Checking In with Alumnus Russ Holton
Russ Holton remembers a time just a few years ago when he was barely scraping by. He was working part-time in maintenance and relying on unemployment benefits and food stamps, while he was taking Adult Education Information Technology classes at the Warren County Career Center. He was even profiled in a national newspaper as an example of a person caught up in the Congressional deadlock over unemployment benefit extensions during the recession. He worried that he wouldn’t be able to finish his schooling. He had gone from a job in sales making six figures to long-term unemployment. He knew an education would be his lifeline to a more stable career, and he persevered.
Now, he lives comfortably in his own home, drives a nice car, and works at a job he loves. He has a good career as a network engineer, dealing with Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) traffic routing and translations. He has been at Windstream in Charlotte, NC, for almost one year; about the same amount of time it took him to earn his certifications at WCCC. He had multiple job offers from companies locally and all across the country when he completed his course, and chose to return to his hometown to be near his family.
“I started applying for jobs near the end of the program and interviewed quite a bit,” he said. “There is a high demand in the IT field for people with the certifications I had earned. It was a matter of choosing the right fit. I got the training I needed at the Warren County Career Center and I am doing well in my career. I expect to be promoted soon, and I have already earned a raise.”
Russ earned certifications in A+, Server +, Network+, Security+, Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT), and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) in the program, which took him about 13 months to complete. He sees computer network security and virtualization as the future of in-demand jobs in the IT industry.
“I am very poised with being able to go into the future with my abilities in those areas,” he said. “The CCNA program is a great first step, but don’t ever quit learning. You must continue to keep getting the opportunities in workforce. There are other areas of expertise, and this program will help you get there. You will study in many different areas, and it can help you sort out what path you want to take to follow your passion.”
His company offers a continuing education program, and he plans on going for certification on VMware in the next six months. He works hard, and he is dedicated and focused on success.
“You can’t put a price tag on being able to live the lifestyle you want,” he said. “I get rest at night, because I don’t worry like I used to. It is a big difference between now and what I was experiencing a few years ago. I have found my passion, and the CCNA class at Warren County Career Center did that for me. I knew I liked the IT field, I just didn’t know how to go about getting to the next steps to build a career. The Career Center gave me a roadmap, and I am continuing on that journey.”
For more information on WCCC Adult Education Information Technology programs, visit mywccc.org or call 513-932-8145.