We sat down with Genesys Works Twin Cities 2018 alumnus and former Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota intern and Think IT Scholar Omar Ceesay to learn about his transition from a two-year college to a four-year college this year.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your college journey?
OC: My most important milestone thus far in my college journey would have to be transferring from Saint Paul College to the University of Minnesota. I think I did a good job of planning my transfer, one lesson I learned is that to really make the most out of your time at a community college, you should plan every semester.
Q: What are your long-term career goals?
OC: I plan on becoming some type of software developer although I’m not sure what area I would be most passionate about. I have thought about going to graduate school for either Computer Science or getting an MBA, but I’m not certain about that yet.
Q: What is an accomplishment from the past couple of years that you are proud of?
OC: My most proud accomplishment in the past few years would probably have to be going through my transfer process in college. I started college in a spot that for some would-be considered “behind” but even so after taking summer classes to catch up, right now my expected graduation is exactly 4 years from the time I started school.
Q: Did your high school internship with Blue Cross Blue Shield impact your career goals? How has your internship with MN DOT enhanced your college experience?
OC: My high school internship absolutely helped impact my career goals. Before my internship, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career but after being exposed to software development I knew for certain that this was the field I wanted to get into. My internship at MNDOT has enhanced my college experience by giving me the opportunity to work at I job I enjoy while still being able to have flexible hours that work around my school schedule. Also, it’s given me the opportunity to experience another side of IT that I would otherwise never have been exposed to.
Q: What have been the biggest differences between being a student at Saint Paul College and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities? Why do you think both of these experiences have been valuable for you?
OC: The biggest difference between being a student at both of these schools would have to be class sizes. Saint Paul College was valuable to me because in smaller classes I feel like I had the opportunity to develop relationships with my professors. At the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities while I don’t have the opportunity to interact with my professors as much, because so many people attend the university, I get to meet many extremely smart and dedicated students either who are classmates of mine or TAs.
Q: What advice do you have for students who may be considering transferring colleges? Why do you think this is a valuable path – attending a two-year and then transferring to a four-year for some students to take?
OC: My biggest piece of advice would have to be talking to the counselors of your major at the university you want to transfer to. When you call the admissions office at your future university, ask for them specifically. Attending a two-year and then transferring to a four-year is valuable because you can save and make a lot of money. At most community colleges, you can likely take long classes that only meet once or twice a week and there are many more evening options as well. So while community college is cheaper, you’ll also be able to work more hours during the day. During my last semester at Saint Paul College, I worked about 24 hours a week, right now at a four-year it’s down to just 10 hours a week.
Q: For you, what does it mean to be a Genesys Works alumnus?
OC: Being a Genesys Works alumnus is significant because it gave me the opportunity to find out what I wanted to do. And even if you don’t find out what you want to do, even finding out what you don’t want to do is valuable
Q: What are you passionate about?
OC: I’m passionate about technology because it allows people to have access to resources that they otherwise wouldn’t have. Resources like Khan Academy can help someone who struggles in almost any subject learn the material at their own pace and other resources like FreeCodeCamp could give exposure to web development in a fun yet challenging way that people of any age could use. And these resources don’t discriminate, you don’t have to pay and you don’t have to dedicate hours a day; you just learn at your own pace.