Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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February 15, 2016

IT-Ready moved Jamin Knapp beyond a job into an IT career

JaminKnappAt first glance, Jamin Knapp’s resume reflects what obviously is a strong work ethic, along with a decade of professional experience.

Read more closely, however, and Knapp’s resume reflects the experiential wanderlust of a motivated employee who performed well in less-than-satisfying positions like clerk, cashier or customer service rep — and who was continually driven to seek something more.

“I held a variety of different jobs—clerical, reception, warehouse maintenance and inventory work,” he said. “Most of the positions I took didn’t really have room for growth. They weren’t very challenging or engaging.”

One day, Knapp was searching on the Careerlink website when he stumbled across an ad for IT-Ready. IT-Ready provides eight weeks of intensive, classroom-based education and training completely free of charge to admitted students from target audiences that include unemployed, under-employed and displaced workers; women and ethnic minorities who are under-represented in the IT industry; and veterans and their spouses or caregivers.

IT-Ready is offered permanently in Minneapolis / St. Paul and in multiple temporary, “pop up” locations by the Creating IT Futures Foundation, the philanthropic arm of CompTIA. It’s also offered in New York City, Washington, D.C., Dallas, and Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, in partnership with the non-profit organization, Per Scholas.

“It sounded like a good way to get an introduction into the IT field and a get some solid certification under my belt,” he said.

Knapp applied for and was accepted into the Omaha program.

IT-Ready taught Knapp skills such as building a computer from parts, installing software, troubleshooting problems and setting up and managing networks. He also learned softer professional skills such as communication, customer service and job interviewing.

“Hard skills-wise, there was so much I learned that was helpful that I couldn’t tell you all of it,” Knapp recalled. “Soft skills-wise, learning to formulate appropriate questions during an interview that displayed my interest in the position was key to my subsequent success in landing a good position.”

At the end of the eight-week education program, students take the CompTIA A+ certification exam. Afterward, they can qualify for a six-month paid apprenticeship with a local participating company, usually in the role of help-desk or technical support. These internships usually lead to permanent, full-time employment.

After graduating from IT-Ready, Knapp accepted a full-time position with Cosentry, a Midwest-based data center services provider, where he now has worked as a support engineer for nearly a year.

IT-Ready alumni are encouraged to study for and take certification tests to earn additional CompTIA credentials, free of charge, up to a year after graduating. Thanks to IT-Ready’s free online continuing education, Knapp has earned his CompTIA Network+ and Security+ certifications. And he still wants more.

“I hope to continue getting certifications in multiple areas,” he said. “It will allow me to keep growing within the IT field and potentially become either a network- or security-oriented engineer at some point.”