By Mark Emery
It’s a frustrating paradox for many entry-level job hunters: You can’t get hired without experience, but the only way to get experience is if someone hires you.
Did your head just immediately start to ache? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Scores of world-weary memes have been made lamenting the work-experience problem, which has only been exacerbated in 2020 by the virus-ravaged economy.
Fortunately, IT and cybersecurity have been relatively insulated from economic fallout, and LeaderQuest now offers a solution to the early-career conundrum. Our Jacksonville campus has instituted a formal information technology internship program, aiming to bridge the experience gap between employers and entry-level workers.
“I am super excited about this,” said Adrian Thomas, Internship Program Manager. “Our graduates are veterans transitioning into IT and are known for being accountable and dependable. We want to place them in organizations with no charge to participate.”
So far, the new program has coordinated with EK3 Technologies on two paid IT internships at this moment with two more on the horizon, as well as one IT internship with the Jacksonville Urban League.
Earl Kelly, CEO of EK3 Technologies, has been more than happy with the early returns. LeaderQuest graduates Tom Heiry and Gedeon Baez, veterans of the Air Force and Navy respectively, have shined as interns.
“Both Tom and Gedeon are very hard workers,” Earl said. “They have gone above and beyond what I even thought that the program was going to be. I’m very impressed with both of them and the outcomes from both of them.”
While the information technology internship program isn’t exclusive to LeaderQuest’s veteran students, those who served are the main focus. That’s a plus to Earl, who says vets tend to be more productive and reliable than the average early-career job seeker.
“The veterans seem to have not only a sense of a work ethic, if you will, but a sense of understanding that you have to come to work everyday, understanding that you need to be on time,” Earl said. “Before, we had three people, one right after the other, that literally worked for us for four weeks and didn’t show up for at least a week of that. So I think that by hiring a veteran it’s better because they do have that sense of responsibility.”
A ‘Valuable’ Experience
But what about the LeaderQuest students themselves? The IT internship program can’t be a success if they’re not getting the skills and experience to set them up for fulfilling careers. Thankfully, according to Tom and Gedeon, that’s exactly what they’re getting with EK3 Technologies.
In a Facebook review recommending LeaderQuest, Tom — who has earned ITIL and CompTIA A+ certifications through his training — wrote that the paid internship “is providing me valuable job experience and technical skills.”
Gedeon — who has earned the ITIL, CompTIA A+, and CompTIA Security+ certifications — said that the IT internship is “going really well” and that he is grateful to LeaderQuest for “seeking out different opportunities for their students.” Gedeon and Tom started with our flagship training for career starters, the Computer User Support Specialist program.
With the grads’ six-week stints ending soon, Earl said he has some decisions to make about full-time possibilities. Regardless, he’s excited to get two more LeaderQuest students in the office for six more weeks of valuable assistance.
“It’s change, but it’s also fresh blood, a fresh set of eyes, and fresh ideas,” Earl said. “And I kind of enjoy that as well.”
While exclusively in Jacksonville for now, the paid IT internship program could soon expand to LeaderQuest’s other campuses in Denver, Colorado Springs, Dallas, and San Antonio. Adrian sees it as a potential “guiding light” to veterans transitioning into civilian life.
It’s merely the latest example of LeaderQuest’s robust commitment to helping job starters and career changers not only with IT education, but IT employment.
The most common training circuit, the Computer User Support Specialist program, can be completed in five weeks with full-time attendance or 10 weeks if taken part-time. It sets graduates up for ITIL, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+ certifications — the essentials at the start of any IT career.
But, as with training, you don’t have to get certified on your own or hired on your own. LeaderQuest stays with you for each of these vital steps, offering study sessions and mentoring before exams, with networking and other job-hunting help after them.
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