On-Demand. On Campus.
It’s 3 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon. Sean Tognazzi completes his final class, and heads to Union 302 at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT), a room that was formerly a physics classroom. Sean eases into a workstation, boots up his computer, and clicks his mouse. In an instant, he transforms from full-time technical college student to part-time technical support specialist – on campus.
“I jumped on this opportunity to further my career goals,” said the 20-year-old sophomore from Salem, Mass. “I’m learning skills that will transfer to any job, and I never have to worry about being late for work due to traffic.”
BFIT and PlumChoice, a national leader in technical support solutions, formed a partnership to co-fund and co-manage a new on-campus facility dedicated to training students to become tech support leaders of the future. Today, 25 BFIT students enrolled in the college’s computer technology and health information technology programs, work 10 to 25 hours per week at the renovated customer service center, outfitted with rows of dual-monitor computer stations.
Students provide technical support in the evening to customers from across the nation on behalf of major companies, including Fortune 1000s. They hone their technical skills, but also pick up “soft skills” such as communications, goal-setting and time management. After a few months, they can work from home, bringing school-work-life balance to a whole new level.
Students are paid during training and start at several dollars an hour above pay rates at fast-food and retail outlets, while keeping more earnings in their pockets by saving on transportation. The higher pay, they say, enables them to focus more on their course-work, and less on making ends meet. “It’s very important to earn a good wage. I have bills to pay,” Tognazzi said. “I was working at a hotel until I found something I truly liked. This job as a tech support specialist is tied to my career and life goals.”
Some high school juniors and seniors in BFIT’s dual enrollment program are getting hired even before they matriculate at the college. As a result, these students become BFIT freshmen and PlumChoice employees right from the start.
This partnership builds on BFIT’s model of providing both theoretical and practical experience in the classroom and lab. Through skills-based curricula, BFIT encourages students to think beyond the classroom to the problem solving they will do in the work world.
“BFIT works closely with industry leaders to be sure that what we teach is relevant and practical in today’s competitive marketplace,” said Anthony Benoit, president of BFIT. “Young people are more and more aware that an associate degree in a technical field is a great investment. Partnerships like this one with PlumChoice show that the education we provide is valuable, not only to our students, but to the businesses of the commonwealth.”
According to David Temlak, senior vice president for customer service, innovation and delivery at PlumChoice, this partnership helps his company meet the growing demand for technical support specialists and provides good jobs for local technical students who continue to immerse themselves in emerging technologies.
“When these students graduate, they’re not just leaving with a piece of paper, they leave with real-world experience that gives them a leg up in their professional careers. That opportunity, in turn, enables us to recruit some of the best technical agents in our own backyard – and across the country,” Temlak said.