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Computer science student wins award for internship work

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Mar 16, 2022

Internships help college students gain critical real-life work experience before they finish their academic program. For College of Lake County (CLC) student Tomas Sagartz, his internship gave him even more when he won the Cooperative Education and Internship Association (CEIA) 2022 Two-Year College Student Achievement Award. 

Photo of Tomas SagartzSagartz started at CLC in fall 2020. He originally applied to a dozen four-year colleges during his senior year of high school, but because of the pandemic, he felt like CLC was the best option to save money while also having a pathway to a four-year school. 

While looking for an internship last summer, Sagartz went to the Career and Job Placement Center (CJPC). He received help finding an opportunity that fit his field of study. The year before, Sagartz also utilized the CJPC to find a paid apprenticeship. 

“The CJPC is an amazing resource full of really helpful people,” Sagartz said. 

Sagartz is interested in studying bioinformatics and computational biology, an interest he discovered during his time in the IT bridge prerotational apprenticeship. For the apprenticeship, affiliates gave lectures about different areas of technology. One of the presentations he found most interesting was about DNA work and informational biology. 

Sagartz’s latest internship was in a different technology field. He worked with the Archdiocese of Chicago School District providing help desk support for the Power School software. 

“I wanted a position in IT,” he said. “Help desk positions require a lot of problem solving and computer skills, two things that apply to all sciences.”  

While he doesn’t want to pursue a career in IT, the experience was still beneficial.  

“I had never worked in a company setting before,” Sagartz said. “This experience taught me how to interact with coworkers, ask for help, work as a team and interact with a lot of different people.” 

He won the Two-Year College Student Achievement Award in January after his employer nominated him. The recognition boosted Sagartz’s confidence and has driven him to look for more opportunities. 

After his internship ended, Sagartz was rehired to work the same position part-time while he continues his education.  

Sagartz was recently accepted at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he plans to double major in molecular cellular biology and computer science, with help from CLC’s engineering transfer pathway to the university. 

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.