Life in Tech: What’s It Really Like Working in IT? | Per Scholas
Working in Information Technology (IT) is all about innovation, opportunity, and challenge. Many people wonder what it is truly like to work in the field, and common myths and misconceptions can make it seem intimidating.
People often picture IT professionals as workers buried under lines of code or constantly tinkering with hardware. In reality, there are many types of IT jobs, and not all of them involve chips, motherboards, or constant coding.
In this article, we aim to demystify the world of IT and provide a comprehensive glimpse into what it’s truly like to work in this dynamic field. To do this, we’ll draw upon the experiences of Per Scholas graduates who have successfully ventured into the tech industry.
Daily IT Tasks and Responsibilities
Working in IT is far from being monotonous, and that’s one of its many charms. IT professionals often find themselves doing a wide range of tasks — from coding, troubleshooting, and attending team meetings to managing complex projects.
While coding is a fundamental aspect of IT, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Troubleshooting and problem-solving are equally critical skills, as IT teams frequently collaborate to resolve complex issues.
IT Workplace Environments
One of the remarkable features of the IT industry is its adaptability to different workplace environments. While in-person workplace settings are still popular, the rise of remote work has been especially prominent in the tech sector, allowing professionals to work from anywhere in the world.
This transition to remote work has been supported by cutting-edge communication tools and platforms that facilitate collaboration. The collaborative nature of tech teams is a fundamental aspect of working in IT, regardless of whether professionals work on-site or remotely, and the option to seek out remote or in-person roles as desired is an attractive feature to many.
Continuous Learning and Upskilling
The ever-evolving landscape of technology demands continuous learning and skill enhancement and is an excellent option for those who love learning new things.
To remain competitive in this rapidly changing environment, IT professionals regularly attend conferences and workshops, enroll in online courses, and engage in self-study.
These educational opportunities keep them up-to-date with the latest developments and trends in the field. To see how IT pros stay updated through courses, explore Per Scholas’ diverse course offerings and witness firsthand accounts of their commitment to continuous learning.
Challenges and Rewards
Working in IT is not easy, but the challenges it presents are part of what makes it so rewarding. IT professionals often find a thrill in problem-solving, from debugging a piece of software to designing a never-before-used solution.
They regularly face and overcome challenges, such as intense troubleshooting, creating novel solutions to problems, and updating their skill sets to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancements. Overcoming these hurdles provides a sense of fulfillment that makes the journey worthwhile.
Work-Life Balance in IT
In recent years, careers in IT have become increasingly flexible in terms of work arrangements. IT professionals have options for flexible working hours and often work remotely. Many tech companies have recognized the importance of supporting a healthy work-life balance for their employees, and this is reflected in the requirements of their roles.
As such, working in tech can be a great option for those with families or otherwise busy schedules or for those simply seeking a greater work-life balance.
Community and Networking
Building a strong sense of community lies at the core of Per Scholas’ mission. We understand the importance of forming connections and nurturing relationships within the IT community, as well as the ways in which these connections benefit both personal and professional growth.
Per Scholas actively promotes community in tech by providing mentorship opportunities and platforms for collaboration among trainees and alumni. This supportive atmosphere stretches beyond our training programs, fostering a spirit of togetherness that helps pave the way for our alumni’s success.
Here, you can see the influence of community-building initiatives, such as our collaboration with TD Bank leader volunteers to offer mock interviews for Per Scholas learners.
Voices from the Field: Experiences of Per Scholas Graduates
How did your training at Per Scholas shape your initial experiences in the IT world?
“Throughout the program, you are working on being ready for the moment the program finishes. From week one, we were creating our LinkedIn profiles and working on resumes…we would have guest speakers that ranged in different fields in IT. We were able to make connections with them, pick their brains a little, and learn about the different paths and options in IT. As soon as the program was done, I had my LinkedIn with several connections, an idea of what type of IT I wanted to do, and my resume ready. What I think makes up a well-rounded employee is both soft skills and technical skills, and I think Per Scholas has really developed a great way to round those out.”
-Veronica Vergara, End User Desktop Support, Chicago, IL
“I am applying everything Per Scholas taught me. Coming in, I didn’t have a blueprint or frame of reference for the industry – but I have that now.”
– LeClair Boone, Java Developer, Charlotte NC
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job in IT?
“I look forward to inviting others into this space, navigating the Google culture, and watching them grow within the company.”
