Today is Veterans Day, a day set aside in the United States to honor those members of our society who have served or continue to serve in the armed forces. Veterans Day has a long history of observance, dating back to 1938 when the United States Congress approved the 11th of November to become a legal holiday, Armistice Day, to celebrate the anniversary of the end of World War I. In 1947, the holiday was expanded to honor all veterans, not just those who died in World War I, and in 1954 Congress officially changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day.
Here at LearnKey, we are proud to support our veterans, both those who have served and those who are currently serving. Both our Blue Ocean and Certify for Life programs are tailored specifically to helping veterans with career placement and lifetime learning. Our Student Resource Center and Career Services Center are a wealth of resources and information for veterans seeking to advance their careers, and our Veterans Services Team, many of whom are themselves veterans, are always eager to provide guidance to our services.
We wish to offer a heartfelt thank you to all those who have served our country in the armed forces, especially those who are now employed by LearnKey: Michael Watson, Jessica Staples, Kelly Woods, Tristan Roberts, Beth Ciaramello, and Grace Rollins. Have a good Veterans Day and thank you for your service!
This is a public service announcement to all students that are serious about being successful in the LearnKey Veteran Services program. There are a multitude of steps that are required if one expects to be successful, not only from a program, but a test-by-test perspective as well. Unless you have an extensive background in the IT field, each one of these exams will be uniquely challenging, particularly if this information is fairly new to you. It would be a very bold assumption that 20 hours of OnlineExpert and CertMaster alone will be enough to have you as prepared as you can possibly be. Ironically it’s the exact opposite. You will have to be as resourceful as you possibly can if you expect to be adequately prepared.
Our team has put together a really great Student Resource Center to provide you with the resources to help you succeed. We have two weekly study group sessions every Tuesday from 11am – 12pm MST and every Thursday from 3:30pm – 4:30pm MST. There are also monthly newsletters, certification guides, workbooks, and practice labs. For most people (including me) it’s going to take a combination of making use of the above-listed resources mixed with a bit of determination and tenacity to make it through, but it’s up you to seek out and find your individual blueprint for preparing. Myself, along with David and Ed, have been in the same boat that you are in now, and we can help guide you through, but the effort has to be there if you expect to succeed.
Your number one source of information should be the forum/Student Resource page. That is where all of the resources that we provide are located. Outside of CertMaster and OnlineExpert.com, if there are any resources that I have used, heard good things about, or found to help me prepare for an exam, that is where it can be found.
Recent additions to the forum include:
- A link to the practical labs on our Student Resource Page (Net+)
- Subnetting/CIDR Video (Net+)
- CompTIA Blacklisted training link (CompTIA)
- Accommodation of disabilities application link (CompTIA)
- Student recaps of recently taken exams
This is not an easy program to complete. I stumbled along my path and I expect others to do the same, but I’m also proof that there is a finish line, and that it is accessible if you are willing to maintain the focus and put in the work. There is a countless amount of helpful information sitting not only in the forum, but on the Internet as well, readily available 24/7. You only have to apply yourself and seek it out. I strongly warn against making the mistake of taking this program lightly, because there is a good chance that you will become overwhelmed pretty quickly if you do.
Please join me in welcoming Beth Ciaramello to LearnKey, supporting our Veteran Services team as our Job Ready Manager. Beth will be leading a new initiative finding employment for the students who complete our Blue Ocean program. Beth is a former military veteran who joins the team with five years of experience as a Career Adviser and possesses the tools and skills necessary to successfully place students in careers related to their field of study.
We are thrilled to have her join our team and take a minute to learn more about Beth and her new role.
- What is your professional background prior to being employed at LearnKey? I was with Everest College for six years. I started as the receptionist and quickly moved to Career Services. I was a Career Counselor for five years and successfully assisted over 500 graduates in meeting their professional goals.
- What is your military background? I was in the U.S. Army and served as a Military Police for one year. I was injured and received an honorable medical discharge. I am honored and lucky to be able to serve veterans and students in my new role with LearnKey.
- As the new LearnKey Veteran Services Job Ready Manager, how will your previous professional and military experience help you prepare veterans to find a job? As a Career Advisor for the last four years, I have a considerable amount of experience assisting graduates in finding careers in various fields. As a veteran, I also was the unofficial veteran liaison in the department, specifically writing resumes and preparing veterans for interviews.
- As a veteran, in 50 words or fewer, describe how your skills and experiences will be a benefit to the LKVS team. The United States Military trains individuals to be disciplined, motivated, and have strong teamwork and camaraderie. I am diligent and motivated to ensure all our graduates receive the assistance they need to meet their goals. I also bring with me my loyalty and initiative to assist my coworkers with any challenge they may face.
- What are the top three tips you would give to students who are just starting the job search?
- Be Prepared – Graduates/students starting a job search should have all the tools to search for positions. For example, resumes geared toward the position, interview questions and practice, and research, research, research—know the companies they are applying to.
- Stay Organized – Document the positions that they applied to and the results. This makes it easier to follow up with each company and know what to research when the interview is scheduled.
- Stay Positive – The job-searching process can be overwhelming. It is essential to stay positive and focused on the goal no matter how long it may take to find the ideal career. If a student or graduate loses sight of their goals they can reach out to LearnKey or friends and family to help motivate them and stay on track. In addition, networking can be the best way to finiding the perfect professional position.
- What five words would you use to describe yourself? Passionate, empathetic, energetic, adventurous, and strong.
- What do you do in your free time? I love to travel, be outdoors, go hiking, camping, and swimming. I would rather listen to hours of music than turn on the TV. I enjoy spending quality time with my friends, family, and my dogs. I am addicted to new experiences and I see every day as an adventure and enjoy finding something new to learn.
