Alexander Mandala | Profile of a Per Scholas IT Support Graduate
Alexander was born in Malawi, one of Africa’s poorest nations. After moving to the United States to advance his education, he encountered various personal and financial troubles. Alexander needed to consider a career alternative, not just for his future, but that of his family.
Title: Senior Coordinator for Help Support
Employer: Capital One
Location: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
Program/Course Name: IT Support
A Dream an Ocean Over
The seventh of nine children, Alexander grew up in Africa where he and his siblings all shared responsibilities around the house. He enjoyed learning and was the first in his family to go to college. He studied education at the University of Malawi and taught geography as a high school teacher for several years. However, what he made as a teacher was not enough even though he continued to provide for his family.
As the only educated member in his family, Alexander needed to support his family the best he could. To meet the financial needs he hoped, Alexander decided to look elsewhere, beyond Malawi, beyond Africa. Education was both a career and a personal interest of his so he decided to study abroad and get his master’s degree.
“I had hoped to leverage my education to better provide for my family. To do this, I dreamed of moving to the United States and excelling in my career there.”
Educational Background before IT Training
Alexander was off to start his new life in Boston, Massachusetts where he enrolled at Brandeis University. His family had pooled all of their funds together to finance his travel to America. However, his transition to the Northeast was not easy. Even with a partial scholarship, between paying for his tuition and living expenses, he could no longer afford school and had to drop out.
Hoping to still complete his degree, he moved to Texas to live with a distant relative and enrolled at Dallas Baptist University. After one semester, he could no longer support himself nor send funds back home to his family. Once again, Alexander withdrew from college and immediately began looking for a full-time job.
A Tech Genesis
For a time, Alexander worked at a local nursing home that paid $10/hour. It was barely enough to afford his basic living expenses. Although he stayed with his relative, he still needed to pay his share of rent. While attending a local church he came across a flyer for Per Scholas Dallas and their free IT certification training. Alexander always had an interest in technology. Back home in Malawi, he and his brother dabbled with operating a small computer repair business providing computer technical support to locals. The business still operates to this day!
He was skeptical about the absolutely free training offered by Per Scholas as per the flyer. “I have been paying a lot of money for education and you’re telling me that someone is going to give me IT training for free?” Fortunately, the person who placed the flyer was both a member of the church and an alum of Per Scholas. They encouraged him to attend an upcoming information session for IT Support training.
Alexander held off applying in order to build up his savings to finance himself throughout the ten weeks of training. “If I was going to do this, I wanted to make sure that I had all the support I needed. That meant quitting my job and focus only on my training. I was still paying back a loan for the semester I attended in Boston.”
At times it was challenging, especially when taking public transportation. To get to class, Alexander needed to take a 15-minute bus ride which took him to a train station where he had to travel 45 minutes to the Dallas metro area. “Students were expected to adhere to the strict attendance policy, so I had to wake up very early to make sure I was on time.” Sometimes Alexander stayed late to work with his peers to finish assignments, but for him, it was worth it!
After passing his CompTIA A+ certification exam, he was ready to find a job. He uploaded his resume whenever he could, attending networking events to get his name out in the job market. Still, there were no offers forthcoming. “It tested the best of me. I was interviewing and getting calls, but no job.”
A month after graduating, Alexander was called in to interview at Capital One. He was selected among 20 other applicants for a contract position. Six months into the role, he was brought on board as a full-time associate working as Senior Coordinator for Help Desk Support where he currently trains and helps to onboard new hires.
“I am grateful for my experience at Per Scholas Dallas. I am able to envision a professional future for myself. I’m proud to be an alum because I also get to see other students come out of the training and find career success. Even here at Capital One, on a different team, there is another Per Scholas graduate who started out as a team leader and was soon promoted to principal coordinator. That only speaks to the caliber of the training we received from Per Scholas. We do our best, but Per Scholas is what helped us to realize and maximize our potential.”
Alex currently works at Capital One as a Senior Coordinator for Help Desk Support and continues to learn more about the field and progress his skill sets. To learn more about our IT Support course and other course offerings, visit our apply page.
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