Creating IT Futures continues to expand its training locations for its signature IT-Ready career program. The first cohort of students in Charlotte, N.C., graduated last week.
More than 800 people applied for the IT-Ready class in Charlotte. Creating IT Futures selected 175 for in-person interviews and testing. A lucky 26 were offered spots in the program, and with the strict attendance policy enforced for the class, 23 made it to graduation. Already 18 of the 23 have earned their CompTIA A+ certification, and the other five are expected to pass their certification within the next two weeks. TEKsystems already has placed six of the students into jobs with more job offers still to come for the class.
During the graduation, Kathy Brennan, senior manager, IT-Ready, Creating IT Futures, thanked Charlotte Works for connecting Creating IT Futures with Goodwill, and thanked Goodwill for the use of their training facility and for making the staff and students feel welcome. She also thanked TEKsystems for their coaching and mentoring of IT-Ready students since 2012 and especially for their support and funding of the Charlotte class.
“The students helped each other persevere,” said Brennan. She then advised the graduates, “This is just the beginning, not the end.”
The Charlotte class had a diverse set of students and they all pulled together to get them to graduation. The tech industry has suffered a backlash in the last few years by not having a diverse workforce. IT-Ready prides itself on providing training to students at no cost and reaching motivated people with an aptitude for technology from multiple underserved populations and helping them gain family-sustaining tech careers. In the IT-Ready class in Charlotte, 74 percent of the graduates were people of color, 35 percent were female and 26 percent were military veterans.
Brandon Woods, telecommunications account manager, TEKsystems, who has been working with students to get them placed into jobs, said to the graduates, “Pat yourselves on the back. Continue to work hard and be committed.”
“Recognize the ‘marker’ moments in your lives,” added Franklin Reed, director, diversity and inclusion, TEKsystems. “You may not recognize when you’re in it. These past eight weeks have the potential to be a ‘marker’ moment in your life.”
Graduate James Imes said his “marker” moment was the day he got accepted to IT-Ready. He knew if he could get into the class, his life would change.
“I love to read, learn and teach. Sometimes I would drive 50 miles to class and arrive with E on my gas tank, because I know if I could get here, I would be alright. This class became my support system,” said Imes.
Graduate Barbara Stephens recognized IT-Ready as a “once in a lifetime opportunity that could catapult her to the next level.”
Franklin advised the students to “stay engaged, be relevant and remain a life-long learner.”
“The market pays for skill. Continue to expand your skill set,” said Franklin. At the luncheon following the graduation, many of the graduates already were discussing how they could study for the CompTIA Network+ exam. IT-Ready provides online training and certification testing vouchers for Network+ as part of its alumni benefits.
“Your success inspires us every day and gets us up in the morning,” Charles Eaton, CEO, Creating IT Futures, told the graduates. “Do fantastic on your next job. We want to bring IT-Ready back to Charlotte in 2018, and your success is what will enable the next class to find success.”
Graduate Brad Foster thanked Creating IT Futures for giving the students tools and resources. “We have an important role as the first IT-Ready class in Charlotte,” said Foster. “We’re the key to opening doors for future students.”
“You’re part of a community of people who want to make a difference in your lives,” said Brandon Steel, the IT-Ready instructor addressing the class. “You all brought a fire in you to change your life. Keep that fire and the sky’s the limit.”
“On the first day of class, I saw the other students as competition. Now I see us as a family and a community,” said graduate William Tolliver. “We all made these bonds in class and we’ll carry them with us forever.”
Schadwich McKinley said to his fellow graduates, “Thank you for showing up. I counted on all of you. Creating IT Futures has changed everything. Some of us were stalled out, and IT-Ready helped us break out.”
Echoing McKinley sentiments, Christopher Jackson, president and CEO, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont noted, “At the end of the day, Goodwill is about pursuing opportunity. Never let anyone out work you. Be a life-long learner and always be good to other people. Thank you to all our partners for bringing this program to Charlotte.”