With the overwhelming success of our Blue Ocean program, we are really excited to offer this new service to those who have completed the Blue Ocean program.
My name is Tristan Roberts. I’m a veteran who obtained my IT certifications through LearnKey and I’m writing to share my experience with LearnKey’s Blue Ocean Program with those who might be considering taking on the challenge. I spent about nine months working through the program. During that time I acquired the A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications as well as Microsoft Office’s Word, Excel, and Outlook certifications, and I’m going to talk about some of the successes I had, as well as some of the failures during my journey.
I believe that most of the success I had was due to having the right attitude going into the program. I spoke with my advisor (Seth Boyak) and he gave me a good idea of what to expect out of the program, provided me with a demo to sample, provided me with an estimated timeline, and let me know that it wouldn’t be easy. That is a point I want to reiterate…this is not a program that you can expect to skate through, which is a rude awakening I had when I went in for my first A+ exam after months of studying. It’s going to take a good mix of motivation, focus, drive, resourcefulness, and patience to make it through, but it is doable.
I had to find specific traits within myself that helped me be successful in this program.
Motivation– You should have a genuine desire to learn the information that you strive for or it is likely that you will lose interest very quickly.
Focus– You have to set aside the time to learn and eliminate as many distractions as possible to give yourself a better chance to retain the information.
Drive– There has to be an end goal, or something you are striving for to keep you going during the difficult times or it is easy to consider giving up when it gets difficult.
Resourcefulness– The IT world is full of unlimited information and is constantly changing. Portions you already know, portions you will learn, portions that will change, portions that have already changed. Sometimes the information will be easy to find, and sometimes it will be difficult, but it’s important to know that there is an answer, you just have to seek it out a little harder periodically.
Patience – Some of these certifications are difficult to obtain and you will need to take a one step at a time approach to prepare yourself to be as ready as possible. It’s a good idea to explore all of the resources that are provided (and sometimes find your own) if you expect to be complete the program and pass your certification exams.
LearnKey has great employees who are willing to go above and beyond to help us veterans in any way possible, and that is a big part of the reason that I accepted a job with LearnKey, when they offered me a job once I completed the Blue Ocean program. I wanted to help other veterans going through the program avoid some of the barriers that impeded my progress.
Overall I am grateful that I came across the Blue Ocean program and that I was able to complete this difficult challenge and not let it defeat me. Even after I failed my first exam, I just took a couple days off and attacked it again from another angle, and that is the approach you must bring with you entering this program. If you can do that, I’m proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Summer 2014 has brought some great changes to our LearnKey Veteran Services team. Our team has been filled with committed and excited members who have a strong desire to provide the best service and learning experience to the Veterans in our program. To assist the team in providing the best service, we created the Student Resource Center. This new page on our website has videos, links, and other information that Veterans can use as a resource as they make their way through the Blue Ocean program. Another big milestone happened this August. We had our first Veteran graduate from the Blue Ocean program. Tristan Roberts was one of the first Veterans to be accepted into the Blue Ocean program and completed with certifications in CompTIA’s A+, Net+, Security+, and in Microsoft Office Specialist’s Word, Excel, and Outlook.
One benefit of the Blue Ocean program is that when students successfully complete the program they are guaranteed a job. Tristan was offered a job at LearnKey as the newest member of the Veteran Services team. With Tristan joining the team, I wondered what exactly the Veteran Services Team did to get Tristan to this point. So I spoke with Brian Tremelling and Seth Boyack, two people who were instrumental to Tristan’s success. See what they had to say below:
Brian Tremelling | Veteran & Vocational Rehabilitation Advisor – Tristan was one of the very first to be accepted into our new Blue Ocean program. The Blue Ocean terminology simply implies big, as in big opportunity for our students. Tristan’s program included IT certifications like CompTIA’s A+, Network+, and Security+. It also included certifications in Microsoft Office, and education modules designed to help with interviews, resumes, and other skills that employers are looking for. Many people would think that having these types of credentials would be enough to launch anyone in their career. Unfortunately, work experience is the missing element whenever a student gets a new credential. The great thing about those who get accepted into our new Blue Ocean program is the fact that those who successfully complete the program have the opportunity to work with LearnKey and gain that work experience that they are lacking. Tristan is the first of many students who will accept full-time work with us as a way to begin their new career.
Seth Boyack | Veteran & Vocational Rehabilitation Advisor – When I originally spoke with Tristan prior to him being accepted into LearnKey’s Blue Ocean program I could tell right away that he was motivated and hungry for such an amazing opportunity. Upon enrolling, Tristan shot out of the gate with the dedication necessary to find success. LearnKey teaches students with various learning styles; some students require more direction and others are able to move through our program without a lot of management. Tristan was the latter. Tristan and I would communicate on a monthly basis mainly for check-ins and progress reports. One of the major reasons Tristan saw so much success was directly correlated with the open line of communication we had together. Tristan’s program wasn’t perfectly smooth; there were times when he’d have to travel a couple hours to a testing center in order to sit for his certification and another time where he failed one of his exams on the first attempt. These bumps in the road proved to be pivotal. Not only did they continue to reconfirm Tristan’s drive to successfully complete the program, but it also gave Tristan and me an opportunity to work as a team and come up with the best solution possible. Tristan knew that he could trust what I said I was going to do and I knew that I could trust Tristan to deliver on his end as well; this mutual trust and the ability to have open communication is the crux of the Veteran Service Advisor and their student. No matter how you slice it or what educational path you go down, school is challenging. What LearnKey aims to do is provide students with a detailed career track, the education necessary to successfully complete the training, and a team whose sole responsibility is to make sure our students are successful. Attention to detail is what students need whether you’re learning on a campus or doing so in the comfort of your home.