In a room packed with friends, family and other supporters from the community, the year’s third IT-Ready Charlotte class graduated last month. Twenty-three adults started the eight-week program in August, with nearly everyone graduating, 83 percent certifying in CompTIA A+, and two already landing their first job in the IT field with more graduates still in the interview process with numerous companies.
Several speakers offered advice and encouragement to the newly minted graduates.
“Don’t hesitate to fail. If you have a new idea, try it out,” offered Chris Wolfe, director of operations and systems for American City Business Journals and a member of Association of IT Professionals (AITP) Charlotte. “It’s an amazing time to be in IT.”
“We look forward to hearing about your future success,” said Dr. Dana McDonald, vice president, talent development at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. “You’re not just the IT-Ready brand; you’re also the Goodwill brand.” Goodwill is a key partner of IT-Ready by providing program funding as well as classroom space and mentoring for the adult participants.
“You are in demand,” said Frazier. “I sit with employers all the time who say, ‘We can’t find talent.’ The good thing is that you are part of the solution. I see the next CIOs, network administrators, and even CEOs right there in this room.”
Frazier shared stories from her own career journey, which included some initial IT training followed by jobs in accounting and workforce development. Along the way, she started her own business. Though the business had to be shut down, the experience didn’t shut her down. “Fear will present itself from time to time, but don’t let it overtake you,” she said.
The graduates received their graduation certificates and had nothing but praise for the IT-Ready experience, especially Instructor Brandon Steel and IT-Ready Workforce Solutions Manager Natasha Pender.
“It’s been an amazing eight weeks,” said Bianca Govan. “I love the network and the friendships.”
“We all come from different backgrounds, so it’s nice that we all had each others’ backs,” said Savon Stevens.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone succeed,” said Andrew Dixon.
Timothy Lemponen, who didn’t know if the free nonprofit program might be too good to be true when he first applied, was soon persuaded otherwise. “It’s legit! I’m certified! I’m looking forward to my career.”
Before the graduation, the students participated in a small career fair, interviewing with local employers. Special thanks go to Informatic Concepts, IT Connect and TalentBridge for meeting with the students.
The eight-week, full-time classroom-based IT-Ready Technical Support course was hosted at the Goodwill Opportunity Campus and supported by Charlotte Works, Goodwill and TEKsystems. IT-Ready is underwritten by grants and financial donations, so that students can attend classes for free.
The next IT-Ready class in Charlotte starts on February 4, 2019, and applications are due by January 4.