Before enrolling in IT-Ready, Jordan Hunt held a number of poorly paid jobs. If the work didn’t require specific education or experience, he says, chances are he did it.
“I was doing a little bit of everything entry-level and low-wage,” he said. “I’ve done security, warehouse, call center, retail, food service. It’s easy to get a job like that, but it’s hard to make something out of your life when you’re earning just above minimum wage.”
Hunt — who was 25 and had his GED — was searching for yet another job on the Indeed website when he spotted a notice about IT training offered through the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.
“I was working in a cold-calling sales job at the time and I was really unhappy,” he said. “I’ve always been technically inclined and wanted to get myself in a position to do more of that. I saw IT-Ready as a way to move in that direction.”
Gaining tech skills through IT-Ready
IT-Ready, a program of Creating IT Futures, provides eight weeks of intensive, classroom-based IT education and training free of charge to admitted students. IT-Ready targets people typically under-represented in the tech industry, including displaced or underemployed workers, ethnic minorities, women and veterans. Creating IT Futures is a workforce charity founded by CompTIA.
During training, IT-Ready students learn a wide range of hardware and software skills, including how to build a computer from parts, install new applications, troubleshoot problems, and set up and manage networks. They also cover critical professional behavior skills, such as workplace etiquette, communication, customer service and job interviewing. At the end of their classroom training, students take the CompTIA A+ certification exam.
Although IT-Ready requires no financial commitment from participants, it does require certain time and behavior commitments — for example, students must dress like they would in a business environment, and they must show up on time every day. The program allows only one excused absence during the eight-week class.
The day before his first IT-Ready class was scheduled to begin, Hunt was driving back home after visiting his brother when his car broke down. Desperate not to miss the first day, Hunt searched the Internet to diagnose his car’s problem and teach himself how to repair an alternator. He arrived home at 2 a.m. and made it on time to his 9 a.m. class.
Hunt passed his CompTIA A+ certification exam and graduated from IT-Ready in December 2017.
Following graduation, Hunt secured a position with Kroger as network analyst and help desk support. In May, he joined Integrated Services Inc. as a support technician. ISI is the leading provider of point-of-sale computer software for the fast-lube service industry, with products in use by more than 2,500 centers worldwide.
In his role at ISI, Hunt regularly troubleshoots hardware, software and networks. He said that some of his IT-Ready classmates questioned why their instructor covered more seasoned technologies during training, but in hindsight that training has proven to be helpful.
“My whole class laughed at some of the older stuff that appeared on the CompTIA A+ certification exam, but no joke, I run into dial-up modems, IDE hard drives and Tandberg tape storage on a regular basis,” he said. “Printers are ubiquitous and some tidbits about the internals have been useful in troubleshooting problems.”
Asked how his life has changed since completing IT-Ready and launching his career within the tech industry, Hunt replied that the greatest change has been in his career potential — and in what his future holds from here on out.
“The nuts and bolts of my life haven't changed much. I’ve still got a beater car, I’ve still got a lot of roommates,” he said. “My job prospects have improved, though.”
For now, Hunt is committed to performing his job at ISI as best possible, while continuing to work toward his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Portland State University.
“I’m doing well in my new job, and my supervisor has floated the idea of me doing some traveling for installations, which is really exciting,” he said. “I’m focused on getting as many skills and experiences as I can.”