Alexandrea Alvarado

Career Switch from Graphic Designer to IT Professional

By Michelle Lange

Alexandrea Alvarado was studying to be a graphic designer and feeling stuck because there weren’t many jobs available when she looked. “I went into graphic design but I didn’t like the design part,” said Alvarado. “In my area, there are so few jobs in graphic design the competition is really high. There was no prosperity there.”

Alvarado, who goes by Alex, liked some parts of her program but knew graphic design wasn’t quite the right fit. “I did enjoy working on the computer and figuring out the software and being in that environment,” she said.

She heard there were opportunities in IT, and after a little searching online, she found CompTIA Tech Career Academy’s IT-Ready Technical Support program, the 8-week tech program with an opportunity for CompTIA A+ certification, plus job help and mentoring.

Alvarado started her class in August 2019, and by November, she had a job at U-Haul, where Lance Collins has hired many graduates from IT-Ready. “These IT-Ready students can jump right into work, and are good at learning and adapting to what we need,” Collins said.

Alvarado’s now an application support specialist and much happier than she was in her graphic design days. “I didn’t know how to start or where to start in technology and this program really helped me find the pathway to get to where I wanted to be from where I was before,” Alvarado said, “and I’m really grateful for that.”

 

A Lifelong Computer User

As a kid, Alvarado was the only one on the family computer. “I’ve been using computers since I was 5,” she said. In high school, she used computers to play NMO role-playing games and connecting with people online. “I think in general I was the person who would fix the computers. I would just figure it out on my own or Google search it. I was my family’s unofficial tech support.” 

Even though she felt comfortable with computers, the IT-Ready program was challenging. “I grew up on computers, so I knew what I was doing. There was a lot of new stuff, but because I had that experience with computers, I understood the concepts,” she said. “There were some points where I felt overwhelmed because there’s just so much information. I would think, ‘Can I really do this?’ I was second-guessing myself, but I stuck with it, and after a while, it came pretty easy to me.”

 

Not all Tech Jobs are at Google

Day to day Alvarado and her team work with U-Haul’s in-house software, which is used to schedule the truck and the reservation systems. “The whole goal of our job is to solve the hiccups that they’re going through and get the customer out the door as soon as possible,” Alvarado said.

“We’re troubleshooting all the bugs and stuff that goes wrong,” she said. “We’re all trained to do the basics of each of the departments, so if we have a simple question, we can resolve it quickly without having to transfer it over. We’re pretty well integrated.”

Alvarado plans to stick with U-Haul as she explores a future in cybersecurity. “I really like the company. I see a lot of opportunity for growth and moving up,” Alvarado said. 

She’s drawn to the challenge of cybersecurity and ethical hacking. “Especially in cybersecurity penetration testing, you put yourself in the shoes of the bad guy and almost be like a detective, finding the spots that are vulnerable. I think what’s exciting is the problem-solving aspect,” she said. “You get to play the role of the bad guy, but you’re not the bad guy; you’re the good guy.”

 

A New Future

Alvarado’s parents were never that computer literate, but now that she works at U-Haul as an application support specialist, they are starting to understand that technology affects everybody.

“Every company is going to need an IT team no matter what they’re doing. If they have computers or use the internet, they’re going to need an IT team in the background,” Alvarado said.

Five years ago, Alvarado thought she was stuck in design. “That’s what I was worried about and I did not know what route I wanted to take,” she said. Now, she’s focused on a job in cybersecurity and studying for CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+.  

“That’s the path I want to go on, and it feels good that I know where I want to go. When I was in design I had no idea where I wanted to go. Now it’s about building myself up to get to that goal and it’s exciting,” Alvarado said. 

 

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