Preparing students for future employment and providing a service for the community are goals of the Tech Solutions lab at Cleveland State Community College. Tech Solutions is a student-operated tech support center that provides free service and support to the community. 

Students who major in computer information technology (CIT) are required to have internship hours prior to graduation. Many students work in the Tech Solutions lab during their final two semesters at the college. Student workers diagnose and troubleshoot problems with personal computers; they provide services such as virus and malware removal, operating system upgrades, hardware repair, software installation, remote support and more. The service is free, but the customer incurs all hardware/software costs.

The students not only gain hands-on experience working on computers, but they develop customer service skills as they help clients troubleshoot computer issues. 

Tucker Hill graduated in May and worked in Tech Solutions for two terms. He said, “I’ve talked to every kind of person; we handle all types of things. What stuck out to me immediately was ‘Oh wow,’ IT (information technology) is not just sitting in front of a computer. In this industry, you are constantly talking to people. We never know what we might get; it could be something simple, and we just end up having a good conversation with the customer.”

A Tennessee Promise student and CIT major, Hill also earned his Cloud Computing certificate. He says the internship led to his job as an EDI Specialist (electronic data interchange) with an MSP (managed service provider) company headquartered in San Jose, California. The remote position allows him to stay in Bradley County while pursuing industry certifications that were part of the CIT curriculum.

Jonathon Milen worked full time while earning his CIT degree. In addition to a cyber defense certificate from the college, Milen earned his CompTIA Network+ industry certification and worked in Tech Solutions. “Once I had the internship experience, it was a flip of a switch,” said Milen. “Before, I was looking at IT jobs, but I didn’t get any offers. I completed the internship and redid my resume and LinkedIn account after taking a class, then I had multiple offers in IT. It was great.”

Milen graduated in December 2023 and now works remotely for a dental MSP company based out of Illinois. “I do anything from talking to doctors about imaging software to infrastructure failures,” said Milen. He plans to pursue more industry certifications and build his experience.

“Keeping up with the IT industry is a perpetual process, especially with the accelerated timeline introduced with Artificial Intelligence,” said CIT Associate Professor, Bambi Cannon. “Tech Solutions allows CIT students to gain hands-on experience with infrastructure both on-premises and in cloud platforms, managing a hybrid infrastructure as they may encounter in industry. It also allows the students to practice the soft skills that are critical to their long term career success in a safe environment with those of us experienced in implementing these skills in our own professional careers.”

Evan Rants worked two semesters in Tech Solutions. “Because my CIT courses were all online, this was a hugely beneficial experience to actually put those skills that we learned to use,” said Rants. “It can feel very theoretical and isolated when you are just doing courses without this experience because you do not interact much with other people. Tech Solutions gave me the experience to manage soft skills working on a project with somebody and addressing a customer. It is great that you get hardware and software experience too.”

A Tennessee Promise student and CIT major, Rants joined the United States Space Force after graduating in May to work in cyber security. After bootcamp in Texas this summer, Rants will be assigned additional technology training in Florida or California and serve a six-year commitment. 

The Space Force is the newest branch of the military. According to their website, “The U.S. Space Force protects our country and the freedom to operate in space, keeping it secure, stable and accessible for military space power and new waves of innovation.”

All three graduates found their future through the CIT program and internships in Tech Solutions. Milen summed it up by saying, “Cleveland State let me transition smoothly instead of going away for four years. I didn’t have to stop everything in my life to just study on this one topic; everything kept going. I learned new skills and learned more about my future outlook and what I wanted to get into. I loved the remote classes; I never felt that I was left behind. I had the support from my instructors, if I needed it. The internship gave me hands-on experience. Cleveland State gave me everything I can run with – everything else is me from here on out.”

Tech Solutions is open Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. during fall and spring semesters in the Career Education Building Room 108-A. For information about Tech Solutions, call 423-473-2361 or email techsolutions@clevelandstatecc.edu. For more information about the CIT program, call 423-478-6224 or email CIT@clevelandstatecc.edu

Photo Cutline: Tucker Hill is pictured above inside the Tech Solutions lab.