Tom Thiel is more than the lead guitarist in the award-winning rock band Boxkar. The 45-year-old Appleton native also just completed the Information Technology (IT) Software Developer program at Fox Valley Technical College and is pursuing another degree in Web Development and Design.
“I wanted to learn something that was practical and usable in the real world,” Thiel says. “There is an artistic element to both songwriting and web design, but they also both require real skills. The more you know, the more options you have with your creativity.”
Thiel plans to continue with Boxkar while running his own business as a mobile application developer after graduating from the Web Development and Design program. “This would give me the freedom to keep performing while advancing professionally,” he says.
Thiel also credits FVTC for helping him promote his band. “While at Fox Valley Tech, I learned how to interact with Facebook and Instagram while also incorporating Twitter feeds in the band’s website,” he says. “By using social media, we expanded our fan base during the Hard Rock Café competition, coming in first place in Chicago, third in the U.S., and fifth globally.”
Like Thiel, many professionals are returning to college to upgrade their IT skills. A recent U.S. News & World Report article cited that IT professions in software development, computer systems analyst, and web development all rank in the top 10 as the best jobs nationwide for 2014.
“When employers look to fill almost any position, a solid technical background helps a prospect stand out,” states Doug Waterman, associate dean of IT and distance learning at FVTC. “Many of our graduates also go on to combine new skills with their technical knowledge for a variety of career options.”
About 95-100 FVTC students graduate from a total of six IT-related programs each year
17 K-12 school districts in the state work with FVTC’s IT programs through the Wisconsin eSchool Network
1st place finishes in the annual Association for Information Technology Professionals national competitions three of the last four years
IT professionals in software development, computer systems analyst, and web development all rank in the top 10 as the best jobs nationwide in 2014. (U.S. News and World Report)