Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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December 16, 2013

Being the Standard


Edgar Flores working at CompTIA
Edgar Flores didn’t have an older brother or sister to show him how to throw a baseball, ask a girl out, or decide what courses to take in school. He had to figure those things out for himself.

So when a home computer seemed glitchy, the onus was once again on him to figure out a solution. One byte of knowledge quickly led to another. Learning how to do things on his own has served him well, eventually landing Flores a full-time information technology support position at CompTIA, the global IT trade association, where he currently serves as one of four IT technicians.

“I didn’t have someone to look up to,” Flores said. “I had to be the standard. That helped me to be more confident.”

As the oldest son of hard-working immigrant parents, Flores feels the pressure more than most to succeed. Both from Mexico, his father is a chef in an Italian restaurant, while his mother works for a company that collects and disposes of hazardous waste. The family moved to Chicago’s Southside when he was in the eighth grade. Flores saw two friends go down the wrong path. “I was the oldest one, so I concentrated on school, to stay straight and be a good example.”

Flores’s journey into computers really started in high school, when he signed up for a web design course but soon found himself drawn to the machines that ran the software. “The next thing I knew I was building my own computer, enabling the USB ports, upgrading to different graphics cards.” Attending a career fair, Flores met a former graduate of the high school who was now working in the IT field. “Just seeing someone from our area who was able to pursue a degree in IT and get a job taught me that maybe it wasn’t going to be too hard.”

His web design instructor sensed his interest in hardware and recommended he find an internship that would allow him to set up work stations. She recommended him to a summer job with the city’s parks and recreation department as part of a technology group that swapped out monitors, mouses, and computers. As part of the paid internship, Flores became very proficient at the suite of Microsoft Office products — especially Word, Excel, and Powerpoint — and even helped set up computers for summer camps for kids.

He liked the job so much — and did so well at it — that it became his mainstay job well into college. “I needed some cash for the summer, and I wanted to keep learning more,” he explains. “That paid internship was very important for finding a career in information technology.”

Flores didn’t hesitate to major in computer science upon enrolling in Robert Morris College in Chicago in 2007. He put himself on the fast track to graduate in three years by taking courses every term. His curriculum included a great deal of network administration. Routers, Wi-Fi, firewalls. Technology advanced so quickly, it didn’t seem odd to speed up his college. It just made it less likely that the systems he learned on would be obsolete by graduation.

His last summer before graduation, Flores applied for an internship at CompTIA, headquartered in Downers Grove just a few miles northwest of the city. He was one of two interns selected for the experience. “I learned so much, not just technically, but how to be professional.” A lot of doors opened up for Flores thanks to the on-the-job experience. Immediately after graduation he took a full-time job with Midas in their corporate headquarters, then transferred to a medical association when the commute became to onerous.
”There’s a bunch of opportunities in the technology field.” Edgar Flores

About two years after his internship at CompTIA had wrapped up, Flores got a call from his old supervisor that a full-time position was available, would he like to come interview for a position in the IT department at CompTIA? “I loved the experience when I was an intern, so of course I accepted.”

Working for CompTIA is an intense experience. Flores is one of just four IT technicians, so every day he fields a wide range of help desk tickets on any number of systems and platforms. “Cisco, Sharepoint, Lync, remote desk, hardware. You might not be an expert in any one thing, but you know something about everything. I like that.” Right now he is especially intrigued with virtual applications that leverage the Cloud.

Flores is showing others what the IT field has to offer. On invitation from his former teacher, Flores has visited his old high school’s after-school web development program. He not only shares his technical knowledge, but also provides guidance on how to build a resume and interview for a job.

And, a friend who left the military after fighting in Afghanistan for four years is now pursuing an IT degree on Flores’s recommendation.

While he loves his job, he also knows that if he had to leave, he could find a job somewhere. “There’s a bunch of opportunities in the technology field. They are growing so rapidly.”