Posted April 6, 2023
What do a client case representative and an IT tech from two different cities (Charlotte and Charleston) have in common? Something that they wish they did not… They both experienced the unique challenges of being college students during the COVID pandemic.
Information science majors Frederick Levine, ‘20, and Vinny Catan, ’22, recently shared their experiences in our iSchool Spotlight of BSIS graduates. Here is what they had to say about their exciting careers, what their workdays look like and how the BSIS program prepared them for their jobs.
Frederick: I was born and raised in South Carolina, so I had a lot of friends who were students at USC. As I knew I wanted to attend a big university, my visit to campus sold me. Nothing can beat the atmosphere of the campus and all that it has to offer.
Vinny: Originally, I wanted to go to UNC Charlotte and major in engineering. Then, I saw the price tag and decided to stay in South Carolina since USC was more affordable. Also, I had a brother at Carolina, and a lot of my high school friends from Fort Mill were students there, so that helped convince me to choose USC.
Frederick: I originally wanted to be a biology major and eventually become a doctor, but I got a C in college which would have kept me out of med school. I was still interested in science, but then I saw something about the Information Science degree on the USC website, so I clicked on the site. I learned that you needed basic computer skills which interested me, and I loved the combination of information science and research.
Vinny: I researched it. I liked the fact that it was a relatively new undergraduate program at USC. I thought the courses were great for transferring into the modern professional world where everything is about information and data. After reading about the BSIS degree, I decided against majoring in engineering.
What is your job title, and what do you do day-to-day?
Frederick: I am a client case representative at Vanguard. I work virtually some days, and I spend 2-3 days in the office. My primary role is to assist and aid business partners such as advisor support groups and retirement services by providing research as well as the resolution of errors through clerical work, fielding calls, and managing my own book of business. I get to help establish and maintain the relationships between business partners and the clients.
Vinny: IT tech. Goodlife Communications Company, LLC. I come up with hardware and software IT Solutions. The job is a very rewarding and challenging position and field. I learn something new every day — installing, maintaining and repairing hardware and software components in commercial networks. Words to describe the position: troubleshooting, teamwork, knowledge about technology, problem solving and network build outs.
What do you like most about your job?
Frederick: I really like the ability to develop financial acumen. I got the job when everything stopped due to COVID. I was hired remotely during that time, and I was in the first experimental group for my department. I have learned so much about finance and investing, and now I can have educated conversations about finance with clients and colleagues.
Vinny: I enjoy my job because through teamwork, effort and a committee of knowledge you can come up with working solutions to complex problems. I enjoy working with technology that helps keep the modern world working.
What skills did you learn in the Information Science program that you can apply in your current role?
Frederick: Research! We are the ones researching and retrieving information to and from our business partners. I read backlogs in the system and do a lot that involves reading codes. Doing the research enables me to make those changes.
Vinny: The most translatable skill is data analysis. It was covered in several classes. I use it every day. Also, working with numbers and using data to solve hardware and software network problems.
Any study strategies and/or advice that you can share with current or future students?
Frederick: Taking notes is important in class, but the relationships with faculty members are also important. Ask for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and utilize all of your resources that are available. Lastly, learn how to conduct your own in-depth searches. That was a great background for my job. Data analytics is so important and a constant need. On our research team, I am able to use social informatics — how to get messages to people using good communication skills. That is important for getting information across to clients.
Vinny: Find a quiet place to study. I studied a lot in the undergraduate lounge in Davis, especially in between classes. I went there a lot, and I went to the Colloquium.
What would you say to high school students or current college students who may want to follow a path like yours, toward a job like the one you have now? Any advice for them?
Frederick: I would recommend applying to internships and getting involved with clubs/extracurricular events around campus. All the professional experience and relationships that can be built along the way will set the foundation and help solidify skills that will translate well to the workplace.
Vinny: An internship program can be a huge asset. It helped me get my job. If possible, I recommend that you complete more than one. I had two. One was in technical sales for HVAC units, and I conducted research about the products. I feel like I am better prepared than some of my coworkers because of the skills I learned in the iSchool. I got a higher paying job because I had this degree and the internship experiences.
Finally, what is your favorite memory from your time at USC?
Frederick: Joining a fraternity (Beta Theta Phi). We had a group that has stayed together since graduation. I made lasting friendships from that. Also, I have great memories of football season, such as waking up early at six a.m. for a noon game at Williams-Brice.
Vinny: In terms of the iSchool, it was my Senior year — the poster presentation event in Davis College that we completed in Dr. Kitzie’s class. But, my favorite memory from USC, overall, is meeting my college girlfriend on a sidewalk in Five Points before COVID began. We got engaged two months ago and the USC friend who introduced us is going to be a groomsman in our wedding.