Preparation Means Opportunity for Recent SC State Graduates

Friday, July 8, 2011

Brittany BurgessTwenty-one year old Brittany Burgess can talk for hours about computer science. Although she often forgets to put the information in layman’s terms, one can easily tell that Burgess is adamant about pursuing a career in the field. When asked, “why are you so excited about computer science,” the SC State alumna answers, “since childhood I’ve had a fascination with the computer science field and now I finally get the opportunity to have a career in something that I enjoy.” It’s also a huge incentive that Burgess will begin work in the field at the end of this month.

In a strife economy, Burgess, a May 2011 SC State graduate, along with Jared Murph, Carlos Mole and Brian Collins, three additional May graduates from the computer science program at the University, have begun work with the strategy and technology consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton. Based in McLean, Va., Booz Allen’s recruiter, James Cotten, recently visited the University to find students interested in Java, systems development, coding, strategic technology programming and cyber security. Cotten’s interest in SC State was peaked after meeting with Career Center director, Joseph Thomas, and after recruiting one of the four May 2011 graduates, Jared Murph. Preparation meant opportunity for Murph and his three fellow graduates.

“Jared participated in our Booz Allen cyber cohort internship program,” said Cotten. “Jared participated in this program with individuals from Perdue University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Polytechnic University and Indiana State University. He was the only student from a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) and he did really well.”

The key factor in students prospering at Booz Allen, according to Cotten, are the four functional capabilities by which their program is broken down, to include analytics, technology, operations and strategy, allowing workers to maneuver within a team environment. “One of the things that individuals love is the ability to work across different functional capabilities and to learn outside of their norm or outside of what their major focus was in school,” said Cotten.

Murph, who will begin his permanent job with the company on July 25, 2011, agrees. Murph enjoyed the team atmosphere and the flexibility that Booz Allen offered him on various projects. “I was on the cloud computing team,” said Murph. “I created Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and Windows 7 virtual machines, and then I installed Outlook and Microsoft Word on these machines and converted them into templates that could be used on any machine,” noted Murph. “Plus, I was on the cyber cohort team which deals with cyber security, meaning that if someone tries to hack into the network, we find ways to make the system more secure. People see this in the movies, but it really happens.” Murph’s diligent work within the cyber cohort gained him a number of industry recognized technical certifications.  

Murph and CollinsMurph’s summer experience with Booz Allen is one motivating factor for Burgess’ enthusiasm over her first full-time opportunity. The Kingstree, S.C. native says the company has many factors that differentiate it from other organizations that she has worked for in the past. “One determining factor about Booz Allen is that they actually work collectively with their clients and they seem to adapt a personal relationship among each other,” stated Burgess. “In my previous internships, I didn’t have the chance to test the waters. My primary focus was only programming code. Here, you get to go out of your element, talk to your clients and develop and learn new ideas.”

Murph and Burgess credit networking and SC State for their opportunity. “SC State prepared me a lot as far as core classes, learning how to work with people and learning diversity,” stated Burgess.  “The Career Center was great with interviewing and resume building.” In fact, Burgess gives significant praise to her Career Center specialist, Sherry Mack-Michael. Mack-Michael notes that the Career Center is consistently available to assist students in preparing for their prospective careers. “We offer guidance to students from their freshmen through their senior years,” stated Mack-Michael. “We are here to ensure that students get the best preparation so that they may flourish in this highly competitive global society.”

Thomas says that it is ultimately the student’s effort that gives them an opportunity, even in an ailing economy.  “We are here to assist students with the necessary connections for employment that are synonymous with their training,” stated Thomas. “However, a student who is prepared, attends class regularly and begins to look for jobs early will almost always find an opportunity that they will enjoy. We are proud of all of these students and wish them the very best in their future endeavors.”

For more information on a career with Booz Allen, contact the SC State University Career Center at (803) 536-7033 or visit the company website at