Jordan Swanson loves his job. As the technology support specialist at Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, Florida, he is solely responsible for 600 Windows-based computer operating systems, 150 printers and 1300 chrome books, all of which are used by more than 100 faculty and staff, and an estimated 1200 students. When he is not working, he is going to school full time to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer information technology with a focus on networking. It is safe to say that he stays very busy.
“My job has provided me with the best learning experience. When I took the job, the person who held the position before me was unable to be there to guide me in the position, so I just had to get in there and do it,” he said.
Before immersing himself in the world of technology, Swanson was a student at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering. With no real desired career in mind, he assumed he would just earn his degree and find a job. Realizing that idea was no longer his intended path, he took a semester off and traveled.
“When I got back, my friend and I were discussing video games, and he kept telling me how PC gaming is much better,” he said. “I needed a new computer for myself anyway, so I decided to just build my own.”
After watching numerous YouTube videos, researching and ordering the necessary parts, he built his computer in three days, saying, “I’ve always been a Mac person, so it took a lot of planning in order to build a PC. Through that process, I discovered I had an interest in computer networking.”
A few acts of fate put Swanson on the path to Hodges after discovering FGCU did not offer a program in networking. While working at a restaurant, Swanson learned about Hodges after two Hodges employees visited the establishment and began talking to him about the school. “What is also funny is that my girlfriend went into Staples one day and met Amanda Lanham who told my girlfriend that her mom was the program chair of the computer information technology program at Hodges,” he laughed.
Deciding the signs were pointing to Hodges, he met with an admissions coordinator and toured the campus. Enrolling in the winter 2015 semester, one of his first classes was Introduction to Hardware with Professor Jim Nichols. “Professor Nichols is one of the best professors I’ve ever had. He has such a passion and is always pushing his students to learn more,” he said. “It’s easy to want to learn more because he makes everything so interesting.”
During his second semester, Swanson was encouraged by former faculty member Dr. James Short to apply for an IT support internship with the school district. Short is currently the assistant director of technology for the Lee County School District. For two months, Swanson’s internship included visiting schools to pick up old equipment, sell it and replace it with new technology.
Through his work with the school district, Swanson learned about the open technology support specialist position with Harns Marsh Middle School, and one week prior to the start of the fall 2015 semester, he accepted the position and started full time.
“The principal has informed me of a possible technology specialist position they hope to make available, but I must have a degree in order to apply. Once I graduate, I am hopeful I will be able to move into that role,” he said.
With a few years left in his degree program, Swanson is staying busy going to school full time and receiving real-world experience through his job and on-campus activities. As vice president of the Fisher School of Technology (FSoT) Society, Swanson has worked closely with students and professors to serve as representatives of Hodges at charitable community events, including Relay for Life. In February 2016, FSoT Society members volunteered to build the internal network for Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc. (WWA) located in Cape Coral, Florida. The students installed computers, printers and Internet, making sure the network and Wi-Fi ran properly.
In addition to their charitable work, the society most recently adopted Treeline Elementary in Fort Myers to teach children about coding, programming and robotics. Although Swanson works alongside children every day, he never gets tired of seeing them get excited about technology.
“At work, I have encouraged students to enroll in Riverdale’s IB program because of their interest in technology. I have told students to apply and watched them be accepted into Dunbar’s Technology Academy, a Microsoft Showcase School. Every day, I get to do something meaningful for the students and teachers,” he said.
Obtaining knowledge both inside and outside the classroom, he credits his professors for teaching him about the “tips, tricks and horror stories” of working in the field.
“It has been ingrained into my mind that I should always check the logs. Professor Nichols shared with us something he experienced in the field and when trying to resolve the issue, no one had checked the logs. When I’m at work and something is not right, the first thing I do is check the logs,” he laughed.
Designed to prepare students for careers in computer information systems, the computer information technology program at Hodges provides opportunities for students to receive industry recognized certifications, including A+, Net+, Security+, Linux+, MCAS, CCNA, MCP, MCSA and ICCP C++.
“The curriculum at Hodges mirrors what you need in order to pass the certifications, which are necessary when obtaining certain positions in the technology field,” he explained. “Yes, it is great to have certifications in things like Word and Excel, but many technology-based industries are looking for the ‘big’ certifications Hodges offers its students.”
“Had I not come to Hodges, I would not have the support from the professors, the opportunity to get involved in the society, the friendships I have formed, or the job that I love. Hodges University is the primary factor for what my life is right now, and for that, I am grateful.”