Network Support Graduates in Philadelphia and Detroit Find Tech Career Success through Per Scholas / TEKsystems partnership

“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” began Per Scholas Philadelphia valedictorian, Joshua Keesee. “What’s important though is to find where you get that start.”

Per Scholas celebrated the Philadelphia and Detroit inaugural graduations on October 30 and November 1, respectively, and graduates from each site are well on their way to leading promising careers in tech. Both locations were established in partnership with Per Scholas Champion Partner TEKsystems, a hiring and training partner since 2013 who has hired more than 400 Per Scholas graduates. Following successful launches in Baltimore and Boston, this partnership continues to aspire towards transforming the Philadelphia and Detroit regional markets by building an inclusive, job-ready tech workforce.

Origin Stories: Passions for Technology

Joshua grew up in the DC area where his father worked for the government. From time to time his father would return home with old tech equipment which his office would throw out. Fascinated by it, Joshua would take apart the equipment and reassemble it. As he grew older, his interest in hardware and software lessened but remained an interest of his as the right opportunity to jump-start his career wasn’t available until he discovered Per Scholas. “Per Scholas and TEKsystems have provided me with an opportunity to jump into an industry I am passionate about…that will give me the opportunity and benefit to be home with my children and to feel fulfilled in my career.”

For Cortez Christian, the prospect for a career in tech was cut short due to personal circumstances that resulted in him withdrawing from the University of Michigan where he enrolled as a computer science major.

“I knew tech was my goal – I’ve known it since forever,” states the Per Scholas Detroit valedictorian. Researching alternative training opportunities were “out of the question” due to their steep financial costs. But upon finding Per Scholas, Cortez was again energized to continue with pursuing his tech career aspirations.

“The opportunity to be at Per Scholas and work with the partners at TEKsystems is the most valuable educational experience I have ever had. I was not just learning tech skills – I was learning life skills, how to interview, what employers are looking for, building my customer service skills and my professional skills at the same time.”

Providing Transformative Opportunities

Nationally, 80% of Per Scholas graduates begin working in jobs that pay an average of $21/hour to start. That’s 4x times their average pre-training incomes. Commitment to creating opportunity is what drives the Per Scholas / TEKsystems partnership. Two weeks following graduation, 17 out of 20 Detroit graduates were successfully placed in tech roles by TEKsystems, and 9 out of 20 in Philadelphia, in turn strengthening the local IT talent pool and achieving greater diversity within the regions’ technology markets.

“We are looking to really provide a contribution to [these businesses and communities] by offering these types of programs and providing opportunity to people who normally would not be able to take advantage of other opportunities,” states Theresa Chin, Senior VP, Per Scholas. By expanding pathways for tech employment on the local level, benefits such as achieving a work/life balance are provided to residents like Joshua, who is a single father with a toddler son diagnosed with autism. “I needed to find a career that would support a work-life balance that would let me connect with him.”

Joshua and Cortez are just two of the hundreds of graduates Per Scholas and TEKsystems will train and prepare for cutting-edge technology jobs over the next three years. Each graduating class brings to fruition a future where overlooked individuals can access well-paying tech careers, where talent is recognized and recruited from many diverse sources, and opportunities lead to transformative lives for graduates, their families, and their communities.

“These past fifteen weeks I’ve learned alongside this awesome group of individuals,” shares Cortez. “I felt a little intimidated when I first got here — my colleagues are so awesome and smart. The best thing we had throughout all of this was each other.”

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