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Chelsea Hall-Fitzgerald, Collin College

Chelsea Hall-Fitzgerald was an art major, sported rainbow-colored hair, and had a part-time job in a big box appliance store when she began her computer networking certificate at Collin College. Computer Information Systems Professor Michael Harsh brought her to meet Ann Beheler as a potential mentor early in her studies. He thought she had promise, but was concerned she might get lost in the nearly all-male classes.

Hall-Fitzgerald and Beheler, who is the NISGTC principal investigator, met regularly to discuss technical and professional issues over a year’s time. When Hall-Fitzgerald had nearly completed her certificate course work, Beheler gave her the opportunity to talk about her studies in front of a business panel. As a result, she was encouraged by one business representative to apply for a junior IT project coordinator position with AMX by Harman despite the listed requirement of a bachelor’s degree.

The NISGTC career coaches and Beheler jumped into action. They offered advice on updating her resume, peppered her with interview questions, suggested ways to improve her posture, and advised her to make eye contact. Hall-Fitzgerald humorously recalls Beheler telling her to dye her hair a single, more natural color, and not to wear the rings she twists when nervous.

Hall-Fitzgerald followed the educators’ advice. She won over the interview panel with her tenacity, excitement for IT, and professional comportment, said Matt Glover, senior director of Global IT at AMX by Harman.

Her starting salary was mid five-figures. About the time she finished her associate degree in June 2015, she was promoted to network engineer and received a $10,000 raise.

As she works full time, Hall-Fitzgerald continues to take classes toward her bachelor’s degree in engineering with a specialty in IT and a minor in management with partial support from AMX.