Mark Prater, a student in the ITWorks Las Vegas Spring 2017 class, will be starting his 16-week session today with the rest of his Las Vegas classmates. Mark is a transplant from Memphis, Tennessee, and has been working in retail since he moved a year and a half ago. Enticed by the opportunity of free training to gain the skills and experience necessary to start a stable career, Mark applied for ITWorks. He looks forward to the hands-on classroom activities and ultimately, the success that comes with being an ITWorks graduate. Read on to learn more about Mark’s career goals and what he hopes will come of his time in the program.
ITWorks: What have you been doing prior to starting ITWorks in regards to work and/or school?
Mark: I moved here from Memphis about a year and a half ago. I’ve been working in retail, and have been at two jobs just to be able to pay for my bills. I wanted to come here for school to study graphic design. I need to live here for a certain amount of time in order to qualify for in-state tuition, though, and it’s not really working out the way I had wanted. I decided that I need to branch out and work towards a career so that I can be financially stable in the future.
ITW: How did you hear about the ITWorks program? What made you decide to apply?
M: After I left my second job, I was looking for another source of income. There’s a place called One Stop Career, and I had gone there seeking help to update my resume. I saw an ITWorks flyer at the site, and I was immediately intrigued. I ultimately decided to apply because it was free – that never happens! I applied the same day, and have been excited through the whole interview process. I can’t wait to get started.
ITW: What are you most looking forward to about the 11-week classroom portion of the program? Anything you are nervous about?
M: I am a hands-on learner, so I’m looking forward to getting the ability to learn through the labs. For me, that’s the best way to gain the knowledge and skills. And really, just learning all the content in general. I can’t wait to see everything that we will be able to learn through the program. There’s not really anything I’m nervous about, because I am a quick learner. I just have to set aside time after class to make sure I’m studying while balancing my full-time overnight job. I also hope that I am able to develop close relationships with the rest of the students in the classroom so we can bond as we work towards graduation.
ITW: What are you excited about during the internship? Is there a specific experience you are hoping to walk away with?
M: I am ready to get some more experience in interviewing, that’s for sure. And in the internship itself, I am excited to learn about the expectations of an entry-level employee and the different career pathways I can pursue. Like I mentioned before, I am a hands-on learner so being able to take what I’ve learned in the classroom with a group of peers into practice in the internship will be very valuable.
ITW: What do you think graduation will be like? Any anxiety about looking for a job? How do you think ITWorks can support you during the job search process?
M: Graduation is going to be really meaningful for me. I don’t feel like I have a lot to show for myself so far, and this program is going to change that. I know that this program is going to build my confidence exponentially. I am 100% committed to this program and this field, and I know that I will be successful. So I think that already makes the job search process easier because between all the resources provided from ITWorks, I will be prepared to take on the IT world.
ITW: What is your ultimate career goal(s)? Where do you want to be in the next year or two? 10-15 years?
M: I am really interested in getting into network security, in the short-term, and getting my foot in the door at a company where I can stay for awhile. I want to build a reputation for myself and grow with a team. And I want to be an expert in working with customers. Long-term, I would like to develop a program like ITWorks that works with kids at a younger age. I want the next generation to know that IT is an option for their futures.
ITW: What has been/will be the impact of ITWorks in your life?
M: It will be a major stepping stone for me with an opportunity to see progress in my life. I will be very proud of myself, and I’ll be able to take great strides towards the future I envision for my life. I want to be able to inspire other young people, like me, to pursue what they are passionate about.
ITW: What are your hopes for the future of ITWorks in Las Vegas?
M: I hope that I am a future instructor for the ITWorks program in Las Vegas! I can speak from experience about the challenges that young people face in the workforce, so when I successfully graduate and get some experience – what better way to give back than to share what I’ve learned?
ITW: After you complete the program, what is the one thing you are most excited about?
M: I am really excited about having that A+ certification, and being able to show my family that I actually graduated! IT is the heart of any company, so I know that I’ll be employable for years to come.
ITW: Do you have any non-tech-related hobbies?
M: I am a boxer, and I love it. It’s a disciplined sport and it provides me with a way to ground myself no matter what is going on. It’s a great stress relief, even though sometimes it can be painful. But no pain, no gain, right?
ITW: Anything else we should know?
M: I can imagine that this program takes a lot of hard work to put together, and I really appreciate the whole ITWorks team putting in the effort to take us under their wing. I have already seen it in the energy of those I’ve met – this team loves what they do. And because of that, I am equally as committed. I am ready to put in the hard work for the next 16 weeks so I can make everyone proud. I was down on my luck when I discovered ITWorks, and now all of that is going to change. And I would encourage anyone who is considering this program to apply!
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