“My takeaway from Kettering was exceptional because I didn’t view my five years there as a five-year lesson plan, I viewed it as a life lesson plan. ”
Rocco Alberino (’22, CE) has a different experience every time he goes to his Co-op at the Geauga County Auditor’s Office in Ohio.
“The really interesting thing about working here is that every single thing I do is different,” he said. “… There’s not one thing I do every day where I’ll end up with the same solution.”
Alberino’s supervisor and fellow Kettering graduate, Geauga County Auditor Charles Walder (’79, ME), recognized the uniqueness of a government Co-op, but said it’s something more municipalities should consider.
Knowing how valuable his own Co-op experience has been, Walder reached out to Kettering for a Co-op student to “secure the future of the IT Center by bringing in fresh, outside blood and infuse some of the manufacturing disciplines,” he said.
“Every work assignment I review and we all have to do our share of filing papers and making copies, but if I’m finding [Alberino] is doing that 80 percent of the time, he’s going to get a different boss or I’m going to take him under my wing,” Walder said. “At Terex, I was mentored by a GMI graduate and he got it. He knew the best students come out of systems by having a varied in-depth work experience, coupled with a great education.”
Alberino is assigned to the county IT Center, but spends most of his time doing work for all county offices. He has been completing his Co-op work in Geauga County for more than a year.
“I never would have thought that going to school at Kettering could get me a position in government,” Alberino said. “If you have the know-how and can start off somewhere, it’s a stepping stone and you can keep going further.”
One of Alberino’s primary roles has been adding various software to computer workstations so that county employees could work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The county also soon will begin construction on a $40 million administration center, and Alberino will be part of the team that designs the IT components of the building, Walder said.
“I’ve asked the co-director to allow Rocco to work with him to get that experience of how do you set up and build a brand new facility; what concerns and considerations do you have to vet and go through to determine the IT needs met by all different users?” he said.
The facility will also be used by the Board of Directors and County Commissioners for meetings. Every office is expected to have wall-mounted monitors with the ability for employees to use CISCO to VPN into their workstations if they are working remotely.
Alberino’s previous Co-op was at Bosch, a German engineering company with offices around the world, including five in Michigan. He started at Geauga County because he wanted to find a Co-op closer to his parents’ house, and he’s happy with the outcome.
“I like that it’s versatile,” he said. “I get different experiences in customer relations. I get to talk directly to the end-user of all of the different technology. I’m not talking with employees who are mandating the different tasks and jobs I do. I’m helping with issues, troubleshooting and building computers that people are going to use. It gives me a lot of opportunities to get experience in a lot of different things, while being out of my comfort zone.”
Both Alberino and Walder credited Kettering with the right skills to take on their jobs.
“Kettering has helped me further my problem-solving skills,” Alberino said. “… Kettering has let me gain a lot of leadership skills; I haven’t been able to express them yet, but it’s helpful to get that background to be in a position like this, to be thought of as an option to do something like this.”
Walder agreed about the problem-solving skills and added, “My takeaway from Kettering was exceptional because I didn’t view my five years there as a five-year lesson plan, I viewed it as a life lesson plan. It taught me how to think. I think that is the strength of an educational environment with a Co-op experience.”
Now that Alberino has been with the county for more than a year, his colleagues are requesting him in their departments.
Alberino said students shouldn’t be afraid to try a unique Co-op such as government.
“I think it’s a great idea to at least give it a try because you might learn there are a lot of other jobs your degree can get you,” Alberino said. “… I can guarantee they’ll find something they’ll love.”