After I was laid off from a grant-funded academic research position, I went back to school to learn some business skills. My DOL grant advisor helped me rewrite my academic CV into an effective resume... prepared me for interviews in the business world, and she informed me about open positions that suited my particular interests and skills. All this was immensely helpful, but possibly the most important assistance offered was support and encouragement, convincing me that I would be successful in making the transition from academia to business.
Prior to attending Moraine Valley, I was a student at Oak Forest High School and worked part-time... I joined the NISGTC grant program and was excited to learn about the additional opportunities. Through a cohort I have met top industry professionals, joined two nonprofit organizations and have a professional mentor.
Being in today’s job market is vastly different from what the job market was when I last looked for employment some twenty years ago. I felt increasing my knowledge in IT, a dynamic ever-changing field, would improve my job marketability and increase my ability to earn a higher income. Both have come true for me.
Before I knew anything about the IT program or the department in general, I had no idea what classes to take for my general IT major. Now, I am focusing on my summer LAN classes, currently studying to get my A+ certification. Experience and education are the most powerful combination you can have on your side to being successful in IT, but passion is the fuel that drives you there and that’s the most important thing I learned from the DOL Student Success Team.
After being a stay-at-home mother for 22 years, it was time for me to re-enter the workforce... I read about the free fast-track technology courses in our local newspaper... The education level in my group varied, but the patience of our instructors and tutors never wavered. I was moved by their desire to see each of us succeed. They didn’t just give us the answers; they made sure we understood the material. With renewed confidence in my abilities, I began working and am now the business coordinator for the grant.
As I was getting closer to graduation, I knew I needed experience to get a job. I went to talk to the staff at Moraine and was told that if I get my A+, Net+, and Security+, I’d be able to get an entry level position. So I knocked out the three [stackable] certificates and Moraine Valley setup an internship for me at Evergreen Park High School as an IT technician. Over the course of my time at Evergreen Park I’ve repaired machines, setup security systems, worked with the ticket system, and much more. Every day there is something new to learn and most importantly this internship gives me experience I can put down on my resume.
Going back to school at age 50 was a big decision, but it is turning out to be a great one. I spent 16 years in the United States Navy serving as an electronics technician. Due to the difficult economy, I began working on a resume and soon realized that all the electronics that I had learned and taught in the Navy were mostly obsolete. One of my daughters was already attending Moraine Valley so I applied. I have really enjoyed the classes so far and have even been able to use a few of our A+ class projects at the church at which I am the associate pastor.
I have learned how this industry works and what is wanted in an employee. I have a game plan now and I know the steps I need to take for my career thanks to the work of the DOL staff.
Initially I didn't even consider a career in networking and security; however after talking with some professors in the department, I decided to give it a closer look. After my first semester I already knew that this path would be a good fit for me. Since then, I have finished the A+, NET+, and CCNA curriculums. Currently I am enrolled in security based courses and I am looking to enroll in server management classes, as well. Along with these courses, I am a tutor at Moraine Valley for the CCNA, A+, and Net+ courses. I'm hoping that with the courses I am taking, along with some industry experience, I will be able to one day get a job as a network administrator.
Moraine helped me get my certs, A+, Net+, and prepared me for my career. The Cohort program was such a great experience as I learned what I can expect in the interview and what to expect at the job. I was always told to work on my certificates and they will land me an interview. And they sure did!
When I started in the program, I was an unemployed disaster contractor. I stumbled into the GIS program seeing what looked like interesting classes, without a clue of what I had in store. This program allowed me to make a positive change in my life and has showed me that I can personally affect others around me. I was able to tutor GIS and computer science. I love the constant challenge and the relationship I have developed with the other students. I now have several marketable skills awards, a certificate in computer programming, and I am very close to getting my associate degree in GIS.
Thanks to the grant, I am able to attend workshops, certification review sessions and a professional development cohort. This grant helps me because I am given access to resources that I normally would not have and I am able to receive help from the student success team.
The grant was a necessity for my college success. When joining the Fast Track to IT club, I began to have a vision of my future and clear next steps. With the aid of this grant, I had an understanding of why I am taking certain classes and how they contribute to my degree. Also, I began to understand the job opportunities that are available once I acquired the necessary knowledge. With that, the practice interview and networking event also played a crucial role. They gave me the opportunity to practice real interviews but with honest unbiased feedback from the interviewer. I was really privileged to be part of such a grant.
The IT Professional Development Cohort helped me prepare for the challenges of applying for a job for the first time. This included writing a resume, interview preparation and fine-tuning your people skills. I was able to get a great part time job, while still attending school.
As a result of my time spent in the program I’ve earned an associate degree in GIS, which is one of the degree paths that is more designed for one to be able to seek out employment opportunities and have the skills necessary to achieve. I also greatly appreciate how even though I have finished my chosen program they continue to assist me in terms of continued career development and in my job search.
The cohort has given me the opportunity to meet and learn from talented industry leaders with decades of knowledge and experience. The Student Success Center offers resources that few four-year institutions offer to any of their students.
The NISGTC grant allowed Collin to develop one of the best learning environments I have seen in any field. From the equipment, to the talent of the instructors, to the outgoing helpfulness of the career coaches; you not only received some of the best technical training of any institution, but also the support and resources to present that knowledge to employers. From the time I left the military I had one job; to get a job within the Information Technology and Security field. Dedicating myself to this end, coupled with the training and support received from Collin and it's Career Coaches, were instrumental in not only securing employment at Frontier Communications, but also allowed me to greatly excel in the work environment. Within a year of being hired, I was promoted from a Network Operations Center (NOC) Specialist I, to a NOC Specialist III as part of Frontier Communications elite, outage resolution team. This is a testament to the programs at Collin, made possible by the NISGTC Grant and it's people.
Even though I excelled with computers and everything technology related, I took some bad advice and went to college to pursue a chemistry degree. The advice was that IT is a dead field and there aren’t going to be any jobs. I initially went to the University of Illinois at Chicago for my first semester and then started at Moraine Valley the next semester... to start in the Local Area Network (LAN) Program and the Management Information Systems (MIS) Program. I worked toward my Associate in Science and achieved it with a 3.95 GPA. This past summer  I received my CompTIA Network+ Certification. I am currently studying for my Cisco Certified Network Associate and Microsoft certifications. I do plan to continue my education after Moraine Valley, including getting a master’s degree in IT.