Ivy Tech Community College’s Next Level Jobs program sets Region students up for success in high-demand fields

Ivy Tech Community College’s Next Level Jobs program sets Region students up for success in high-demand fields

Interested in taking the next step in your career? Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana has the solution for every student looking to get a jump start at certification in an in-demand field through its Next Level Jobs program.

The Next Level Jobs program has much to offer to new and returning students. Through the program, students are able to pursue an IT certificate, advance IT and cyber security training, or begin a high-demand medical assistant program. Next Level Jobs also gives students the opportunity to earn a free credential from Ivy Tech because of the Workforce Ready Grant. Ivy Tech and the State of Indiana prioritize assisting students to take the next steps towards a high-paying, high-demand job in Indiana through the Next Level Jobs program.

Eileen Peden is one of the students taking advantage of Ivy Tech’s Next Level Jobs program. Recently, Peden was part of the college’s ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Cyber Security Operations Center and Awareness Lab at the Valparaiso campus. As a student and advocate for the cyber security program at Ivy Tech, Peden highlighted the valuable Next Level Jobs program that is opening up greater career opportunities to her.

“I've been here since 2019. I am currently studying cybersecurity networking. Eventually, I am going to get a degree in Cloud (Technology),” said Peden.

Looking to find a path with plenty of job openings, Peden chose the STEM field when she decided to return to school. Choosing Ivy Tech was easy for its affordability and flexibility because Peden is a returning student balancing being a single mother and continuing to work simultaneously.

“I wanted to go back to school and further my education. I was looking at a list of ways to be able to go back because I'm a single parent. I have to make sure I'm financially stable to afford both school for myself and for my daughter, and then I came across the Next Level Jobs. It offered the field of cybersecurity, so I applied,” said Peden.

The Next Level Jobs program offers many options for students to earn in-demand and affordable IT certifications, advancement in IT and cyber security training, and educational opportunities within several medical assistant programs. The Next Level Jobs program offers certificates in advanced manufacturing, building and construction, health sciences, information technology and business services, and transportation and logistics. In addition, students are able to stack their credentials earned through the Workforce Ready Grant that can be counted toward a technical certificate or associate degree.

Students interested in the program only have to meet the following requirements: are an Indiana resident, have a high school diploma or GED/High School Equivalency, have not previously received a certificate in a Next Level Jobs eligible program, and have not previously received an associate degree or higher (bachelors, masters, etc.). Peden encourages students to apply to the Next Level Jobs program.

“I would highly recommend this program. Whether someone is fresh out of high school or they are older and want to go back to school to make a career change, the program will definitely allow you to do that,” said Peden.

Despite still having a few months left of the program, Peden is already making career moves before even earning her certification. Peden has taken a position at Ivy Tech that allows her to teach other students while furthering her education. Ivy Tech values teaching students in multiple modes to achieve the greatest level of learning.

“I got accepted into a position as a cybersecurity analyst for Ivy Tech. With that, I'm in control of the security operation center, which we just had a ribbon cutting ceremony for. The center puts students through realized scenarios and actual attacks so, they have more hands-on experience learning. That prepares them a lot better than it would just reading straight out of a book,” said Peden.

The classes themselves are also a great selling point for prospective students. Peden remembers the impact that introductory courses had on her as a student.

“In Intro to Cybersecurity, the professor began talking about cybersecurity within the first 10 minutes of class, and I didn't really know as much in depth as I do now. In the first 10 to 20 minutes, we did an exercise where another female classmate and I were able to shut down a person's computer from across the room. That was a pretty cool thing to do,” said Peden.

Peden appreciates Ivy Tech and the Next Level Jobs program for everything they have to offer to her as a student.

“What I like about this campus is that the cybersecurity program is one of the best in the area. We have a server room that students can access when they're not in class. It's an open lab, so it gives them more hands-on experience. Teachers are so helpful to you. If you're struggling, the teacher will literally work with you to make sure you grasp the information. Other students help you, too. I really like this area,” said Peden.

As a woman in STEM, Peden encourages women especially to apply for the Next Level Jobs program to further their careers and increase representation in the field. The faculty and student body have continued to support Peden in her educational career, and she wants other women to know they can also be successful in STEM through Ivy Tech.

“If women are looking to pursue STEM, a male dominated program, they should consider this program. If they're shy about it, don't be shy. Just to go ahead and do it. I'm the president of the Women in Cybersecurity Valpo Chapter at Ivy Tech, and they're really supportive. Not only that, the classmates that I have are also really supported and powerful. So if you're struggling in the area, somebody will help you,” said Peden.

Considering taking part in the Next Level Jobs program? Visit this site for more information.