In the summer of 2008, Chuck Swanson G‘11 was working as an independent consultant and trainer in the IT industry. But as the impact of the Great Recession was felt throughout Central New York and the rest of the world, he knew he needed a change, especially with the amount of worldwide travel necessary for his role. That’s when one of his local clients, Sharon DiFusco ‘14, recommended a master’s degree at the iSchool, along with the Upstate Scholarship program.

Within 20 months, Chuck earned an Executive Master of Science degree in Information Management along with two Certificates of Advanced Study: Information Security Management, and Information Systems and Telecommunications Management. The experience helped him transition from his role as an independent consultant to a job at Microsoft, first as a Senior Technical Account Manager, and currently as a Senior Customer Success Account Manager. Still based in Central NY, Chuck manages some of Microsoft’s largest Fortune 500 manufacturing customers in NY, PA and worldwide.

Today, over a decade later, the global coronavirus pandemic is spurring one of the worst economic crises in American history. Millions of people are looking for new employment opportunities that offer security and stability in these turbulent times.

Meanwhile, the iSchool is working with corporations and organizations here locally and across the globe, all of which are looking for talent in technology and data fields, and are planning to increase hiring in those areas over the coming months and years.

That’s why the iSchool is proud to relaunch the same Upstate Scholarship program that helped Chuck in 2008, providing local students with a 50% tuition waiver and preparing them for these increasingly in-demand jobs in tech.

Anyone looking to reskill, change industries, or use this time as an opportunity to level-up in their career can take advantage of this scholarship.

The award is available to currently graduating college seniors and working professionals residing in the Upstate New York area (that’s all zip codes beginning with 12xxx, 13xxx, and 14xxx).

“The whole idea of this award is to help the industry and the individual,” says Sue Corieri, Assistant Dean for Enrollment Management and Special Academic Program Initiatives, “We want to do our part to help people during this economic crisis, and what better way than to help them jumpstart a career where demand is high, and projected to continue to grow.”

That was Chuck’s experience, thanks in part to an award from the Upstate Scholarship Program.  After going through the iSchool’s uniquely human-centric curriculum, he emerged with a skill set that helps him succeed in his role every day.

Chuck says one of the best of the many valuable classes in the curriculum was IST645 with Art Thomas. “It really complemented the way I can communicate with customers,” he explains, “especially as it relates to Project Management”

Learning to identify his customers’ desires and empathize with their challenges helped Chuck shift his focus more from products to people.  He’s been better able to better present Microsoft as a company that solves business needs vs. selling customers on just a product alone. Recently he has been helping customers transition desktops used in physical locations before the pandemic, to Windows Virtual Desktops running on VMs in Azure cloud-based services to facilitate the needs of customers’ increasingly distributed and remote workforce.

That’s the hallmark of a program that sits at the intersection of business, technology, communications, and society. And those skills are exactly why our graduates continue to land high-paying jobs at top companies even during a global pandemic and recession.

“If you have the talent, it’s less about your location now,” Chuck said as a reminder to graduating students. “There are many opportunities for people in this area to work anywhere, from anywhere, especially in the IT field.”

The Upstate Scholarship will begin for the Spring 2020 semester and continue into 2021. Applications for any term, including summer and fall 2021, will make students eligible for the award.

To learn more about how the iSchool can help you take the next step forward in your career, visit our website.