WIT+ Member Spotlight

WIT+ Member Spotlight

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What brought me to tech

The IT field was one that was never on my radar as a potential career path. I knew enough about computers to troubleshoot, but nothing more technical than that. I feel there comes a point in everyone’s lives where the need for more is there and the want for something different gets stronger. Some people are okay with being stagnant and the status quo and that is okay. I do not know if it was an opportunity, the “right time”, or the stars aligning, but the IT field seemed to have found me.

 In 2012, my initiation into the IT field occurred while working at the Northeast Regional Center For Rural Development in the College of Agricultural Sciences as an Administrative Coordinator at Penn State. Tasked with processing various financial requests using a 1960s Mainframe for tasks like payroll and invoice payments, I took the initiative to teach myself. Encouraged by my director, I engaged in professional development to enhance my technical knowledge. This effort resulted in a significant reduction in the number of submissions returned for errors. Furthermore, as the Center embarked on multiple projects simultaneously, my director expressed the need for websites for several of them. At that time, I researched various website builders and I acquired the skill of building these websites through a process of trial and error.

 During my time at the Center, I engaged in frequent conversations with a close friend who worked in IT. As she described her job, I found it intriguing. Eventually, she informed me about an opening in her department and encouraged me to apply. I was initially hesitant and questioned my level of IT experience and whether I could contribute to the team. Despite my doubts, with unwavering faith and encouragement from this friend, along with support from my family and friends, I took a leap of faith and applied for the position. I received an offer and happily accepted the position, eagerly looking forward to my next adventure. This decision turned out to be the best decision I ever made, and I have never looked back; I love what I do and would not change a thing. My journey in IT has been filled with accomplishments that I never thought were possible. I have been fortunate to collaborate with an exceptional team and manager who provided consistent support and guidance throughout my IT tenure. This group is not just colleagues; they have become friends and feel like family. I owe much of my IT journey to the encouragement and faith instilled in me by my great friend.

 What I would be doing if not in IT

A career concept frequently discussed with my dad was venturing into business consulting. The objective would involve studying the processes of businesses, using the acquired data to offer recommendations for improving not just operational efficiency but also implementing cost-saving measures, enhancing employee morale, reducing turnover, and increasing customer satisfaction. The notion of utilizing my business degree to aid businesses in elevating their practices and standards for greater success appeared both challenging and fulfilling. It is a career where I could genuinely contribute to making a positive difference. Although additional business education would be necessary, the words of Nelson Mandela resonate: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."


 



Cordelia Geiken manages two critical teams within Technology Services: Quality Assurance and Assessment, responsible for evaluating and testing all products produced or purchased by Tech Services, and web hosting, responsible for website platforms offered to the campus community. She leads both teams deftly while also leading individuals with different reporting lines to achieve common goals. 



As someone who has improved her skills over more than 30 years of work on campus—starting as a student worker and later becoming the first webmaster on campus, thanks to Mosaic—Geiken also encourages her staff’s professional development. An advocate for inclusivity, she is involved in both campus and Big Ten-level organizations to strengthen women's recruitment, retention, and advancement in IT. 



Along with managing two teams, Geiken co-chairs the campus Web Implementation Guidelines Group. This cross-disciplinary team has created free templates, tools, and resources to help units across campus build and maintain engaging, useful, and accessible websites that meet brand standards, saving units time and money while facilitating a stronger, more consistent web presence across the university.