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January 18, 2016

IT-Ready helps Kenyan native achieve his own American dream

VictorChegeAs a young boy growing up in Kenya, Victor Chege wanted nothing more than to move to America.

“I read a lot of great things about America, and heard about the many opportunities that were here,” he said.

While still in high school, Chege started applying for a green card, a lottery process that would provide lawful permanent residence in the United States. He also tried applying for a student visa so he could attend Wichita State University, to which he had been accepted. No luck.

“So I left Kenya for a neighboring country to study information technology for four years and upon graduation, I went back to my country hoping for a better job,” he said. “Most of the jobs in my country didn’t pay much and I wasn’t happy with how my life was. All these years, I was still trying the green card lottery. I think that at some point, the people who pick winners got tired of seeing my name every year and so they picked me.”

Chege finally had a green card: His ticket to America, the land of opportunity.

“There are thousands — if not millions — of people from all over the world trying to migrate to America,” he said. “I am forever grateful to God that among many, I was picked.”

Migrating to America was a huge and life-changing choice for Chege. In addition to having to say painful farewells to beloved family and friends, he faced other difficult decisions, such as where to live and how to find work.

“I looked at the whole of the United States from an angle of job availability and living standards and Minnesota looked good,” he said. “I didn’t want to go to a big city, like New York; I wanted to take life in America in small doses. Luckily for me, a friend of mine had migrated here about four years before me, and he was willing to host me for a few months. With that, I decided to come to Minnesota. I had been warned about the cold winter in Minnesota, but I didn’t understand that part well. I landed in Minnesota in the winter of 2012.”

Despite having both a higher education and IT work experience, Chege found it difficult to find work within the IT industry. His first job in America was in medical supply assembly.

“I did that for a year as a temporary employee,” he said. “It was a hard job with little pay and no security.”

His next two jobs involved working as a janitor for a cleaning company and as a medical assistant.

“I worked very long hours between my two jobs, and I was wearing myself down, physically and emotionally,” Chege said. “My cleaning job clients would cancel my appointments at the last minute. Or sometimes I would drive for miles to a client’s house, just to find them gone and my day wasted. I was always worried of falling sick because that meant staying home without pay. I wasn’t happy with what I was making, or the fact that there was no security with either job. I didn’t even have medical coverage.”

One day, Chege said, he returned home, utterly tired and brokenhearted about his circumstances.

“I asked God for a miracle,” he said. “I went on Craigslist and searched for IT training and saw this advertisement from /developing-programs/it-ready">IT-Ready that said they would train and help with job placement. I sent an application immediately.”

During his eight weeks at IT-Ready, Chege learned — completely free of charge to him — the technical and soft professional skills needed for an entry-level position in the IT industry. He learned about laptop and desktop assembly; installing and configuring different operating systems; and how to troubleshoot computers and devices such as smart phones and printers.

And he learned how to use ServiceNow, a platform-turned-service provider of enterprise service management software.

Upon graduating from IT-Ready and earning his CompTIA A+ certification, Chege accepted a position as an IT service desk agent with the City of Minneapolis, a full-time position that offers benefits including medical insurance and a retirement program.

“I use ServiceNow every day at work to capture incident details, and the skills I learned at IT-Ready about successfully dealing with clients really helped,” Chege said. “Most of the skills I learned at IT-Ready are applicable at my workplace — skills like the troubleshooting process, which I use with every call while troubleshooting.”