MAY 2018

Women in TECH Program Spotlight – Computer Network Engineering Technology

Kelly Kaler


Kelly is enrolled in SJR State’s Computer Network Engineering Technology program. She is shown configuring routers and switches on network equipment located in our Orange Park campus Cisco lab. This Associate in Science degree is a hands-on program that provides students with the skills to analyze, install, configure, manage, and troubleshoot computers in a local and wide area network (LAN/
WAN) environment.

A career in the field of Information Technology (IT) fell into Kelly’s lap as a result of her problem-solving capabilities at a local animal shelter where she currently works. Kelly quickly realized how much she enjoyed solving network issues and wanted to make a career out of it, which led her to enroll at SJR State.

This spring, Kelly will graduate with her Associate in Science degree in Computer Network Engineering Technology.

Kelly, please explain the role of a computer network engineer.

By providing a secure communications infrastructure, network engineers keep data flowing between peripherals, such as printers, whether those peripherals are near or far away. Network engineering is a hands-on, technical role that involves everything from installing and configuring equipment to troubleshooting when problems arise.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of being a network engineer?

Knowing that you are working on critical components for an organization. The area is so broad, and networking will always be an evolving need that provides many new learning opportunities. With that responsibility, usually comes decent pay and the ability to make life easier for all involved. There is a high demand for these skill sets in most companies, giving you the freedom to choose just about any industry you like. It is a global need, and that opens up the opportunity to travel and help other people and businesses around the world.

What are some of your biggest challenges in this field, and what strategies do you use to overcome these challenges?

The most significant obstacle I’ve met is speed; being a perfectionist is one of my biggest struggles. Keeping up with this rate of change requires you, at times, to have to be ready to make split-second decisions -- and be confident in doing so -- with only some of the necessary information available. But I’ve learned to not be too hard on myself.

I’ve also learned to not believe for a moment that I’m only one in class who finds the material challenging. It’s involved stuff, and almost everyone feels this way (except that one guy). But I’ve learned to not be afraid to step away from what I’m working on and come back to it. It helps to take a break, calm down and approach the problem from a new perspective.

Why do you feel it’s important for females interested in IT to not shy away from working in this male-dominated field? What advice would you give to them?

Being unique is important! A woman doesn’t have to act like a man, as it takes away her diversity. Every person can bring something to the table, and that drives innovation.

Don’t get discouraged by things that are new or out of your comfort zone. Like any good challenge, it may seem different, but it will come to be second nature over time. Knowing how something works and runs is quite empowering and is something that no one can take away from you. Recognize the potential in yourself!

Questions about the program? Call 386-0312-4183


Susan Kessler
Director of Public Relations and Publications
(386) 312-4021