Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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August 14, 2013

An American Dream

Born and raised in Peru, Edgardo T. Cornejo moved to Venezuela in his 20s and worked for eight years as a computer programmer. He passionately loved his work – and was, admittedly, quite good at it.

“I can fix any computer – I don’t even have to open my eyes to fix a computer,” he said. “IT (Information technology) was my first career and it always been my passion.”

When Cornejo’s sister immigrated to the United States, he decided to join her – not only because the bonds of family are tight, he says, but because America offers the promise of upper mobility to people who work hard. Cornejo was joined by his wife and two children.

“The opportunity for a new life in the United States was there,” he said.

Despite Cornejo’s significant knowledge and professional experience within the IT industry, however, he found it difficult to overcome the language barrier and find work within his desired field.

"My English was limited,” he said.

Needing to financially support his family, Cornejo landed a job as a dishwasher in a restaurant. With effort and determination, he worked his way up to chef.

“I really like being a chef,” he said. “But IT is my passion. If I was working for myself, I would be working with computers – assembling computers, fixing computers.”

When Cornejo enrolled in the IT-Ready Training course – a free job training program operated by Per Scholas that prepares and certifies students for IT careers – he asked permission to continue working as a chef. Because the program requires a full-time commitment and has a strict attendance policy, students normally are discouraged from “moonlighting.” Cornejo insisted he could manage both work and school.

“I’ve worked multiple jobs [at once] since I was a teenager,” he said, pledging to never miss class, be tardy or leave early. And he kept his word; he had perfect attendance and radiated a positive energy that helped him emerge as a class leader.

Cornejo holds A+ and Network+ certifications from CompTIA, and expects to earn his Security+ certification soon.

Currently in a part-time, contract capacity in IT and still working as a chef, Cornejo says that all he needs now is for an employer to give him a chance – perhaps by one who needs an IT professional fluent in Spanish.

“I absolutely believe I have the ability to succeed,” he said. “The sky is the limit.”