Inspiring Success

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September 18, 2013

Graduate Profile: Turning Curiosity into a Career

As a child Gabriel Kivi was fascinated by technology.

“Mentally?, I just like knowing what makes things work, often asking not only what this button does, but how?” he said. “You know, one of those kids whose parents have to ask, ‘Why did you take the VCR apart?!’”

Despite his natural affinity to all things technological, Kivi found himself in 2005 in a decidedly non-technological role working as a bankruptcy specialist for a car financing company. It’s a fancy way of saying that he did collections.

After six years of the work, he was laid off. But Kivi discovered he didn’t feel upset when the job went away.

“It got to the point I felt evil,” he said. “I would talk to these people and have conversations like, ‘Yes, I know you lost your job. I know you’ve been in the hospital. I know you’ve lost your house. But I am still here and we need to work out payments for your car, either with me or the lawyers.’ It was numbers and logic and rational, and I was plenty good at that kind of work – and it’s work that needs to be done. But it didn’t need to be done by me.”

For a time, Kivi worked as a kitchen assistant in a local restaurant while he looked for other job opportunities online. As he perused ads in the financial and legal fields, he stumbled across one for the IT-Ready Apprentice Program.

“So here I am looking around and finding myself with several computers, a handful of networking components, a box of spare parts – and I ask myself, ‘Why am I not doing this professionally?’” he said.

Initially, Kivi was hesitant to consider the field of Information Technology as a career path. After all, he was an avid technologist — which is precisely what worried him.

“By definition, work is something you have to do,” he said. “I was concerned that if I did it as work, I would lose interest in my hobby. But I decided there are always new pathways to explore.”

So Kivi applied to the IT-Ready Apprentice Program and was accepted. And while he found some of the classroom material about components and networking to be familiar territory, he appreciated how the program covered the “softer” skills needed for a successful IT career.

“The biggest benefit for me personally was understanding more about the role of an IT professional – where do you start, how do you go about doing the work, how do you advance in the field, what does it even mean to be ‘the tech guy’?” he said.

Eager to position himself in the best casting light possible, Kivi immediately took advantage of the multiple certification tests CompTIA offers free of charge to IT-Ready graduates. Within short order, he had earned CompTIA’s A+, Network+, Security+ and Server+ certifications. Now studying for the CEH (certified ethical hacker) certification offered by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants, he is well on his way to expanding his current role in the network security field.

“I figured earning as many certifications as I could was a good stepping stone in the grand scheme of things if I’m going to succeed in the field of IT,” Kivi said. “I don’t want to be a basic help-desk tech forever. I want to do everything under the sun. Someday I plan to be that old ‘graybeard’ of a tech guy whom everyone goes to with some obscure question about a long forgotten corner of the system – because I’ll be the one who designed it to begin with.”