|Years in Field:
in Computer Science from CCRI (Micro Computing Systems
& Networking Technology); working towards Cisco
Certified Network Associate Certificate
Mary T. Dugan's Resume
"You can't take no for an answer. You must make the extra
effort to achieve your goals, you can't expect things to be
given to you."
"This industry looks promising for women. Your minority status
helps because you will be hired more quickly."
Getting Started: Seven years ago, Mary Dugan found herself
facing enormous obstacles. Suddenly left alone to support four
children with no educational background, piles of unpaid bills,
a broken-down car and an eviction notice, Mary needed some help.
She received some assistance through the Family Self-Sufficiency
Program to get her back on her feet and pursue a job or an education.
Desiring a more secure future, Mary chose education and was
introduced to the Sphere Program (now an EOC Program), which
provided job training and education for low income families.
Feeling restricted and struggling with low self esteem due to
her circumstances, Mary found a mentor at the Sphere Program
who introduced her to the Adult Learning Center, to freshen
up Mary's remedial skills and prepare her to pass her skills
test and pursue an education. Mary scored high marks in human
resources and humanities in her assessment test, but was more
interested in a technology career because she wanted to make
enough money to support herself and her four children. Despite
being discouraged from it, Mary decided to go against the odds
and pursue a technology program at CCRI even though she had
a limited educational background and no knowledge of computers.
She persevered by telling herself, "if I put my mind to it,
I can do anything." Mary started at CCRI in 1997, but decided
to take things slow and only enrolled in 3 classes. She did
well in these, which boosted her confidence, and continued as
a full time student the following semester. Mary had to start
from the beginning at CCRI with introductory math and computer
classes, but was determined to continue and did so despite the
difficulty. And once introduced to them, Mary discovered that
she loved working with computers! She started the computer science
and networking program when it was introduced to CCRI in 1999
and hasn't looked back since.
Greatest Professional Achievement: Mary considers just
having made it this far to be her greatest accomplishment yet.
She overcame her lack of education and faced her fears about
entering into a world of technology that was completely foreign
to her. She now boosts a 3.8 GPA and a bright future ahead.
Other accomplishments include earning a $1000 scholarship in
an essay writing competition through the Family Self-Sufficiency
Program. From this, she received a letter from the mayor congratulating
Barriers: Mary first had to overcome her educational
limitations and dyslexia, but she was determined to succeed
and so started from the very beginning with basic math, reading
and computer classes. This required a lot of hard work and long
hours of studying on Mary's part, but "I was always willing
to do what it took to accomplish my goal," she states. Mary's
education was also delayed a semester due to health problems
and her program requirements had changed when she returned to
school, further delaying her graduation. But Mary considers
this a benefit after all because she is receiving extra education,
which will only make her more confident and more qualified for
a job when she graduates.
Working with Men: Mary is one of only a handful of women
in the Computer Science program and attends classes filled mostly
with young men. But Mary is not intimidated and works as hard
as necessary to prove herself. She studies the material for
her own knowledge and confidence and always asks plenty of questions
about what she doesn't know. But Mary also overcomes her minority
status by working to encourage a communal learning environment
in her classrooms. If she doesn't understand something, she
sets aside her pride and just asks her classmates for help,
which focuses attention more on the material, rather that the
differences among the students.
Advice for Women: A degree from the Computer Science
program opens many doors of opportunity, but Mary advises to
research the industry and find out exactly what it is you want
to do to ensure your happiness and success in that field. She
also advises doing an internship to get exposure to your chosen
field and to build your resume. She feels that women should
take their education into their own hands and shouldn't be afraid
to ask questions and talk to department heads to ask for advice
as to which classes should be taken first and what skills are
necessary. But her main piece of advice is this, "Don't take
no for an answer. You must make the extra effort to achieve
your goals; you can't expect things to be given to you. Don't
ever let go of what is most important to you."
Typical Workday/Environment: Mary describes the Computer
Science degree as multi-functional, preparing the individual
for all aspects of computer networking. The job itself is multi-faceted
involving hands-on work, such as running cables and fiber optics,
and highly technical computer work, such as configuring switches,
and working with routers or binary networks. Troubleshooting
is the most essential job skill for a computer network technician.
You must be self-sufficient and able to figure out problems
on your own, starting with the step-by-step basics. A computer
network technician must also develop the social skills necessary
to be able to work with different kinds of people running different
kinds of companies.
Career Ladder: Depending on where you live and who you
work for, starting annual salary for an entry-level computer
network technician can range from $38,000-$50,000 per year.
Getting your foot in the door is the most important step, but
raises and promotions can be achieved quickly if you work hard.
Computer network technicians are often required to work long
or odd hours and must sometimes be on-call to solve potential
problems. The top salary for this industry is essentially limitless
depending on your experience and work ability, and can easily
exceed $100,000 per year.
Hobbies:Mary loves her kids before all else and enjoys
spending her free time with them swimming and camping. One of
the main assets of Mary's education is that it has enabled her
to help her children with their homework. Mary has turned education
into a kind of hobby at home. She and her children enjoy studying
together and participating in reading and educational programs
at the local library.
*Annual salary number is not the role model's actual salary. Salary for Computer Networking based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition