Whitney had done everything right to create a bright future for her and her son. In 2013, she was medically discharged from the military and decided to use part of her GI Bill® to get a degree in event management. She was able to land a job in event management at an expo center, but after two years decided that she wanted to move her and her son to Jacksonville to be closer to her family. That’s when her life and career started to move in an unexpected direction.
Unable to land a job as an event coordinator in Jacksonville, Whitney ended up taking a job at a call center. “It was definitely not what I wanted to do, I was making less money than people who had way fewer credentials than I had,” she told us. Whitney’s situation is not uncommon, according to the U.S. Bureau of Census, “just 27 percent of college grads had a job that was closely related to their major.” She had the education and the experience but a lack of jobs in her field left her career crippled, all while having a child to support.
Faced with the looming reality of her situation and few options at the time, she did what she had to do and worked the call center for two long years. Day in and day out, Whitney labored to support her and her child. Unsatisfied with her life path at the time, she decided to seek other opportunities.
Watch Whitney tell her story about training at LeaderQuest Jacksonville in her own words, below.
Opportunity of a Lifetime with LeaderQuest IT Training
Whitney had her resume online for a bit but did not receive any offers worth looking into until a Career Adviser here at LeaderQuest reached out to her about IT and Cyber Security Training. “I was looking for a career change in order to make a better life for me and my son. I have always loved technology so I decided to check it out!”
Whitney, like many people, had never considered this career path before, nor was she aware of the major shortage of IT (information technology) or cyber security workers here in the United States. Some major reasons for this shortage are that not enough people know about IT careers, they don’t think they would qualify for a career in IT, or they just don’t know how to get started in an IT career.
Entry Level IT vs. College
Unlike a traditional career path, credentials for an entry-level job in IT can be obtained fairly quickly, often in three months or less, compared to a traditional college education that typically takes up to four years. Our most popular program is the Computer User Support Specialist, where candidates can typically get certified and find employment within three to four months, even while working a full-time job.
Even more compelling is the average salary of four-year college graduates vs. entry-level IT positions here in the United States. According to to a new survey by the consulting firm Korn Ferry, the average salary for a college graduate is $50,390. Compare this to the average salary of an “entry level” IT Computer User Support Specialist position at $52,000 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Considering that IT training requires just a few months vs. up to four years for traditional college, the value of certification training is obvious.
New Career Without a 4 Year Degree? Is That Possible?
“They gave me the option to do something else without having to go get a four-year degree. I just didn’t have the time to start completely over again.”
After doing a little research, Whitney decided to come in and meet with a Career Training Consultant and see if a career in IT was right for her. “After learning about the industry demand and LeaderQuest’s sped up courses, it was a no-brainer.” Whitney entered the Computer User Support Specialist program that day and was able to use the remaining part of her GI Bill® with a little bit of Vocational Rehab funding to completely cover the cost.
The Computer User Support Specialist training program consists of four different certifications that take either 5 days or 10 nights each plus some off-time studying. The four certifications contained in this program are CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, and the ITIL certification, all of which are internationally recognized.
The program as a whole is specifically designed for helping career starters and career changers just like Whitney who need to be trained quickly for an in-demand job. The program provides a rock-solid foundation for careers in IT support, networking, and cyber security. The knowledge gained from this program spans from computer and network components all the way to cyber security concepts. This allows individuals to experience IT from multiple perspectives in order to find the path that most interests them. This array of certifications is especially attractive to employers.
Hands-On Experience with CompTIA A+
Our training programs are specially designed to give you hands-on experience. Whitney shared with us that his was one aspect of the training that she really enjoyed. “It was hands on. If you had a question, we were in the back opening up computers, handling motherboards, and actually updating them.” LeaderQuest’s goal is to give you the necessary knowledge and experience in order to make the transition into a new career as smoothly as possible without an extensive amount of on the job training.
In Whitney’s words: “They prepare you for the world outside of the training room, which is really important.” We couldn’t agree more. Not only do we give you the training you need to excel, we also offer support in your job search.
We not only work on the training side of things, we also want to make sure that your professional profile is complete which is why our Career Services team will work with you throughout your time at LeaderQuest to give you the best chance possible at employment. We were able to help Whitney significantly improve her resume and optimize her LinkedIn profile. “My resume was now on point, and my LinkedIn, which I found out I surely wasn’t using correctly. They helped me understand its significance and how to take advantage of it, which helped out a lot.”
Our Career Services team focuses on more than just the resume and LinkedIn, they also help candidates out with cover letters, interview prep, and actually connecting them with jobs. We have multiple employment partners in each our markets to help connect graduates with quality jobs straight from training.
While we do have the ability to connect people with employment, in Whitney’s case she was recruited before she even finished the program. “After 3 weeks I was contacted by a recruiter, went in for an interview, and they pretty much offered me a job on the spot because I did so well.” Whitney was hired by HDI Group as a Tier 1 IT Support Specialist. She’s currently working there as she gains the experience to get her dream job in cyber security.
LeaderQuest is committed to not only training our students but making sure they get the help they need to find a great job after training. “The overall support and help here really helps you move forward,” Whitney told us.
Women in Cyber Security
Whitney’s dream to work in cyber security is shared by many, but there are far fewer women thinking about and working in this field than men. According to a recent Harris Poll, 9 out of 10 women have never even considered a career in cyber security and 3 out of 4 cyber security jobs currently in the U.S. are filled by men.
We asked Whitney about the challenges of being a woman in the tech world. “Women are always being tested on their abilities, especially being an African American women, it’s just known that it’s going to happen, so we have to be better than and smarter than the average person just to have the slightest chance to get ahead.”
This intimidation is a large part of why women have trouble advancing in the workplace, especially in new industries like cyber security. But don’t worry, if you’re a woman and considering a career in cyber security, you are not alone!
The Cyber Security Industry Needs More Whitneys
“Tech is becoming such a large part of all of our lives that we won’t be seeing such large barriers in the future as long as us women here already continue to break them down,” Whitney said.
According to CompTIA, Cyber States 2017, there is a predicted shortage of over one million IT and cyber security positions in the U.S. by 2020. With so much room for new blood, women could be the answer to this cyber security job shortage. Currently, there are multiple efforts to get women into cyber security and these efforts are led like women like Whitney who have the drive and tenacity to break down barriers and try new things. If you’re considering cyber security and need some inspiration, check out our 10 Inspiring Quotes from Women in Cyber Security and Tech.
The Future of IT and Cyber Security
Women like Whitey will lead the future in cyber security innovation on both the shortage side and the technological side. As more and more people get sick of their current jobs and want to switch to IT, we regularly get the question, “How do I make this transition into IT?”
We made the answer simple.
Speak to a LeaderQuest representative and find out if a career in IT is right for you.
Get trained by our world-class instructors and pass your certification exams.
Work with our Career Services team to get connected to positions in your area, as well as interview training, LinkedIn optimization, and resume/cover letter writing.
With this simple approach, LeaderQuest’s concise and efficient training has developed a solution for individuals looking for a new direction. LeaderQuest is proud to work with people like Whitney to pave the way for future generations of IT and Cyber security workers. We made Whitney’s hope of a better future become true, and she told us, “Thank you LeaderQuest, thank you for making this a reality.” Could you be next?
Here are a couple of closing words of advice from Whitney:
“To anyone looking to change careers or to start a career just come in and meet with someone to talk about your future.”
“Take advantage of everything LeaderQuest has to offer.”
“For the average person this might intimidate you but you can do it!”
Whitney Smith went from being a miserable call center rep to an IT professional in months, all while being a single mother. She also inspired a new dream within herself to become a cyber security expert. The problem that Whitney found herself in is common among many Americans. Fortunately, at LeaderQuest, she found a 21st-century solution that worked for her.
If you’re interested in a brighter future like Whitney’s, click below and fill out the form to be contacted by a Career Adviser for a quick evaluation conversation to see if we can help you turn your dreams into reality!
After 15 years in the the commercial real estate industry, Khozema Raja found himself jobless with a new child on the way. He knew he wanted to head in a new career direction but he didn’t have much time. Luckily, the stars aligned and he found LeaderQuest!
Khozema was faced with a difficult situation. “I really needed to step up and take care of my family,” he told us. He could either go get a low-paying non-career job or go to the unemployment office and see what options there might be out there for him. He decided to head to the unemployment office. After discussing his situation with his counselor, he was introduced to the idea of transitioning into the IT industry with an accelerated training program at LeaderQuest. Fortunately, he qualified for a state grant that would cover his training costs wherever he decided to go. LeaderQuest is proud to partner with workforce centers that provide funding to help those who’ve been unemployed get the training they need to get back to work.
“I’ve always liked being around computers and my father worked at IBM, so I was like, why don’t I actually try to make a career out of it?”
Watch Khozema tell his story about training at LeaderQuest Dallas in his own words, below.
Know Your Career Training Options
He was advised to go to LeaderQuest’s campus and take a tour with a Career Training Consultant whose job it is to help people understand what a career in IT entails and ultimately if it is the right move for a candidate. He decided to check it out and headed to LeaderQuest the next day. “They were so friendly to me, they gave me a tour and answered all of my questions about the IT industry.” The tour ended up going very well for Khozema.
“It was a no-brainer to enter the IT industry. I didn’t even hesitate when I decided to go with LeaderQuest. They made me feel like family as soon as I walked in.”
Soon after Khozema’s decision to go with LeaderQuest he was enrolled into the Computer User Support Specialist program. This program is designed to help individuals with little to no IT experience enter the industry comfortably and confidently. The program is made up of four different certifications: ITIL Foundation, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+. As Khozema put it “This program gives you a foundation for everything IT-related from the basics of how a computer works and operates to security and networking.”
This carefully curated array of internationally recognized certifications is the perfect combination of entry-level and mid-level IT training that allows students to get a taste of different facets of IT so they can see what areas interest them the most. From cyber security to network engineering, there are many areas one can explore.
Alternative Learning Environment
While traditional teaching techniques that lock students into a read-study repeat routine, LeaderQuest strives to create an alternative learning environment that helps trainees master the basics by focusing on the hands-on experience that will translate into a real world job. Khozema found this out in his first week of training, “It was refreshing. It didn’t feel like you were in school again, It felt really comfortable.”
His favorite certification course was CompTIA A+. “I enjoyed the hands-on training. We had different labs where you had to troubleshoot problems. I would always try to be the first one to get done, we all started to get real competitive which made it more fun.” This is exactly what LeaderQuest is all about, creating a place to train, a place to create new bonds, and a place to launch a new future.
More Than IT Training
At LeaderQuest we understand that many people are intimidated by the whole process, and sometimes that intimidation stands in the way of their success. This wall of intimidation is broken down throughout the duration of the program with easy to understand training, study sessions, and one-on-one career counseling with our Employment Development Managers (EDMs) who are heart of our Career Services Team.
Our EDM’s sole purpose is to guide trainees through the employment process in conjunction with their training. As Khozema was settling in to LeaderQuest he was able to start meeting with the EDM at our Dallas campus. “We set up mock interviews, as well as resume building sessions, where I was able to learn what exactly I needed to put on my resume.” In addition to interview training and resume writing, our EDMs can connect students with our network of employer partners. This is made possible because LeaderQuest has fostered relationships with recruiters as well as direct relationships with employers in each of our markets. This allows us to have multiple opportunities waiting for our trainees as soon as they finish the program. We do not charge our partners to hire our students which has created a symbiotic relationship, beneficial to everyone involved.
While following his plan, Khozema was getting much more out of the program than just training.
“The process was inspiring, empowering, and really helped me grow.”
As he went through the training and employment services, more and more opportunities started to present themselves. The LeaderQuest employment services helped him to understand what these offers really meant and which offers better aligned with his goals. Towards the end of the program, Khozema as well as other trainees were presented with help desk job opportunities with an oil and gas company looking to fill multiple positions. He and a few other trainees decide to take positions at this company. “It was a stress relief and really nice actually knowing someone on my first day on the job.”
Career Training that Empowers Students
“I really liked the whole process from becoming a student to being successfully placed. Thank you for empowering me!”
This word “empower” is key in understanding the goal of LeaderQuest. We not only provide our trainees with the skills to enter the IT industry but the confidence and backing to do so. Khozema was faced with a hard situation, he found out his options, planned, and most importantly of all executed.
His situation is not unique. Thousands of Americans are currently sick of their jobs, unemployed, or are longing for something more. LeaderQuest provides a path to education for those looking for a new career. Currently there are over 300,000 unfilled IT jobs in the U.S., a number which is expected to balloon over the 1,000,000 mark in 2020. The salaries for Information Technology (IT) positions are among the highest in the country. See the numbers for yourself from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There has never been a better time nor a better opportunity to make the transition.
Turn Your Story Into a Success Story
Khozema Raja went from being unemployed with a baby on the way to an employed father with a bright future ahead. His story is similar to hundreds of LeaderQuest alumni. Our goal is to help as many people as possible change their lives through a new career.
Here is Khozema’s advice: “To anyone thinking about transitioning, come down, meet the staff, and have a real conversation about what is going on in your life and what your aspirations are.”
We firmly believe in the human connection. If you are interested in turning your story into a success story with one of our IT programs, please reach out and we’ll have a conversation to see if this is the right path for you.
Lavall Woodhouse separated from the United States military in 2004 after being stationed in Mannheim, Germany and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Like most veterans, Lavall had just come off of a deployment and had little idea about what to do with his life after serving our country.
“There wasn’t really a whole lot of support in the idea of transitioning from the military to the civilian world, it was kind of like you’re on your own,” Lavall said.
Watch Lavall tell his story about training at LeaderQuest Dallas in his own words, below.
Homeless and Directionless
Unfortunately, many of our veterans are lost upon their return, lacking a compass to lead them to success in the country they have been navigating the world to protect. LeaderQuest is here for that exact reason, to be a compass for individuals and lead them to success through IT training.
Lavall was in desperate need of guidance and had found himself in unfortunate circumstances leading up to his time at LeaderQuest Dallas. “When I first came to LeaderQuest, I was trying to rebuild in a sense. I was homeless, and I didn’t have a job.”
This is all too common, veterans 18-30 are twice as likely as the general population to become homeless.
The Start of a Brighter Future
Lavall was directed towards LeaderQuest Dallas by his vocational rehabilitation counselor who presented him with different training opportunities. He decided to go with LeaderQuest’s short-term certification training program and in 2016 and began his journey towards a fulfilling career in IT.
“My first impression was positive. Everybody that I had met had a great attitude in the idea that they were glad to have me there, and those attitudes were a large part of my choice”.
Once he passed the certification exams, he then faced the next challenge of finding a job. Luckily, LeaderQuest was already one step ahead of him and ready to ease him into this next phase with one-on-one guidance from Erika Ofurum, LeaderQuest Dallas’ Employment Development Manager (EDM). “She sat down with us and started to learn about what we were into, what kind of backgrounds we had, and what kind of certifications we had.That’s when I started to get really confident,” Lavall went said. “She really rekindled that fire for me. That was exciting.”
Getting a Job with Amazon
Lavall’s excitement was intensified as more companies started to reach out to him. His hard work finally culminated in a job offer from Amazon to work for their web services team. About a year later, we asked him if he liked his new job. He told us, “I love it!”
“We all have this idea of wanting to be GREAT. That thought is within all of us, you just have to find it and then realize it.”
Cyber Security Training at LeaderQuest
There are times when we are alone and lost and there are times when we guide each other as human beings to find ourselves and our purpose. Lavall’s will had gotten him through the trenches of the military and his determination propelled his future into a fulfilling career.
Lavall served our country, fell down, and rose up to a bright new future. His situation is a perfect example of why we exist and what drives LeaderQuest employees to deliver the highest quality of service. LeaderQuest and Lavall will always be connected by his story and the continued story of how we plan to change thousands more lives through short-term training, certifications, and guidance.
When you’re looking to start a new career or enter a new industry, it’s hard to find the right path. While self-study with online resources and textbooks can help, most employers won’t be swayed by that on a resume. Degrees are an excellent path to success, but they can take 2-4 years to complete. That’s where certification training comes in.
Certifications fill an important gap, especially in the IT world. They can open doors, launch careers, and show employers their new hire will have the required skills to get the job done. Of course, there’s no better proof for this than the stories of our students.
We couldn’t be more proud of our graduates who have gone out into the world and found great jobs that let them make use of the IT training they got at LeaderQuest. Today, we’d like to highlight four of these stories and show off some of our most successful grads.
Peter came to LeaderQuest after serving in the U.S. Army for 16 years. He trained military police for the army and pursued a Master of Arts in Security Management at American Military University. Cyber security was a recurring theme in his studies, but Peter didn’t have much of a background in IT. After looking for a training provider, Peter contacted LeaderQuest and signed up for some foundational IT certifications including CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+.
Peter was a quick study and took just three months to acquire all of these certifications. Combined with his extensive education and experience, he was able to find employment quickly.
Today, he’s the Chief Operating Officer of an information system engineering firm that focuses on risk management framework compliance and IT security solutions and loving every minute.
“Immediately upon obtaining my Security+ certification I was offered a position as an Information System Security Engineer, that jumped me up from my previous pay by about $20,000, just shy of making six figures.”
As Marcus was completing his military service, he had an eye toward the future. He didn’t want to be scrambling to find a job after he transitioned out. He noticed that many of the job postings he was interested in listed IT certifications as a requirement. Using his GI Bill® funding, Marcus enrolled at LeaderQuest to take courses for CompTIA Security+, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND).
With the help of our Career Services team, Marcus lined up three interviews by the time he’d completed his exams. Marcus got multiple offers and accepted a position with Cyberspace Solutions that came with a $20,000 pay increase. Three months later he got an even better offer from Booz Allen with another $20,000 pay bump, which he accepted.
“Since I’ve been certified, I’ve gotten a job offer for every IT position I’ve applied for.”
Randa had IT experience in Africa but wasn’t able to secure a position here after moving to America in 2014. She took work as an assistant teacher, but she knew she wanted to be working in IT. She just couldn’t figure out how to break into the industry in the United States.
Randa didn’t have funding for her IT training, but we were able to connect her with her local workforce center where she secured funding for her training. She enrolled at LeaderQuest to get her PMP and her CCNA Security certifications; two powerful credentials that made job hunting much easier. After completing her PMP, she got a 6-month contract job with Comcast. At the end of the contract, she applied to work at WebRoot, a company that does business with Comcast. Even though she hadn’t taken the exam for her CCNA Security, the knowledge she got at LeaderQuest helped her to nail the interview and get hired.
She is now making more than $72,000 per year, a pretty big raise from making $12/hour for contract work!
“When the manager from WebRoot interviewed me, all of the information from the class was still in my head, and I got all of the questions right. He said, ‘That’s great!’ I told him that I have no experience, just education through LeaderQuest and through one class in Mumbai. And he laughed and said, ‘We’re going to train you! And we’ll help you to succeed in this role.’ So the training with LeaderQuest got my foot in the door.”
Richard was laid off from his job at Honeywell in 2016. As he was trying to figure out what his next step would be, he went to his local workforce center. They discussed some options with Richard and explained that he needed to secure some key IT certifications to verify his skills so he could potentially qualify for several IT jobs immediately.
Pikes Peak Workforce center connected Richard with LeaderQuest, and he enrolled immediately. Richard started on his Security+ certification and worked with our Career Services team to improve his resume and online presence. One of our star Employment Development Managers (EDMs) here at LeaderQuest reached out to a connection at Raytheon on Richard’s behalf. Richard received a job offer from Raytheon halfway through his training. This was even before he earned his Security+ certification!
After training with LeaderQuest, Richard was making $10,000 more than he was at his previous position, before being laid off!
“Little did I know that I wouldn’t even have time to complete my certification!”
If you’re interested in starting a career in the IT industry, we can help! LeaderQuest offers 5-10 day classes designed to quickly get you trained on everything you need to know to pass the exam and get hired. Our courses are taught by expert instructors with real industry experience. They include hands-on labs. We offer courses in a full-time day format, or in the evenings after work. You can also train online or on campus, whichever works best for you.
When you’re ready to take the next step in your career and secure your future, contact us!
The students we have the pleasure to serve at LeaderQuest come from all walks of life. Some are industry experts with a decade of experience while some are brand new, entering the world of IT for the first time.
We welcome people straight out of the military and straight out of high schools alongside those who haven’t been back to school in years. Though they all have different journeys, we are proud of all of them.
Now, we’d like to highlight three student success stories from those who came to LeaderQuest, conquered their classes, and got hired. This is the story of three journeys of students who enrolled at LeaderQuest.
Ken Argenbright – from U.S. Air Force to NOC Technician
Transitioning Out of the Air Force
During his 9 years in the Air Force, Ken Argenbright served as an F22 Avionics Specialist. As he prepared to transition back into the civilian world he was nervous but excited. He wasn’t sure if he needed more schooling and realized, for the first time in years, he had to create his own sense of purpose.
“It’s tough because you’re used to the military you have a mission you’re after and a team you’re already working with so you have a good idea of where your life is going and what’s the next step. When you get out, all of that’s kind of out the window. Now it’s up to you to make your own mission or find something worth putting your time into. It’s a little discouraging at first to try and make those own calls yourself and figure out what’s important.”
After initially considering a master’s degree in cyber security, Ken changed his mind when he heard from LeaderQuest.
Taking Classes & Getting Certified!
After getting the opportunity to tour the facility and do a little more research, it was clear that it was a professional environment with lots to offer.
“Very quick responses, very professional atmosphere, very service oriented,” he said, “They’re here to help and they do a job at it.”
Since Ken had a military background and active security clearance, the staff at LeaderQuest helped Ken get on a path that would get him into cyber security, while providing the foundation of IT knowledge he needed to start his career.
Ken found the instructors to be extremely knowledgeable and the coursework thorough and comprehensive. That included a wealth of supplemental materials and lab simulations that allowed the user to practice cyber security techniques virtually. It was an environment he liked.
“[It’s] not like super strict school atmosphere it was relaxed,” he said, “I could make dad jokes and they were okay with it . . . even the instructor did some of his own jokes, so that helps.”
Before long, it was time to take the exam. Ken passed his ITIL test with flying colors while still working on his classes for A+, Network+, and Security+. However, there was a surprise in store before he’d even finished his classes.
Transitions can be rough and that was definitely the case for Tylyr Brown, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
After serving as a 3531 Motor D Operator, and completing an apprenticeship to be a diesel mechanic in the military, he returned home and faced a layoff right before the holidays. During that time, he took a job at a dry cleaner to make ends meet and found himself struggling and missing his military service.
“I missed my job and I missed the team environment we had there,” Tylyr said, “you don’t see that very much in the civilian world anymore. Your team was like your family.”
With a four-year-old son and wife who needed him, as well as some community college under his belt, Tylyr needed a change for a successful career. That’s where LeaderQuest came in.
“I was trying to get out of that as fast as I could,” Tylyr said, “As soon as I heard from LeaderQuest here I jumped at the opportunity.”
Getting in Touch with LeaderQuest
After getting into classes, it didn’t take Tylyr long to rekindle his love of IT. Taking classes full-time, he found himself awash in study materials and ready to get his career on track.
