IT Training program provides new opportunities for Allen–and his dog

May 24, 2023

Allen didn't just have himself to worry about at home—he had Max, his new dog.

"He suffers from such bad separation anxiety when I'm gone," Allen said. "Every day I'm going to work, I have a little camera in my living room for Max. I call it my Max cam."

Allen had inherited Max after his roommate, Max's owner, passed away. It was hard to leave Max at home, but Allen was making less money to support them than before.

He decided to try participating with the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) again. He had experience with the organization years prior but had yet to maintain stable work since then. Allen's wife recommended he give CEO another shot, and he did. He joined CEO Fresno and started doing transitional employment with them. Then, he learned about an opportunity that changed everything.

After giving feedback that he'd like help getting on a path to white-collar work, Allen got a text invitation to a Zoom meeting about opportunities in the informational technology (IT) world. He couldn't make the first meeting because it conflicted with his work schedule, but when he found out that he could attend the second, he made sure to go even though he was worried he wouldn't be qualified.

Once he learned more, Allen found out that not only did he qualify for the IT training, but that CEO would both pay for him to get certified and give him a stipend while he took the 25-week course.

"I was completely amazed," Allen says.

Allen wasn't only thinking of having to pay his bills; he was thinking of Max and his separation anxiety. "They're going to pay me to stay home and learn a skill that will probably lead to a job where I can get paid to work from home? It solves a lot of problems for me," he said.

Allen and his cohort are learning a wide range of IT skills. He recently completed the CompTIA ITF certification, which shows he's mastered IT fundamentals. He's learning website development and other foundational information about software, hardware, operating systems, and databases.

Allen says that if someone had asked him for help before taking this course because their internet speed had slowed, he would have needed to figure out where to start. That's changed.

"Now I'd know the right questions to ask whereas before I'd be like, 'Is the cable plugged in?'"

Allen is still determining what specific job he'll be looking for once he completes the course, but he knows he wants to do something that helps others. "I want it to be something where I can contribute to improving things," he said.

"I feel like technology is the future, and it's just so exciting to me to be a part of it," Allen added.

Allen isn't just taking the training courses, he's also leading tutoring sessions to make space for others in the class to get assistance and support as they work, and he's grateful for that opportunity. "Professionally, what I'm most proud of is that people find value in the sessions I host," he said.

He has a lot of other things he's joyful about, too. "I'm proud that I have a roof over my head, food in the refrigerator, clothes on my back, and a dog that loves me more than anyone else in the world," he said.