Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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September 22, 2014

IT-Ready gives an under-employed worker the chance to advance professionally

Cheryl_Morelli_webCheryl Morelli’s resume reflected a conscientious worker with 30-year history of consistent employment.

But none of that hard work was really leading her anywhere. It wasn’t employment she lacked; it was the opportunity to grow professionally, to be promoted, and earn increases in benefits and pay.

So when Morelli read about IT-Ready in an email from her local Minnesota WorkForce Center, she said she recognized opportunity when she saw it. Here was a chance to enter information technology (IT), a growing field with seemingly endless possibilities.

“I applied because I felt an opportunity like that one doesn’t come along often,” she said. “It was just what I was looking for.”

Morelli — who graduated in Spring 2014 from IT-Ready in Minneapolis / St. Paul — now works at a help desk technician for Lifetouch Portrait Studios. Hers is a permanent position in which she supports photographers with their cameras and lighting equipment, as well as computers and printers.

“I never would have landed this position without my CompTIA A+ certification and some work experience in this field,” she said. “And I feel I can continue to grow at Lifetouch Portrait Studios.”

The opportunity to grow professionally is something Morelli didn’t experience much in her previous places of employment.

Take, for example, her waitress gig, which she did for 10 years. Morelli enjoyed working with the public — and customers told her she did a good job — but she found waiting tables to be a struggle.

“Some restaurants are really inconsistent on how much you can make in a day; it’s hard to budget when you make $90 one shift and $15 the next,” she said. “Also, I worked a lot of nights and weekends, which meant I missed out on family events. And it’s difficult to find child care when most of your hours are in the evening.”

She also worked for seven years for an airline, checking in fliers and issuing boarding passes.

“Airlines offer low pay and low increases,” she said. “I started at $10 an hour, and after seven years, I was making $11.82 an hour. The reason airlines retain employees is because of the free flight benefits, so you get a lot of employees who are retired or in situations where they don’t really need the income. But I did.”

Along with those jobs, Morelli worked as a administrative assistant, a retail store cashier, and as a bank teller.

When she read about IT-Ready, Morelli, 48, was intrigued.

“My first impression was ‘Wow! I can get a certificate for free in only eight weeks,’” she said.

Morelli appreciated how her IT-Ready instructor quickly set out to make technology seem approachable and familiar.

“In the first week of class, each of us individually opened up a computer and took out all the parts and put them back in,” she said. “That helped me be less intimidated by it.”

IT-Ready also conducts mock job interviews with students to give them the chance to present themselves and their capabilities in the best possible light.

“The mock interview actually helped me get my first temporary job after I became A+ certified,” Morelli said. “The mock interviewer offered me a job to help me gain some experience. That temp job, in turn, gave me real work experience in common IT skills like remoting into other computers, pinging registers, learning how to use ticketing software and how to use the troubleshooting knowledge base.”

More than anything else, Morelli said, what she looks forward to now is the opportunity to advance. And it’s already happening — her new job pays $6 more an hour than that first IT temp job.