Is Tech Training Worth Your Time?
In a series of blog posts called Server to Server, CompTIA Tech Career Academy explains why service-industry workers make ideal candidates for entry-level positions in information technology. In this seventh blog post, we examine the time investment needed to transition into a tech career — and how quickly that investment might pay off.
The expression, “the darkest hour is just before the dawn,” conveys that life feels impossible immediately before it improves.
That expression rings true for Harold and Sherlana Monestime.
What they might call a “darkest hour” occurred while Sherlana attended an eight-week-long IT-Ready class in 2016, which is now part of CompTIA Tech Career Academy. With a newborn at home — which made training challenging enough — Sherlana took a moonlighting job two weeks into her tech classes because the family needed the money.
So, for six weeks, Sherlana attended IT-Ready from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and then rode three buses to reach her babysitter’s house two hours later. She picked up the couple’s baby, walked him four blocks home, got a quick nap, and then went to her night job. She got two hours of sleep nightly — three, when lucky.
Kathy Brennan, director of national workforce solutions at CompTIA Tech, shakes her head remembering it. “Every morning, we held our breath to see if she would make it to class. And every morning, she did. She continued that class with a smile on her face.”
Financial Security Comes with a Tech Career
Five years after graduating from CompTIA Tech, Sherlana says those eight weeks of nearly impossible “darkest hour” living have more than paid off for her family.
“It was definitely worth it,” she said. “I frequently look back on where I started prior to CompTIA Tech, and what I have achieved as an individual and what we have achieved as a family. Tech has given us a sense of security. We are more financially stable and can be more selective when it comes to future roles.”
Harold completed IT-Ready in 2017 immediately after Sherlana; to date, they are the only married couple to have matriculated through the program. Today, she works as IT onboarding specialist-infrastructure service management at TCF Bank in Minneapolis. He now works as a service desk representative at Metro-INET.
Both Harold and Sherlana acknowledge that when money is tight, bills are due, and one is emotionally and physically exhausted, several weeks of training at CompTIA Tech can feel like an insurmountable obstacle. But it’s not, they insist.
“Going through CompTIA Tech, working nights, a baby at home, barely getting any sleep, enduring four hours of commuting a day — I can tell you, I surely had negative days,” Sherlana said.
What helped was that she and Harold looked ahead, always — past the immediate struggle, and toward the future they both wanted, the future they knew tech careers would offer them.
“What kept me going was reminding myself why I was doing it in the first place,” she said. “When you think about possibly giving up, think about what went through your mind when you signed up. Did you want a better future for yourself? Did you want a better life for your family? Whatever started you on this path, let that be what pushes you forward.”
Tech Careers Provide Family Security & Blessings
Harold agreed, adding that the couple’s dual careers in the IT industry today have showered blessings they only imagined when they married.
“Most people dream of owning a home and having a yard for their children to play in,” he said. “Thanks to our careers in IT, we saved up enough to purchase our home. Our son has a safe place to play, and we are closer to giving him the life we’ve always envisioned for him.”
And when the pandemic struck, Harold added, the couple’s tech careers offered them the flexibility of working from home — something probably not possible in their previous service-industry roles.
“While working from home has had some challenges, we have been lucky enough to stay safe, all while assisting our son with his distance learning,” he said.
Help Desk Jobs Launch Upwardly Mobile IT Careers
And both Harold and Sherlana wholeheartedly endorse entry-level technology work as an excellent springboard to an upwardly mobile IT career.
“When you work on a help desk, you encounter a variety of issues that range from software to hardware, networking to security, and even include mobile devices such as cellphones and tablets,” he said. “If you don’t already have a specific area of tech interest, you may find your niche after troubleshooting a challenging issue.”
Sherlana agreed, adding that because qualified technologists are in such high demand, companies look for ways to enhance employee training and promote from within.
“The companies I’ve worked for were committed to further developing their help desk staff, so when I showed an interest, they would pair me with a mentor from that department,” she said. “I actually ended up on the information security team after showing an interest in how user access was provisioned. When a position opened up, I was recommended for the role.”
Both Monestimes reiterate that the eight to 16 weeks of CompTIA Tech training are just the start of one’s technology career. The beauty of working in IT, they say, is one never stops learning and growing as a tech professional.
“I have learned so many things over the past four years that I am confident I am a well-rounded candidate in the IT field, and I know that’s true for Sherlana, too,” Harold said. “Knowing all of these different things makes me feel secure about my place in the tech world.”
CompTIA Tech featured Sherlana and Harold previously on our blog. You can read about them here.