Tech training nonprofit Per Scholas is changing the face of Information Technology in Cincinnati by offering a streamlined option for job training and non-traditional education. In this series, we sit down with a few of its staff, alumni, and student ambassadors to learn how Per Scholas is growing and adapting its programs to meet the needs of students and the IT industry.
Aaron Mingo is a 2014 graduate of Per Scholas’s IT Support A+ course, an 10-week program that prepares students for entry-level tech support jobs. This basic IT support course offers the CompTIA A+ Certification.
Mingo’s enrollment in the program came after eleven years in the restaurant industry. He tells Soapbox readers more about his experience with Per Scholas and how it prepared him for a flexible, successful career in IT:
What does it mean to you to be a Per Scholas Ambassador?
It means spreading information about the program, getting the word out about. It means making sure people understand that there’s a way into the IT career field and it’s not necessarily as daunting as they believe it to be. It’s giving a graduate’s perspective instead of a recruiter’s perspective.
How did you find Per Scholas / how did Per Scholas find you?
Aaron MingoI went to college for a few years and thought I wanted to be a teacher but that didn’t work out. I ended up in the restaurant business. I was dropping off dry cleaning for the job when I saw an advertisement for free IT training. I applied to one program and was denied but then I searched for other programs and found an article about one of the first Per Scholas Ambassadors and graduates. I followed her story and looked into the program. I was accepted within a few weeks.
Tell me about the program you completed and what skills you gained.
The Comp T A+ program covered hardware, software, troubleshooting, security, and some light networking. These skills are used everywhere--cell phone and cable companies or any other company that uses a computer. There is always someone looking for A+ Certified technicians. They can be a field engineer, help desk, or just a regular technician.
Also, one of our administrators taught professional skills every week. I didn’t realize my resume writing and professional skills had waned. I wasn’t even sure how to write a professional email. So I also learned how to polish those skills. There have been numerous benefits.
What are you now doing professionally?
I’ve been working in the Information Technology field ever since I graduated. I’ve moved places and positions to move up or try something new. There were about two months after Per Scholas where I was looking for work but then it just took off.
I’m still active on job boards because if I ever see [another job] that I can send to someone else, another graduate, someone who’s still searching, I want to keep my ears to the street.
What difference has Per Scholas made for you professionally and personally?
If I hadn’t completed the program, I’d probably be working in logistics in someone’s warehouse lifting boxes all day every day.
I like to say that they have changed my life. They’ve improved my quality of life and the opportunities that are available to me. There was definitely work on my end, but they helped me with the foundation. It’s a life changing organization. I tend to get kind of passionate when I try to get people into the program and they decline.
I used to tinker around with computers in high school. So [the interest] has always been there but now the career field is wide open. And there’s always the opportunity to move around or move up for better chances at a better future for yourself--with no student loan debt.
Support for the Cincy’s Got Tech Talent series is provided in part by Per Scholas Cincinnati. New course study, CompTIA A+/Net+, launches September 24, 2018. To find out more, click here.