered and accepted a full-time position with Unisys as Associate Systems Engineer.
  13. 13. Learning about a global IT system … “We have our interns do real work, not pretend projects,” says Kelsey. Ilhan notes the culture is welcoming and encourages everyone to ask lots of questions and learn. Kelsey says, “Because the Unisys platform is so different, we assume when people start work here that they don’t know anything about it and so we teach them about everything. We work on large, complex systems, so much of the work we do is very collaborative. We seek out different viewpoints from different people to get a better view of any problem or question.”
  14. 14. Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable “My parents don’t know exactly what I do,” Ilhan says. Her parents never had the opportunity to attend college. Ilhan’s family settled in Minnesota about 20 years ago, after getting refugee status. As a first-generation student, Ilhan says, “When I was starting college, it was very confusing. But I had a lot of good mentors and professors.” She learned to network and meet people outside her circle of family and friends. “I learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
  15. 15. Inspiring the next generation of innovators Unisys has been involved for 15 years with the Minnesota High Tech Foundation scholarship program, with volunteers to review scholarship applications, support for the Bids & Bytes fundraiser for the foundation, and host to a scholar each year at the Unisys table at the Minnesota High Tech Association Tekne Awards event. “One of the benefits is we get to meet the students,” says Chuck. “This year, things just aligned and we got to meet this delightful person, who is charming, articulate, talented, and had a strong resume – it’s very impressive.”
  16. 16. So this year, if you see an empty chair … Join the Minnesota High Tech Association in supporting Minnesota High Tech Foundation scholarships – Contribute to our scholarship fund at the Tekne Awards … and take time to meet our 2018 scholarship recipients. 2018 Tekne Awards – November 29