Pictured above: ITWorks PA student, Rashad, posing by the iconic mural inside Wissahickon Charter School where he is doing his ITWorks internship.
The end of the year means the end of another ITWorks session here at Tech Impact, but it also signifies the start of new careers for all of our graduates! We sat down to chat with graduating student, Rashad, from the Philly program to hear about what the experience has been like for the last four months - and what the future holds. Read on for the full interview!
ITWorks: Congrats on successfully completing the ITWorks program! I know you have been gaining a lot of great experience here at Wissahickon Charter School, and you are now CompTIA A+ certified. A lot has happened over the last few months, and your future is looking a little brighter because of it! So, what led you to the ITWorks program in the first place?
Rashad: I was coming off a semester at CCP that did not go as planned. I was working two jobs to try to pay for my classes out of pocket, but two of the classes didn’t even seem relevant to what I wanted to do knew that I wanted to pursue a career in IT but, after that semester, I also knew that I didn’t want to go back to school. It felt like it was taking so much time, because I had to take perquisites in subjects that didn’t matter all that much to me. Moreover, it wasn’t teaching me how to be a professional and how to succeed in a business environment.
ITW: I think that’s a common undercurrent for many young people these days. It can be frustrating to spend so much time on a degree when there are alternatives to help you get started more quickly – like ITWorks! It sounds like it’s just what you were looking for. How did you find out about it? And what made you decide to go for it?
R: I heard about ITWorks through my best friend’s fiancé’s aunt. She works at Oracle, and is a volunteer with the ITWorks program. Ironically enough, my girlfriend’s mom gave me a brochure for ITWorks after I had my last interview – I had to chuckle when I told her I already applied. It was crazy how everyone knew what I wanted to do and were looking out for me. What really sold me was getting the training and skills needed to be a true professional – managing yourself, resolving conflict with coworkers, prioritization, developing leadership skills. Beyond that, the network and exposure were an added bonus!
ITW: Those professional skills are so important today! Employers put so much emphasis on them, and you truly were able to acquire them these last 16 weeks. Now that you have finished the program, what stands out as a highlight?
R: Have you ever experienced the feeling of showing-up every day and feeling like you are meant to be there? Like someone really cares that you are there? The entire ITWorks team is like that, supporting all of our growth and development. They will literally do anything they can to help you, so that is a huge highlight. We also had the opportunity to witness probably every facet of IT you can think of, and visit companies that I never thought I would get the opportunity to see from the inside – and half of them I didn’t even know existed! Have you seen SAP? It is huge!
ITW: It can be a total game-changer to have someone in your corner! Knowing that you get a lot out of the program, but also have to dedicate much of your time and resources – standing where you are today, would you say it was worth it?
R: Yes! And I was prepared to make this my priority. I told myself if I got accepted to ITWorks that I would leave the job I had for three years, so that I could dedicate myself to that. I told everyone in my life about it, so they would know that I was working on myself during this time. I scarified a lot to be here. However, I never questioned that it was worth it. And it’s proven to be true. I have my certifications, I am doing an awesome internship, and I know I am qualified and confident for the next opportunity that comes my way. I would do it ten times again, and you had better believe that anyone I know who has an interest in IT is going to be applying themselves.
ITW: It sounds like you really set yourself up for success both now and in the future! Speaking of, looking ahead to your new career, where do you want to take it?
R: It might not be quite what you’re asking, but I never want to feel like I have to stay somewhere just because. That has happened to me all too often before, and the feeling of being stuck is really draining. Beyond that, I know I want to start in a help desk environment but I have an interest in security, too. My dream company would be Comcast. My mentor works there and has totally opened my eyes to the possibilities within. Cross your fingers for me! But who knows, I may even end up owning my own break/fix shop someday.
ITW: We’ve got all of our fingers and toes crossed for you, Rashad! Alright, last question. What would you tell someone who is just beginning the process of looking into ITWorks?
R: I just want other people to know that you can do this! I walked into this pretty scared knowing that we were going to have two exams a week, and that I was going to be responsible for so much learning in a short period of time. But if you put this first, for the duration of the program, you will succeed. This is going to change my life forever, and it could do the same for you.
I think you captured the spirit of what ITWorks is all about! Congrats again on all your hard work paying off. We are thrilled to see where you take your career next. Interested in applying for our Spring 2019 cohort? Applications are open now!