CIAT Resource Library

Featured Students – Samantha Ambrose

Restaurant Worker to IT Support Technician – Samantha Lands Her First IT Support Position Six Months Before Her Graduation Date

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Samantha Ambrose

Job Title: IT Support Technician

CIAT Program: Associate of Applied Science Degree in Computer Information Systems, 2022

Previous Education: Some prior college course completed

Samantha Ambrose, an active student in CIAT’s Associate of Applied Science Degree in Computer Information Systems, followed the CIAT methodology “to a T”. Joining CIAT with no prior IT experience, Samantha was looking for a path to a career change that would lead to a more stable, fulfilling and financially rewarding future for herself and her family.

She worked diligently through her introductory courses, studying for her industry certification exams alongside each class. She successfully passed the entire suite of CompTIA core certifications (CompTIA ITF+, A+, Network+, Security+) and landed her first IT job – a coveted remote work position – six months prior to her anticipated graduation date.

Determined to succeed, Samantha hit each of these key career building milestones all while juggling a newborn and balancing the demands of becoming a new parent.

“I weighed my options between my career choices and picked the one that was going to
support my family the best.” 

Samantha’s successful career transition:

“I used to work in the restaurant industry, but it was physically and mentally demanding. [Now] I don’t wake up every day [dreading] to go to work.”

Like many new CIAT students, Samantha had a job, but was searching for a career. One that would get her up every morning excited to go to work.

Samantha spent years working in the restaurant industry but was tired of the physically and mentally draining environment. The restaurant industry was one that was hit the hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving workers with unpredictable schedules, or worse, getting laid off. As she became a new mother, she saw how her prior colleagues struggled to balance work and family commitments.

Samantha took the skills she gained at CIAT in the first half of her Associate degree program and applied for a remote IT Support Technician position. She now works with an incredibly supportive close-knit team that helps her apply what she is learning in the classroom into a real-world environment.

The hardest part about making a career change is landing your first job. Her hard work, preservice, and powerful resume stacked with CompTIA industry IT certifications, helped Samantha successfully break into the IT field.

Samantha earns all four CompTIA core industry certifications:

Samantha successfully passed her CompTIA ITF+, and A+ prior to accepting her IT Support Technician position. Her powerful resume, skills, and technical degree path helped Samantha stand out from the competition. She quickly accelerated forward with two additional certifications – CompTIA Network+ and Security+, landing the full suite of the CompTIA Core certifications.

Better yet, she doesn’t plan on stopping her educational journey. She understands the power of advancing her skills and certifications to help her grow and advance in her career.

She’s currently working on studying for her Microsoft Azure Fundamentals and Office 365 Administration certifications so that she can showcase her advanced skills and position herself for advancement when the opportunity strikes.

Tackling all four CompTIA core certifications are not an easy feat. Samantha embraced the career support and financial benefits awarded to CIAT students, including complementary certification vouchers and CIAT’s unique unlimited certification policy. She passed many of her exams on the first attempt, while some took multiple tries. Being able to go into each exam, knowing that her college fully supported her until she reached her milestone, gave her the confidence to not give up.

How Samantha leans on the flexibility of her online classes to balance life’s challenges:

Giving up was not an option for Samantha. Pursuing your educational goals as an adult comes can be challenging. For Samantha, she struggled more than most. It was heartbreaking to hear how she lost her husband while pursuing her degree and is now raising her 18-month-old child by herself.

Flexibility was the key component to Samantha’s success and what she enjoyed most about the CIAT learning experience. Now, balancing her education, job, and an active 18-month-old as a single parent, she will need that more than ever.  

As an online student Samantha has the option to attend the live interactive lectures when her schedule allows or can opt to watch live lecture recordings. The accelerated five-week classes provide Samantha structure to ensure she’s moving forward toward her goals.

She leans on the support of our instructors and staff when she stumbles and is not afraid to reach out and ask for help. Choosing a school with an average class size of 13:1, means that she has access to personalized support and attention when she needs it most.

“Life is a challenge. It’s nice to have such a supportive school. When I need help, they are there to support me.”

What advice would you give for someone trying to start their IT career?

Samantha’s positive attitude and can-do spirit is infectious. Her strongest recommendation to new students is to keep pushing ahead, don’t give up, and don’t let the little things discourage you along your journey.

Learning new skills and forging a new career is hard work. Practicing a growth mindset from day one, knowing that there will be concepts that you struggle with, exams that you may fail, or classes that you need to retake, or employers that turn you down, it will all pay off at the end.

“Don’t let the little things discourage you and just don’t give up…I did my best and kept going knowing that it’s all going to pay off in the end.”

Summary – Tips Any Student Can Walk Away With:

Every student’s career journey is unique. Here are a few key takeaways of what you can learn from Samantha’s approach and apply it to your own goals – whether you’re just starting out, coming back to the workforce after a break, making a career change, or advancing in your current position.

  • Embrace the process – We challenge our students to break the mold of traditional education. Don’t be a passive learner. Put in the work to build a competitive resume while you’re pursuing your degree. Take your certification exams early so that you can start your first IT position before you graduate allowing you to be 2 steps ahead of your competition. A traditional student looking for their first technical job after a four-year program often graduates with nothing more than a degree. We encourage CIAT students to look for jobs early so that they apply what they are learning in the classroom into real world experience.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff – You miss an assignment. You fail an exam. Heck – you even fail a complete course. Pick yourself up, ask for help, and get back on track. An employer will look for prospective employees that have good problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills. An employer won’t know every exam score or how many times it took you to pass your certification exam. Keep your positive momentum going forward and don’t let the need for perfection stand in your way of taking on hard challenges.
  • Take advantage of CIAT’s unlimited certification policy – We invest in our students’ success. One of the many ways we do this is through our unique unlimited certification exam attempt policy. We are so confident on your ability to transition into the workforce with the hard-earned certifications on your resume, that we’ll stop at nothing to help you succeed. Students spend thousands of dollars out of their own pocket taking and retaking exams. Many will quit after the first attempt or procrastinate and never take their first attempt at all too afraid to fail.
  • Don’t give up – Times will get touch. Education is designed to push you outside of your comfort zone so that you can learn new skills and improve your situation. Expect bumps in the road. Lean in when times get tough. Ask for help, communicate, and give yourself the grace to pick yourself up after you stumble. The only way to fail is to quit.

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