When Deris Pennington visited a job fair at a local Baptist church, it was the face on a Per Scholas flier that caught his attention.
He remembers, “It has a glossy finish that was very professional and attractive and it had an image of a young, minority male which spoke volumes about [Per Scholas] being somewhere that is working with people like me.”
After completing Per Scholas’s 10-week CompTIA A+ certification course in March 2017, Pennington was launched into an information technology career that has drastically changed his life. The program not only awarded him valuable and employable skills, but it has motivated him to start his own tech business that pays it forward to the next generation of tech professionals.
As Per Scholas Cincinnati wraps up its fifth year of innovative education in the IT industry, we spoke with Pennington about what it means to be a Per Scholas Ambassador and what a difference Per Scholas has made in his life and career.
What does it mean to be a Per Scholas Ambassador?
It means that I am a torchbearer, trailblazer, and steward. It means that I have a duty to advocate for the enhancement of citizens of underserved populations and promote the inclusion of all parties interested in uplifting the community.
I must offer fresh, innovative ideas that continue to make Per Scholas an esteemed community asset and I must cast the “net of awareness” about Per Scholas as wide as possible, because you never know who could benefit from being introduced to this opportunity and who may be looking to change their life.
Tell me about the CompTIA A+ program.
This educational module is focused on teaching the fundamental technical skills and knowledge around computer hardware, software/operating systems, networking, virtualization, and mobile devices for an entry-level position in IT support. In addition, there is a professional development component to the class, which helps you enhance your resume and self-promotional skills.
In what tangible ways did Per Scholas prepare you for what came next (your career, another educational program, etc.)?
Successfully earning my [CompTIA A+] certification afforded me many job inquiries and skills that could be applied for an in-demand industry. Having the certification attracted various well-paying employment opportunities.
The program also helped me focus and sharpen my resume to better promote the skills and experience that I have to offer a company. This endeavor has also boosted my confidence and knowledge to start a business around work with high school students and computer troubleshooting skills, aka Youth Tech Café.
What are you now doing professionally?
I am currently contracted through TEKSystems working on the Information Security team at the insurance company American Modern Insurance Group. I am providing data and security analysis for SIEM and Data Leak Prevention efforts for the company, regionally and globally. I aspire to be a social entrepreneur with a business that provides tech and professional/personal development for high school students in the Greater Cincinnati community.
How has Per Scholas and starting a technology career impacted your family, kids and spouse, etc., or your personal life in general?
Per Scholas has increased my earning potential and given me a skill set that is in high demand in an industry with lots of growth potential. Per Scholas has given me the technical and soft skills to be a valuable candidate for employment in the industry.
This opportunity has provided me a way to further demonstrate to my children that one can accomplish goals at any stage of their life and that hard work pays off. The stability and income that my employment provides has elevated my family and our overall health status by leaps and bounds. I have been able to refer over 30 friends and family to the program, so that they may also enhance their lives.
Support for the Cincy’s Got Tech Talent series is provided in part by Per Scholas Cincinnati. The next CompTIA A+ program begins on January 28, 2019. To apply, visit perscholas.org/cincinnati/apply.