The Delaware ITWorks Fall 2016 class graduates this Thursday, December 22nd. We caught up with graduating student Vince Pascale to talk about his experience over the last 16 weeks. Read more about how far Vince has come and how he feels about graduating in just three days!
ITWorks: What had you been doing prior to starting ITWorks?
Vince: Before ITWorks, I had graduated high school in 2012. I wasn’t interested in college because I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do career-wise so it didn’t make sense to make that investment yet. So, I started working right away at McDonalds. I didn’t enjoy it there; it was a lot of hard work for minimum wage. After eight months there, I left. No one else would hire me even though I was putting out applications every day. I finally was hired by Walmart to work overnight shifts, and I worked there for about a year. When I left there, I kind of fell into a slump. It was my Aunt who had told me about the ITWorks program. She had seen a story on Window on Wilmington, a local TV show.
ITW: What made you want to pursue the ITWorks program?
V: When my aunt was telling me about the program, the big things that stood out to me were that it focused on information technology and that it was completely free. I was skeptical at first, but I did some research on my own and found the website. I discovered that I was too late to apply for that current cycle, so I returned a few months later to apply for Fall 2016. The biggest attraction for me was how detail-oriented it was (it seemed to hit on everything) and that it would completely absorb me in the field with all-day classes. More than anything, I was excited about the idea of the possible career ahead of me. I figured, why not?
ITW: You’ve already completed the classroom portion of the program and earned your certificates – how does it feel to have those accomplished?
V: Honestly, it feels amazing! When I was in school, I was never an over-achiever. I just did the bare minimum so that I could graduate. I never really had any set goals about what I wanted to do, so I didn’t push myself to accomplish anything. But I did have some IT interest, so I committed every fiber of my being to this program – and now that I have both the Cisco IT Essentials and the CompTIA A+, I feel like the sky is the limit for me, as cliché as that sounds. And now over the next few months I plan on pursuing the Network+ certification and the Security+ after that.
ITW: The internship is about halfway through at this point – where are you doing your internship? What’s the experience been like there?
V: I am doing my internship with the Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI). The tasks I’ve been asked to accomplish are fairly simple, but a unique opportunity to put my knowledge to work. I’ve worked on some projects for DelDOT and DART. The people I’ve been working with have dozens and dozens of years of experience combined, and they are all very helpful and nice – so being able to learn from them is probably my favorite part of the internship experience. They are always willing to help if I have a question.
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?
V: I haven’t started the job search process just yet. I was hopeful that I might be able to find employment at my internship, but I’m going keep my eye open for any positions in the future! I’ll start distributing my resume and applying for jobs soon! I am hopeful that after completing this program and earning my certifications, the job search is going to be less frugal; that I’ll actually hear back from companies – and maybe that I’ll even have people approaching me! Some of my classmates have already had success, so I think that would be great! I’d ideally like to be in a help desk environment to start, and work my way up from there.
ITW: What do you think the impact of ITWorks has been in your life?
V: Life-changing. This program aims to help better the lives of young people who have come from low-income backgrounds and may not be able to afford higher education, and it changes the game for so many people. There’s not really one thing I can say is the biggest benefit. The certifications prove that I have mastered the skills needed to succeed in IT. But the connections I’ve made with IT and HR professionals in and around the state – people that I would never have an opportunity to meet otherwise – will come into play for years to come. And the professional skills that I’ve learned through the Friday Sessions will not only help in my career, but also just in life.
ITW: For those young folks in Delaware who are considering ITWorks, what advice would you have for them?
V: When you finally go to take the A+, CompTIA recommends that you have a minimum of 12 months experience in the field. So, make yourself readily available. You cannot miss a single day without losing a lot of important information. The pace is really fast. It might be a 16-week program, but only 11 weeks of that is in the classroom. We covered a lot during those 11 weeks. I’d also say, be ready for a challenge. It’s going to take dedication and hard work to come out on the other side successful. You can do it, but you must commit from Day 1.
ITW: Anything else we should know?
V: First off I woudl like to say "thank you" to my parents who pushed me and motivated me to attend this program. I would also like to personally say “thank you” to all the staff members at Tech Impact. They have changed hundreds of lives, including my own. The IT field is extremely expansive, and probably the best field to get into right now. The fact that this team is helping to improve the field itself and help others…it’s absolutely amazing. So, thank you!
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