Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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March 20, 2013

IT-Ready Graduate: Solving Customers' Problems in Online Security

After finishing a delicious meal in a restaurant, you and your date want to pay the bill and leave. But the server who took your credit card disappeared.

You wait. And wait. And wait. He finally returns, harried and apologetic. The restaurant’s credit card system isn’t working – and now you can’t pay your bill.

So much for your relaxing evening out.

Rest assured, though – that won’t happen on Andrea Ring’s watch.

Ring – who graduated from IT-Ready last December – works for SecureConnect Inc., a managed security services provider headquartered in Minneapolis. The company ensures that the data systems for its worldwide hospitality, restaurant and retail clients stay connected and secure. And Ring, a support analyst in the company’s technical assistance center, helps SecureConnect do that.

“I love our customers – and I love being able to solve their problems,” she said.

Ring’s specialty is online security – so she spends a good deal of time identifying, intercepting and eliminating malicious viruses and other threats to data security. She credits her IT-Ready education for teaching her critical technical skills.

“I’m able to talk with confidence about exactly what the problem is,” she said. “I know what I’m doing.”

Ring already had some formal IT training and was looking for an IT internship when she stumbled upon an ad for IT-Ready on Her first thought was, “This is too good to be true.”

“And I spent the next two weeks thinking about it and talking to friends about it before I decided, why not give it a shot?” she said. “It seemed like the opportunity to get to the place I wanted to be.”

Anticipating a formal learning environment complete with uptight instructors delivering dry lectures, Ring said she was astounded by her IT-Ready classroom experience.
“It wasn’t anything like high school or college – it was better,” she said. “My classmates were so helpful with each other. We studied together, and made sure everyone understood what was going on. And John (Cocchiarella) was a fantastic teacher, just so funny. What I ended up learning blew me away. I thought I was knowledgeable about computers, but IT-Ready was a real eye-opener for me.”

Ring describes her role at SecureConnect as interesting and rewarding – and said she easily sees herself working there five years and beyond.

“I would love to help SecureConnect grow,” she said. “I have a career I like here.”

And as for IT-Ready, Ring said the program doesn’t just impart useful technical skills – it changes lives.

“IT-Ready isn’t for the faint of heart – you have to be dedicated and ready to better yourself,” she said. “And for me, IT-Ready wasn’t just about a job or about money. IT-Ready helped me personally. I was in a dead-end job, and I was no longer working with passion. IT-Ready didn’t just give me a career I wanted, it gave me the life I wanted.”