-Tammy Johnson, Network Support @Google, Columbus, OH
“For me, it was important to have a good job and provide for myself and my family. I wanted better opportunities and a good work-life balance and to be paid fairly so I could afford things to take care of my family and myself. A career in IT seems to be more secure with better opportunities and salaries.”
-Elena Bilko, Cybersecurity, New York
Do you have any advice for someone considering a transition into the IT sector?
“It’s huge knowing that I don’t just have a beginner skill set. I have a very focused skill set that is highly in demand. Per Scholas gave me the base of my knowledge to go out and be successful.”
-Mira Winkel, Java Developer, Seattle, WA
Read more about our Per Scholas graduates here!
Conclusion: The Dynamic World of IT Careers
It’s clear that IT jobs come with their fair share of both challenges and rewards. With the right training from Per Scholas, anyone can excel in this ever-changing field. Whether you’re thinking about a career change or just curious about what working in IT is like, feel free to explore the options and see the opportunities that are out there. Welcome to the world of IT!
A Year of Roundtables: Helping Diverse Cultures Succeed in the Future Tech Force
A Year of Roundtables: Helping Diverse Cultures Succeed in the Future Tech Force
Written by Omoanatse McCarther
In the dynamic landscape of technology, integrating DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives have emerged as a pivotal factor for fostering innovation and advancement. Throughout 2023, Diverse by Design hosted a series of thought-provoking roundtable discussions as part of our “Futures Month” initiatives. These sessions were meticulously designed to dissect success narratives and furnish pragmatic insights tailored for technology leaders. The overarching objective was to empower leaders to seamlessly embed diverse cohorts into their DEI frameworks, thereby fostering a more inclusive trajectory for the future.
These virtual roundtables transcended mere anecdotal accounts, offering actionable guidance. Each session distilled pivotal takeaways, practical strategies, and implementable tips. The intention was to create a roadmap, deciphering invaluable insights that can equip technology leaders to cultivate teams that are more diverse, inclusive, and primed to tackle tomorrow’s challenges.
Black Futures Month Roundtable
Our inaugural roundtable featured esteemed panelists, including Athenia Figgs from EY, Damien Howard from Per Scholas, and Oche Idoko from Barclays. The focus of this dialogue centered on the imperative of cultivating mentorship programs for Black technologists. Emphasizing the reciprocal benefits inherent in participating as both mentors and mentees, the discussion underscored how such engagements foster meaningful connections and facilitate pivotal opportunities crucial for career advancement. Access to these programs was underscored as a transformative gateway for Black individuals navigating the tech landscape. All while acknowledging and celebrating Black Futures Month, highlighting the extraordinary achievements of black technologists.
Women’s Futures Month Roundtable
We celebrated the contributions of women in tech during our Women’s Futures Month roundtable, highlighting Dr. Marian Croak’s groundbreaking work while echoing the revelation that only 15% of engineering jobs are held by women, underscoring the imperative for change. In our Women’s Futures Month Roundtable, we celebrated the achievements of women in the tech industry while casting a forward-looking gaze. Despite women comprising a mere 19% of the tech workforce, the conversation pivoted towards fostering greater opportunities not only for women but also for other underrepresented demographics in the tech domain. Central to the discourse was the imperative of dismantling barriers obstructing women’s progression into tech roles and leadership positions. The emphasis was not solely on recognizing challenges but on catalyzing actionable measures to engender a more open and inclusive tech ecosystem conducive to the flourishing of women professionals. A notable highlight was the commendable increase in women technologists from 33% to 41% in 2022, signaling promising strides forward.
Pride Futures Month Roundtable
During our Pride Month roundtable, the spotlight illuminated avenues for enhancing opportunities for diverse technologists through collaborative efforts with employers and the establishment of supportive environments tailored for underrepresented groups. The dialogue shed light on strategies employed by Per Scholas and other entities to address the underrepresentation of LGBTQ+ individuals in recent diversity initiatives within the tech sector. Key considerations encompassed the use of inclusive language, avoidance of assumptions pertaining to gender identity or sexual orientation, and the provision of dedicated resources for employee groups. These initiatives are geared towards fostering connectivity and advocating for diversity while urging companies to champion LGBTQ+ inclusion in the tech workforce actively.
