As demand grows for developers, new degree and local partnership provide pipeline  

If things go her way, a college internship with LimeLight Marketing will become a full-time job for Faith Hawk, a junior at Pittsburg State majoring in computer information systems. The odds are in her favor. 

It’s how one of Hawk's mentors, Sara Dressler, landed her job with LimeLight, as did colleagues Aaron Troglia, Lydia Winters, and Jared Hight.  

They’re developers, and as such focus on coding, creating websites and email marketing platforms, and software development for the local, regional, and national clients the boutique agency serves. They love the challenge and the combination of creative and analytical skills. 

“We all began as college interns,” Dressler said in a recent interview inside the agency’s audio-visual room, where a photo shoot for a client was being staged. 

“The goal is to stay here” 

Just down the hall from the A/V room, Dressler’s colleagues work in a collaborative space in a renovated historic building in downtown Pittsburg, part of a development called Block22. 

Most are in their 20s and 30s, and all say that LimeLight and the recent revitalization of Pittsburg is what kept them from moving away to a larger city; they can work anywhere as long as they have a strong internet connection — and in Pittsburg, it happens to be very, very good. 

Hawk pointed out other amenities attractive to those her age: a welcoming and supportive culture, an easy commute with not much traffic, and unique restaurants, boutique shops, and coffeeshops within walking distance. 

“The goal is to stay here,” she said. 

They could go anywhere.  

Limelight

Locally and nationally, demand is huge for developers like them, prompting Pittsburg State to begin offering a new degree option that will start with the Fall 2022 semester: Computer Science. It will enable graduates to excel in three main career areas:  

  • computer programmers write and test code. Median pay: $89,100 per year 
  • software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers, design computer applications or programs and identify problems within them. Median pay: $110,100 per year 
  • computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and find solutions that are more efficient and effective. Median pay: $93,700 per year 

Huge demand 

“We are seeing a huge demand for developers, and so are our peers in the industry,” said Brandee Johnson, founder and CEO of LimeLight and a 2001 graduate of Pittsburg State.

The agency has grown from a few employees six years ago, to 25 today, and shows no signs of stopping. Other agencies have even subcontracted with LimeLight for access to their developers in order to fulfil jobs for clients, Johnson said. 

College interns are one solution. 

Troglia, a web development specialist, was one before graduating from Pittsburg State in 2017 with a degree in graphic communications with an emphasis in web/interactive media.  

Dressler was one before graduating in December 2020 with a degree in graphic communications with an emphasis in digital media and web/interactive media. 

Hight, a backend developer, was one, too, before graduating in December 2021 with a degree in computer information systems. 

Winters, a frontend developer/designer, also was one before graduating in 2021 with a degree in graphic communications with an emphasis in web/interactive media and graphic design. 

Limelight 2

New degree 

The new computer science degree at Pittsburg State should funnel more interns and graduates to LimeLight, said Dressler, who felt so strongly about staying in Pittsburg that she recently bought a home — at age 22. 

“It will keep recent graduates from moving away from Pittsburg, allow us to retain talent, and will make the local community that much stronger,” Johnson said.   

To that end, John Kuefler, who wears hats as both a developer for LimeLight and an instructional assistant professor in Kelce College of Business, along with Bobby Winters, associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, have started a monthly meeting of students and professionals in the field. The first attracted more than 20 participants. 

“It’s fantastic to be able to pull likeminded people together for collaboration and networking,” Johnson said.  

Called SEK Dev Connect, it meets in the Community Room at Block22. 

“The more we can bring technology professionals and students together in the community, the better,” said Kuefler. “Having professional meet-ups like this is also a very important thing to be doing as we try to draw people who are interested in remote work to Pittsburg.” 

Johnson, Kuefler, and Winters say they consider LimeLight’s relationship with Pittsburg State to be long-term and beneficial to all. 

We consider this a long-term partnership, and we're committed to bringing our students into contact with potential employers,” Winters said. “We believe this endeavor has far-ranging ramifications for everyone involved.” 

And the new degree? 

“It’s vital,” Kuefler said.


Learn more:

 

pittstate.edu

 

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