May 23, 2019  

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Southern Miss Graduate Eager to Begin Information Technology Career

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Pictured left to right: Mindy Waldrop with Career Services, USM graduate Kelvin Barber, Information Technology Professor Jeremy Graves. (Photo by Tara Burcham)

University of Southern Mississippi graduate Kelvin Barber will soon trade his life as a Hattiesburg college student for a new one as a system engineer with Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, Mo.

Barber, a Natchez, Miss., native and Information Technology major at Southern Miss, will be working with Linux to update systems and software used in hospitals.

Cerner Corporation, Inc. offers “intelligent solutions for the healthcare industry” connecting people and systems at more than 18,000 facilities worldwide. Their services support clinical, financial and operational needs of organizations. The company designs “leading-edge health information technology” and “offer strategies that empower organizations to know, manage and engage their populations.”

A May 2015 graduate, Barber says he will be doing more than just sitting behind a computer. “I will be working with a team of other system engineers to build strategies for solving problems within the system,” he said.

Barber says two things at USM that made a big difference in his ability to land this job right after graduation. “My ITC 471 professor, Mr. Jeremy Graves, teaching me all about Linux operating systems, and USM Career services who really helped me get my resumé together.”

“My resumé needed work and Mindy Waldrop, a counselor in Career Services, reviewed my old resumé and guided me on how to structure a new one. Mindy explained to me exactly how it should be,” said Barber. “She didn’t do the work for me, but told me how to do it and, said she would review it again once I was finished.”

“I followed her directions and constructed it into that perfect form,” said Barber. “Once I emailed it to Ms. Waldrop, she said it was excellent.”

Barber said that made all the difference for him. “I wasn’t getting any contacts using my old resumé. As soon as I structured my resumé the way it was supposed to be, companies started contacting me,” said Barber.

Waldrop says she is glad to see her work making a difference. “All of us at Career Services work hard to prepare students. We provide resources, services and opportunities for students, including career counseling, resumé and cover letter development, practice interviews and so much more,” said Waldrop.

Barber says graduating students need to be sure their resumé is done correctly. “The biggest tip I have for future graduates is to get help with their resumé from Career Services and do it right. Without that revision, I would not be moving to Kansas City.”

Barber says his work in ITC 471 with Mr. Graves was the most important part in him getting the job. “Mr. Graves made a huge difference on my ability to get this job. When they told me the interview was based on Linux, I knew my answers could be found using my notes from class. My ITC 471 notes helped me pass the interview with flying colors.”

Barber says Graves taught Windows and Linux and made sure we knew what we needed to get a good system administrator job using Linux. “What was most helpful in the ITC 471 class was paying attention and taking good notes. Learning the Linux commands was very important. They wanted me to know the Linux commands and exactly what each command does,” said Barber. “And I got all of that from Mr. Graves teaching me what I needed to know.”

Graves, an instructor and Information Technology (ITC) Program Coordinator in the School of Computing, says he was happy to offer guidance for Barber. “Kelvin was a great student. I cannot wait to see what he is able to do with his future. Good things are ahead for Kelvin,” said Graves.

Barber says he took the new resumé and placed it on Indeed.com. “It was two days later. I woke up to an email saying Cerner Corporation was interested in me,” he said. I will never forget reading those words… ‘Your resumé fits what we are looking for, and we would like to schedule you for a telephone interview.’”

Barber went through a phone interview and a virtual interview. “In the interviews, a Cerner representative started out asking me about my background, going down my resumé. He asked me about my classwork and asked a lot of Linux questions. After I interviewed, he told me my answers were excellent,” said Barber.

“They said they would contact me next week. But actually, they contacted me the next day and invited me to Kansas City to visit,” said Barber.

Movie Star Treatment

Barber said he prepared for the trip but was not ready for what transpired. “It was so cool. I got there and was greeted at the airport by a man holding a Cerner sign with my name on it. It was unreal,” he said.

Barber says he was just one of many candidates being considered. “I was with other candidates and a Cerner representative. We took toured Kansas City and had dinner with system engineers who told us what an actual day at Cerner would be like,” he said.

“It was nice getting to know the other candidates and to get a good feeling for the city,” he said. “But I told myself, ‘Don’t lose track. You have three interviews in the morning.’ I studied all that night and made sure I got up early to get ready for the tour of the Cerner building and my interviews.”

Trip to the Top

Barber says he was amazed by the Cerner building. “It was incredible. One of the coolest parts of the tour was the elevators,” he said. “There were no buttons. It was amazing. You tell the elevator where to take you. You say, ‘two,’ and it takes you to the second floor.”

Barber says he appreciates all the help he got at USM. “From helping me with my resumé to getting me ready to answer tough questions, these people made a big difference in my life. I thank them and can’t wait to start my new career,” he said.

For more information about the School of Computing visit www.usm.edu/computing. For more information about Southern Miss Career services, visit www.usm.edu/career-services.