WLA Members Come Together To Support IT Works Fall Semester Graduates
When you first walk into WLA Member Christiana Care‘s Wilmington location, you don’t expect balloons and lines of people waiting to watch their kids graduate. On the morning of Thursday, December 20th however that’s exactly what happened, as the hospital hosted TechImpact’s ITWorks Wilmington graduation ceremony.
ITWorks: An Overview
This workforce development initiative is a 16-week award-winning IT training program. Students learn advanced computer configuration and networking skills, troubleshooting, customer service, and communication skills, all while acquiring an understanding of a professional work environment. By the end of the program, students can receive up to two certifications and will have completed a five-week internship at a local leading corporation or nonprofit.
This was the 13th graduating class in the city of Wilmington. To date, the program has graduated a total of 184 students. At the time of graduation, 75% of the current class already has a full-time job to go to within the week. This year, ITWorks had over 90 volunteers, 450 volunteer hours, and 11 local organizations with interns support this class. Many of the sponsors, volunteers, and mentors are WLA members. The list of participating members includes:
Experienced speakers, valuable advice.
The first speaker of the morning was Anahi Santiago, the Chief Information Security Officer of Christiana Care. A graduate of Drexel University, she was candid with the students about her struggles to graduate. In college, she worked a full-time job and two part-time jobs to make ends meet, leaving her to take classes at night. After 9 years she graduated and quickly became one of the youngest leaders in cybersecurity. She has a passion for fostering young talent which lead her to ITWorks.
When speaking to the crowd, she informed students and visitors there are 1,000,000 open jobs in cybersecurity. It’s their field to take and become pioneers. She addressed the students directly, “Stay focused. Don’t let anyone take away your own belief in yourself.”
The City of Wilmington’s own Lossie Freeman, special assistant to the Mayor, focused on Employment Initiatives in the City of Wilmington. Lossie also shared her story of growing up in a small farm town and how she had her big break in an internship on Wall Street in New York City.
Lossie started by informing the crowd that she is elated to have this program for Wilmington residents. Addressing the students directly, she spoke on personal brand, “Let your work speak for itself. Your attitude is the most important thing you have control over.” Her final piece of advice, “Work yourself out of a job, because you cannot stop progress.”
Alumni Speak: Andre Chambers
Three years ago, Andre was in college and playing football. After a year, he still felt he had not found his path in life. He had heard of ITWorks, but he wasn’t sure it was for him until he decided to interview for the class. “This class taught me a lot about technology and life values. The growth mindset sticks with you even after the program.”
For 6 months during the program, Andre was an intern at WSFS. He was then hired as a desktop support tech. Currently, WSFS has 11 graduates as employees.
Student Speaker: Lenny
ITWorks Student, Lenny took to the podium to address his peers. He was excited to be part of the 34th ITWorks class nationwide. He shared the story of his first day in class of him and his classmates receiving a list of 200 acronyms. While they learned what each meant, Lenny said the most important one he learned was ITWorks. He listed out what it meant to the graduating class.
He closed his speech by thanking the supportive staff at ITWorks, his classmates and each mentor he had along the way.
Students then received their certificates and officially graduated while being congratulated by the audience, their families and their peers.
After graduation, Catherine Birch, the Corporate Director of Christiana Care’s Health and Innovation Center, spoke about working with the ITWorks program. “For Christiana Care, technology and innovation are very much a part of our daily lives. To have the opportunity to work with students that exhibit such a passion for technology is a fantastic reminder to us that there is a local pool of talent that Wilmington companies can leverage.”