Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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May 11, 2017

Eric White put all his chips on the career table — and won big

EricWhiteEric White readily admits he does not take risks.

“I am not an impulsive person,” he said. “IT-Ready was a really impulsive decision.”

White said he decided to enroll in IT-Ready, a free IT training and career placement program, after seeing how it transformed — for the better — the life and circumstances of a former housemate. He was working as a retail manager at the time in a local game store, and even though he liked engaging with customers, he recognized that his future promotion opportunities were limited. Plus his monthly wages were well below the federal poverty guidelines.

That’s when his friend gave him a little pep talk and encouraged him to consider IT-Ready.

“Retail wasn’t really getting me anywhere,” White said. “And I had just watched how IT-Ready changed my friend’s life. She got her own place, she was making more money, she worked better hours. She told me, ‘I know you feel like you’re stuck. You need to look at this.’”

So White did — and then took what felt like a huge risk. He volunteered for a demotion at work that allowed him to work less hours and attend class, gave up his store keys, and moved back in with his parents.

“For all intents and purposes, I quit my job for two months and lived off my credit card,” he said.

A program of /home">Creating IT Futures, /developing-programs/it-ready">IT-Ready is an eight-week course that prepares participants to pass the CompTIA A+ certification exam, equipping them with knowledge and skills to secure an entry-level position in IT. Creating IT Futures is a workplace charity founded by CompTIA, the leading IT industry trade association.

IT-Ready is offered completely free of charge, and the program actively seeks to recruit people who are under- or unemployed or who belong to a population underrepresented in the IT workforce, such as women and people of color.

During eight weeks of intensive, classroom-based training, White learned both hard technical and soft professional skills.

On the technical side, he learned such things as laptop and desktop assembly, how to install and configure different operating systems, and how to troubleshoot computers and devices such as smart phones and printers.

On the soft skills front, White learned career-enhancing characteristics such as how to interview effectively, communicate clearly and work well with others, and how to craft a professional-looking resume.

White graduated from IT-Ready in December 2016 and within a week of earning his A+ certification, he was offered a full-time job with better health-care benefits than he ever enjoyed working retail.

White now works for Hennepin County, for which the county seat is Minneapolis. With 10 million residents, Hennepin County maintains some 9,000 public computer workstations. White readies hardware for new and transferring county employees, and serves on a team deploying Windows 10 software.

“My day-to-day work changes — some days I am imaging computers, other days I am swapping out hardware,” he said. “Within the last month, I’ve spent 15 to 20 days on a construction site helping prepare infrastructure for a new building. It’s very much a ‘boots on the ground’ kind of job. I’m not sitting at a desk all day, which keeps things fresh. I love that there’s no monotony.”

The best part of his job, White said, is how he’s being exposed to so many different aspects of IT. He’s considering whether to pursue networking, telecom or a position of management; regardless, he said, he has options now. That wasn’t always the case.

“I really have no idea where I will go,” he said. “I feel like there’s a giant ocean in front of me and it could take me anywhere I’d like to go.”

And as for that “risk” he took on IT-Ready…

“I just paid off my credit card in full,” White said. “When I got out of IT-Ready, I entered a field with enormous flexibility and job mobility. It was the craziest thing I ever did in my life, and it’s the best thing I ever did in my life.”