It was never the right time. I worked full-time on the third shift, as a Characterization Senior Technician for a small semi-conductor company. The job involved processing and testing sensor chips which were later used in cars, computers and mobile phones. I have a family—a wife and a kid—that I want to spend time with.
I thought about mechanical training, but approaching 40, I felt technology was a better long-term match for me. I knew I liked working with computers and have always enjoyed helping people. Using skills that I learned on my own, I’ve tried to help people with their computer problems; but I knew I needed more training. I pushed myself past my concerns about going to school while supporting my family, and applied to MTTI’s Computer / Networking program.
Continuing to work at night allowed me to attend school during the day. But having to work all night and come to class in the morning was not easy. My job took a lot of my energy and focus. I would go to sleep as soon as I returned home from school on Monday through Friday, then get up at 10 pm on Sunday through Thursday to go to work. I worried that because I had to keep working, I wouldn’t be able to do well in class. I had little time off; thankfully my wife took care of everything—our child and our home.
I had to take out a loan plus pay part out-of-pocket for school tuition. I took seriously how I applied myself; I wanted to get the most I could out of the program. If you go to school and don’t do the work, you can lose your financial investment; although, over time you could still make that money back. But if you don’t apply yourself, you can never get back the time you invested. I knew that this was my one opportunity to train for a new career; I didn’t have time to lose.
My instructor, Ken put in the extra effort to make videos demonstrating what we were learning, and to share other online resources with us. He is a very good instructor, who always makes time to answer students’ questions. During COVID, Ken gave time for each of us to call in on Zoom, so we could get one-on-one help with any questions.
The lab exercises simulated realistic problems—ones we could expect to encounter in real-life situations. Working online, were able to practice installing, repairing, configuring, securing and managing computer operating systems (OS), PC hardware and software, basic networking devices and printers and mobile devices.
He is very attentive to students and understanding of their individual situations. Ken knew I was working hard to keep up; he was flexible with me about due dates of assignments. He could do this because I had earned his trust. He knew that I would do my best to complete assignments on schedule.
If it wasn’t for Shawn, I wouldn’t have known about the opportunity to intern at, and eventually be hired by, Attleboro Public Schools. Shawn worked with me throughout the program to write my resume, practice interviewing and make contacts with prospective employers. He helped keep me on track with the search process.
A part of why I did this was to prove to myself I could do it. I had so much riding on completing the training—and it was not an easy ride. Because I had to work harder to do well in school, while maintaining a full-time job, I appreciate even more what the program has given me. And, the for the first time after 15 years on the night shift, I have a normal work week. I am enjoying having dinners with my family!
But it all comes down to you. You have to do the homework and lab assignments. You need to reach out to let the instructors know when you need their help. If you speak up and ask for help, you will get it. The computer and networking industry offers many interesting and exciting career opportunities. If you take seriously the knowledge and support that the school offers, you will make something of yourself.