“This class is an opportunity that came at a really crucial time for me,” said Matthew Gomez as he stood in front of a class of 22 fellow IT-Ready graduates, their families, class sponsors, programmatic partners, and employers at his graduation. He was accepting his certificate of completion for the eight-week program, happy to be at the finish line. “I really needed a new career, and I’m really grateful for this.”
From the camaraderie in the class, it’d appear as if these students had known each other for years rather than eight weeks. Yet, as each student came up to accept their certificate, they all shared the different life stories and experiences that brought them to this classroom, peppered with in-jokes and references you’d expect to hear from longtime friends. “I didn’t have to fake laugh once,” said one student joyously. “I’d be lucky to have any of you as co-workers at my next job.”
With such camaraderie comes immense support. When any student announced they had a job interview lined up, the other students erupted in applause. “If there’s anything I can do to help any one of you with any aspect of your job search, I’d be more than happy to do so,” said graduate Misty Robinson.
Justin Best, keynote speaker of the graduation, punctuated the importance of camaraderie amongst IT professionals. “I tell my stories to people outside of IT and I get blank stares,” he laughed. “But every IT professional has lived through similar stories, whether they’re funny or bizarre, so I’m glad to have 23 more IT pros out there to make parties less awkward for me.”
Best ended his keynote speech by advising the new graduates to always remember one thing: “Yes, we do this because we love technology, but we also do it because we love solving people’s problems. It’s all about the people.”
Students thanked their families, their career counselors, and Creating IT Futures’ Amy Eernisse-Liang, but Aaron Peck, the class’ instructor, received the most praise. One student exclaimed, “Aaron was amazing. I learned more in this class than any other class I’ve ever taken, and never once did I feel the need to fall asleep.”
As Peck announced each student’s name to collect their certificate and talk about their upcoming interviews, he was simultaneously watching his hard work pay off in real time. “I live for this,” Peck said.