Cynthia Perez, ITWorks Student and Access Matters Intern
The ITWorks program is monumental in beginning my career. Without it, I wouldn't have been able to access the keys to unlocking my future. The whole program itself is designed so you can finally take that leap of faith and continue towards your aspiration in life. Aside from the technical expertise and knowledge they provide, one of the most instrumental parts of the program would be the internship (which we students are well-prepared for so that we can get the most out of the experience). I am about halfway through my internship at Access Matters, and I am learning something new every day! Because I was equipped with both technical and professional skills, I am able to reap the utmost benefit from my time here. Here are the top five ways that ITWorks has prepared me for my IT internship.
1. The Knowledge
Upon hearing that I was selected for the program, of course I was expecting to learn, but I didn’t expect it to be so aligned with the real life experience I was going to have. At my internship, I was immediately presented with a wide range of problems that required me to put in practice troubleshooting skills such as establishing a plan of action to resolve problems, implementing solutions, and providing users with preventive measures. The familiarity with certain programs like active directory or Microsoft command line, and applying techniques like Ping and Net Stat, have been invaluable knowledge. Thankfully, I was well informed on how to go about solving issues that came up with certain systems with the guidance of my site mentor, who took the time to explain certain issues. ITWorks has done a fantastic job in preparing my classmates and me for a professional environment.
2. Professional Development
Each Friday, we traveled to various client sites (or we got lucky and they came to us). At each of these visits there was a different topic, including things like professionalism, leadership, and time management. These were all skills of which I was well aware and had practice with, but did not have as much application as I would have needed for a professional environment. I knew these skills needed to be strengthened, and it has helped tremendously in my internship. There have been instances in my internship where I have applied both professionalism and leadership, whether that be arriving on time or explaining problems and solutions to users. At ITWorks, they taught us that every trade can be professional. Taking initiative and doing more than what is asked is a way I have applied leadership. Time management has helped me maintain a professional nature by allocating time efficiently, and it has also helped me manage goals and work more productively. The Passion Planner provided has been vital in my time management! (See Number 4)
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3. People at Tech Impact
The people who are a part of Tech Impact and ITWorks astound me with how truly and genuinely they are interested in the goals of all the students. They are well affiliated with their partners and know how to prepare us by making sure we are comfortable going in the first day for our internship. They even go above and beyond to work with students individually. For example, I was having trouble getting enough rest which was affecting how I showed up in the classroom. Grace and Alix met with me personally to address this and they provided possible solutions. Together, we were able to come up with a game plan and I was able to make positive changes. This gesture, to me, said, “Wow these people actually care about our success!” The level of care and concern the entire team has for the students makes the whole ITWorks experience that much more personal and genuine.
4. Tools for Success
Aside from their network, and the sincerity of the staff, I was given all the tools I could possibly need. One of my personal favorites was on the first day we were given school supplies – I wasn’t expecting anything but the curriculum! Not only were we given folders and notebooks, but there was a separate book with an embossment that read “Passion Planner.” This has been the most powerful tool, proven to be vital in my life not only with managing my time but to set, maintain, and evaluate goals - both personal and professional. I enjoy mine so much it’s now to the point where it’s decorative! On a more technical note, the various online resources such as the NETACAD CISCO Curriculum, with additional resources emailed out to the students regarding study tips and material, has been an added bonus to ensure we are learning and mastering the content. And as for the unity I experienced in the classroom, everyone is willing to help each other succeed and enter the workforce ready. Now that we are ready, we have so many resources to utilize in our job search process.
5. Previous Experience in Other Jobs
Before attending the program, I had various experience working with customer service in jobs that varied from Sales Clerk, to Banquet Server, to Law Firm Receptionist. Communication is key when dealing with people and customers. My current supervisor at Access Matters, Allison Wolf, explained to me that, “Computers in the workforce are much like pencils - if they’re not working correctly or doing what they need it to do, users will be very upset.” And they should! So communicating to them exactly what's happening, why, and what you will do to resolve the problem is critical to know. My previous customer service experience has helped me better serve the users in my internship. Ms. Wolf has also been great in leading me down the right path professionally in the office workplace. Whenever I am stuck or feeling unsure about something, I feel confident in asking. I would much rather ask and get a task done correctly, than not ask and have a bigger issue than what I had!
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