by Christy Nevel, 2017 OCDEL Policy Fellowship Graduate
When I graduated from the fellowship in June of 2017, the project I was working on with the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit was not finished. The EIVT, or Early Intervention Verification Tool, software had been finalized, but the Early Intervention Program Coordinators throughout the state of Pennsylvania had not been trained on using the software. Because my current position was in the EI field, I sought permission from my mentor, Deb Noel, and my direct supervisor to continue on the project. Both agreed and allowed me to see the project through to its completion.
From June through November, the EIVT, version 5.0, software was finished and three training webinars were scheduled for the early intervention program staff. I had the opportunity to participate in all three webinars and to provide “behind-the-scenes” support by answering participant questions in the chat room. As the last webinar was coming to an end, the Special Projects Technology Manager approached me about my interest in working for the organization, as the Information Technology Consultant, who I was working with on the software project, was planning her retirement in December. With having no background or formal education in computer science, I was reluctant to consider the position. However, I have never backed down from a challenge. When the job vacancy was posted at the CSIU, I was again encouraged to apply by the Special Projects Technology Manager. He told me half the job would be knowing how to use the EIVT software, which I already knew how to navigate. He also told me that other aspects of the job, including the use of data bases, running reports, etc. could be taught. So I went online to apply, knowing this position would place me in direct collaboration with OCDEL, and the people I had come to know and admire through my fellowship experience. Out of 47 qualified candidates, I was selected for this exciting, new opportunity.
On January 18, 2018, I began my position as the Information Technology Special Projects Specialist for the CSIU. I am responsible for providing technical assistance to the EI Program Coordinators, EITA staff and EI Advisors for the EIVT software. I also work with OCDEL and the Department of Public Education on the Kindergarten Entry Inventory, and I am directly responsible for making sure all new kindergarten teachers are proficient in data entry for the KEI software. Additionally, I assist the EI Program Coordinators, both Infant/Toddler and Preschool, with obtaining necessary reports in the Data Warehouse, also known as COGNOS.
As I look to the future, I am excited to learn all this position and organization has to offer as I expand my knowledge in the world of information technology. I also smile when I say my new job title, as it includes the phrase “IT”, which has always been intimidating to me because of my limited experience with computer programming and computer problem solving. However, I will continue to apply my leadership strengths to this position, as I have done in every position I’ve held in the social services field. I also have the fellowship to thank for this new career opportunity, as I would have never considered moving into the IT field had it not been for my project assignment.