Hispanic Futures Month Roundtable
We concluded our series for 2023 with a celebration of Hispanic and Latinx voices in the tech community. The remarkable contributions of leaders like Elizabeth Agosto, Laura Gomez, and Karla Monterroso underscored the pivotal role Hispanics play in building the global tech landscape. With Hispanics constituting only approximately 8% of the tech workforce (as per a Pew Research Center report), our speakers imparted invaluable insights on empowering and uplifting Hispanics in the tech realm. The discussion underscored the significance of bilingual resources wherever feasible and underscored the imperative of acknowledging alternative educational pathways, recognizing that not all individuals have equitable access to traditional four-year college education. These insights underscored a commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for Hispanics, ensuring equitable opportunities for success irrespective of background.
Looking Ahead in 2024
The preceding year’s roundtables served as a poignant reminder of the transformative potential of diversity within the tech industry. They underscored the necessity of embracing diverse perspectives and backgrounds as catalysts for innovation and progress. Let us not overlook the fact that diversity is not merely a moral imperative but also a potent driver of business success.
As we express gratitude for your unwavering support throughout 2023, we extend an invitation to join us in shaping a more diverse and inclusive future in technology. Let’s carry the momentum of this year into the next, united in our commitment to fostering change. Join us on February 29 for “Diverse by Design Presents Securing the Future: Embracing Diversity in Cybersecurity,” where we will delve into how diversity in action yields tangible outcomes, particularly within the cybersecurity domain. Register now to be part of this transformative dialogue.
Navigating IT Certifications: CompTIA Network+ vs Cisco CCNA
In the exciting and fast-paced world of Information Technology (IT), keeping up with the latest trends is key to a successful career. One surefire way to show off your skills and stand out from the crowd is by earning IT certifications.
These certifications serve as industry-recognized credentials, validating your expertise in specific areas and skill sets. Passing the certification exams not only demonstrates your knowledge and skills but also shows employers your ability to problem-solve on the spot and apply your knowledge to examples of real-world situations. Whether you are looking to break into the field of IT or build your existing career, IT certifications can be a great way to get started!
It is important to determine which certifications you wish to obtain in order to best prepare you to take on the roles you strive for. For those looking to work in computer networking, two prominent IT certifications favored amongst technologists and employers alike are the Cisco CCNA certification and the CompTIA Network+ certification.
Although both certifications prepare candidates for roles in networking, they differ in the scope of material they cover and the specific positions they prepare candidates for. In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of CompTIA Network+ vs Cisco CCNA, exploring these two popular certifications and providing insights to help you decide whether each, both, or neither certification is right for you.
What is Network+?
The CompTIA Network+ is an entry-to-mid-level professional networking certification issued by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a non-profit organization that issues many of the industry standard certifications in IT.
Passing the Network+ certification exam verifies that a candidate has the essential knowledge and skills in computer networking required to develop a career in IT infrastructure, and prepares candidates for installing, troubleshooting, configuring and managing networks. The certification was first developed by CompTIA in 1999 and is redeveloped regularly to scale with the rapidly-growing IT field, ensuring that candidates learn the most up-to-date knowledge and skills in networking.
According to the official CompTIA website, the CompTIA Network+ certification prepares candidates in the specific following areas:
- Network fundamentals, including “network services, physical connections, topologies and architecture, and cloud connectivity.”
- Network implementations, including “routing technologies and networking devices; deploying ethernet solutions and configuring wireless technologies.”
- Network operations, including “monitoring and optimizing networks to ensure business continuity.”
- Network security, including “security concepts and network attacks in order to harden networks against threats.”
- Network troubleshooting, including “troubleshooting common cable, connectivity and software issues related to networking.”
Unlike other networking certifications, the Network+ certification is not vendor-specific, meaning that it prepares candidates to work with any network device or system, regardless of what vendor it came from. It is considered a foundational certification, designed to set a groundwork of networking skills, preparing successful candidates for a variety of networking roles and the ability to then specialize in specific-vendor solutions.
What is CCNA?
The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is an entry-level networking certification developed by Cisco Systems, Inc., an American multinational digital communications technology corporation. The exam covers areas of “networking fundamentals, IP services, security fundamentals, automation and programmability.” While the scope of topics covered by the Network+ may be slightly broader, the CCNA exam delves deeper into specific areas.
- Network fundamentals
- Network access
- IP connectivity
- IP services
- Security fundamentals
- Automation and programmability
It is most important to note that, unlike the Network+ certification, the CCNA exam is vendor-specific, preparing and testing candidates exclusively for work on Cisco products and tools. Although some may consider this limiting, it is actually widely applicable, as Cisco dominates the global networking market as the largest provider of hardware and software solutions in the networking industry.
