Quentin Parham wanted to start a career in IT, but he didn’t have a clear path from his experience in the Army to a first job in the industry. Here’s how he was able to combine his previous experience and his training from ACI Learning (formerly LeaderQuest) to start a new career in the industry that he loves.
Quentin is from Chester, Va. He started his Army career in 2005 with basic training in Kentucky. His first duty station was in Hamburg, Germany. From there he went to Tacoma, Wash., then to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.
“I was stationed here at Fort Carson from 2013 to 2015 and I liked it so much that I had to get back as soon as possible. After getting out of the Army in 2015, I went back home to Virginia. I tried a few things, went to school, and taught for a little bit. I just didn’t feel satisfied. At the end of the year this year I was talking to my wife and we said, ‘Let’s move back to Colorado.’ So we moved back in February.”
Get Quentin’s story straight from him in our Student Success video below.
Choosing a Career After the Military
When Quentin completed his service, it was time to choose a new career as a civilian. He had some experience with IT in the Army, but initially wanted to follow his passion for history. That led him in a different direction.
“I served as a Field Artillery Surveyor, which I was not too fond of. So then I became a Signal Support Specialist, which is what helped me get into the world of ACI and IT. It’s working with radios and computers and you do some of the more basic networking and troubleshooting stuff in that position.”
“So with the signal support position, I thought initially that this was what I wanted to do when I got out. But I also had a love for history and I wanted to teach, so I wanted to try that out first. That obviously didn’t work out. So after I came to Colorado Springs, Sarah Arnold reached out to me and started talking to me about everything ACI could offer. And it just appealed to me, because this is kind of what I did in the Army. I was at a point where I wasn’t exactly certain what I wanted to do with the next stage of my life, but this was something I was familiar with and I liked it, so I signed up and began my ACI journey.”
IT Training at ACI Learning
Quentin enrolled at our Colorado Springs location in our flagship track, the Computer User Support Specialist Program. This bundle of training takes five weeks (or 10 weeks on an evening schedule) and trains students for four of the most popular, foundational IT certifications: ITIL, CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+. These certifications are in high demand with IT employers, which is why they form the perfect foundation for an IT career. Once certified, students are poised to move their career in the direction of their choosing after they get some experience in areas such as IT service management, networking, and cybersecurity under their belt.
After completing certification training, our students benefit from our Career Services staff. This team works with students one-on-one to make sure all of them get hired and get their start in the industry. They’ll assist with everything, including resume editing, LinkedIn profile optimization, job-hunting strategies, and even connecting students with local companies looking to hire.
“What made me want to choose ACI? The appearance of the facilities and the professionalism of the staff. Also, when they were going through everything they offered — I know there’s nothing that’s 100% guaranteed, but this seemed like the closest thing to a sure thing. Not only do they prepare you and give you the resources, you’re able to use those resources whenever you want to. Also Shari Carroll and Michelle Martin, the employment staff, are very hands-on with you and work with you. Whether you’re a current or former student, they’ll still work with you on getting a job.“
“They give you a ton of resources, and for me being a veteran I felt like it was custom built for me to transition into the world of IT.”
Landing His First IT Role
One tool that our Career Services staff uses to help students get employed is regular hiring events. We invite Employer Partners to come and meet our students and graduates so that they can fulfill their hiring needs. Quentin attended one of our hiring events and was able to make contact with a recruiter at Tek Experts.
“From the first or second day, the [Career Services] team reached out to us. One of the first things they told us was to make a LinkedIn profile. They had a group of not just students and alumni but also recruiters and people who were working at local businesses. Then, they told us to get on Monster, ZipRecruiter, and so on, and apply to three jobs a day. They also gave us templates and tips on resume writing and would review our resumes with a very quick turnaround. They arranged a virtual job fair with Tek Experts, which is where I’m working now. I think they were very resourceful given that they had to change their approach [because of COVID-19].”
“So, they did a virtual job fair with Tek Experts and I decided to attend it. And I interviewed for a Tier 1 or Help Desk role which is usually how somebody like me would transition into IT. My interview — I at the time didn’t like it. I had other interviews I was doing, and I initially turned it down. But I managed to stay in touch with the recruiter. So they had a second position come up within their Microsoft Office 365 team. And so she sent me an assessment and I did well on it, and she put me in touch with another recruiter who was on the Microsoft team, but he didn’t like me for it. But probably a week after that they called me back and said they’re doing a new program where the MS Office 365 team is taking people with maybe a little bit less technical skills and they are bringing them up to speed with more training. So I am in a training program that started on August 10th. I am now a Level 2 Technical Engineer at Tek Experts.”
Congrats on getting hired, Quentin! We couldn’t be more proud. It’s our mission to create meaningful outcomes that impact lives, and seeing that in action is what we do it all for.
ACI Learning Helps People Start IT Careers
We asked Quentin what he thought of ACI, now that his Computer User Support Specialist training is complete.
“I’d definitely recommend ACI to anybody that’s trying to get into the IT field. Even if you have some experience, it’s definitely a fantastic program.”
“If I could just say one thing about ACI it would be: impressive. Just the program itself, even given these circumstances it’s just been impressive. They have just gone above and beyond to provide great training to all of us and helped us to find employment even in these trying times.”
If you’re ready to have a conversation about starting a career in IT, we’re here to help. Fill out the form below to get in touch and discuss training options that can help you start a stable, high-paying, lifelong career in information technology, networking, or cybersecurity.