The ITWorks class in Philadelphia is wrapping up this week, and Alonzo is one student who is part of the graduating class. He has gained valuable technical and professional skills and is interning with PNC Bank in their IT Department - but his story was much different just a few months ago. Read on to learn how ITWorks gave Alonzo a second chance at a career!
ITWorks: We recently heard from an ITWorks graduate who is now working at PNC Bank, and he says that you are working with him as part of your internship. That’s amazing! What’s your experience been like there?
Alonzo: My internship has been awesome! I actually get ten weeks there – five weeks out by the airport and five weeks at the downtown office. The first week I was mainly shadowing, and I learned how to image a computer and troubleshoot some printer issues. By the second week, I was getting my own tickets! I had the chance to image a computer by myself. I was also able to remote into another user’s computer and assisted him with printer connectivity problems. That was the first time I did that! When I’m not doing tickets, I’m picking the brains of all my co-workers and going through their old tickets to learn what their troubleshooting process was for resolving them. Since I’m new, I want to learn as much as possible and fill in any down-time. It’s been really cool to work alongside and learn from a fellow ITWorks guy. He is the best at explaining things, and he definitely knows what he is doing. But he is always ready and available when I have questions or need help.
ITWorks: It sounds like you have gotten some great hands-on experience. I imagine it’s also nice to be working alongside an ITWorks graduate. So, looking ahead, where do you hope this ITWorks opportunity is going to take you?
A: My dream job so far is a network engineer. That caught my attention during our networking chapter because I caught onto it quickly. I don’t have a specific company in mind, but we met a lot of staffing agencies during Recruiter Week here at ITWorks so I’m planning to start reaching out to them after I finish my internship. I know I have to start with entry-level help desk positions, so I’m ready to put in the time that I need to in order to work my way up to the networking field. Ideally, I’d love to find an employer that offers tuition reimbursement. I’m only about a year away from a Bachelor’s degree so it’s doable if the cards fall in my favor.
ITW: I love your flexibility! You know where you want to be, but also know that there are steps you need to take to get there. That kind of mindset is going to take you far! So, were the recruiters helpful for you? Are they any other volunteers you met that stand out?
A: Yes – they were great! I feel much more prepared for the job search. As far as the other volunteers we’ve met, my mentor stands out the most! We’re all matched with a mentor as part of the ITWorks program. I didn’t really expect much from that relationship coming into the program and wasn’t thinking we would connect very much. But, I took a chance and reached out. We have a lot in common, so it was a lot easier than I imagined. I decided to take advantage of the resource and he’s been super helpful through this whole program. Thanks, Anthony!
I also really loved our very first Friday Session at Integra Life Sciences. They had volunteers from every IT Department come and talk to us about what their team looks like and what they do. For us, it was so valuable to actually see IT in action. It made it more concrete and tangible. I especially liked German’s story – he’s their Global Assistance Center Manager. His career journey was so relatable, and again made it feel like breaking into the IT field was something I could actually accomplish.
The mock interview day at Accenture was SO helpful as well. Not only were we able to get feedback from a hiring manager’s point of view, but also our peers. That 360-approach made me so calm and prepared when it came time for our internship interviews.
ITWorks: Wow – it sounds like there were some impactful volunteers and topics that have really impacted you! I was just looking at all the Philly volunteers, and your class had to meet over 125 locals from the IT industry. That’s amazing! I know that often it’s someone’s story that can really be relatable. You mentioned German’s story, but what about yours? What is Alonzo’s story?
A: Well I’ve been working at Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philly, and I heard about the program through my friend Travon. I was supposed to apply to be part of the same class he was in last Fall, but I didn’t take it very seriously. I’m here now, though, and this is my second chance! I didn’t know what I was going to do when I left college, so I took any job I could find, but I knew I wanted a career. Travon told me about the great teachers, the Friday Sessions, and the internships – and I was sold. I knew if he could do it that I could as well, and it motivated me to push forward. This really is my second chance, and I’m ready for it!
ITWorks: That’s a story that we hear from so many of our students and graduates! We’re thrilled that you are taking advantage of this second chance. Leaving college and having to take a job you don’t really want can be disheartening, but you pushed onward to find something more meaningful. Kudos to you!
A: It’s so true, but I couldn’t have done it without you guys. This program has given me purpose and drive to pursue something I enjoy. It has impacted my life so positively. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life when I left college, so when I got that call from Heather that I was accepted – I was 150% committed. I have a fascination for technology, and I already had some experience from my technology-related courses. This has rejuvenated me and has gotten me excited about life and my future. I know that I have more to look forward to than just working in a kitchen, and that is a big deal. I’ve already referred two friends to the program. I keep talking about my experience here at ITWorks, and they’re all, “You’re doing what?” and “How can I do that?” This program works! And I’m very grateful to be part of this journey.
Congrats on your achievements, Alonzo! We are so proud of you! This is a new beginning for your career, and we cannot wait to see where your story takes you.