How IT-Ready Helped a Technology Fan Become a Technologist Mentor

By R.C. Dirkes

Launching a career working with technology doesn’t require a computer science degree. In fact, becoming a technologist doesn’t require a college degree of any kind.

So, if studying computers in college isn’t among the critical success factors for landing a tech job that delivers personal financial stability and professional growth opportunities, what are?

One factor is a passion for solving problems, says Angela Curtis, a graduate of the IT-Ready Technical Support program in Minnesota’s Twin Cities region.

“I've always been a person that likes to get to the bottom of things,” Curtis tells CompTIA’s Andrea Rios McMillian during the latest chapter of Creating IT Futures’ award-winning Technologist Tales podcast.

“So, I just fell in love with technology,” continues Curtis. “Just how it transforms, how it makes our lives better. It's just an amazing thing, technology to me. It's like every day is something different… Every day you're being challenged and pushed. And I like to be challenged and pushed, and I thought tech was a good field for me to be pushed, and for me to learn and evolve.”


How IT-Ready Helped Translate Enthusiasm for Technology into a Good-Paying Tech Job

As part of CompTIA Tech’s programming celebrating the transition from Black History Month to Women’s History Month, Curtis shared her “technologist triumph” with McMillian, a guest interviewer, who hosts her own motivational podcast, Tuesdays with Andrea.

Shortly after earning a degree in criminal justice, Curtis decided to change her career path, she explains to McMillian, but “didn't quite know exactly how to get into tech.” Then, Curtis came across IT-Ready, applied and was accepted: “They informed me that companies don't really look at degrees when it comes to tech. It's more about hands-on experiences and certifications.”

“I really appreciated the hands-on [aspect of IT-Ready],” continues Curtis “When we had an opportunity to get inside… to see the actual components of a computer, actually being able to do hands-on activities, like replacing hard drives or replacing memory.

“…Also, the people who have more experience than some of the other students, they shared their knowledge. Everyone was just so open and just so caring… we became like a family.”

The academic environment at CompTIA Tech, stresses Curtis, strives for success beyond the classroom: “Just the whole program in general set you up for success. Everyone was so receptive, and kind, and very approachable. They wanted you to succeed, and they provided you the tools to do that. And if you had issues or problems, they had an open-door policy. You could come in and talk to them about anything that you may have needed help with. And the teacher was amazing, very knowledgeable, very approachable.”

After graduating from IT-Ready, Curtis landed a job as a technical user support analyst at international medical technology maker Medtronic, a position that significantly improved her personal financial situation in fewer than three years. “Annually, before I entered the IT-Ready program, I was making about $30,000. After the IT-Ready program, now I'm at about $52,000 a year,” she attests.


How CompTIA Tech’s Training Sparked Learning at Work and Growth as a Mentor

Curtis’ position at Medtronic facilitates continual learning and career advancement, she says: “[I’ve had the chance] to go into desktop [support] and be able to get more hands-on in imaging computers and replacing motherboards and replacing hard drives. And then… because my customer service scores were so good, they wanted me to [work in] customer service training. So now, I'm one of the people responsible for providing customer service training for incoming [support technicians.]”

Growth on the job led to a development in other areas, too, Curtis shares. She became involved in TechGirlz, a program of Creating IT Futures that seeks to inspire middle-school girls to explore technology careers.

“I had a chance to help teach [a TechGirlz] class, and I loved it,” she relates. “And I thought, ‘Okay, this is what my purpose is. It's to try to get more women into tech, to try to break the glass ceiling.’"

“A lot of girls may not think that a [tech] job is a good option for them,” she adds. “I want to be a role model for girls to say, ‘Hey, yes, you can do this.’" I mean, sometimes I tear up [after a TechGirlz class]… just to be a person that can inspire them, it's a fulfilling experience for me.”

Are you -- or someone you know – contemplating career options after completing your education? Or considering changing careers as a working adult? Consider launching a technology career with CompTIA Tech. 2021 classes are open for applications. Apply here.

Meantime, hear the rest of the conversation between Angela Curtis and Andrea Rios McMillian here: Chapter 51 – Angela’s Tale: From Tech Training to Technologist Mentor


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