Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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December 22, 2015

An Excuse To Succeed

By Tom Liszka

CedarRiversideGroupLast week, nine students in Minneapolis’ Cedar Riverside neighborhood represented one of two 2015 fall graduating classes. Coupled with the students from Edina, MN, 27 adults have taken the first step to rewarding careers in IT by earning their CompTIA A+ certification through IT-Ready.

“A few months ago, I was scraping by and had no idea what was in store for my future,” said student Kent Andryski. “My grandma told me about IT-Ready after seeing it on the news. Once the class started, I immediately knew that IT was the right career for me.”

“These students have something to take with them that they did not have a few months ago,” said Creating IT Futures Foundation board chair, James Afdahl. Afdahl is also the vice-president and CFO for GED Testing Service, an employer partner that employs two IT-Ready alumni, which he says came in well prepared, reflecting everything the class goes through. “Whenever we are ready to hire, we know where to go.”

IT-Ready is a free, eight-week course offered by the IT charity, Creating IT Futures Foundation. 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 never wanted to give this class an excuse to fail,” said Dan Emmons, class instructor from A Critical Path. “They could have used it, but they all used this experience as an excuse to succeed.”

“These students are fundamental to the success and prosperity of Minneapolis and the region,” said Erick Garcia Luna, senior policy aide for Minneapolis Mayor, Betsy Hodges. “They are proof that if we work hard and think innovatively, we can meet the workforce needs and attract more investments and promote additional entrepreneurship.”

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.

Added Garcia Luna, “The Creating IT Futures Foundation has undertaken the task of making sure the workforce needs of our current economy are met and people with the drive and willingness to work hard like these students are equipped with the skills to fill IT jobs that are available across all sectors.”

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+. In the Minneapolis / St. Paul area, more than 150 individuals have graduated from IT-Ready since 2012, with nearly 95 percent earning their CompTIA A+ certification and 80 percent moving into paid IT roles with area companies after graduation.

“I was unusually proud of this class because of everything they overcame,” added Emmons. “Improvise, adapt, and overcome became the mantra of the class. They all wanted to learn and that made me excited to show up everyday.”

“This class turned obstacles into opportunities,” said Sue Wallace, executive director of Creating IT Futures for Minnesota. “They are creative, resilient and very positive. It says a lot about who they are and what they’re capable of.”

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