Obencian Louis, 2022 Computer Service Technician / Network Installer Graduate
IT Field Technician at M&H Consulting in Natick, MA
“My experience at school was great. What we did at MTTI in the classroom and lab felt less like school and more like working in the industry. It was definitely higher-level learning. Coming to this country with little computer knowledge, I really appreciate everything MTTI did to help me realize my dream.”
For years before coming to MTTI, I dreamed of a career as an IT Tech.
As a young adult in my twenties and early thirties, I had no access to training. Born and raised in Haiti, my beautiful country in the Caribbean has many political and economic problems. Widespread poverty and hunger, civil unrest, poor land management and destruction from natural disasters, including the 2010 magnitude 7 earthquake that the country still struggles to recover from, make it very challenging to live in Haiti. For these, and many reasons, our educational system is not great.
During 2016, I left Haiti to have a better life.
Arriving in the United States, I wanted to live in Massachusetts, where I had stayed briefly during 2010, after Haiti’s devastating earthquake. But first I lived in Florida, where we have a huge Haitian community. I needed the support and sponsorship of the community and family members, to help me transition to permanent residency in the US. Living in a new country, you need time to adapt—to develop proficiency in the official language and learn how to adjust to cultural differences.
I knew that to make a better life, I would need more education.
I had finished high school in Haiti, but when you come to the US, sometimes they don't accept your paperwork. I decided to study for, and take, the General Equivalency Diploma exam. After attending school to prepare to pass the exam, during 2017 I earned the GED. Ready to be on my own, I moved from Florida to Massachusetts.
Searching the internet for IT training, I found MTTI’s website.
I was working at an airport as a Line Service Technician / Shift Supervisor, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do long-term. I messaged MTTI on their Facebook and chatted with someone from the school who said a Computer & Networking class was starting the following week; she had the Admissions Representative contact me. On Monday, I toured the school and completed the application; on Wednesday I joined the class.
Being accepted into the Computer & Networking program felt like a dream.
It’s such a good feeling, when you finally see that you have the chance to do something you’ve wanted to do for so long. The Computer & Networking program was my opportunity to become what I always wanted to be—an IT Technician. I thought to myself, “‘it’s on me now. I have to put myself to work to realize my dream’”.
My instructor created a great environment for learning.
Boris encouraged us ask questions. We were welcome to express ourselves when we didn’t understand something. Boris’ explanations about computer and networking theory and his guidance while we worked hands-on in the lab made it easy for me to learn. I felt encouraged to try things on my own, and then ask Boris for help in troubleshooting and resolving a problem.
I was surprised at how the Computer & Networking program exceeded my expectations.
I thought I would just be learning basic skills, like how to remove or change out a hard drive, and how to replace a memory card. It was huge for me to build a computer from scratch. In Haiti access to technology had been a luxury; computer classes mainly focused on how to use the software. What we were doing at MTTI in the classroom and lab felt less like school and more like working in the industry. It was definitely higher-level learning.
Before MTTI, technology felt like magic; now I know how to make that magic.
When I worked at the airport, I was shown how to log in with a user name and password. As a student in the Computer & Networking program, I learned how to create those usernames and passwords. We started with Active Directory—that's the backbone of the system. When a company hires a new employee, you go to Active Directory to create a user name and a profile for that employee. That’s where you start to do the magic.
Networking is another kind of magic.
Boris and another instructor, Ken, taught us cabling and color codes. We learned how to make the computers in a system communicate with one another—even without internet—and to create network settings. Having worked at school in the back end of systems, I understand what is working, and what is not working. Now when I encounter a computer or network problem, knowing how the magic works gives me the power to fix it.
Searching for an internship, I found an IT position that launched my career.
I focused on finding a Managed Service Provider (MSP) company, because that would be the best fit with what I was learning in school. I would have the chance to use all of the skills taught in the Computer & Networking program. When I found M&H Consulting, they were not advertising a position. I liked their story on their website and the good company reviews I read online. The Career Services Specialist, Shawn, sent my resume to M&H. I interviewed on the phone, on Zoom and finally in-person—and also took a test. Before the internship was scheduled to begin, I was already hired as an IT Field Tech.
During the second week at M&H, I began working on my own.
The first week I met with the Director, learned about the policies, how to create my account and how to access the system and the online tools they use. I shadowed other Techs and worked on some basic client problems. Most of the time, new hires will shadow for two to three weeks. When, as I began my second week, a couple of Techs called out sick, they asked me, “Can you do this on your own?” I answered, “‘Yes, I can do that.’” They said, “Okay, if you think you can do it.” And then they let me do it.
Small in numbers of people; M&H has a large reach.
As a Manager Service Provider, we are on the cloud—we can work with anybody. On any day, I might work with five different clients—five different organizations. I am able to set up systems for companies, and also to manage their systems. Tomorrow, for example, I have two appointments. One is to set up a network printer for a client at their work site. The second is to set up remotely two new computers for a different client. I will also receive calls from companies about problems they have. I might be asked to delete a departing employee’s user account, or to resolve an issue for a client who is unable to log into the company email. If an organization has lost their internet access, I will troubleshoot, identify the problem and restore their internet access.
I joke sometimes when someone asks me what I do for a living.
I tell them, ‘I get paid for doing something I like to do’. To me it is similar to someone who plays basketball or soccer for the love of the game, and then one day goes pro—they get paid to play the sport they love. I love that each day in IT brings something new. It is always exciting because the same problem can occur for many different reasons—and so we need to find many different solutions. My long-term goal is to become a Systems Administrator. The knowledge and skills I gained in the Computer & Networking program, and the experience I am getting working at M&H Consulting will help me do that.
When you leave your country to make a better life you need to have goals.
You need to be motivated to stick to those goals. My life is better because I did what I was supposed to do to make it better. I worked a full-time job while attending school. I went to class in the morning until three in the afternoon, changed clothes in the bathroom, and worked at my job from four until midnight. At home by one am, I would study for an hour, go to bed at one am and get up again at six am. My girlfriend, April, was a great support for me. She understood that I often felt tired, but she kept encouraging me to complete the program.
MTTI does what the school says it will do.
MTTI told me that after successfully completing the 900-hour Computer & Networking program, I would be able to work in almost any industry—business, finances, education, healthcare—in entry-level IT positions, including help desk support and network installation. I appreciate that MTTI went beyond just having a very good curriculum, to providing a really great hands-on environment that made learning easy. My experience at school, and now at work, has been great. A week after I graduated, my girlfriend April and I got engaged. I look forward to advancing in my IT career, and to sharing a better life with April.