America, he said, was the place “where any dream can become a reality.”
His path to America and a career in IT began in Liberia. In 2008, Ngungkpan had just earned his associate’s degree in electronics engineering from Stella Maris Polytechnic in the capital of Monrovia when he secured a visa to immigrate to the United States. He settled in Minnesota to be close to a brother already living there.
“My first Minnesota winter was crazy,” he said. “Growing up in Liberia, ‘snow’ was an imagination. We could not fathom what snow was really like, so the very first time I saw snow, I had to touch it, take a picture of it and post it on social media. It was a great feeling that confirmed that I was, indeed, in the United States.”
After settling in Minnesota, Ngungkpan continued his education by earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting, after which he worked as an accounts receivable representative. But his heart was never really into accounting, he said.
“During those years, my desire to work in technology did not go away,” he said. “I always was approached by friends and family members about which computer or laptop to purchase, why their computers were slow, etc.”
When he stumbled across an online ad for IT-Ready, he realized it was an opportunity to pursue the career of his dreams.
“When I read that the program prepared you for CompTIA A+ certification and that they would pay for the certification, including the training, I knew that was my chance to get my foot into IT,” he said.
IT-Ready is an intensive, eight-week technology education and training program offered by Creating IT Futures, an IT workforce charity founded by CompTIA, the tech industry’s leading trade organization.
IT-Ready targets under-employed and displaced workers, as well as individuals who traditionally have been under-represented in the IT industry — namely women, ethnic minorities and veterans, their spouses and their caregivers.
At the end of the program, students take the CompTIA A+ certification exam. IT-Ready is offered in Charlotte, NC; Chicago; Phoenix; Portland, OR; San Antonio, TX; San Diego; and the Twin Cities in Minnesota; and recently opened applications for its new online-only class.
IT-Ready makes a big impression
Ngungkpan said he knew immediately that IT-Ready was a legitimate and rigorous program.
“We had to be responsible and arrive on time,” he said. “We had a member of our class who missed a couple of days during the first week and was booted from the program. I made it my decision to be the first one in the classroom every day and I never looked back.”
Offered completely free of charge by experienced IT instructors in a classroom setting, IT-Ready teaches students skills that equip them for entry-level careers in technology. Students learned how to build a computer from parts, install software, troubleshoot problems, and set up and manage networks. Students also learn softer professional skills such as workplace etiquette, communication and customer service.
“The hands-on and troubleshooting training was immense,” he said. “But it’s the soft skills training that makes IT-Ready second to none. The skills I learned during the eight weeks of IT-Ready would have cost me a lot of money if I had gone elsewhere.”
IT-Ready launches a career of the heart
Upon graduating from IT-Ready, Ngungkpan earned his CompTIA A+ certification and quickly secured employment in the tech industry. He now works as an analyst associate in the Technical Operations Center for Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis.
“I validate that changes to IT systems are successfully completed. I monitor and verify system performance and capacity, executing define procedures to fulfill roles in event, incident, problem and change management processes,” he said. “I initiate the incident management process, including engaging technical and leadership staff, and documenting and communicating status in the lifecycle.”
Four years after graduating from IT-Ready, Ngungkpan is developing expertise in security, earning CompTIA Security+ and CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certifications. In addition to providing financial security that supports his wife and two sons, his tech career also has made his heart happy.
It’s a dream come true, he said.
“It’s been phenomenal,” he said. “It’s been unbelievable moving from working jobs to just pay the bills to working a job that you really like.”