Name: Wrienne Mitchell
Hometown: Athens, Ohio
Year Graduated: 2005
School: J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies
Major: Information and Telecommunication Systems (formerly Communication Systems Management)
Current job title and location: Sr. network engineer with Covia Corporation in Independence, Ohio.
What do you do? I’m part of a larger IT team within Covia that is responsible for the deployment, operation and maintenance of technology at more than 200 locations in North America. Covia was formed through the merger of a privately held company and a publicly traded company in 2018. So most of my work centers around bringing together the best pieces and parts of both organizations to create a new, cohesive and unified network. As a senior level resource, my role is wide-ranging in nature. If it touches the network, I’m involved on some level. I work on troubleshooting outages, reprogramming existing network equipment and developing network migration plans, network design standards, IT acceptable use policies and regulatory compliance standards.
Tell us about your career path. I started out working with Ohio University’s IT group after graduating, doing work on a campus-wide wireless deployment. From there, I entered the world of consulting. I landed a job with a Cisco reseller in Cleveland doing a lot of the same wireless work I did at OHIO. I hit the ground running, but, for me early on, career progress was a touch slow. I took a good bit of time to learn as much as I could in the wireless world and get certified. Through 13 years of consulting at three different firms, I’ve been able to design and deploy advanced wireless solutions for business across the board… from small business to Fortune 500’s, from local work to national and even some international projects across almost all vertical markets. Consulting work provides a quick professional growth route, but there is a tradeoff: long, often odd, hours, market swings slowing business, and a lot of travel. Since the birth of my son, my priorities, goals and career aspirations have changed. I’m now enjoying the benefits of working with one company and having limited travel.
What made you come to Ohio University? Were there other places you considered? That’s actually a peculiar story with a Shakespearian-like plot twist. Growing up in Athens, with both parents working at the University, one would assume my attendance at OHIO was a forgone conclusion, but it wasn’t. Going into my senior year of high school I was set on going to OHIO. However, during my senior year, my dad accepted a role at Wake Forest University. I had the grades and test scores, so I applied. Why pass up the opportunity for a great school, right? Crickets. Accepted to OHIO; Wake, nothing. Deadlines came and passed with no acceptance or rejection letter. So, I put in my deposit at OHIO. Summer rolls around, and I’m finally told I was accepted to Wake Forest, but it was too late: I was going to Ohio University. As it turns out, my application to Wake Forest was on the desk of an administrator who unfortunately and unexpectedly passed away. Wake Forest did not have a major comparable to the ITS program…. I wouldn’t be the professional I am today if not for fate stepping in the way.
How did the Scripps College of Communication equip you with the skills you needed to succeed? How didn’t it prepare me? The faculty and staff that support the Scripps College of Communication are among the best at Ohio University. The professional reputation of the programs in the college are no fluke. The breadth, depth and structure of classes enabled me with so much knowledge—not only for my core profession, but also in terms of being a professional in general. Some of the most important information I’ve utilized in the professional world came from classes in Communication Studies and Political Communication.
What about your experiences here was so memorable? Spending two years as the Student Senate representative for the College of Communication allowed me to work with people in every school and in many of the professional student organizations. By far the most memorable part of working with everyone in the school was seeing the passion and excitement that everyone had for what they were doing. Top to bottom, the culture of the college builds smart and passionate professionals.
What advice do you have for current students? Save as much money as possible early in your career, never forget the life lessons you’ve learned—both good and bad, and remember, you are never done learning. Keep in touch with the people who have a positive impact in your life. And, absolutely, stay up to date on the technology that defines and drives your job and industry.
Most importantly, when people tell you reach for the stars, know what that really means. There’s one billion trillion stars in the observable universe. There’s no rule that says you can only pick one, and there’s no predetermined path. Your personal and professional aspirations are likely to shift and change as you continue to experience, learn and grow. Many of the most successful business professionals never thought they would be in the position they currently hold upon leaving college. Don’t be afraid of change, find where you fit well and enjoy the journey.