Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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January 23, 2015

IT-Ready Provides Qualified IT Workers To Minneapolis Employers

By Tom Liszka

AndrewSetzer Andy Setzer, IT-Ready grad
When the opportunity to apply for the Creating IT Futures Foundation’s IT-Ready program fell in Andy Setzer's lap, he knew he had his foot in the door of IT.

Setzer, 33, is a student at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota, studying toward a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics. Stepping into his IT-Ready class in fall 2014, he was looking for a transition to something that would be more rewarding and provide room for growth.

He had his doubts and admits being overwhelmed, but the IT-Ready program washed those worries away.

“From the time I walked in the door at IT-Ready, I felt like the opportunity was too good to be true,” said Setzer. “For someone who did not have a computer background, the work was intensive, but my instructor and classmates did a really good job at bonding together to make sure everyone was on the same page.”

Fast forward eight weeks and Setzer had passed the CompTIA A+ exam to become a certified IT technician.

“After learning the material, it wasn’t as bad as I initially thought it would be,” he said. I completed the class, and now have a certificate that shows I am a computer technician.”

Not only does IT-Ready provide the foundation for building experience in the professional realm through certification, but it also assists in placing graduating students in IT apprenticeships. Thus was the case with Setzer, who recently started a service-desk position with HealthPartners, a nonprofit health care organization that provides care, coverage, research and education to improve the health of its members, patients and the community.

HealthPartners is also one of many IT-Ready employer partners based in the Twin Cities, and has worked alongside IT-Ready from the start, placing nine graduates in IT apprenticeships since the program’s inception in 2012.

Cindy Taraldson is the service desk supervisor at HealthPartners. When she sees IT-Ready on a resume, she said, she always brings that individual in for an interview because she knows he or she will be a highly qualified candidate.

“I find that when we bring them in, they are knowledgeable and excited to get into the IT workforce,” Taraldson said. “I haven’t had an interview that I did not like. I just think they are more polished.”

“Andy is a quick learner, so I can continue to add more technical things knowing I’m investing in a possible long-term candidate.”

Setzer said there are a lot of different things to handle at HealthPartners and it will take time to get a full grasp on everything.

“As I begin to master the smaller tasks, they will slowly open me up to more challenging aspects of the job,” he said. “It makes it easier for someone beginning in the IT field to excel. IT-Ready touched on all of the things I am learning, and HealthPartners understands that it will take time to get a new graduate like myself up to speed. I’m not going to learn it all at once.”

According to Taraldson, IT-Ready students going through the apprentice program are technical enough that she can see a long-term possibility of employment, and because of its highly technical nature, she is looking forward to continuing the partnership with IT-Ready.

"This program provided me with the skills that are essential for the IT world." Andy Setzer, IT-Ready grad
While Setzer is focused on finishing his degree in forensics, he said that IT security sparks his interest. He plans on taking advantage of the IT-Ready Alumni Program, which will provide him access to the CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ certifications.

“This program provided me with the skills that are essential for the IT world, from soft skills and interaction with customers, to problem solving and conflict resolution,” he said. “It wouldn’t be possible without IT-Ready.”

Tom Liszka is Manager, Social and Digital Media, at the Creating IT Futures Foundation.