Inspiring Success

A blog from Creating IT Futures

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May 10, 2019

IT-Ready Phoenix grads enter the tech workforce

By Chad Green

The inaugural class of IT-Ready Phoenix recently celebrated its graduation.


In a ceremony attended by graduates, their families, employers and program sponsors, guest speaker Rob Stenson, business and workforce development center supervisor at Arizona@Work, spoke about failure and resilience, and encouraged graduates to continue learning like James Dyson.


Phoenix graduation speaker


“When James Dyson made his first decent vacuum cleaner, it took him five years and 5,127 attempts,” he said. “James Dyson was curious, he wanted to understand how the thing worked. He never accepted the status quo. And he took action by doing something about it.”


Following Stenson’s remarks, students received their graduate certificates and had an opportunity to share thoughts.


IT-Ready graduate Chris Chaney said that seeing changes in the job market allowed him to understand the value of an IT role.


“This was definitely outside my wheelhouse, because the past 20 years were spent working as an artist,” He said. “I gravitated toward software development because you get to create things.”


Chaney said IT-Ready gave him courage to continue learning more.  


“The one thing I can take away from all of this is that you are who you tell yourself you are,” he said. “I am an IT professional, and no one has to validate that for me now. (You) never take ‘no’ for an answer, and every single day you have to learn something.”


Another graduate, Oren Daniel, a veteran Marine, said he felt IT-Ready was a test of resiliency.


Phoenix graduating class


“In boxing, sometimes you have to take a hit, and a lot of times you get knocked down. But when that round is over, your coach is in your corner, telling you what needs to be done differently,” he said. “And the certification test writers at CompTIA may have won a round, and I may have been knocked down. But I tell you, after a little coaching, I’ll get back in that ring and I’ll start throwing some punches.”


Daniel added that his connection with fellow IT-Ready classmates moved him to stay connected to the program.


“One thing I’ll always remember as a Marine is that you’re only as strong as your weakest link,” he said. “I’ll join you guys in the link, and we can be stronger as IT-Ready grows across this country.”


Nineteen participants graduated from the inaugural Phoenix class in April, and four already have secured full-time employment in the tech industry with the rest continuing to interview and work with Creating IT Futures staff to connect with employers.


This IT-Ready class in Phoenix was offered to students completely free of charge, thanks to financial support from Cognizant U.S. Foundation and in partnership with Wounded Warrior Project, with additional support from Arizona@Work, Arizona’s workforce development network.


The IT-Ready Phoenix class also gained support from area employers who conducted a career fair for participants, said Ryan Withem, IT-Ready Phoenix workforce solutions manager.


“We are incredibly grateful for the warm welcome we have received from tech companies in the valley, and appreciate all of our employer partners,” he said. “We were excited to have our partners TEKsystems, Apex Systems, Shamrock Foods and Logicalis on-site to discuss career opportunities with our graduates. It was also great to have workforce partners from Arizona@Work, Wounded Warrior Project, U.S. Vets and PipelineAZ here to support and encourage our graduates."  


According to Stenson, the number of technology companies located in downtown Phoenix has increased from 67 companies in 2012 to more than 320 now.


“There are many positions open for trained workers,” he said. “IT-Ready is a great opportunity for employers to connect with individuals who are trained and ready to work.


IT-Ready is an eight-week, classroom-based, instructor-led program that teaches a wide range of hardware and software skills people need to secure entry-level IT positions. Just as importantly, IT-Ready also teaches critical “soft” skills, such as workplace etiquette, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, and customer service.


People talking at the graduation


At the end of their IT-Ready training, students sit for the CompTIA A+ certification exam, also offered free of charge to participants. This vendor-neutral certification has become the IT industry’s preferred qualifying credential for an entry-level tech role.


IT-Ready is a program of Creating IT Futures, a nonprofit charity founded by CompTIA with the mission of helping populations under-represented in the information technology industry and individuals lacking in opportunity to prepare for, secure and be successful in tech careers. Learn more at