The 2015 Winter IT-Ready Minneapolis / St. Paul class graduated 14 students this past week, proving successful once again as a majority of the students earned their CompTIA A+ certification and are on their way to rewarding careers in IT.
“It’s hard to believe we are at this point. It may seem like the end, but it really isn’t,” said Kathy Brennan, manager of IT-Ready Minneapolis / St. Paul at the April graduation ceremony. “This class had some great experiences and some difficulties, but we learned and worked together to get them to succeed.”
IT-Ready is a free, eight-week course offered across America by the Creating IT Futures Foundation and Per Scholas. To qualify, a person must be unemployed or under-employed. The program also looks for individuals from under-represented groups in information technology, such as women, African Americans and Hispanics.
“I was trying to sum up this class and kept coming back to ‘unusually determined,’” said Dan Emmons, class instructor and contractor from A Critical Path. “From snowstorms to car and family troubles, the students still made it. They showed up because they were determined, and that kind of determination is what employers are looking for.”
classmates.” – Erin Kelly
In addition to the technical skills tailored toward the CompTIA A+ exam, the program focuses on the soft professional skills that employers also need.
As student Matthew Kerr addressed the class, he noted, “Two months ago, I would have been nervous talking in front of everyone, but I really took an interest in the soft skills, and now I can stand up here and talk about these past eight weeks.”
Also in attendance for the graduation was Creating IT Futures Foundation Board Member James Afdahl, the former chief financial officer for GED Testing Service. GED Testing Service employs two IT-Ready alumni, which he says came in well prepared, reflecting everything the class goes through during the eight-week period.
“I can see the camaraderie and team building,” Afdahl said. “They have the certificate and training, and they now have the confidence to land the job. Employers want more people from IT-Ready. This is what a lot of people need. This is what the country needs – trained people.”
The bulk of all IT-Ready graduates will find themselves in IT help desk or technical support roles with local companies. It is a way to get a foothold in a new career that offers better upward mobility than most fields.
Within six months of becoming CompTIA A+ certified, IT-Ready graduates are invited to access free online training and testing vouchers for other CompTIA certifications, including CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Server+.
“Coming in, I considered myself the weakest link,” said graduate Gregory Ball. “But thanks to the help of my classmates and Mr. Emmons, I became a strong link. I definitely expect everyone to go after the Network+ and Security+ certifications next.”
“I have done IT related things on my own before, but I never thought I’d be able to get into the field until this,” said student Julian Smith, as he pointed toward his IT-Ready certificate of achievement. “This is the stuff dreams are made of.”
Tom Liszka is Manager, Social and Digital Media, at the Creating IT Futures Foundation.