Comparing Network+ vs CCNA
While both certifications prepare candidates for entry-to-mid-level positions in networking, the main difference between the two certifications is their vendor-specificity. CompTIA’s Network+ certification is vendor-neutral; it covers a broader range of networking concepts – including business continuity, which is not included in the CCNA – potentially allowing candidates to take on a wider variety of roles due to the breadth of topics covered. Obtaining this certification will demonstrate baseline networking skills that can be applied to any network or vendor.
On the other hand, Cisco’s CCNA certification delves solely into Cisco-specific knowledge, providing candidates with a more specialized skill set. Earning the certification validates a candidates’ proficiency in multiple Cisco networking areas, as well as their ability to configure and manage Cisco hardware and software solutions. Cisco currently comprises over 41% of the enterprise network infrastructure market, making Cisco-certified technologists in high demand.
Although both certifications can be pursued by beginners to the field of networking, some technologists consider the Network+ to be a good prerequisite for the CCNA, as it lays the base skills that can then be specialized for Cisco platforms. Those taking the CCNA first may struggle with some concepts while lacking the networking foundations set by the Network+.
In addition to a difference in content covered, the format of the CompTIA Network+ exam and the Cisco CCNA exam also differ in format.
The latest version of the Network+ exam, the N10-008, consists of a maximum of 90 questions to be answered over a 90-minute time period. Exams are scored on a scale of 100-900, with 720 as the lowest passing score. Questions will be either multiple choice, “drag-and-drop,” or performance-based.
Performance based questions (PBQs) are designed to “test a candidate’s ability to solve problems in real-world settings and are delivered as either simulations or within virtual environments.” Currently, the exam is offered in English, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and costs $358.
The latest version of the CCNA exam, the CCNA 200-301, takes place over a 120-minute time period. The exact number of questions will vary by exam, but is typically around 100. Questions consist of a combination of multiple choice and “drag-and-drop,” which are designed to test skills related to theory, knowledge, and conceptual comprehension, and “performance-based” lab exam items, which “aim to measure the application of knowledge in a hands-on environment for configuring and troubleshooting.” The exam is currently offered in English and Japanese and costs $300.
Although CompTIA Network+ and Cisco CCNA certifications both prepare candidates for entry-to-mid-level roles in networking, as mentioned above, they cover a different scope of content, preparing certificate-holders to take on different positions.
Passing the CompTIA Network+ certification exam certifies that a candidate possesses a basic foundation of networking skills, and is prepared to take on a variety of roles including:
- Network Engineer
- Junior Network Administrator
- IT Consultant
- Computer Technician
- System Technician
- Network Field Technician
- Network Support Specialist
- Network Analyst, and more.
Network+ certificate-holders are prepared to support networks regardless of platform; they possess the foundational knowledge needed to then specialize in vendor solutions.
The CCNA exam, as mentioned above, is vendor-specific, preparing candidates with specialized skills in Cisco routing and switching technologies, tools and products. Specific roles CCNA certificate-holders are qualified for include:
- Network Administrator
- Network Engineer
- System Administrator
- IT Manager
- System Engineer, and more.
Again, it is important to note that these roles are for Cisco products only.
Target Audience for Each Certification
The target audience for the Network+ certification and the CCNA certification is different.
The Network+ exam is ideal for beginners looking to launch careers in the field of networking with a basic foundation of networking skills. They will have the knowledge base to then begin working towards specialization in a vendor of their choice. Although it is not required, CompTIA recommends that candidates pursuing a Network+ certification first possess a “CompTIA A+ Certification and a minimum of 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience working in a junior network administrator/network support technician job role.”
Although prerequisites are not a requirement, the CCNA certification is recommended for IT professionals with basic networking experience seeking specialization in Cisco platforms and products. It is suggested by some that candidates possess a CompTIA A+ and potentially a Network+ certification before attempting the CCNA, and recommended by the Cisco website that candidates have “one or more years of experience implementing and administering Cisco solutions” before taking the exam.
CCNA vs Network+: Industry Recognition and Value
Both the Network+ and CCNA certifications are highly valued by employers as effective demonstrations of candidate expertise and proficiency in the foundations of networking. Ultimately, an employer’s preference for a candidate with a Network+ or CCNA certification will depend on the specific skills required for the job they are looking to hire for.
While some employers might prefer the broad range of skills covered by the Network+ and the potential for vendor-specialization that candidates have, others may be looking for the specific skills covered by the CCNA, as well as existing proficiency in Cisco products and networks.
