~K’Nisha Young Pursues a Hi-tech Future
K’Nisha Young hopes to one day run her own business making custom personal computers. First, she needs a job in the computer industry to get more experience. However, those are hard to come by if you don’t have any experience. This dilemma was one of the challenges K’Nisha sought help with when she came to Beacon Group this last February.
K’Nisha grew up in Tucson, where her father was stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB. She was a decent student until she got to high school. She started to get involved in sports to the point her schoolwork suffered. She says this made her depressed, which just made things worse. She was starting a downward spiral. Eventually she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. A couple of years later, K’Nisha was also diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder.
With the help of therapy and medication, K’Nisha was able to get her life back on track and even graduated early from high school! Because of her interest in computers and computer games in particular, she attended ITT Technical Institute where she earned Associate Degrees in Computer Aided Design and Game Design. She was also learning how to accept and live with her disability challenges. K’Nisha earned a Peer Support Certification so she could become a support coach for others dealing with disabilities.
With her academic credentials and her career interest, K’Nisha set out to find a job in the computer industry. After trying on her own for a several years, she found businesses were reluctant to hire her without previous technology experience. K’Nisha was taking part-time jobs to help support herself and her daughter, but she wasn’t giving up on her dream of a hi-tech career.
At this point K’Nisha was living in Phoenix, and registered with Southwest Networks, part of the Mercy Maricopa Behavioral Healthcare System. They referred her to Beacon Group for Job Development and Training Services. K’Nisha and her Beacon employment specialist, Darick Wilson, worked on her interviewing skills, resume preparation, and job searching. In addition, Ryan Sargent, Vocational Training Instructor at Beacon Group, began to work with K’nisha to enhance the specific computer skills she would need to fulfill her goals.
Ryan’s specialty is providing computer training for people with disabilities. He usually serves 6-8 people at a time, though each student is provided with individualized instruction based on their goals. Students work in a computer lab environment at Beacon’s Phoenix office.
Technology can play an important role in helping individuals find employment. Some of Ryan’s students have, literally, never touched a computer, and some have a general working knowledge. The instruction is tailored to the individual, whether they are needing basic skills or want to pursue a career in the computer/IT industry.
For K’Nisha, Ryan suggested a specialized training program from the Computer Technology Industry Association (Comp TIA) that would provide her a Certification as a Computer Service Technician. K’Nisha receives training at Beacon Group three days a week. At the end of her training with Beacon, K’Nisha will attend a month-long “bootcamp” at Canyon State Institute as the final step for Certification.
K’Nisha and Ryan believe that having this Certification will be her “foot in the door” to secure that first job in the computer industry. In the meantime, she is also working at a restaurant, and continues meeting with Darick at Beacon to increase her employability soft skills, in areas such as communication and critical thinking.
“She keeps a good balance of work and training,” says Ryan. He adds that, “K’Nisha helped expand our computer skills program by suggesting other course training we now use to train others.”
K’Nisha says, “I want to show you don’t just read a book. ‘Doing’ helps you learn about the whole IT business. I want a career to look forward to. I want to be excited to work, not just to get paid.”
Beacon is providing the support K’Nisha needs to handle challenges that stand in the way of making her dream a reality. Given her progress, the future looks bright for this motivated young “techie” who has already overcome much, and is staying focused on her dream.