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Date: 07/31/2018
Pathway: Transportation, Distribution and Logistics
Program: EPIC
Location of Service: 60637-1338

I came to the EPIC Program to get my Forklift Certificate. I was a little hesitant of the program until I met Ms. Atkins. She cares about people, and she took her time to make everyone feel welcomed. Then we moved to the Warehouse for training, and it was hard trying to get the information down to pass the test. Ms. Atkins called to check in on me and she always said something encouraging. When I passed my test she sent me a text message saying how proud she was of me. That really meant a lot. I have successfully completed the program, got my certificate, and I am now working full time. Thanks Ms. Atkins and the EPIC Program of Catholic Charities.

IT Student Combats Homelessness with a New Career Story Image

IT Student Combats Homelessness with a New Career


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Date: 07/27/2018
Pathway: Information Technology
Program: EPIC
Location of Service: 60626-1117

Daniel has always been computer-oriented. His family owned and operated a computer repair shop, which allowed him to gain technical skills and computer knowledge. However, as Daniel decided to branch out and seek other employment opportunities, he hit a streak of bad luck and was unable to find the right fit. Daniel decided to research educational opportunities hoping they would make him a more valuable job candidate. It was during this time he learned about IT Career Lab, a technology academy offered through National Able Network. After Daniel joined IT Career Lab and was also enrolled in National Able Network’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program and Employment Opportunities, Personalized Services, Individualized Training and Career Planning (EPIC) program.

Each program provided supportive services and allowed Daniel to improve his job seeking skills, his technical knowledge and much more. Daniel also participated in JUMPSTART training, where he learned how to format his resume correctly. “The resume workshop definitely helped because it also had me set up a LinkedIn profile,” said Daniel. “I can really say everything was helpful.”

After completing job search training through JUMPSTART, Daniel began his coursework at IT Career Lab. While enrolled in IT Career Lab, Daniel faced some road blocks along the way. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and on top of the diagnosis, he was on the brink of becoming homeless. Daniel did not let either issue stop him. Daniel’s National Able Network Career Coach, Kelsey Briggs-Dineen, provided resources specialized in fighting homelessness, and his IT Career Lab professor, Leslie Lundberg, took the time to ensure that he was grasping the concepts in class.

Reflecting back on this experience, Daniel said, “Kelsey has been amazing! I didn’t have a car and she made sure I got to where I needed to go so I could get stuff done. I was almost homeless and was going to end up on the street, but she did a whole bunch of research and gave me information on who to reach out to and who to check with,” said Daniel.

Daniel’s hard work and resilience paid off. He received his CompTIA A+ certification and Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) Certification from IT Career Lab! Upon earning his certifications, Daniel worked with IT Career Lab Account Manager, Jonathan Kimmel, who connected him with an internship at the Anixter Center. Daniel continued to gain knowledge and work experience throughout the internship and within four days of its completion, he received a contract position! Since then, Daniel has been continuously employed. He was most recently employed as Education Technology Support at the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  

When asked what advice he would give to fellow IT Career Lab students, Daniel said, “It was nerve-wracking and brain wrecking, but overall it was fun! As long as you have computer knowledge and a basic interest, there’s a lot of branching out that can be done in technology!”