Cisco comprises 41% of the enterprise network infrastructure market, ensuring that there is no shortage of employers seeking Cisco-trained professionals. However, some employers may prefer candidates with vendor-neutral skills, allowing them to specialize and grow into expertise in certain platforms.
Salary and Career Growth
The salaries of positions held by certificate-holding IT professionals will vary by specific role, location, and employee experience. However, according to PayScale, the average salary for candidates who possess a Network+ certification is $75,000/year, while the average salary for those with a CCNA certification is $87,000/year.
Continuing Education and Recertification
The tech industry is incredibly fast-paced, requiring constant learning. IT professionals must update their knowledge regularly in order to stay up-to-date with the latest in technology.
To stay in line with this, all CompTIA certifications are valid for only 3 years, so candidates must update their skills regularly. There are a few renewal pathways that will verify that your knowledge and skills are up-to-date. CompTIA updates all of their certification exams, including the Network+, every 3 years, creating a new version of the exam that incorporates current developments in tech. Passing the latest version of the exam is an excellent way to recertify your knowledge in networking.
Alternatively, you may earn a higher level certification, or complete a CompTIA CertMaster CE Course, which will automatically update you certification. These courses are self-paced e-learning classes designed to bridge any knowledge gaps and allow you to renew your certification quickly without having to take a new exam.
The course will build on the knowledge and skills learned during the previous exam, allowing you to acquire new expertise that scales with the requirements of the most recent certification exam. The course takes approximately 8-10 hours to complete, and requires you to obtain a 100% score on all course assessments in order to renew your certification. The CompTIA CertMaster CE Course costs $189.
Most Cisco certifications are also valid for 3 years following certification date. There are also a few pathways that can lead to recertification. According to Cisco, in order to renew your CCNA, you have a few options and may do any one of the following:
- Pass any one associate exam – this includes either retaking the CCNA exam, or taking one of 2 other associate-level networking exams: DEVASC (Cisco Certified Devnet Associate) and CBROPS (Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate).
- Pass any one professional concentration exam – this includes any of the following: CCNP Enterprise, CCNP Data Center, CCNP Security, CCNP Service Provider, CCNP Collaboration, Cisco Certified CyberOps Professional, and Cisco Certified DevNet Professional.
- Pass one technology core exam
- Pass any one expert-level written exam or expert-level Lab-Practical exam – these include any of the CCIE lab exams and the DevNet Expert and CCDE exams. A technology core exam is required to qualify for the CCIE lab exams, and a technology core exam will already confirm your CCNA recertification.
You may also renew your certification by earning 30 Cisco Continuing Education credits. Continuing Education credits can be gained by completing eligible Instructor-Led Training and E-learning courses and/or attending Cisco Live technical sessions. You may also combine Continuing Education credits with exam-taking.
Choosing the Right Certification for You
In order to determine which certification is correct for you, it is important to consider personal factors such as individual career aspirations, current expertise, and industry demand. Determining which position or career path you wish to pursue – both in the short term and the long term – and which particular skills you wish to learn are also important to consider, as well as practical elements, such as cost and time investment.
Case Studies: Success Stories
Per Scholas plays a crucial role in supporting those who choose to pursue IT certifications. We are committed to helping break down those barriers that may prevent people from entering the tech field by providing training that allows individuals to earn certifications in tech at no individual cost. As such, all Per Scholas training is provided at no cost to learners, and all learner certification exam fees are covered.
Per Scholas currently offers a Network+ certification course for alumni learners. Prerequisites for the course include previously completing a Per Scholas course and holding one of the following certifications: Google IT Pro, IBM SkillsBuild ITFL, CompTIA A+, AWS Cloud Practitioner. Through Per Scholas courses, learners gain the technical and professional skills and knowledge necessary to launch or specialize a career in IT, as well as the training needed to pass various IT certification exams.
Nico Castro-Arrien, a graduate of Per Scholas Columbus’s IT Support course graduated with his CompTIA A+ certification, and then, looking to further hone his skills, took a Per Scholas alumni course to gain his CompTIA Network+ certification.
“My instructors were amazing, as well as the professional development crew,” Nico Castro-Arrien recalled. “You’re getting an education that truly prepares you for the future and opportunities for growth. In comparison to where I was before Per Scholas, this is leaps and bounds better. Now I have options. I have people calling me about jobs. It’s a whole other side of the coin! It’s a beautiful thing. Now, I have ample opportunity for growth. I am very, very eternally grateful for this experience.”
