IT Internship Program Provides New Start for Career Changers

by Amy L. Hamblin | Aug 09, 2017

Sergik GharapetianWhen the IT manager at London’s Bute House Preparatory School for Girls needed extra IT help, HR Manager Janette Patterson found a very creative – and educational – solution. She approached Sergik Gharapetian, an IT lecturer and assessor at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London’s College, and the two devised a plan for Bute House to hire IT interns from Gharapetian’s pool of CompTIA A+-certified students. Now, in addition to getting an education that exceeds industry standards and earning CompTIA A+, Gharapetian’s students gain the on-the-job experience they need to move forward in their careers.

Gharapetian has long been a pioneer in the IT industry and has taught full time at West London’s College for the past 10 years.

“I really love helping people, putting them on the right track and seeing them become enriched with education,” he said. “All of my experience in the IT business helped me realize I need to raise the standards of education – which I feel are pretty low when it comes to technology.”

Ranging in age from 17 to 86, Gharapetian’s students are often unemployed, looking for new careers or confused about what they want to do in the future.

“Some are also ‘young at heart,’ simply wanting to get out, socialize and learn new skills,” he said. No matter their objectives, Gharapetian finds great satisfaction as he works with his students, whom he describes as both focused and committed. “They have helped me grow more passionate about IT.”

An IT Program for Adults Seeking a New Start

Gharapetian begins teaching his students from the most basic levels of IT: they learn computing fundamentals in the 12-week Start IT course, spend 6 weeks learning applications in each of the Level 1 and Level 2 courses and finish with an 18-week City and Guilds qualified course that focuses on computer maintenance and CompTIA A+.

“CompTIA A+ is definitely an asset. It’s very much a plus factor that shows our IT manager the candidate has a higher level of competency and knows more than just basic computing skills.”
—Janette Patterson, HR Manager, Bute House Preparatory School for Girls

“I also encourage students to volunteer in our lab when time permits so they have more exposure to real scenarios and can experiment with equipment,” he said.

Although some students qualify to begin their studies at the third level because of previous work experience, the majority track through the part-time adult courses in order, and more than half earn CompTIA A+ certification.

“Having been in the IT industry on both sides of the counter – as a consumer and as a technical support manager – I have a 360-degree vision of what my students need to know,” Gharapetian said. “When I worked in the IT industry, we had a process for training new staff members. The objectives I had then were exactly what I found in CompTIA A+, which is amazing. It’s an international qualification, and it has the same objectives. It’s great.”

IT Internships Yield Great Career-Building Experiences

At the conclusion of their studies, some of Gharapetian’s students have started their own businesses, and some have gone on to study at the university level or to earn Microsoft or Cisco certifications. “My aim is for them to be as successful and as satisfied as possible with their studies,” he said.

Several students have taken advantage of Gharapetian’s relationships with local businesses and institutions like Bute House to kick off their IT careers with internships.

“At the moment, I have four or five institutions that have shown interest in West London’s College IT students,” he said. “Bute House, in particular, has been very committed. It saves time and money hiring IT support, and at the same time it is actually helping members of our community as well.”

Patterson has found the arrangement with West London’s College extremely beneficial for Bute House as well.

“We initially needed help with some basic IT tasks; it wasn’t the kind of job for which we needed to employ someone long term,” she said. Instead, she and Gharapetian created a fixed, one-year IT internship program, through which Bute House, a private school for girls ages 4 to 11, recently hired its fourth candidate.

“We give Sergik’s students hands-on opportunities, and we help develop them so when they launch into their careers, they can say they have a year’s experience. We can also help point them in the directions they want to go.”

“One of our interns said his experience at Bute House gave him the experience he needed to now have the IT career he dreamed of.”
—Janette Patterson, HR Manager, Bute House Preparatory School for Girls

Gharapetian, Patterson and Bute’s IT manager carefully established the criteria for Bute House’s paid interns. In addition to CompTIA A+ certification, candidates must have attended their college courses regularly and punctually, have a sense of purpose, and really want to develop and progress.

“Sergik has sent excellent candidates,” Patterson said. “CompTIA A+ is definitely an asset. It’s very much a plus factor that shows our IT manager the candidate has a higher level of competency and knows more than just basic computing skills. We also know a candidate has to be especially committed to do the work required of CompTIA A+.”

Bute House also seeks candidates who are looking for new starts, which often means a change from their past careers.

“Every May we get excited for the next round of candidates to interview,” Patterson said. “Some have been so wonderful, and the whole point of the job is to launch them. We love seeing their progress as they work on computers, troubleshoot interactive white boards and provide customer service for our students and staff.”

Bute House is committed to making the internship program as successful and productive for students as possible.

“Although they do a lot of jobs around the school, we ask them about their interests, and we give them projects to develop their skills,” Patterson said. “We’re not just hiring cheap labor. We are trying to really help advance people. They have the technical skills they learned with Sergik, and we know they have the skills to do even more. We give them those opportunities and show them they can do it.” In addition, Patterson and the Bute House IT manager have helped interns complete job applications, compile their CVs and prepare for job interviews.

Not only have Bute House IT interns gained work experience and skills, but they also have found confidence to take the next steps in their IT careers. Bute House’s first IT intern loved the academic environment so much, he went on to become an IT manager in a school. Another intern secured a position in a large corporation in London and the most recent is currently applying to universities.

“One of our interns said he has the IT career he dreamed of. We’re delighted,” Patterson said.

Learn more about how CompTIA A+ can launch your IT career.

4 Comments

  • Karima Augustin

    Monday, August 14, 2017

    I am compTIA A+certified. The internship is located where

  • sibongile

    Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    I am writing my N+ Sat have complited my A+.i would like to do the Internship

  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    Hello! The internship program is through Ealing, Hammersmith and West London’s College in London: https://www.wlc.ac.uk/.

  • Shongotelo

    Wednesday, August 23, 2017

    I have completed both my A+ and Network+. I would also like to be part of the internship program

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