The ITWorks Las Vegas Spring 2017 class is graduating this Friday, June 16th. After an intensive 11 weeks of class time, five weeks in an internship, and CompTIA A+ certifications, the students are ready to start their careers in the IT field. Read more to learn about Denise Ramirez, one of the students graduating this Friday!
ITWorks: What had you been doing prior to starting ITWorks?
Denise: Before I started ITWorks, I was working as a line cook at The Palazzo (and I’m still working there now). My mom knew someone who went through the CXWorks program, Betsy. She told me about how it had totally changed her life. I had been wanting to make a change, so after looking through the website I decided that ITWorks was what I wanted to apply for.
ITW: What made you want to pursue the ITWorks program?
D: I liked my job, but I knew I didn’t want to stay there forever. I was ready for a career and ready for something different. When I read about Tech Impact and all the success that other students have had, paired with the expanding field of technology – I knew it was the right move for me. I wasn’t even sure if I would be accepted, since I had no experience, but I went through all the interviews and when I got that phone call that I was in – I couldn’t believe it! It was such an exciting day!
ITW: You’ve already completed the classroom portion of the program and earned your certificates – how does it feel to have those accomplished?
D: I felt so happy when I passed the 902 exam for the CompTIA A+ certification. I knew that that piece of paper was going to be important for getting into the IT field itself. I don’t know where I want to specialize just yet, but now I at least have the proof to demonstrate that I know my stuff. Especially having come in with nothing, that was a big accomplishment! My classmates were really helpful; I didn’t want to tell everyone that I was so new to IT at first. But with the pace of the program, I had to be transparent about my lack of savviness and everyone really came together to help the whole class. Kera was really patient with us, and especially me, but it is so worth it now!
ITW: The internship is about halfway through at this point – where are you doing your internship? What’s the experience been like there?
D: I’m interning with the City of Las Vegas. And oh man, I was so happy to hear that I was their first choice! I had no idea what I was going to say during my interview knowing that I was going up against some of my peers who knew a lot more than I did. So, I was really honest with them and told them that I was eager to learn and had a strong work ethic. And it worked out! This experience has been so great. I feel like it’s giving me a head start, and the whole team is so helpful. They’ve even invited us to some of their cybersecurity meetings, and social events out in the community.
ITW: Graduation is right around the corner. Do you have any expectations on how the job search process will be? Is there a particular niche of IT that you want to get into?
D: Right after graduation, I want to get a more in-depth knowledge of everything that I have learned before I start moving upward and onward. I shared that information with my mentor, and he mentioned the possibility of being able to intern with his company! So, I am planning on doing that and putting out some applications for other roles. The network that I’ve been able to build throughout the ITWorks program is really going to help make the job search easier, and I’m going to have so many options! I never would have had that before.
ITW: What do you think the impact of ITWorks has been in your life?
D: I have learned so much, not just technically but through all of the Friday Session as well. Those life skills, like managing stress and communication, are going to be helpful in all aspects of my life. I put everything into this program, and I’ve gotten ten-fold in return. It has been such a great opportunity, and has helped me so much.
ITW: For those young folks in Las Vegas who are considering ITWorks, what advice would you have for them?
D: As soon as you get into the classroom, come in with the mentality that you will get those A+ certifications and believe that you can do it. You need to give 150% into ITWorks, but you will get so much in return. By being an ambassador of the program, opportunities will present themselves that you never even knew were there.
ITW: Is there anything else about your experience with the ITWorks program that you’d like to share?
D: I would like to say that ITWorks has been such a great experience and if you are considering applying don’t think twice. Do it and make sure you are going to give it your best effort. In return you will get so much knowledge, experiences, and get to know many great people who just want you to succeed in life! Thanks to all who are part of this great program, thanks to all who helped young adults like me achieve a start to a great career in life.
Over 100 volunteers give their time to each session of ITWorks. Volunteer participation is what sets this program apart and what makes being an ITWorks student such a special experience. There are several ways to get involved in all of our locations: Philadelphia, Delaware, and Las Vegas.
Become a Mentor
Help a current ITWorks student stay motivated, provide guidance and support, and encourage them through the duration of the class.
Time Commitment: 1 hour per week for 18 weeks; in-person, via phone or email.
Host a Friday Session
Teach the ITWorks students the “soft skills” they need to succeed in the workplace. Curriculum is provided. Present the topic yourself, or with a group of colleagues.
Time Commitment: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Friday of your choice while class is in session.
Host a Lunch & Learn
Join the ITWorks students over the lunch hour. Bring in food and open a discussion about your career and how you got to where you are today.
Time Commitment: One hour on any day of your choice, Monday through Thursday.
Provide an Internship
Collaborate with ITWorks staff to host a student (or two) for our capstone: a minimum 5-week internship with local IT organizations. Interns work 24 hours per week, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Time Commitment: Minimum of 5 weeks, plus time to interview and select your intern.
Our volunteers are such an asset to our programs and make a huge impact on our students. Tech Impact would not be the same without them!
Learn More About Becoming an IT Works Volunteer