Nico now works as a Network Operations Center Engineer. He is excited to continue growing his IT career, particularly in the field of network security, and is currently pursuing his CCNA certification.
Amber Braaten, a graduate of Per Scholas Phoenix’s campus also returned to earn her Network+ certification through Per Scholas alumni courses. A mother of 7 who had previously worked in a variety of fields, Amber is now excelling in the tech field and currently works as IT Service Desk Controller, directly applying skills she learned at Per Scholas to her job each day.
Recognizing the tenacity and skill of her fellow Per Scholas graduates, Amber recently played a role in hiring another Per Scholas alumni to her company. She plans to become an AWS Solutions Architect and continue gaining certifications. “Per Scholas has really changed my life in so many ways. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. There is no other school that can do as much for their learners as Per Scholas.”
Additional Resources and Training at Per Scholas
Gaining certifications is an important step in launching or specializing an IT career, as they ensure you are equipped with the knowledge to take on a wide range of tech roles and make you a competitive candidate in the job search. Both the CompTIA Network+ and Cisco CCNA certifications offer excellent, industry-recognized ways to get started in computer networking.
Some consider the Networking+ certification to be a an excellent doorway into networking, preparing candidates for a variety of roles and the ability to vendor specialize, including stacking with the CCNA certification. Others may prefer to skip this step and dive straight into the vendor-specific CCNA certification, but may struggle without the basic foundations laid in Networking+.
There are a number of factors to take into consideration when deciding which certification to pursue, but ultimately you must determine which specific positions and paths you are looking to pursue. Consider whether you prefer a broad, vendor-neutral introduction to the field of networking, or more narrow but specialized and vendor-specific skills in Cisco networking.
Per Scholas offers an alumni networking course which provides learners with training and a seat at the Network+ exam for no personal cost. Whether you are starting your IT journey or aiming for specialization, apply to Per Scholas now and take the next step towards a successful IT career!
How Shaking Up the Student Loan System Could Benefit Workers and Business Leaders
A recent Forbes article written by Per Scholas’ funding partner Stand Together discusses the challenge of finding qualified job applicants. Stand Together suggests innovative financing models can bridge the gap between workforce needs and individual aspirations. These models tie tuition to employment outcomes, incentivizing education providers to deliver relevant skills and students to invest time in programs that lead to high earning potential. Per Scholas is specifically highlighted as a successful example of an innovative financing model offering free IT training and career support, helping individuals achieve career goals debt-free.
Read about the innovative education finance models here!
The Allstate Foundation Bolsters Future Technologists with Hands-On Partnership
The Allstate Foundation, a Founder’s Circle partner of Per Scholas, has funded our tuition-free tech training programs since 2021. The Foundation proudly supports Per Scholas through its racial equity pillar and enables Per Scholas to provide rigorous IT job training and connections to employment opportunities for diverse adult learners from low-to-moderate income households across our growing 20+ training campuses.
The Allstate Foundation has taken a hands-on approach as a partner, connecting with Per Scholas learners and alumni as they become technologists. Most recently, Allstate executives in Chicago visited our Per Scholas Chicago campus to share their time, insights, and expertise with our alumni. The discussions were enlightening, and our alumni walked away with advice and inspiration for their career journeys. This interaction fostered meaningful connections between our alumni and industry leaders with invaluable industry knowledge.
Per Scholas Director of Development, Tia Abner, is currently participating in The Allstate Foundation Executive Leadership Program. “Embarking on The Allstate Foundation Executive Leadership Program has been a profound honor,” Tia reflected. “As a member of the Class of 2024, the joy of learning is boundless, and the collective wisdom shared is inspiring. I am delighted to join this dynamic community of nonprofit leaders, united in our commitment to growth, innovation, and making a lasting impact.”
The Allstate Foundation’s commitment to closing the racial opportunity gap has helped promote economic progress for thousands of technologists of color and supports historically underrepresented communities to secure thriving careers in partnership with Per Scholas.
Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala Contributes a Chapter to Next Generation Evidence: Strategies for More Equitable Social Impact
Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala recently contributed a chapter to Next Generation Evidence: Strategies for More Equitable Social Impact. In it, he recalls Per Scholas’ overnight transition to remote courses as a result of COVID-19. For the two decades prior, Per Scholas conducted our teaching in person to mimic the workplace, which we believed contributed to our success. To keep our training going, we took this as an opportunity to see how our program and learners fared remotely. We began collecting remote participants’ feedback from both the learners and staff. This feedback allowed us to make changes in real-time; we saw what we did right and learned what to improve on. When Barrow Street Consulting conducted an analysis over the summer of 2020, the learner Net Promoter Score was a success – scoring a 67 out of a 100 (the range is -100 to 100, with a typical score in the for-profit sector ranges between a 30 and 40). The feedback from this made us realize that in-person is not the only way for us to successfully provide teaching, and we now continue to offer remote options.
