The ITWorks program at Tech Impact was started in 2011 in Philadelphia. It is only fitting that this life-changing program found its roots in the City of Brotherly Love, because it was the love and passion for the local community that fueled its beginning. Tech Impact had been providing IT services to nonprofits for many years. As a result of these relationships and partnerships, leadership began to notice that there were talented young people who were disconnected from educational and professional opportunities. So, they decided to do something about it, and thus, ITWorks was born.
If you know about the ITWorks program, you know that it is a 16-week workforce development program for young adults hoping to get their foot into the IT field through 11 weeks of immersive classroom learning, 5 weeks in a hands-on internship, access to entry-level certifications, and countless connections to a vast network of IT professionals. Those professionals, who volunteer their time, are like the motherboard in a computer – they hold all the pieces in place and make the program complete. While we are always engaging new volunteers, others have been around since the very beginning. What makes them come back for every class? We recently sat down with long-time volunteers from Anexinet to hear about their commitment to volunteering.
Jennifer Borkowski, Enterprise Account Executive at Anexinet, has been volunteering with ITWorks since our very first class. She came to know about the program through a former colleague – David Silverstein of InSource. He first learned about the program through Tech Impact Board Member and CIO at Christiana Care Health Systems, Randy Gaborialt. Talk about six degrees of separation! With a background in technical recruiting, Jennifer was anxious to get involved and see how she could support the program. One of the available Friday Session topics, which are days to devoted to professional development and soft skills training, was a resume and cover letter workshop. It was a perfect match for Jennifer, who said, “I have reviewed thousands of resumes and knew that I could provide some expertise to help students create their very first resumes.” Tag-teaming the session with David Silverstein, they have been leading this session in Philadelphia twice a year ever since ITWorks first began!
Catherine Funari, Marketing Communications Manager at Anexinet, has also taken a vested interest in the ITWorks program. With a background in marketing, she originally took the helm for a Social Media presentation with the students; and she loved it! “The content was all prepared for me,” she said about the time commitment, “and it was super flexible. I tweaked the presentation to hit on my expertise, but I did not have to invest a lot of time.” Since then, Catherine has joined Jennifer on the resume workshop but her dedication to volunteering has not changed. In fact, both women indicated that, “We look forward to it every time! The students are always excited and thankful. For us, it’s such a humbling experience to have a group of young people genuinely listen and absorb what we have to say.” And while ITWorks volunteers dedicate their time for the life-changing potential on the students, Jennifer couldn’t leave without saying, “It just feels good to be there!”
Since both volunteers have been part of the ITWorks family for quite some time, we asked about particular students or stories that have stuck with them the most. Jennifer indicated that she was at Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia for a work meeting when she happened to run into an ITWorks graduate in the elevator. “He remembered me! And not only that, but he indicated that he had completed his internship and was then hired at IBC. It was so rewarding to see it all come full circle. Five years from now, it could be him that’s in my shoes leading a deal,” she recalled about the encounter. “It shows that the program works.”
Interested in volunteering with ITWorks?