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Build Skills and Boost Resume with Office Technology Program

Female student with laptop on campus looking away from camera

When Professor Cindy Garnsey began her career as a high school English teacher in the 1980s, computers were hardly ubiquitous devices. Unless students were studying computer science, most rarely came in contact with the machines.

But now, they’re part of our everyday lives and Garnsey chairs the Howard Community College Office Technology program. Computers and software have become so prevalent, the department could be renamed Office/School/Home Technology. And the field continues to grow.

“Technology waits for no one,” Garnsey said recently on Dragon Digital Radio. “They’re going to keep coming up with new programs and keep doing all these new things. If we want to be included in humanity at this period of time, we’re going to have to jump into the game. I encourage you to do it sooner than later, and have some fun with it.”

The Office Technology program offers more than 25 courses – some integrated into different HCC programs – whether students are looking for career advancement, personal development, or both. Classes are conducted virtually, face-to-face, and in hybrid formats. Through the program’s open-entry learning format, students can take advantage of flexible scheduling and one-on-one instruction, working at their own pace en route to earning valuable Microsoft certifications and HCC letters of recognition.

“In the past, our main degree was called office assistant or administrative professional,” Garnsey says. “That’s a very important career field and I don’t want to diminish it. But the position has changed quite a bit over the last few years. Now, a lot of people in management no longer have that administrative assistant to help them; they’re required to do some of those tasks themselves – creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

“It’s very important that we take a look at all of this technology, not just learning it, but seeing how it can help in whatever field you’re in,” she says. “You don’t have to work in the office or use the technology every single day; the skill sets we teach are going to transcend any career you’re looking into.”

Microsoft certifications are great resume builders that help job candidates stand out in the crowd. Thanks to a Perkins grant, HCC students who take Microsoft courses during the 2021-2022 academic year can also earn specialist certifications free of charge. Garnsey hopes the grant will encourage students to take the first step and enroll in a course, and then take advantage of the opportunity to also earn certification.

In addition to Microsoft certification in individual software programs (i.e., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), students can earn certificates as an administrative professional or healthcare documentation specialist. The latter is in particularly high demand due to the medical field’s soaring growth. “There’s a big need for medical transcriptionists, scribes, and documentation specialists to assist doctors and nurses,” Garnsey says.

The Office Technology program is offering new courses this spring (data cloud storage, virtual workplace communication, and data visualization), as well as a new certification in the fall (Integrated Workplace Technology). For students who simply want to learn Microsoft applications while concentrating on business or general education studies, they can achieve HCC certification as a software applications specialist. It comes with a letter of recognition that the student is proficient in Microsoft Office.

Technology’s pervasive nature and its levels of complexity can be intimidating. Garnsey says that’s understandable, but it shouldn’t deter you from beginning the journey.

“The main thing to understand is that everybody starts somewhere,” she says. “No one is born an expert. Think about what interests you and take the first step to find out more about it. My staff and I are always willing to have a conversation without talking about registration.

“Come talk to us and see what this is all about.”

Learn more about Office Technology at HCC by visiting its program page.

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