Empowering Veteran Career Pathways: Tech Training for a Bright Future
With support from the PwC Charitable Foundation, Per Scholas is excited to be launching a new initiative, Per Scholas Vets in Tech: Unlocking Potential for the Military Community. The initiative will target and engage the Military Community to generate a robust pipeline of learners affiliated with the U.S. Armed Forces. Through the Per Scholas Vets in Tech initiative, Per Scholas will enroll 900 transitioning Military Veterans and Military Spouses over the next three years, with an emphasis on recruiting female and minority learners. As with all our learners, these Military Community learners will receive the technical training, support, and career guidance needed to help enable them to launch successful careers in tech.
A Closer Look at the Per Scholas Vets in Tech Initiative
Learners enter our courses from an array of backgrounds, seeking the skills and certifications necessary to launch careers in tech, and a consistent portion of our learners are Military Veterans and Spouses looking to start careers in IT as they transition to civilian life. Individuals enrolled in our courses will obtain immersive, cohort-based, and tuition-free training courses conducted full-time over 12-15 weeks in various disciplines, including AWS, Cybersecurity, IT Support, Software Engineering.
These training courses lead directly to industry-recognized credentials and equip learners with in-demand technical and professional skills that prepare them for success in technology careers, with in-house support to connect directly to employment opportunities post-graduation. Veteran alumni will also have access to no-cost alumni upskilling opportunities to foster wage/career advancement for 2+ years post-graduation.
In addition to technical training, Per Scholas Vets in Tech initiative contains several components:
- Technical and Professional Development Training: Per Scholas training is 80% technical training focused on in-demand tech skills. The training is also hands-on so alumni are ready to dive into their careers with experience. Additionally, 20% of the training focuses on professional development. Our Learner Support Team and Financial Coaches provide individualized resources and services that support the unique barriers that veterans and their families face as well as ongoing peer support with other veterans to encourage retention. This aspect ensures alumni have the soft skills needed to succeed in the workforce.
- Access to our Employer Network: Per Scholas partners with 850+ employers to connect our learners and alumni with leading businesses. Our business solutions teams partner closely with each Veteran alumni to prepare them for interviews with our employer networking and beyond to land jobs to jumpstart their high-demand careers.
- Strategic Partnerships: Per Scholas is cultivating partnerships with US Armed Forces Support Organizations, military bases, and veteran-friendly employers to recruit eligible veterans, provide supportive resources, and provide direct connections for employment.
Our outreach is national for this initiative so we can include all of our Military Community, however there is a focus at nine of our campuses, selected based on factors such as local numbers of veterans in the workforce, staff capacity, and more. These nine markets include: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Philadelphia, and St. Louis, and those in the Military Community are encouraged to apply to any of our campuses local to them.
Why the Per Scholas Vets in Tech Initiative is Important
- Approximately 200,000 men and women leave U.S. military service each year and return to civilian life. These individuals can face significant challenges during this transitional period, particularly in terms of finding employment.
- More than 174,000 additional jobs will be available in technology in 2023. While there may be tech layoffs throughout the world, there are still hundreds of thousands of tech positions in all industries – not just with technology companies.
- Per Scholas is passionate about the Veteran and Military Spouse community and connecting them with leading businesses with high-growth tech careers. We are excited to work with Veterans and their families to help them unlock their potential.
Additionally, Veterans may struggle to translate skills earned through service into employment opportunities at civilian companies and face physical and mental health barriers to mobility:
- 20% of post-9/11 veterans have no college degree
- 6.6% of working veterans with a high school-or-lower education level are living in poverty
- 43% of post-9/11 veterans are people of color, and 18% are women, both of whom face poorer economic outcomes than white, male veterans
We look at these statistics and know that Per Scholas can support the Veteran and Military Spouse community that face barriers to career mobility with our training.
Meet Some of Our Veteran Alumni
Through Per Scholas Vet in Tech training, a number of Military Community members have been able to launch new, thriving careers in tech after completing their military service. Let’s meet some of our veteran alumni!
