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Emerging IT Professionals program exposes recent grad to different facets of IT

Jieyu Gao

After graduating from Purdue with bachelor’s degrees in both economics (honors) and applied statistics, Jieyu Gao could have entered the job market. Instead, she joined the 2016 cohort of Purdue’s Emerging IT Professionals (EITP), a rotational program for recent graduates interested in going into information technology.

Emerging IT Professionals complete two 18-month rotations in different ITaP units, while also receiving professional development training and the opportunity to earn a master’s degree for free. The group also gets together at least once a month to network and share experiences, which gives participants the chance to learn about IT fields beyond the two they’ll work in.

“The program not only has the potential to be a big boost to the careers of the participants, but also is a way to put promising individuals in the pipeline for becoming future leaders of Purdue’s IT organization,” says Gerry McCartney, vice president for information technology and chief information officer, the program’s founder.

All members of the cohort that began in 2016 are women, a group that is traditionally underrepresented in information technology. Participants who find a great fit right out of the gate are welcome to stay in that role if a long-term position exists.

Gao is currently working with the ITaP Research Computing’s research services and support team, where she’s performed analyses of the performance of Purdue’s community cluster supercomputers that are now at the foundation of the University’s research cyberinfrastructure. 

As someone with a different background than many in the IT field, she’s appreciated the opportunity to sharpen her programming skills and to attend annual industry events such as Supercomputing (SC), an international conference for high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis.

Gao would recommend the EITP program to those who value learning on the job. “It gives you a lot of space to learn new things,” she says.

Along with Claire Stirm, a science gateway manager for ITaP’s HUBzero, Gao also was among six Gender Diversity Award winners selected by Internet2, a leading forum to support and drive the advancement of research and education, spur next-generation innovation and accelerate global discovery.

The award provided support for travel to Internet2’s 2017 Global Summit held in April in Washington, DC, where Gao and her ITaP colleague networked with leaders in the field and attended technical talks relevant to their work. They also participated in programming from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and discussed ways to engage with gender diversity issues.

“The experience of attending the conference and talking to the executives and other award winners and having the chance to make connections with them was the most important part for me,” Gao says.

Another takeaway from the conference with respect to gender diversity was the importance of supporting female colleagues and students, something that Gao is doing as a member of Purdue’s new Women in HPC group. That group, which connects student, faculty and staff women at Purdue with an interest in high-performance computing, was founded as part a broader ITaP initiative to encourage women to pursue research and careers in HPC.

Writer:  Adrienne Miller, science and technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-496-8204, mill2027@purdue.edu