Serving as an Everyday Ambassador for Women of Color Succeeding in the Tech Industry
It was 2013, and Ngina Baggett just had earned her associate’s degree in computer technology when she heard about IT-Ready Technical Support.
She knew she had the knowledge needed to secure an entry-level IT job. But she also knew that without practical, hands-on work experience — not to mention the CompTIA A+ certification she could earn through IT-Ready Technical Support — most tech employers wouldn’t give her resume a second glance.
So Ngina quit her job, gave up the apartment where she lived with her infant daughter, and moved in with her sister — just so she could attend the program.
“I definitely made some sacrifices,” she said. “Eight weeks is a long time with no income.”
When hard work and sacrifices bear fruit
Five years later, Ngina says the sacrifices she made in 2013 have more than paid off. Now an IT coordinator for Cincinnati Public Schools, Ngina works in a high school where she supports staff, teachers and students with all of their hardware and software needs, ranging from desktop to tablet to smart phone.
“I love information technology,” she said. “I’m actually finishing up coursework for my bachelor’s degree in IT now.”
Ngina said the soft skills training she received was crucial, and that she finds herself sharing soft-skills wisdom with the high-school students she works with today.
“You have to be on time; you have to dress professionally,” she said. “I think a lot of people take these things for granted. Or they assume that just because you know someone, you don’t have to bring your A game. But this is real life, and this is what’s expected of you.”
IT-Ready Technical Support also taught Baggett troubleshooting skills — which were tested by one potential employer during an interview when she was given two desktop computers experiencing 10 problems and told she had 30 minutes to solve them.
“They wanted to make sure we understood the technology and I did,” she said. “Even in my current job, if I’m not sure how to do something, I know how to go about figuring it out.“
Equipped with skills to continually advance in IT
Because IT-Ready Technical Support works to attract women and people of color, Ngina was featured on a billboard about the program. Despite the progress the IT industry is making in diversifying its workforce, Ngina often finds herself serving as a de facto ambassador for women in technology.
“The attitude I will get when I show up to fix someone’s computer — there’s this skepticism, like, ‘You’re here to fix my computer?!’” she said. “Then I fix their computer and their attitude afterward is totally different. ‘Thank you so much, you did a great job.’ It’s been a funny experience. I impress more than I disappoint.”
With a bachelor’s degree within her reach, Ngina is considering her next professional challenge, and she sees security as a possibility.
“Every company wants to protect its data and that’s not going to change,” she said. “I’m not sure exactly what way I’ll go, but I’ve got lots of options.”
Regardless of where her career takes her, Ngina said, she always will be grateful for her IT-Ready Technical Support experience.
“That was one of the best opportunities I have ever had,” she said.
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