Everyone says there is steady work to be found in the skilled trades, and Angelina Courtney believed that to be true. She studied hard to become an electrician, after which she worked as an apprentice. Unsuccessful in her efforts to join the local electrician union, she tried to make a career doing non-union electrician jobs.
“That was tough because there wasn’t the support of the union when it came to out-of-town travel and tool purchases,” she said.
Starting over fresh, Courtney decided to pursue a career in IT, beginning with a degree in network administration from Hennepin Technical College. That’s when she learned about IT-Ready.
“I needed direction in earning entry-level, CompTIA A+ certification that would make my network administration skills more appealing in the technology industry,” she said.
IT-Ready is a free education, training and career placement program managed by Creating IT Futures.
Offered at no financial cost to participants and taught by experienced IT instructors in a classroom setting, IT-Ready teaches students skills that equip them for entry-level positions in the IT industry — such as building a computer from parts, installing software, troubleshooting problems and setting up and managing networks. Students also learn softer professional skills such as communication, customer service and job interviewing.
IT-Ready targets individuals under-represented in the IT industry, including women, ethnic minorities, and veterans as well as their spouses or caregivers. The program also seeks to re-train displaced or under-employed workers like Courtney for new careers.
At the end of the program, students take CompTIA A+ certification exam, after which they may qualify for a paid apprenticeship with a local company, often in the role of help-desk or technical support. These internships usually lead to permanent, full-time employment.
Courtney said despite taking college-level network administration courses, she found her IT-Ready learning experience invaluable.
“IT-Ready helped me gain skills as a professional, get acquainted to the personalities in the technology industry, and understand the different avenues of technology,” she said. “IT-Ready also taught me how to make myself more marketable and taught lots of personal versatility. There are so many terms in the IT field — just learning how to decipher them and say, ‘Hey, I know what that is, I just call it (blank)’ was very useful.”
Upon graduating from the program and earning her CompTIA A+ certification, Courtney accepted a position at Atomic Data in Minneapolis.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with the IT-Ready staff, students and alumni,” said Jessica Haap, senior recruiter at Atomic Data. “The program has provided the Twin Cities community with opportunities to chip away at performance gaps that exist within the STEM areas. I’m continuously impressed and humbled by the efforts of IT-Ready and the candidates we’re lucky enough to welcome into the Atomic Data family.”
Atomic Data recently became the first Platinum Mission Investor for Creating IT Futures. The company has been an employment partner with IT-Ready since 2013, having already hired nine IT-Ready graduates to diversify and expand its workforce.
“As the need for tech-skilled employees explodes, programs like Creating IT Futures are an invaluable resource to the community and its businesses. Atomic Data has, and will continue to benefit from our relationship with Creating IT Futures through their well-trained graduates,” said Jim Wolford, co-owner and CEO of Atomic Data.
Atomic Data is a Minneapolis-based IT solutions provider delivering sophisticated, custom-tailored IT solutions to companies large and small, single site or multinational, in-house or in the cloud. Atomic Data works with a company’s IT department — or acts as its IT department —to design, equip and maintain the solutions for today’s challenging IT environments. Atomic Data’s areas of expertise include IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, The Atomic Cloud® private virtualization, data center colocation, disaster recovery consulting, private connectivity, 24x7 network monitoring and Service Desk support, on-site support, custom software development, voice solutions and web hosting.
As a network operations center technician at Atomic Data, Courtney ensures client satisfaction and robust network operations by diagnosing, investigating and resolving issues identified through monitoring systems, email and telephone involving servers and network alerts, VPN and remote access, network connectivity, system back ups, and web hosting. She enjoys the work.
“I am interested in network security,” Courtney said. “Ideally, I’d like to be a network administrator with exposure to Active Directory, setting up domains, running back ups and setting security policies.”
Sue Wallace, Creating IT Futures’ executive director for Minnesota, said that with most IT-Ready graduates getting their first job in IT, they gain additional skills and knowledge to keep moving up in their careers.
“IT-Ready grads get access to online training and testing for CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ certifications,” she said. “Combine those certifications with on-the-job experience, and so many graduates move quickly up the ranks in IT. Angelina did great in our IT-Ready class, and we know she can accomplish anything she sets her mind on.”