One of our ITWorks instructors sat down with Erik Toch, who is starting classes in Philadelphia today, to discuss where he is in life now, at the start of our program, what he hopes to accomplish during, and where he wants to be when he’s finished.
ITWorks: What have you been doing prior to starting ITWorks in regards to work and/or school?
Erik: For school, I went to a semester at Camden County for pre-requisites, and then I decided to leave to work at Office Depot, where I still work. Going to college didn’t seem to be right for me at the time.
I was born in Lowell, MA and I moved to New Jersey when I was six or seven. I went to Pennsauken High School and I took some of the computer classes there. Messing around with my computer and phone and trying to fix computer problems that I didn’t know how to fix made me want to learn how to do it on my own.
ITW: How did you hear about the ITWorks program? What made you decide to apply?
E: I heard about the program from my brother who told me how good the program was, and also from my friend Loc who went through it too. I see the success they are having now, and computers and technology were always something I wanted to learn about so I thought, “Why not go for it and see where it takes me?”
ITW: What are you most looking forward to about the 11-week classroom portion of the program? Anything you are nervous about?
E: I’m looking forward to meeting new people, learning new skills, and also the Friday sessions. Those are something major that I can learn from; however, I am also nervous about the Friday sessions. I talked with my mentor already and I am really excited to meet him. I think I can learn a lot from him.
ITW: What are you excited about during the internship? Is there a specific experience you are hoping to walk away with?
E: Putting my foot in the door. It’s the first time I will be working in that kind of environment. It’s new to me but exciting, and it’s something I can get comfortable doing. Having a stable job is what I want. I am not sure what kinds of jobs are out there for me, but I am willing to explore that and something that I will be happy doing is what I want to walk away with from this experience.
ITW: What do you think graduation will be like? Any anxiety about looking for a job?
E: I saw a lot of happiness at Ricky’s graduation. Everyone has achieved a goal. I’ve thought about, “What if I can’t find a job afterwards?”, and it kind of keeps me up at night. But I’ve seen my brother graduate from ITWorks and he’s doing well, so I try to focus on that. I know if I put the energy into it and talk to my mentor and the people I meet in the program that I can be successful finding a job.
ITW: What is/are your ultimate career goal(s)? Where do you want to be in the next year or two? Ten to 15 years?
E: For my career, I just want to be comfortable and make a decent salary to be able to support my family. I want to like what I do so that I want to do it for the rest of my life. I want to continue to get more certifications and learn some programming languages.
ITW: What has been/will be the impact of ITWorks in your life?
E: I think it will be a big impact because I’ve been doing the same thing I am doing now for quite a while. For Tech Impact and ITWorks to accept me into the classes is wonderful, and an amazing opportunity. Yeah, I think it’s going to have a big impact on me. Everyone tells me to take notes, ask questions, and to study every night so that I make the most of this opportunity. I am ready to do that.
ITW: Why do you think programs like ITWorks are important? What benefits do they bring?
E: They’re important, I think, because they help younger individuals go somewhere with their life. These programs can be very beneficial for people who take advantage of them and try their best; they can’t go wrong. Programs like ITWorks teach people what they want to know about computers and technology. For my brother, he has told a lot of people about the program and it’s nothing but good news. Word of mouth around the community will spread how much this program helps people like me.
ITW: After you complete the program, what is the one thing you are most excited about?
E: For one, starting a new career and to be able to walk away from the job I have now. I’m not saying I didn’t like it but I’m ready to move on and start something else, something that is the start of a career, not just a job.
ITW: What are your hobbies, unrelated to information technology?
E: Playing sports, mostly basketball and football. I like video games, but maybe that counts as related to information technology?
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