“I love IT. I love computers. I love breaking them up, taking them apart, putting them back together. Going back through everything and refreshing my memory on some things and relearning wireless access points and different ports and all the things I didn’t know clearly, so I know and they’re stuck in my head, definitely prepared me for the future.”
Tylyr set out on a path that included a few cyber security classes and went after certifications including CompTIA A+, ITIL, Network+, Security+, the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and the EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND). He was surprised by the depth of coverage each topic got, despite the short runtime.
“[The instructor] explained things that, I went to college for two years, and even I didn’t know,” Tylyr said.
More than that, he found in LeaderQuest the support system he’d been searching for since he left the military: an extremely welcoming and warm environment.
“It was like being part of a family,” he said, “they’re very comforting and very caring people here.”
Employed and Looking Forward
With two classes still to finish, Tylyr decided it was time to send out resumes. When he did, he was pleased to find that he got a job offer as a Tier I Tech. Ultimately, he said taking LeaderQuest classes is what allowed him to do it.
“I didn’t feel confident enough when applying for jobs to apply for IT jobs until LeaderQuest. Being able to do put LeaderQuest on my resume and that I’ve gotten these courses completed and that I was doing more schooling gave me the confidence to go out there and search for an IT job somewhere.”
With two classes to finish at night, Tylyr is ready to take on the future in what is sure to be a long and exciting IT career.
“I owe LeaderQuest my career,” he said.
Learn more about the cyber security program Tylyr took.
Mitch Ross’ story begins in one of the worst ways any employment story can: a layoff with a total of eleven months out of work. Mitch needed a change.
He reached out to a Colorado workforce center and worked through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program which helps out of work individuals retool. He knew he wanted to work in either cyber security or cloud computing and, as part of WIOA, Mitch was required to evaluate at least three different training programs. He chose LeaderQuest because of the content, ability to provide virtual training, and the sense of understanding he formed with the counselor.
“I felt comfortable and felt confident I could move forward and be successful here,” he said. “The counselor really tried to fit my needs, asked my direction, looked at my history, what I wanted to do going forward, and suggested the cyber security program that I went through.”
Cyber Security Classes and More
After he made the decision to take most of his classes virtually, the LeaderQuest staff helped Mitch get set up on the live platform and then he was ready to learn.
Mitch took three classes, CompTIA Security+, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker, and the EC-Council Certified Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI). Each class had a different instructor and each was taken online though through a live format.
Most helpful of all was the library full of materials Mitch had access to thanks to the instructor. In addition to using this wealth of material to take the exam, he also found it useful in his day to day life working in cyber security.
“I learned a lot about things I had previously just touched,” he said.
A New Position with Coalfire Systems
Every timeMitch passed a new certification, he would put it up on his LinkedIn Profile. One day, that really paid off. The cyber security firm Coalfire Systems, seeing his certifications, actually reached out to Mitch and sought him out.
“As I was working through my third certification we were talking about and negotiating a job,” he said.
Before long, he was officially offered a job and joined the Coalfire team in February of 2017 as a Senior Security Consultant. Mitch finished his certifications and today serves as an incredibly skilled cyber security expert specializing in cyber engineering and architecture for the companies Coalfire Systems serves.
“LeaderQuest has had a very positive impact on my career and helped me get on a brand new path that has really made me more excited, or restored my excitement, in IT,” Mitch said, “If you’re looking to retool, or if you’re just looking to further your career in a specific direction with a new certification, this is an extremely good path and LeaderQuest will help you greatly do that. Training will help you get there faster.”
Our classes are all lead by industry experts with years of experience and offered at night or during the day in an on-campus or online format. In addition to getting you trained, we also offer career services and can put you in touch with local employers.
If you’re thinking about a career in IT, don’t wait. Invest in your future today!
Any vet can attest that making the transition back to civilian life can be difficult. The skills that make you successful in military life don’t always translate to the civilian world. You’re essentially starting a whole new career. However, many military vets rise to the challenge and pass with flying colors.
Enter Peter Quinones. A tattoo artist, Harley-enthusiast, and U.S. Army Vet, Peter was transitioning out of almost two decades of service when he came to LeaderQuest for assistance.
