Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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May 2, 2017

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans

CatalinaThe musician and Beatles co-founder John Lennon once observed that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans — which certainly has proven true for IT-Ready graduate Catalina Bauer.

A native of Colombia, South America, Bauer was in 2004 a newly minted college graduate with a degree earned from a rigorous industrial engineering program. She decided her next step needed to be perfecting her English.

“When you’re working as an engineer in Colombia, it helps a lot if you have a high level of English since the best companies are multi-nationals that need engineers who speak multiple languages. English is one of the main languages there,” she said. “The plan was for me to study for six months or a year and then go back to Colombia to look for a job as an industrial engineer.”

With her plan in hand, Bauer moved to the United States and lived with her brother and his wife in Minneapolis while she took English classes.

Then, just as Lennon prophesied, life happened.

Bauer met the man who would become her husband. The couple traveled to Colombia to marry, and then returned to settle permanently in Minneapolis. She tried finding work in industrial engineering, but her lack of paid experience in the field made it difficult. Then she and her husband had a baby.

A friend later told Bauer about IT-Ready. Intrigued, she went online and learned more about it. And, she said, it sounded perfect.

“First of all, the IT field sounded very interesting and challenging with a promising future,” she said. “Second, I thought I could blend my knowledge as an industrial engineer with IT. It sounded like a field I could explore and grow in.”

IT-Ready provides eight weeks of intensive, classroom-based training free of charge to admitted students from target audiences that include unemployed, under-employed and displaced workers; women and ethnic minorities who are under-represented in the IT industry; and veterans and their spouses.

IT-Ready students learn skills such as building a computer from parts, installing software, troubleshooting problems and setting up and managing networks. They also learn softer professional skills such as communication, customer service and job interviewing.

At the end of the program, students take the CompTIA A+ certification exam, after which they may qualify for a six-month paid apprenticeship with a local participating company, usually in the role of help-desk or technical support. These internships often lead to permanent, full-time employment.

IT-Ready is offered in Minneapolis / St. Paul by Creating IT Futures, an IT workforce charity founded by CompTIA.

Bauer was accepted as a member of a women-only IT-Ready class, graduating from the program in June 2016. She now is employed full time as a contract worker with Hennepin County, where she tests applications for different departments, and follows up to complete a testing process documenting the county’s database.

“I feel thankful. I have been finding opportunities that have taught me many different things, not to mention the chance to meet and learn from different people,” she said.

Bauer said that at this point, her career potential within the IT field feels endless. And life is good.

“This is the starting point of my career,” she said. “And while at this time, I haven’t made a clear decision about what road I am going to take, I feel like everything is open to me. I would never been able to get into this field without IT-Ready. I am learning so much, and just having a good job makes my life so happy. I love to come to work every day.”