At LeaderQuest, our students come from all kinds of different backgrounds. The story that brings each student to LeaderQuest is as unique as they are. For Brent, it was a desire to reduce the stress in his life and increase the amount of time he could spend with his family.

Read on and watch the video below to learn about how Brent came to LeaderQuest and where he’s been able to go since graduating.

Fifteen Years in Restaurant Management

Brent had always liked working with computers: building them, taking them apart, and rebuilding them. But he didn’t think that he could make a career out of working with computers. Instead, he started a career in restaurant management.

“After high school, my math skills were not where they needed to be. I wanted to be an engineer of some sort, but my math grades weren’t as high as I would have liked them. So I went into the food industry and I have my degree in hotel restaurant management. After fifteen years of being a restaurant manager, it wasn’t the life I was looking for. But in every restaurant job that I’ve had, whenever a computer went down or some equipment wasn’t working, I was always the guy chosen to talk to the help desk. It was that that really sparked the interest of: if I’m doing that every day, if I’m already kind of the IT guy, why not just go to school for it, why not do it full time? So my hobby turned into a passion.”

For Brent, the turning point came when his third child was born. Holding his brand new son in his arms, he knew that he wanted to be there for his new son and his whole family in a way he hadn’t been able to as a restaurant manager.

“Working for restaurants as a manager for fifteen years was tough on my family because there’s a certain mentality you have to have for the industry. It wasn’t steady. It was a lot of coming in early, staying late. It was tough for my family. I have three kids, and when my youngest son was born three years ago, holding him in my arms, just hours old, I knew something had to change. I missed a lot of firsts with my first two kids, and I wanted something different for my son. So I got out of restaurants and started looking into what I really liked, and IT was it.”

How to Start an IT Career?

Brent had always been the type to do his “due diligence” when it came to making big decisions. He knew that he wanted to work in IT, but he wasn’t sure what kind of role he would like or how to get the training he would need to get hired.

“I called people who had job postings in the field. I asked them, ‘What’s your health insurance like?’ I did an extensive amount of research and talked to my wife about it. I talked to Sam, the recruiter at LeaderQuest, and we had probably 4 or 5 conversations over the phone just discussing different roles, discussing what life would be like at LeaderQuest. It wasn’t until I started looking at the jobs, going to Glassdoor, Indeed, looking at my potential future and then talking to Sam and building that future that I really started to feel comfortable making that change.”

LeaderQuest is proud to offer not just training, but career path guidance and support before our students start. Our Career Training Consultants, like Sam Stilwell at our Denver campus, are experts in all things IT and cyber security. They’re able to help students connect their interests and past experiences to the kinds of roles they might enjoy in the industry. For their success, it’s important that students understand where they’d like to go and what they need to do to get there. Sam was able to give Brent the confidence he needed to take the leap into IT training.

IT Training at LeaderQuest

Brent enrolled in our Computer User Support Specialist program, which is designed to help people with little to no experience get the training needed to get hired in IT. This program includes training on:

  • ITIL Foundation: A body of knowledge and best practices for successful IT Service Management.
  • CompTIA A+: The basics of personal computer hardware and operating systems including installation, upgrade, repair, configuration, optimization, troubleshooting, and preventative maintenance.
  • CompTIA Network+: Learn to install, operate, manage, maintain, and troubleshoot a corporate network.
  • CompTIA Security+: Understand the field of network security and how it relates to other areas of information technology.

Our classes run 8am-5pm (or 6pm-10pm for evening classes) on campus, and getting started with full time instruction can be a little daunting. Our instructors are a great resource and are here to make sure every student gets the knowledge they need to succeed. Jim Gross at the Denver campus is a fantastic instructor and was able to support Brent through multiple classes.

“The first day was a little daunting. Every day after that was really well supported. Even not having any degree in this industry, the first few classes seemed easy. But once we got into Network+, it got hard because we were getting into the meat and potatoes of the courses. And the instructor there, Jim Gross, saw that. He saw that I was struggling a little bit, and pulled me aside at lunch and said, ‘Hey, how can I explain this better for you? How do you want to be taught?’ And once that happened it was very welcoming, very supportive, and helped me get through the classes.”

“One of the courses I really liked here was the CompTIA A+ course. Two weeks long, and we got to build our own computer which felt natural because I had been dealing with computer parts. It was nice to know that what I was doing was correct. We got to build our own computer. We got to look at all the different pieces: legacy up through stuff that’s current. Jim was great, he explained the same things in four different ways so that everybody got it.”

Using LeaderQuest Career Services to Get Hired

At LeaderQuest, supporting our students doesn’t stop when they finish their training. We know that many of our students come to us for the training they needed to get started in a new industry. That’s why it’s so important to support them during their job search and make sure that they get a good starting role. At our Denver campus, Career Services are handled by Stephen Wright, our Employment Development Manager.

“When I was done with training at LeaderQuest and I was looking for a job, I obviously had no IT experience. Stephen, the Employment Development Manager, told me that it’s going to be difficult at first, but to continue to persevere and be honest in the interviews. There is no ‘fake it till you make it.’ They are going to be asking questions you don’t know the answer to. The first few interviews, I didn’t get. But then Stephen found a lot of great jobs for me to apply to. I had a contract position that helped me get the position I’m in now.”

“Working with Stephen was unlike anything that I had ever done before. I have had career coaches in highschool, career counselors in college, and I felt like another number. Working with Stephen was amazing. He took my junk resume, put in some headphones, and started listening to music and his fingers were a blur taking my junk resume and turning it into a masterpiece. It was like I didn’t recognize the person that was on the paper, but my name was right there. The way he talked to people on the phone and coached me for an interview was inspiring. The coaching that I got from Stephen I gave to my wife, and now she’s getting interview after interview, so it was an amazing process. So it’s not only the IT knowledge but also the continuing services you get at LeaderQuest.“

Working in the IT Industry Full Time

Brent was able to secure employment not long after his training. When we asked him how it compares to restaurant management, he said he absolutely loves it.

“Now that I’ve got a job in the IT field, I’m a network compression technician for a telecommunications company. It’s a steady, great lifestyle. I’ve got awesome benefits. I wish I had come to this industry and this school before.”

“Before I got the job that I’m in now, life was really sporadic. Had to work every weekend, on call 24 hours a day. It was not conducive to raising a family and it was not conducive to my mental wellbeing. Now I’ve got a steady job, the same schedule week after week. My company has such a great training schedule, they are very supportive. The difference between this industry and the restaurant industry are night and day. Working at a restaurant, you get a week or maybe two off and discounted food. With this industry, not only do I get 2-3 weeks off in my first year, but the health benefits are way better. I don’t have to wait for a certain time to use the bathroom. Most of the places I have applied for have a workout center in the building.“

“The other huge difference that I have noticed between industry is advancement. With the restaurant industry it’s a lot of politics to get promoted. With IT, your work speaks for itself. The numbers don’t lie. If you’re doing your work, you’ll get promoted. Coming to LeaderQuest and getting the education and direction has definitely helped me become more confident in this role and in future roles.”

Brent did an amazing job as a student here are LeaderQuest, studying the material and engaging with instructors to make sure he learned everything he could during the program. Working with Stephen Wright in Career Services, he was able to quickly secure employment after graduating. We couldn’t be more proud! Get out there and kick butt, Brent, and come back when you’re ready for more certs!

Are You Ready for a New Career?

Getting started is easy! Click the button below to get in touch with us. We’ll schedule a time to talk about your background, the kinds of roles you’re interested in, and what programs might be able to help you get there. If you’re ready to take the next step and leave behind a low-paying job that you hate, give LeaderQuest a call!