This is the story of how he was able to land a job in cyber security that made him $50,000 more a year from where he started.
Sixteen Years of Service
June 1999 – January 2015
“I was doing a PhD in emergency management and a lot of cyber was coming up as a critical need so I started looking around. I decided to come into LeaderQuest and talk.”
Peter Quinones left the U.S. Army with an impressive, 16-year service record. He started as a Human Resources Specialist and was later reclassified as Military Police where he aimed to apply real-world practice towards his BA in Criminal Justice.
During his career, he trained military police officers in tactical law enforcement operations that resulted in 100% mission success with zero casualties. While still in the employ of the Army, he also pursued a Master of Arts in Security Management at American Military University.
It’s safe to say, Peter was no slouch. With his military transition coming up he wanted to face the problem head-on. That’s where he first made contact with LeaderQuest.
“I was doing PhD in emergency management and a lot of cyber was coming up as a critical need so I started looking around,” Peter said, “I decided to come into LeaderQuest and talk.”
Joining up with LeaderQuest
January 2015 – March 2015
“LeaderQuest has become more than just a place to take classes. The staff is great and always helpful . . . everyone is helpful and that is why I keep recommending it to people.”
With his background primarily in security-related work, Peter didn’t know much about IT. What he did know is that the field was growing and he wanted to explore his options. Taking classes at LeaderQuest seemed like the perfect way to see if he was interested.
Peter headed to the Colorado Springs campus to learn more. He liked what he saw and before long he was enrolled and hit the ground running during his transition. “The first thing I did upon my transition to civilian life was to take my A+, Net+, and Sec+,” Peter said, “I had no previous IT experience.”
Peter tackled the three CompTIA certifications in January, February, and March. He ended up liking the atmosphere so much that LeaderQuest became more than a school. It wasn’t long before enjoyed coming on to campus just to study.
“It kind of feels like home,” Peter said, “The staff is great and always helpful.”
Interested in our entry-level IT classes such as A+ and Network+? Get more information below.
“Immediately upon obtaining my Security+ certification I was offered a position as an Information System Security Engineer, that jumped me up from my previous pay by about $20,000, just shy of making six figures.”
After Peter earned the Security+ certification, which is much sought-after in the Department of Defense and enterprise cyber security world, it wasn’t long before he got the job he was looking for.
“Immediately upon obtaining my Security+ certification I was offered a position as an Information System Security Engineer, that jumped me up from my previous pay by about $20,000, just shy of making six figures,” he said.
By the time Peter was finished, he had accomplished much. He’d made it into the cyber security world. He’d learned valuable knowledge and was even able to re-sit his Security+ class to refresh the information later. All in all, during his time at LeaderQuest, Peter went from making around $40,000 to $90,000.
“If I can make it with little to no experience, anyone can—especially if they have LeaderQuest on their side.”
After getting hired, Peter continued to push his career. Eventually, he partnered with another IT specialist in the field. Today, he’s the Chief Operating Officer of an information system engineering firm that focuses on risk management framework compliance and IT security solutions.
“I’ve recommended numerous individuals to LeaderQuest,” Peter said, “I am proof that if I can make it with little to no experience, anyone can—especially if they have LeaderQuest on their side to assist them with their goals.”
Interested in IT Training?
Looking for a chance to upgrade your career? Or maybe you want to jump into the thriving IT or cyber security industry and you just need your foot in the door. LeaderQuest offers excellent IT training with industry expert instructors. They’ll prepare you to take the certification exams while also giving you the skills and confidence you need to thrive in a new position.
Do you work days? Nights? Would you rather take classes online? LeaderQuest offers classes during the day, at night, online, and on campus to work with any schedule. Getting trained is an investment in your education, but with even starting IT salaries in the $35,000 to $50,000 range, it’s one well worth making.
If you’re exhausted and stuck in a job you hate, don’t worry. Give us a call today and our career advisers can help you find IT training path that’s best for you.