An Unexpected Career Change

This past year was crazy in so many ways. When I was 15 years old, I landed a high school internship with a Top 40 radio station in my hometown of San Francisco – a moment that changed my life dynamic. It led me to Syracuse University to study communications and ultimately a 20 year career in radio as a Program Director and Air Personality.  It was essentially the only career I’d ever known, until last April I was hired as Vice President of Marketing at Carolina Career College of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Fayetteville.

It was a work change, a life change, and ultimately an incredible decision for me and my family. It is still incredible to me that people can decide to enter the Information Technology field – arguably the fastest growing industry there is – regardless of their previous experience and even without a degree in the field. Most IT companies now require applicants to have IT certifications on their resume because these certifications validate their skills. It lets these companies know that the applicant knows the material before they even walk in the door and increases their value exponentially. On top of all that, our students are getting hired at such amazing global tech companies, like Cisco, EMC, Lenovo, and Quintiles.

My LinkedIn page has been filled with contacts from other industries that made the shift to tech in the past year (including my wife, who is a student at Carolina Career College and is currently in her Windows Server 2012 course). What a surprise it was for me to see JJ Herr, who I used to work with at 96rock and 94.7 WQDR, sitting in the lobby one day. He told me my career change inspired him, and that he was going into tech as well by training at Carolina Career College. Like me, JJ was leaving the only career he’d ever known and veering way out of his comfort zone. Today, I’m excited to be able to share his story from his point of view:

After an 18 year successful career in Radio, 12 of which were spent here in Raleigh-Durham, I decided to make a career change and follow my passion for IT. While an ON-AIR personality for 96Rock and 94.7 WQDR, I endorsed Carolina Career College Computer Learning Center of Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill. I learned first hand from students how their lives were changed by training for, and quickly getting hired in, IT. I was able to re-tell countless success stories! At 35, the thought of going back for another undergrad degree that would take 4 years (if I went full-time) was less than desirable. So, when it came to pursuing a career in IT I thought of one training company–Carolina Career College. I knew that Carolina Career College could get me trained and hired in as little as 9 weeks. I enrolled in September 2014 and by the first of the year 2015 I had already earned my A+ and Network+ certifications! Once I earned my A+ certification, the job opportunities began to flood my inbox.

I chose to continue training before working with their outstanding staff of Career Services to get placed because I wanted to gain additional hands-on experience.  Luckily, Carolina Career College offers internships and I was able to earn an opportunity to intern with the Facilities Tech to learn and assist with everything from component repair to image deployment. This, coupled with their outstanding IT programs, prepared me for launching my new career in IT. I could not be more impressed with the instructors–many of which work full-time in the IT industry. They are the best and are true IT Professionals. While the courses are fast-paced, the instructors still care enough to slow down and review material when needed. In addition, they are available each weekday outside of class for one-on-one tutoring. The instructors provide real world analogies of the material and best practices for implementing it in your environment. They do an outstanding job preparing you for the certification exams, including what types of questions you may encounter. Certifications can be taken on-campus and their “test pass” guarantee allows you free re-takes of any examinations while enrolled. Their programs also include all books and course-ware, so there’s nothing additional to purchase.

I also firmly believe Carolina Career College has the best Career Coaches in the business. I began working with NH Career Services and Perry Aaron (director) towards the end of the Systems Administrator program. Career Services re-wrote my resume’ for me, coached me with mock interviews, etc. I especially enjoyed all of the mock interview practice, elevator speech development, and the two Career Services classes. It helped to work out the “kinks” as I had not been to a job interview in over 10 years. By the end of May, I had an interview for a Systems Administrator position. Thanks to the training courses, my independent work studying the material to get certified, internship, and career services, I was able to get that job. I have been working this job for 3 months now, and love it. IT is extremely rewarding, and the IT community welcomes newbies with open-arms.

The one thing you will realize quickly, and that I really enjoy about the industry, is that you never stop learning. This fall, I continue on at Carolina Career College to complete their Network and Security Infrastructure Specialist program. After I complete this program, I will always look to NH for additional training in the future, as well.

The fact of the matter is, you don’t have to stay in a career that does nothing for you –financially, emotionally, nor any other reason. You can change your life for the better. JJ and I did it, and you can too.

Jay Nachlis (Foster)

Former Air Personality (96rock/Radio 96.1)


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