With IT training, Jerel invests in a future for his family

May 16, 2023   |  By Emily Montgomery

After a challenging year, Jerel is thrilled with the change in his luck.

"I really can't believe I'm in the position I'm in—that I'm getting paid to learn," he says.

Jerel is part of a new advanced training opportunity through the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). Through this program, CEO financially supports participants through information technology (IT) training that should lead to a well-paid career.

Last year Jerel moved from North Carolina to Sacramento, California, to be with his family—his newborn son and his son's mother and sister.

He said he went straight to looking for work and realized how hard it was to find employment with his conviction history. He used to work in mental health and said it felt incredibly challenging to find work in that field with his background.

"I've never felt as down or lost as I did when I came home with a felony on my record and realized just how much society rejects you," Jerel said. "You're just judged and outcasted." He says he repeatedly had the experience of hiring officials telling him he was a great fit but never calling back after they did a background check.

Then, through an online search, he found the CEO. He began as a participant with CEO in July of 2022, doing highway maintenance work while also getting job training. Then he learned about a new program CEO offers, in which they fund eligible participants through CompTIA training.

Though he had an opportunity to work in the CEO's office and was excited about that possibility, he decided to pursue the training.

"I saw the CompTIA training as a long-term career investment," he said.

The course covers skills, including working with mobile devices, operating systems, hardware, and cloud computing. It prepares them for further training and high-paying opportunities in the technology space.

Jerel says that though he was raised with computers and other technology, it's still a challenging course, and he's learning a lot he didn't expect to. But he feels up to the challenge.

"I believe if you have the will to learn, you will because CEO and CompTIA have all these resources available for you," Jerel said.

He adds that once he finishes his training, he's open to any career using these skills but that he will likely be looking to get his "feet wet" as a helpdesk technician to start.

Jerel says he was motivated to do this training as a step toward supporting those he loves. "The biggest influence for me was to have a sturdy, well-built career and to be able to provide for my family," he said.

Jerel recommends this training for anyone who is looking for a fresh start and ready to try something new.

"They help you financially, you have immense support through CEO or CompTIA, and they have great instructors. It's hard, but it's rewarding," he said. "Just knowing how far you came is amazing in itself. If you get the opportunity, I would say take it."