Jeremiah Harris’ life is anything but traditional, but he has strong roots and even stronger ambitions in the city that he loves: Chicago.  Born and raised in Chicago, dad of three, Jeremiah finished college at the age of 27 in Chicago, of course! Soon he began a long career with Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

For years, he counseled countless CPS students through their own post-secondary education pathways, including college, the military, trade schools, careers, and more. One day, Jeremiah found himself in need of advice for his own next career step; he was laid off last summer and wasn’t sure what to do next.

He found a great advisor in Elliot Esparza, National Able Network’s Technical Education Manager. While Jeremiah was open to ideas about his next career path, he frankly was intimidated by the information technology industry. Elliott told Jeremiah about Able’s IT Career Lab program and said that he would be able to receive certifications from Cisco and Microsoft during the 16-week class, which would position him for a career pivot into the IT industry.

“I had all of these years of experience in CPS and I don’t know about technology. It was this really murky thing,” Jeremiah said. “Elliott really gave me the assurance that I was pursuing the right field, and I owe Elliott a lot of credit. He was very genuine. He really told me to jump into the field. After going through the class I know I made the right decision.”

In addition to Elliott, Jeremiah was enrolled in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program and received support from his career coach Coral Duarte. Jeremiah boosted his LinkedIn profile, resume and built his interview skills through Able’s JUMPSTART workshops.

During his participation in IT Career Lab, Jeremiah earned his Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credentials. Shortly after completing the program Jeremiah was not only Cisco Certified—he was offered a job at Cisco!

“[IT Career Lab] was transformational,” Jeremiah said, “I knew it was important but the program helped me understand that but also understand how I can use the skills and build a career for myself.”

Pictured (left to right): IT Career Lab Account Manager Jon Kimmel, IT Career Lab Program Manager Donna Claxton, Jeremiah Harris, IT Career Lab Instructor Leslie Lundberg