My father was a fan of technology. Growing up, we were one of the first in the neighborhood to have a computer. I had my first home computer during the mid-eighties; I knew I had a knack for it.
I wanted to learn about art and painting. Leaving behind a bad relationship, I left school, moved to New Hampshire and raised my son as a single mom. I turned a negative into a positive by helping others at a local crisis center. At New Horizons, I earned certificates in Adobe and Microsoft Applications, and XHTML/CSS for website work. I was excited about taking a piece of art and changing it so many ways with technology —or turning a painting into a graphic design. Life was looking up.
He had an undiagnosed genetic heart condition—there was no warning. I dropped out before completing the graphics design program. My son and I moved back to Weymouth, MA, where I had grown up. I took the only job I could find; I worked for three years in sales.
Working as an independent contractor, I designed and built websites, marketing materials, brochures, signage, email marketing and social media. I brought one company’s pen and paper inventory into the 20th century by implementing a full cloud-based POS/Scheduling/Inventory Management System. For one organization, I even provided phone, remote or in-house IT support as needed—I was the person they called when things “broke”.
Often people don’t appreciate the time and effort that goes into website work and graphic design. It was difficult to get paid what my work was worth. I no longer wanted my creative work to be deeply tied to the work that earned me a living. I wanted to have a career in which I would receive the appreciation and recognition for my hard work, talent and skills.
My sister, whose degree is in social work, and I applied for the same job at a hospital. She’s a hard worker, but computer is not her forté. However, she had gotten in on the ground floor when Epic—a powerful software that manages every aspect of the hospital—was implemented. My sister was hired in the position; I was not given an interview. She and my boyfriend, who is experienced in IT sales and business development, encouraged me to get trained in IT. They recommended I earn the CompTIA Certifications.
When my son graduated from high school, I decided I was ready to return to school. I didn’t have time or money to invest in a 4-year program. I was looking for a powerful concentrated program that would give me real-world skills and valued credentials that would get me in the door of the IT world.
I had no idea how vast the IT field is. I thought I knew a lot about technology coming in; I was surprised by how much I did not know. Very quickly it was overwhelming. The program was hard, but attainable–I loved it. Fortunately, I wasn’t afraid to try solving problems and dig deeper to find solutions. Because of my maturity and life experience, I understood and valued the experience I was getting in the program.
I recognized I would be twice the age of most students in the program—and that it is a disproportionately male industry. Thankfully, my classmates were great. After they got to know me, some would ask me for help. My family took care of as much of my life as possible—cleaning while I took practice tests in the living room. My boyfriend gave me the space and time to do the work.
I completed the CompTIA A+ Certification half-way through the class and got my Network+ on the last day of class. In between I earned a PC Pro and a Network Pro Test Out Certificate. TestOut is fantastic—they have simulated a full computer lab so that you can perform different actions with hardware, software, network cabling, hardware routers, switches and firewalls.
Ken is a fantastic teacher; he does a great job of pacing the programs, and repeating things that helped us retain the information. Ken went above and beyond—he set me up to get manuals for Network+ and we did some special training in it. I was particularly interested in enterprise network (CISCO). Even though CISCO isn’t specifically part of the course, we did some work. All the Instructors—Ken, Boris, and Scott, who sometimes filled in—will go above and beyond if you go above and beyond in your efforts to learn. They’ll explain things one-on-one, and if you want to accelerate to earn certificates beyond the A+ they will support you in that.
Bob Borges from Spade attended an MTTI Program Advisory Board Meeting and liked the program. At Spade, I went from being at the top of my class at MTTI to coming in at the bottom of their organization—this was hard for me. My goal as an intern was to retain as much information as I could, from one day to the next—I took a lot of notes.
Spade has clients in multiple industries: insurance, engineering, biotech, scientific research companies, law firms. Many of them have multiple locations and hundreds of employees. A person from any of the 50 companies we provide service to can put in a ticket for any job—we can get hundreds of tickets in a week. I can schedule myself, or escalate it to have someone at a higher level resolve the issue.
The roles and goals are very clear. There are four of us in the Tier 1 Team; two of us are new hires and one is an intern. It takes quick thinking, problem solving and the ability to seek information, calm people and manage expectations—there is a lot to balance. I couldn’t be happier about where I am, working for a great Managed Service Provider (MSP). They are incredibly supportive and give opportunities to grow. Today, at the meeting, they said the Service Desk had some of the highest ratings, compared with teams in the past. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about how we are keeping customers happy.
Before entering the program, I was hoping I would find the right company that would recognize my talents and appreciate my work ethic. Without the education behind you, companies won’t pay you a good salary. After completing the program at MTTI I can go into an interview with a whole different level of confidence.
Students focus on doing—making the cables, building the computer from scratch, installing operating systems, configuring accounts and Active Directories—every day. I didn’t even know what an Active Directory was; now I work on them every day on the job.
If the IT isn’t working, the company isn’t working. If computers and technology excite you, you’ll learn so much at MTTI about hardware, software technologies, understanding Operating Systems (OS) and viruses. If you want to do cabling and physically set up networks, or focus on installation, you have a solid base from this program to do that. If you want to be a high-level system administrator—you have the foundation to do that. If you just want to build an awesome gaming program, you can do that, too. The program also provides a solid foundation to be a stepping stone for high level corporate IT careers. At MTTI it is primarily ‘what you put into it you get out of it.’
The possibilities in IT are endless. I know where I want to take my career; I’m able to map my path from here forward. I plan to earn Security+ and Microsoft Certifications next. It’s never too late to start a whole new career—something completely new. If we’ve been in jobs that frustrated our ability to grow, we can lose confidence in ourselves. At any age we are capable of learning—and with age you value and appreciate even more the opportunities you are given–and especially the people who helped you grow.