Instructor keeps his eyes on Industrial Technology grads’ careers
For Fresno campus IT instructor, Chris Barger, his students’ success isn’t measured in program completion, but in full-time employment; and he goes out of his way to help grads realize that outcome. He works steadily with Career Services by providing employer leads, helping to set up student/employer interviews, giving employer background information to students, or starting a dialogue with new IT businesses.
“I know my students aren’t in my class because I’m the coolest person in the world,” he laughs. “They’re here because they need the tools to support themselves and their families. I just help in any way I can.”
“Chris is always engaged with his students and really cares about them,” says Christen Rodriguez, Career Services Manager. “He works closely with Career Services to ensure that each and every one of his graduates is placed.”
Having earned a BS degree at CSUF, and worked in the automotive industry for 15-years, Chris felt ready to fulfill the plan he had in mind since high school.
“My program is a little unique for mechanically inclined folks like myself,” says Barger. I’m a gear-head and my students are gear-heads, and this all clicks for them, especially when we get to the hands-on training. It’s a great moment to see that light bulb go off for them.”
Asked if he had to pick a favorite IT class and subject, Chris did not hesitate.
“If I had to pick a class it’s Industrial Electricity because it really sets our students ahead,” he says.
The most important subject he hopes to drill home to students is professionalism. “If students are fantastic at the hard skills, but they don’t show professionalism in how they speak to associates when they go out to work, they won’t keep their jobs.”
The evening IT program operates at full capacity and has students from all walks of life. “Some have engineering backgrounds and some have never held a tool in their life,” says Barger. “Industrial managers take our program because they’ve hired our graduates and don’t want their employees to know more than they do.”
IT education and training is in-depth and can be a little daunting for some of the students. “Students are working on million dollar pieces of machinery, so it can be a little intimidating,” says Barger. “What I like to see is their confidence grow, as they gain more knowledge and experience.”
Graduates’ stories of success filter their way back into the classroom. “Graduates come out of the classroom ready to go,” says Chris. “They come back and my current students get to hear their success stories and it makes the light at the end of the tunnel a little bit closer.”
For some students it almost doesn’t happen at all. Chris tells of a young man who wanted to start the IT program, but who was experiencing very hard times and could not afford the uniform shirt. Student Services fund helped him out and when he completed the program got a great job in the solar industry.
“For him to go from being that far down to having the means to support his family, was just great,” says Chris. “As a father, I understand that importance.”
There is also a lot of opportunity for females in the IT field. The perception is that, because Industrial Technology is historically male-dominated, women must make three-times the effort to be successful in that environment.
“Employers look at it and though the women must have worked harder to get there, so they get hired pretty quickly,” says Barger. “The female I have in my class is at the top of the class, so proving that theory.”
Male or female, IT students are expected to foster respect at all times. “I treat students with the utmost respect and expect the same in return,” says Chris. “It will help students keep their jobs because they will know how to speak to anyone with respect. From reception and janitors to engineers and managers, showing respect will help their success.”
Academic, technical, behavioral and life lessons are all part of the scope of influence Chris Barger provides his students. It is something he provides without hesitation.
“This is definitely a perfect fit for me, and I love what I do,” says Barger. “Going to class is the best part of my day.”
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