The tech industry is full of opportunities, but what does it take to advance a career in IT? If you ask Rahela Anghel, it all starts with confidence.
Anghel works on Delta Airlines IT transformation team and was recently honored as CompTIA AITP’s Outstanding Student Member of the Year, but she wasn’t always confident that her future was in the tech industry.
Anghel was born in Romania and moved to the U.S. at the age of 16. She didn’t have a background in technology, but became interested in IT career opportunities after landing a job at LexisNexis, working around IT specialists, and observing the collaborative nature of their jobs. She took action and enrolled at Georgia State University to study computer information systems.
When she arrived on campus, Anghel was a little nervous about some of the IT coursework and the prospect of finding a career, but experienced a game-changing moment when she attended a Women in Technology panel discussion.
“It demonstrated that success for someone like me is possible,” said Anghel. “That really encouraged me to reach higher than I thought I could at the time. I started picturing myself as a database administrator or cybersecurity specialist, and I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve taken more chances to be creative and innovative because I saw someone like me excelling and doing great things. I didn’t see myself as someone who could only reach a certain level anymore.”
Anghel began seeking out more events where she could engage with tech industry professionals, including a cybersecurity forum hosted by the CompTIA AITP student chapter at Georgia State University. Hearing directly from local tech leaders helped her better understand which IT skills are in demand, how she could align her coursework to focus on these skills, and to visualize the jobs opportunities they would unlock. She added a concentration in cybersecurity to her major and joined CompTIA AITP.
As a member of CompTIA AITP, Anghel made it a goal to not only prepare herself to jumpstart a career in tech, but to engage her classmates and help inspire them to be confident about a future in tech – just as she was inspired at the Women in Technology forum.
She coordinated with the chapter to drive more events that brought in local tech leaders and focused on ensuring they reflected GSU’s diverse student body.
“It’s important to engage professionals and demonstrate that everyone in the classroom can succeed, regardless of what your background is, what color you are, or the economic status you were born into," said Anghel.
Anghel says the chapter is also focusing engaging students early on - when they are freshmen and sophomores - so they can better understand the career opportunities that exist in IT and which skills match with certain career paths.
“Students often only think about job roles they’ve heard of, “ said Anghel. “Engaging with them early helps them discover what’s out there and puts them on a career track for success.”
The CompTIA AITP student chapter at GSU has grown by 30 percent since the fall semester started and is launching a new mentorship program this spring with local professionals.
Anghel says one thing she’s most proud of is the way the chapter events are mutually beneficial for the both students and local businesses.
“Students are becoming more confident and coming to these networking events with their resumes, and industry professional are coming not only to share knowledge but to recruit,” she said.
Anghel is excited about the career ahead of her, and equally excited about getting more people like her to jump into IT. She says the best way to expand diversity in tech and encourage more women to pursue careers in IT is to motivate professionals who look like them to engage with the younger generation and share their success stories.
“It’s important not to be an isolated success story,” she said. “It’s impactful to see someone like you reaching out and doing great things, and there’s no better way to make an impact than to be that first drop.”Learn more about all our award winners.