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Montgomery College Student Success Stories

College’s Tech LEAP Program Puts Adults on Fast Track
Montgomery College Today, Spring '02

Jennifer Maroney TripodiWhen Jennifer Maroney Tripodi started thinking about a career switch to information technology, she knew she needed training. The Silver Spring resident, a full-time mom and part-time ESOL teacher in the county public schools, considered many options. She finally chose Tech LEAP (Technology Leading Edge Apprenticeship Program), an intensive, seven-month training program under the direction of Montgomery College’s Information Technology Institute that provides high-level computer and networking training for career changers. Maroney Tripodi says she was especially impressed by the fact that she would spend the last two months of the program as a paid intern at an area technology firm, gaining not only on-the-job training, but also money to help offset the cost of the program. “There are a lot of programs out there,” she said. “Anybody can go to class and take a test, but I work better with someone guiding me on the job.”

Tech LEAP is selective—applicants must pass an aptitude test to be considered. Maroney Tripodi says when she applied, only about one-quarter of applicants were accepted into the program. According to Steve Cain, director of the College’s Information Technology Institute, nearly 75 people have completed the program and most are now working in a new role they find satisfying and challenging. “Employers participating in the internship portion of the program appreciate finding employees who have experience in the workforce and come to the job with good workplace skills,” he said. Classes initially cover basic subjects such as office applications, software design, computer architecture, security, and operating systems, and move to an intense study of computer programming or network engineering. Students spend the final two months in a paid internship with employers such as General Electric, Lockheed Martin, ACS Government Solutions Group, Westat, and Montgomery County Government.

Maroney Tripodi interned at Lockheed Martin; the company offered her a full-time position as a computer systems analyst several months after her internship ended. “I could have gone back to a fouryear college,” she said, “but trying to get back into the workforce, having a family, and having a life would have been difficult. This program fit me where I was as a professional.”