When Matt Green left his corporate job as a programmer analyst to become a Computer Information Systems instructor at Waukesha County Technical College, he wasn’t sure what to expect.
"I was asked how I felt about the fact that I will never be promoted again," said Green, who managed technical employee development in his prior position. "The ladder was gone – no one is below you and you have no heights to reach. As I pondered this, I realized that in the future my performance would really be measured by the success of others."
Now in his fourth year teaching at WCTC, Green enjoys seeing students from all backgrounds grow as professionals and individuals in such a short time.
"It is especially engaging to balance the needs of students that are in serious transition with the professionals from the field who are in the same classes for continuing education," he said.
Students enrolled in Green’s Information Systems Project class – the Capstone for the Web and Software Developer program – recently designed the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission’s new website.
In the Capstone course, students build applications or websites for real customers, such as non-profit organizations, government entities or WCTC teams. Nine students spent the entire 2011 fall semester building the site, which went live in June 2012.
"This project was relatively difficult," Green said. "The students coped by leaning heavily on the skills and experiences they had before they started the program. This really prepared them for the job hunt, which was going to require them to sell the combination of skills they learned in the program with the experiences they had coming in."
The WERC project set the bar a little higher for Green’s expectations of Service Learning projects, which integrate meaningful community service with instruction and reflection, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.
"Ever since that class, I have looked for more and more ways to introduce real-world work to my classes," he said. "I became one of two co-advisors for the Business Information Technologies (BIT) Connections Club, which is very involved in Service Learning."
Now instead of promotions, Green attends his students’ graduations. The corporate parties celebrating successful projects have been replaced by emails from graduates showing pictures of their nameplates from their new corporate jobs.