For eight years, Blong Yang worked his way through retail management positions of increasing responsibility and importance.
Yet despite his successive promotions — and multiple performance reviews saying he had exceeded supervisor expectations — Yang didn’t feel like he was getting anywhere.
“The work was not satisfying because there was no sense of accomplishment,” he said. “Each position felt like I was going through the same motions, just in a different setting. Each day was different, but the results were always the same. I was constantly moving but going nowhere.”
While looking for new work opportunities on the CareerBuilder website, Blong stumbled across a listing for an apprenticeship through the IT-Ready program. Like so many of IT-Ready’s prospective students, he thought the program’s promises of a free education and an apprenticeship were too good to be true — but he applied anyway.
“I figured the worst that could come out of applying would be getting a call or email from someone asking for a payment and at that point, I could simply just say no and that would be the end of it,” he said. “That call or email never came.”
Throughout his eight weeks of classroom-based, instructor-led education, Blong learned the hard technical knowledge and skills he expected from an IT-training program. What he didn’t expect was learning about softer skills that position a person for professional growth and success.
“I was most impressed with the learning session and activities with (Creating IT Futures Foundation board member and IT-Ready mentor) Paul Cronin because they allowed you to see how you would act and react, and how others would act and react in a team environment,” he said. “There were valuable lessons learned in those activities that could be applied in real-life scenarios in a work environment.”
Read more about Cronin’s work with IT-Ready classes here and here.
Yang graduated from IT-Ready in Minneapolis / St. Paul in 2013 with his CompTIA A+ certification and quickly secured a paid apprenticeship that gave him the practical experience and skills needed to move up in the IT industry.
“It is not easy to get into IT, even in entry-level positions,” Yang said. “The barrier to entry is that most companies expect you to have technical experience before they’ll even consider you for an interview. With IT-Ready, I was able to prove myself in a paid internship with no prior technical experience, aside from what I had learned on my own and through the program. That was really the ‘foot-in-the-door’ I needed to jumpstart my IT career.”
Yang now works as an assistant analyst on the tech support team at Securian, where he performs first-level troubleshooting on any hardware, software or printer issues. His goal is to resolve 85 percent of all problems during the initial contact.
“The skills and knowledge I learned in IT-Ready helped me get off to a fast start in my new role in IT,” Yang said. “It leveled the playing field. Actually, IT-Ready gave me an edge over other applicants because it prepared me in ways other than technical skills and knowledge.”
Yang has nothing but praise for IT-Ready’s instructors, mentors and administrative staff.
“They know how to get you where you want to go — and they will help you as best they can,” he said.
By taking advantage of IT-Ready’s offer to graduates of free continuing education courses, Yang has earned his CompTIA Network+, Security+ and Server+ certifications.
“I can certainly see myself in a senior analyst role and/or possibly as an engineer in IT in the next five years as I continue to learn and grow in my technical skills and knowledge,” Yang said. “IT-Ready made it all possible.”