A Pre-Med Track that Took a Turn — Why the ‘Right Job’ Isn’t Always Right for You
Caitlan Beard always wanted to be a good role model for her younger siblings. When she was looking to start her own career, she wanted to help them learn — or even avoid — some mistakes she fumbled through, but that didn’t make imagining her own career path any easier.
Healthcare seemed like the right track because she wanted to play a positive role in people’s lives and help the community. “I was unsure where to go in life. I wanted to help people and thought medicine was the best way to make an impact,” she said. "I went from cashier positions to sales representative positions and never knew where exactly to take my career. It was pretty bleak. I didn't think after joining the CompTIA Tech Career Academy that I would be where I am right now, so I'm really appreciative of the opportunity they created for me.”
The Family’s Favorite IT Pro
Beard was always interested in technology and was the family’s go-to fixer of everything digital
"I would help my mom set up her new phone or troubleshoot when the WiFi went out. I set up all the gaming systems for my siblings,” she said. “If it involved anything technical, I was on-call to set it up.
Even though she was the go-to person for tech issues, she didn’t think a career in technology would be as helpful in the community and thought being a doctor might be a better fit. Helping people and making an impact were the most important things, so she tried taking pre-med classes, but it wasn’t a good fit.
Leaving the pre-med program uninspired, she enrolled in a technical program and earned an internship that opened her up to a new way of helping people: creating documentation, drafting proposals and troubleshooting computer issues. Then the internship ended, and her career options flat lined.
"I didn't know what to do. I needed more experience in IT but had no way of getting that for myself,” she said.
She searched for a technical program that who provide her with a certification to increase her odds of being hired. She found CompTIA Tech Career Academy through Creating IT Futures. The IT-Ready Technical Support program offered technology training, CompTIA A+ certification and career options.
“Something told me, ‘Go on ahead and apply. What could it hurt?’” she said. Filling out that application changed her life.
An Intense Class, But Motivated to Succeed
First, Beard got a call inviting her to enroll. Once she was in the program, she spent eight weeks starting in July 2020 diving headfirst into technology.
“The eight weeks were pretty intense,” she said, noting the amount of material required to cover for the Core 1 and Core 2 tests for the CompTIA A+ certification.”
“I think one of the biggest things that helped me out was staying on top of my work, studying and doing everything I could do to make sure that I've got the material solidified,” she said. Her other tip: Don’t miss class. “If you miss even a day, that's so much material you need to catch back up on.”
She’s grateful for a good instructor, Jesse, “He was really a good motivator for the class. He tried to make sure, at least to the best of his ability, that all of us had what we needed to succeed,” she said.
She also credited her mom for being a huge factor in her IT success. “My mom raised me to be who I am today and made certain that I came out the best I could be. Before, I never knew what I wanted to do or wanted from life, but she always supported my decisions through to the end and never shamed me for not knowing.”
Starting out in a Tech Career
Now, instead of waking up to a heart-sinking feeling of going to a job that isn’t right, she works from home and has a more relaxing lifestyle. “IT was always a passion of mine, but I never knew that it could become my career. I always had problems with motivation, and I think it was because I was on the wrong career track. But ever since joining the CompTIA Tech Career Academy, I got that motivation back.”
At work, she helps people through tech problems by email and phone, operating in and out of a lot of different environments. She’s got two big screens up while she navigates from Azure to VMware and learns new things every day.
“It's really exciting because you are having to figure out all of the issues users present on the spo,t and you always have a way to get the answer to their problem,” she said. “Usually I can look something with keywords, or use a Boolean search to help narrow the results even further. If that doesn’t work, we've got teams set up if you ever need a quick consultation from a team leader or anybody else who could assist.”
By the end of Q1 2020, companies everywhere were reeling as they reckoned with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the CompTIA IT Industry Outlook 2021.
“COVID-19 has made things especially difficult, as a lot of individuals have been losing their jobs which is a very scary thing to experience in itself. Finding a job after receiving my CompTIA A+ certification was one of my biggest concerns,” Beard said. In the tech industry, she feels more secure that the hard and soft skills she’s learned so far will continue to be essential, as technology is here to stay.
A year ago, Beard felt a long way from a career in technology. Even after completing her work in the CompTIA Tech Career Academy at the end of August 2020, she was hitting dead ends. She sent a lot of email applications and got a lot of no thank you’s in return. But CompTIA Tech kept working with her, and in October 2020, she heard from Anderson Lee, her CompTIA Tech career services manager, about an opening at Keno Kozie Associates, and he encouraged her to apply.
“So, I did, and I interviewed and here I am,” she said. "I am almost at my two-month mark at Keno Kozie and couldn't be any more excited for my future here."