Mario Howell was riding the bus home from work one night when an advertisement for a career development program from CrossPurpose caught his eye. A nonprofit partner of Activate, CrossPurpose provides free career development services, helping people from all walks of life gain training to build sustainable careers.
Howell soon enrolled in one of CrossPurpose’s personal development programs, where he learned more about the personal issues and insecurities that sometimes prevent people from succeeding in a new career. Afterward, he found out about ActivateIT and thought it might provide an opportunity to transition into a career in technology – an area he’d had an interest in from an early age.
“I was sort of the go-to tech guy at my house growing up. From the beginning, it clicked for me. I pieced together information and if something didn’t work I would figure it out,” he said.
The timing was also right. Howell was about to turn 30 and was ready to establish a career path in a field with room for advancement, after spending more than a decade in the retail and service industries. He liked his job as a driver for 1-800-Junk, but worried about whether he could meet the physical demands of the job long-term and yearned for something more intellectual.
“My motivation was to get a career started and have a path to follow. I wanted to set myself up for retirement,” explained Howell.
In May, Howell joined ActivateIT’s first cohort of students. He spent 15 weeks learning networking while continuing to work part time. While Howell admits that attending class remotely was more convenient, not being able to interact with instructors and equipment in person presented its own challenges. He credits practice tests for helping him master the material as well his peers for providing encouragement and support.
“This was just an amazing program. It is definitely preparing people for the workplace,” Howell said.
Armed with CompTIA, A+ and Google IT certifications, Howell is now seeking opportunities that will allow him to put his new skills to work. His ultimate goal is to open his own network security firm.
“I tell my coworkers about ActivateIT all the time. I would suggest it to anyone who is wanting to change careers,” said Howell. “If you are willing to dedicate the time and put in the work, you can elevate your situation.”