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QCC's Annual Tech Breakfast Posthumously Honors Company COO

February, 2020
  • From left: Kristen Foster and Matt Foster receive an award in memory of Whit Foster from Professor Charulata Trivedi.
    From left: Kristen Foster and Matt Foster receive an award in memory of Whit Foster from Professor Charulata Trivedi.
  • QCC grads and current employees of Storm Petrel, Story DuVall and Daniel Margolis, interview a QCC student.
    QCC grads and current employees of Storm Petrel, Story DuVall and Daniel Margolis, interview a QCC student.

It’s been close to 10 years since Quinsigamond Community College’s Computer Information System (CIS) Department began its cooperative/internship program. In that time, 72 QCC students have taken part in internship and co-op opportunities that have led many to careers in the technology space.

One local company, which has played a major role in QCC’s program is Avatar Computing, Inc. For close to 10 years, the company, which does a great deal of R&D work for the U.S. government, has been hiring QCC students to work on achievable projects that have enabled them to learn valuable, real world skill sets.

“We saw this as an opportunity to test the waters,” said Avatar’s CIO, Matt Foster. “The government was also willing to give the students feedback.”

This became a perfect partnership for both QCC and Avatar, and one that both felt was mutually beneficial. To date, a half dozen QCC graduates have been hired, with two or three still working for the company.

“Avatar helped us to keep going with the program and gave us an opportunity to continue the program,” said Charulata Trivedi, professor of Computer Information Systems.

One person who was intimately involved with the internship program with QCC was Avatar COO Whitney “Whit” Foster. Sadly, last October, Mr. Foster passed away from an illness. In honor of his contribution to the program, QCC honored him posthumously at the Annual Tech Apprentice Breakfast, held on February 26 at the Harrington Learning Center, located on QCC's main campus.

QCC’s Vice President of Academic Affairs, James Keane, presented a plaque to Mr. Foster’s brother Matt and wife, Kristen at the breakfast in honor of his amazing contributions.

“We want to recognize the special partnership we’ve had with the Avatar family and one of its founding members, Whitney Foster,” said Mr. Keane. “The impact he’s had on our students has been invaluable.”

 “He was very proud of the program,” Matt Foster said.

Another company that has played an instrumental role in the program is Storm Petrel LLC, a Vermont-based company that has been bringing on QCC students as interns. Often these interns are hired when they graduate. In fact, in 2016 the company did a Skype interview with a perspective QCC student intern and ended up ultimately hiring the student upon her graduation. Subsequently that student has come back to QCC and hired another QCC student, with the cycle repeating.

Two QCC 2019 grads, Story DuVall and Daniel Margolis were part of this hiring cycle. They both started out as interns before being hired part-time, then full-time by Storm Petrel. Both graduates were recruited by another former QCC intern, Raul Gomez, a 2018 QCC graduate of the CIS program, who ended up getting hired by Storm Petrel LLC as a programmer. He was back last year as an employer for the company and recruited Ms. DuVall and Mr. Margolis.

“I started as an intern unpaid, went to part-time and then full-time,” Ms. DuVall said. “I was hired as a programming trainee and now I’m migrating away from that a bit.”

“I took the same path to Storm Petrel,” said Mr. Margolis, who is working as a corporate administrator for the company. “I came to QCC after having my masters. My job had ended so I came to QCC to change career tracts.”

After an informational presentation by Ms. Trivedi, students were able to do a type of “speed interviewing” spending seven minutes with each employer before moving onto the next one.

“This is a real great opportunity,” said Michael Jennette, internship coordinator for the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office. “We certainly like working with Quinsig.”

Companies taking part in this year’s program include:

  • Worcester County District Attorney’s Office
  • Avatar
  • QCC
  • Art Reach
  • Storm Petrel
  • Center for Applied Behavioral Instruction
  • Table Talk
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