In our first IT-Ready class in Portland, 14 proud students graduated this week. Supported by Urban League of Portland and WorkSource Portland-Metro, the class was made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to serve unemployed or underemployed adults.
One-third of the class were veterans, and one of those veterans, Zachary Chandler, who had retired from the Army this past February, has received his CompTIA A+ certification and gotten a job as a government contractor already. Chandler said when he got out of the military, he struggled with self-worth, not sure what direction to take in his life next. Luckily, he found IT-Ready shortly after meeting with local workforce groups, and now is “happy to graduate and get a job where I can use my military experience,” he said.
Military veteran Jerome Smith had gone through a divorce in the last year, and the change of income had left him homeless. He had been doing security work for several years, but it wasn’t his passion. He found out about IT-Ready on the last day of screening and started the next week.
“The program has been an inspiration. I love how we (the students) talk to each other and look out for each other. We don’t let each other give up,” said Smith.
Graduate Brittian McIntosh commented, “I was looking for something to give me hope. I found IT-Ready.”
Stephen Gault came to IT-Ready after leaving his career in 2015, a career he hated. A friend in tech suggested a career in IT, and Gault eventually found IT-Ready through an ad on Indeed.com. He said the course has been enlightening and is grateful for it.
“Thank God for the strict rules,” Gault said of IT-Ready rules places on all its students to prepare them for employers. “They kept me honest and focused.”
Mike Patnaude echoed his sentiments, saying, “IT-Ready taught me how to be disciplined again.”
Kimberly Nicholson was one class away from getting her associates degree when she entered IT-Ready. While accepting her graduation certificate, she said, “I learned more in eight weeks here than in two years at school.”
Self-proclaimed night owl Alexis Setzke commented, “I studied from 5:00-6:00 a.m. every day for this class. I know my son can be proud of me for getting through it.”
Andrea Gall, Urban Tech Jobs team leader, Urban League of Portland, spoke to the graduates about how this class became “a community you can lean on.” She advised them to message people on LinkedIn to talk to other professionals about their tech jobs and to attend networking events.
“There are tons of tech networking events in Portland,” she said. “You can’t let the momentum stop. Take the next step to your dream job.”
Gall also told students that because this class has gone so well, plans for another IT-Ready class this fall are already in the works.
Adults interested in the upcoming fall class should check this website in August for details about the class dates and application deadlines.