Being the first member of his family to attend and graduate college, Mike Fasil, BS information systems and operations management ’19, is no stranger to breaking ground in academics. Last spring, he added to his list of accomplishments by being the first graduate to receive a credential brand-new to George Mason University, and among the first in the region. The digital technology credential, made available in 2019, is a 15-credit program that emphasizes data analytics, data visualization, and cybersecurity. It was introduced so that a student from any major could be equipped with the digital skills necessary to thrive in the dynamic, technology-driven workforce.
Students minoring in data analysis were first emailed by a faculty member from the statistics department informing them of this cutting-edge opportunity. For Fasil, it was a no-brainer to jump on board. He had already been pursuing the minor because it allowed him to gain a firmer grasp on the technical aspect of information systems. But the more he could learn, the better. "The certification essentially took the impact of the data analysis minor and added more breadth to my STEM-related learning experience," he says. The minor’s curriculum had served as framework for the new credential making the pairing of the two a perfect match.
Fasil is seeing the credential pay major dividends in his current professional position. Now at Deloitte as a business technology analyst, he recognizes the numerous benefits he gleaned from taking the credential’s courses. Among the most critical was the amount of exposure to new technology he received. Instead of potentially being overwhelmed with learning all the new advancements on the job, Fasil had been able to learn at a slower paced classroom setting where asking questions was encouraged.
By learning the cause and effect of different issues, he was able to pinpoint what truly interested him and what he would want to focus on in his future work. "You hear a lot about how cybersecurity is a growing risk, but it isn't until you learn how these risks affect everyday life that it becomes a focus in how you work with data," he says. Overall, the credential provided courses that opened his eyes and expanded his knowledge on topics stemming from the data analysis minor. For instance, he was surprised by how much of the curriculum consisted of coding and mathematics which made him feel even better prepared for his approaching career. Many of Fasil’s peers who also took the credential were contacted for employment opportunities by senior executives interested in the program at Mason.
Fasil believes that there is value in the credential for any person who uses technology in just about any kind of organization. In an age where companies are looking for employees who have extensive knowledge and areas of expertise from day one, the digital technology credential is ensuring students stay ahead of the curve. Mike Fasil is the first success story from its implementation with many yet to come. George Mason School of Business alumni like him will continue to drive the booming Northern Virginia and greater Washington, D.C., region bringing even more prestige to the school’s name.