Broadstairs College - Rhien Salgado-Jones - Case Study
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Rhien Salgado-Jones - Case Study

Rhien left Broadstairs College only 5 years ago, having studied Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Information Technology. She now works for Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a Professional Services Engagement Manager. She caught up with us to share her story about being a College Alumni and what it is like to be a woman in STEM.

Why I chose College

College is a great choice, not just for vocational qualifications but academic qualifications too. My path from College has led me to a career in cloud computing that otherwise would have been much harder to achieve.

I studied Information Technology at College, which covered various modules, ranging from games development to systems analysis. Having this variety meant that I could try all aspects of the technology industry to find out what I enjoyed the most.

The course curriculum strongly aligned with my university degree. Having studied computing before starting university gave me an advantage compared to some of my cohort that hadn’t specifically studied computing before.

Another aspect of College that really benefited me was the condensed timetable. Having my timetable condensed into a three-day week rather than spread across the week allowed me to balance my studies with part-time jobs. Working whilst studying gave me valuable experience in the working world, which later in my career, I relied on during job interviews.

My Career

After finishing College, I continued my studies at university where I studied Computer Science with a Year in Industry. In 2020 I graduated with a First Class Bachelor of Science degree. This gave me the experience and skills needed to secure a role in Cloud Computing. After graduating, I joined Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a Professional Services Engagement Manager.

My career within AWS started by joining their Professional Services Graduate Programme. The programme is designed to support new graduates in building the strong, foundational technical and soft skills required to consult with our Public Sector customers. During my first year, I have gained several AWS certifications, other industry recognised certifications and gained hands-on experience working on customer engagements.

As an Engagement Manager, I am responsible for planning and leading customer engagements and working closely with key stakeholders and technical consultants. The role I have now is already beyond what I imagined I could achieve (and it’s only just started!). It is thanks to my college tutors that I continued to pursue a career in technology after college.

My Advice to current and prospective students

I would advise all prospective students to do their research, work backwards from where they want to be and find out what it takes to get there. If the career you want requires a degree, make sure you know early on and research what entry requirements the courses have. That way, you can start college knowing exactly how you need to finish and what you’re working towards.

A great piece of advice given to me by one of my college tutors is a quote shared with him by his teacher: ‘Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence... Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.’ This isn’t to say you don’t need to be educated because knowledge is powerful, but you must know how to persist. Opportunities pass all the time, but it’s up to you to take them up because nobody else will get you where you want to be. Be curious and take advantage of the opportunities you’re offered. Looking back, some of the opportunities I took up didn’t seem like they would be relevant to my future at the time; they were just a quick way to make money or something I did for fun. Those little things were what led to big things. Nobody gets success overnight, it’s all about the small steppingstones you take to get there. So, say yes to what comes your way, you don’t know where it will lead.

Women in STEM industries

More specific advice that I would give to any women considering a career in science, technology, engineering & maths (STEM) relates to my earlier advice: persist. If you’re thinking about going into STEM there are a few things you should know. Firstly, you will inevitably be the only woman in the room most of the time - that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there. Secondly, diversity in STEM is growing, be an ambassador for that change. Lastly, technology can be found in every industry, you’re making a great choice!