The ITWorks Delaware Fall 2017 cohort graduated last week to kick-off the holiday celebrations!
While students are referred to our program through a variety of outlets, the largest (and most rapidly growing) referral source is through previous graduates. Jonathan Hinds and Bobby Powell are two of our newest alumni, and they happened to hear about ITWorks from the same person. Rob Kelley was an ITWorks student in the Fall of 2015 and his career has taken off since then! We spent some time with Jonathan and Bobby to hear about how Rob’s life caught their attention, and what their ITWorks experience was like.
ITWorks: You both learned about the ITWorks program from the same ITWorks graduate – Rob. What is your relationship to Rob, and what about his experience as an ITWorks student made you want to apply for the program?
Jonathan: Rob is my brother. His mom married my dad, and we grew up together. Rob is who inspired me to get into technology. I used to watch him work on websites and games that he would try to code in his spare time. As part of ITWorks, Rob interned with the University of Delaware and was moving his career towards technology. I didn't talk to him much during that time, but he made it seem so easy and had learned so much and gotten a job so quickly. Once he told me it was free, I was sold.
Bobby: I met Rob through a game online. Over some time, we started to work together and realized that we had more in common about gaming, coding, and technology then we both anticipated. From that moment on, we were always talking and working together to further our advancements in both the game and in life. Through Rob, I learned about Tech Impact and what they did for him. From our experience and knowledge of each other, he was determined to have me join this program to further my passion in technology.
ITW: What were you doing career-wise before ITWorks? Were there challenges or obstacles that you were facing that got in the way of what you really wanted to do professionally?
J: Before being accepted into the ITWorks program, I was a line cook at a diner in Elkton, Maryland. It was a dead-end job that allowed me to collect pay checks while I tried to get myself through college. Once I moved to Delaware and was required to pay out of state tuition, I had to pull out and look for other opportunities.
B: I was working for various companies as an associate with no opportunities for advancement. On the side I had been working with various game companies on expanding their structure, which has been rather fun but still no real room for advancement. Since I didn't have any certifications it was hard for companies to take me seriously. I felt as if I was stuck as a low-level moderator.
How has ITWorks removed or made those challenges easier?
J: ITWorks was completely free. Almost immediately after obtaining my A+ certification I had gotten into two IT jobs.
B: Through the ITWorks program by Tech Impact, I have become A+ Certified and am furthering my career as an entry level technician while pursuing my next level of certifications – the Network+ and Security+ to advance my career path. Their drive has been able to remove roadblocks and present opportunities that I would not have been able to do within the time span they have.
After ITWorks, what’s next for you?
J: Now that class is over, I plan to learn as much as possible from my new coworkers as I advance my career. I plan on applying to Zip Code Wilmington in hopes of learning more about software development.
B: After this program I will be going after my next certifications to further open more doors for myself, and after those doors are opened, well I honestly do not know where they will take me, but I do know that it is only going to help improve my life for the better.
Do you think you’ll refer others to the ITWorks program? Why?
J: I've already recommended it to several people. I've told people if have you are willing to learn you have nothing to lose. Some of my friends have jobs that make them really unhappy, and ITWorks taught me how to get the job I want. Not just a paycheck.
B: Yes, anyone that has an interest in technology and wants to further their lives with a great career path should take on this program. lt will help open doors that seem to be bolted shut. This is an amazing program that helps individuals understand and get a better grasp of what technology is all about.
Any parting words?
J: I can't thank Oliver, Jess and Tracey enough for all that they've helped us with. These are people who care about all their students and genuinely want to help them succeed.
B: Through my experience with Tech Impact’s ITWorks Program, I was able to become more confident in myself and my skill set, and obtaining the A+ Certification is and was just the start of my footing. With what I was able to take from this program I will be able to mold my future a lot better and have more opportunities then I would ever have had if I didn't participate in this program. For that I would like to thank the Tech Impact staff for pushing and believing in me. Thank you for everything you have done for me.