Aaron Webb was an HR Specialist in the Military before applying to Per Scholas. He tried to go to college through his G.I. Bill, but realized that that route was not beneficial to him or his learning style. Aaron joined Per Scholas Pittsburgh’s Desktop Support course and appreciated how Per Scholas’ boot camp-style training was similar to his military boot camp, in which he learned a lot in a short period of time. Aaron felt very supported by his instructors and classmates throughout the course. He graduated with his CompTIA A+ certification and is now pursuing his CCNA certification. Aaron is excited for his future career trajectory and aims to become a full network engineer and explore cloud computing, both of which he is learning more about through his IT Implementation Senior Analyst position at Tenaris. Read more about Aaron here!
Antwan Grant served in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from high school, then took a coding class, which fueled her interest in IT. Pursuing this, Antwan came across Per Scholas Atlanta, and was accepted into the Software Engineering program. Antwan found the coursework difficult and daunting, but she was motivated to continue by her instructors and her family who rooted for her throughout the process. Antwan now works as a Java Automation Test Engineer at Interapt, and helps give back to her Veteran community by serving as a member of American Legion. Learn more about Antwan’s story here
Todd Theobald was unsure what career path he wanted to follow after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. While in the Marines, he had worked a great deal with computers, and recognized in himself a real interest in and affinity for IT, but, without any technical certifications, Todd struggled to land a job in the field. He joined Per Scholas Orlando’s Desktop Support course and enjoyed his time in the program, appreciating its structured approach to the material, including well-defined goals, schedules, and syllabuses. After graduating with his CompTIA A+ certification, Todd landed a Tier 1 Service Desk Analyst job at Advent Health. He enjoys his job and is excited to learn as much as possible and grow his career. Read more about Todd’s journey as a technologist here!
How to Apply
We are excited for the launch of Per Scholas Vets in Tech: Unlocking Potential for the Military Community, which will help equip a significant number of Military Veterans and Military Spouses with the skills and training necessary to land high-growth, well-paying jobs in tech over the next few years.
Tech is an excellent field for those looking to transition to civilian life due to its flexibility, variability, and the high demand for technical workers. Furthermore, many of the skills learned and utilized in military service are highly applicable to work in many technical jobs. On average, 80% of our veteran graduates obtain jobs within one year of graduation, earning on average at least 3x of their pre-training wage.
For those in the Military Community interested in applying, please visit our Veterans initiative landing page here.
Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala Speaks at Salesforce World Tour NYC
On December 14th, Per Scholas partner Salesforce held the New York City stop of their World Tour event. This traveling event brings together Salesforce users, partners, customers, and surrounding communities for a day of learning and discussion, and this year’s event delved into the latests in AI solutions, and its ability to drive productivity and customer satisfaction. Experts from a variety of fields weighed in on the next “Big AIdeas for Good.”
Per Scholas President and CEO, Plinio Ayala was interviewed at the event, and described how Per Scholas has partnered with Salesforce to create Per Scholas Resume Boost, powered by @Salesforce AI. This tool generates a customized resume draft based on a learner’s information and course grade, which is refined with the help of Per Scholas career coaches, expediting the resume-creation process from around 6 hours to just 30 minutes. Beyond technical training a portion of all Per Scholas courses are dedicated to professional development, and this powerful AI tool will greatly support Per Scholas staff, allowing them to devote time to other areas and provide training to a greater number learners. This advancement will help move our organization towards our goal of graduating 10,000 learners per year.
How to Build Sustainable, Diverse Tech Talent Pipelines with TEKsystems in CIO Dive
A recent CIO Dive article highlights Per Scholas and TEKsystems’ years-long partnership as the answer to businesses’ IT talent needs. By turning to nontraditional talent pipelines powered by public-private partnerships, businesses can find diverse talent on the cutting edge that will both shape long-term business growth and diversity in the tech industry. Already through this partnership, 1,000+ Per Scholas graduates have been placed in full-time positions with TEKsystems clients.
Read more about our partnership with TEKsystems and how we are building a diverse tech talent pipeline together here.
Per Scholas President and CEO Plinio Ayala Featured in New York Times with OneTen
Per Scholas CEO Plinio Ayala was recently featured in the New York Times article profiling OneTen’s equity-for-all diversity initiatives. Plinio shared his agreement for eliminating degree-based job requirements and how skills-based hiring and promotion can benefit all workers.
More than 60 percent of all American workers do not have four-year college degrees, so converting to a skills-based hiring system can be valuable to all companies looking for talent.
Read the rest of the article here!