When Andrew Sanchez recently accepted his certificate for completing IT-Ready training in San Antonio, he speculated that his life would change — for better, forever.
“I don’t use the word ‘miracle’ very often, but this was that for me,” Sanchez said. “I was at a point in my life where I needed a change and I needed it now, and IT-Ready was there for me. Thank you.”
Sanchez and 22 classmates were part of the inaugural IT-Ready class conducted in San Antonio. Most participants were military veterans who, thanks to support from Wounded Warrior Project and Cognizant U.S. Foundation, now have skills needed to begin successful civilian careers in information technology.
Wounded Warrior Project’s Daniela Hinojosa, who works for the non-profit as a warriors-to-work specialist, told the class that the same attributes that made them exemplary military service personnel will serve them well in their civilian careers.
“I acknowledge you all for studying hard, coming to school every day, and most importantly, helping each other while going through the program to ensure no one was left behind,” Hinojosa said.
IT-Ready brings its model training program to San Antonio
For seven years now, IT-Ready has produced workforce-ready, entry-level tech employees — developing new IT talent where it didn’t exist before.
In just eight weeks of full-time training, IT-Ready prepares adults for entry-level tech career roles; no previous tech experience is necessary and participants need only possess a high school diploma or GED. Better still, IT-Ready’s full-time, classroom-based courses are underwritten by grants and financial donations, so participants attend for free.
After completing IT-Ready, an average of 86 percent of participants secure full-time employment in the tech industry.
And with the country’s unemployment level the lowest it’s been in 50 years, developing new talent is critical, says Sue Wallace, executive director of national workforce solutions at Creating IT Futures, an IT workforce charity founded by CompTIA. IT-Ready is a program of Creating IT Futures.
Preparing for a civilian career after military service
During IT-Ready, students learn a wide range of hardware and software skills ranging from building a computer from parts to setting up and managing networks.
IT-Ready also teaches critical soft professional skills, such as workplace etiquette, communication and customer service. At the end, participants take the CompTIA A+ certification exam (also offered free of charge), a vendor-neutral certification that has become the IT industry's preferred qualifying credential for an entry-level tech role.
At San Antonio’s recent graduation, Wallace commended students for completing the difficult course.
“I’ve heard students say that IT-Ready is the longest/shortest eight weeks of their lives,” Wallace said. “We ask for a lot of hard work and probably some sweat and tears along the way. As you go forward, know that this is a first step; it’s the beginning of the next phase. It inspires us to see where you go from here.”
IT-Ready graduate Lisa Hatzky thanked her fellow classmates for their support during the course.
“Thank you for the feedback, the way we helped each other, and the efforts every single person here made to help us learn the technical skills and the soft skills,” she said. “And it was FREE!”
IT-Ready instructor Herb Poland told graduates to take advantage of the free certification materials and certification exams that CompTIA offers to IT-Ready alumni as part of their continuing professional education and development. Advanced certifications will help IT-Ready alumni grow in their careers both in responsibilities and income, he said.
“You put in a lot of hard work, and I know you will continue to put in hard work while continuing down IT path with more advanced certifications,” Poland said. “And no matter what, you can reach out to me for assistance.”
Graduate Raul Peterson said he was grateful for Poland’s support.
“I appreciate all the people who kept coming to class, even when we didn’t understand what Herb was talking about,” Peterson said. “A lot of us didn’t have the background to move into this field, but now we’ve got a base to start off with.”
Graduate Paul DiLeo said he planned to take advantage of CompTIA’s advanced certifications for IT-Ready alumni.
“This has been a dream of mine for many years; I always wanted to get my A+ certification,” DiLeo said. “This was a real commitment we put ourselves through — we put our lives on hold for two months. I learned so much in eight weeks, and I am happy to just get my life back. But I don’t plan on this being the end. I’d like to go for CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ certifications.”
Said graduate Johnathon Johnson simply, “Thank you for the stepping stone to the rest of our lives.”
Before the graduation, four local employers interviewed students for open tech positions: Apex Systems, GTS Technologies (Austin), Kelly Services and Microsoft. Six of the graduates have already received job offers.
The next cohort of IT-Ready students in San Antonio starts on June 3 and will graduate on July 26. Area businesses interested in reviewing resumes of certified CompTIA A+ IT-Ready graduates and interviewing those individuals for entry-level tech positions should contact Nicole Maseberg at email@example.com or visit https://www.creatingitfutures.org/hire/hire-overview.