Bet on Yourself
By: Ryan Harris, Senior Associate Technical Consultant
I wanted to be a veterinarian. That was my original passion. I knew that my purpose on this earth was to help animals and I was 100% sure that I was going to spend my life doing that. So, I continued down the traditional path to make that happen. I was working on my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Pre-Veterinary Medicine and was also working in an animal hospital. Long story short, after actually working in the field, I was overworked, underpaid, and burnt out. I was working multiple jobs to make ends meet and that was chipping away at any passion I had. Mentally, I felt like I could no longer handle it and needed to make a major change before I hit rock bottom.
A Chance for Change
At the time, my younger brother was in the military and mentioned a free, online IT program he was enrolled in: the Google IT Support Professional Certificate course. I asked if it was available to civilians as well and he said yes, but it wasn’t free. I put it off for a while, but finally investigated it and found that Google offered financial aid for the program, which allowed me to get in for free! I would slowly but surely make my way through the modules after work or while running food deliveries for UberEats. This was great for setting my foundational knowledge, and I found myself becoming more and more interested in IT (I also learned that I hated Networking).
I was still working at the animal hospital at this time and went to my manager to ask for a raise. I would sometimes work 12-hour shifts and then hop in my car and run deliveries until midnight, so it wasn’t crazy to be asking for more from them. My manager denied the request – and that was when I knew I had to leave. That night, I was on Twitter and saw a tweet about ServiceNow and a free exam voucher if you completed the System Administrator learning path before a certain date. My interest was piqued, and I decided to quit my job so I could focus solely on making a career switch! This was during the peak of the COVID pandemic, and thanks to the Cares Act, I was able to take a lump sum out of my 401k without penalties.
No Turning Back
I set a date to make the switch and to secure a job. It’s always amazing what you can achieve when you feel like your back is against a wall. I decided to take a chance on myself and learn something new. It was the most nerve-racking decision I’ve ever made. As I began researching, I found so many free programs that were geared towards getting started in tech. I was able to enroll in the SavvyCoders Full Stack Web Development bootcamp, and it was completely funded by the state of Tennessee.
After studying for a few months, I passed the System Administrator exam and got my first ServiceNow certification! I was so proud of myself. Being able to grasp these foreign concepts while accepting the fact that I wasn’t going to veterinary school anymore was a lot to digest. I also completed the Google IT Support Professional, ITIL, and AWS CCP certifications along with a few ServiceNow micro-certifications. My interests were leaning more towards ServiceNow due to their Now Learning platform and the enjoyment I found playing around in my developer instance. I was getting close to my goal date and knew it was time to start job hunting. I logged into LinkedIn and got my profile together.
Finding My Path
Maybe I’m the luckiest girl in the world, but after just two weeks or so, Brian Weber from AHEAD sent a message asking if I was looking for employment and told me about the LAUNCH Program. I thought it was too good to be true, especially because I hadn’t applied for any jobs yet, nor had I heard of AHEAD. After a few messages, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity for me. Shortly after, I went through the interview process and was able to showcase my resourcefulness and what I taught myself during my transitional period. The interview process was surprisingly enjoyable. When I got confirmation that I landed the job, I was in pure disbelief. I DID this. I taught myself something completely foreign and AHEAD believed in me enough to offer me a job. Wow.
So now, nearly two years later, I’m still here! I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity and am learning so much every day. I’m currently a Senior Associate Technical Consultant and love what I do. I’m surrounded by so many amazing people who are constantly helping me grow and genuinely want to see me succeed. Thanks AHEAD!