David Hilo began his professional career in the restaurant industry – a world he knew well since working at his family’s restaurant while young. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a Culinary Arts Certificate from Le Cordon Bleu, he was well-prepared when the opportunity came to move from being a sushi chef to front house management. He learned many more skills which eventually led David to open his own restaurant. As every entrepreneur knows, one wears many hats in the day-to-day operations of a business.

In David’s case, he had excelled in all technical aspects of the business including programming and troubleshooting any and all computer-related issues. David’s tech skills were so advanced that he was recruited to work as the project manager for a large organization with multiple restaurants throughout the Chicagoland area. After two years, David was laid off, but that only fed his hunger for success in the world of IT.

David quickly enrolled in the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) program and was determined to fine-tune his IT education and earn certifications in the field. He began his courses at IT Career Lab in order to earn the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician certificate (CCENT) and the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. In addition to his coursework, David participated in LinkedIn and resume writing workshops in order to ensure that he was well-prepared for his job search.

After many classes and much studying, even forming a study group with fellow IT Career Lab student, Eduardo Castaneda, David earned both certifications. “The day I passed, my daughter was born. It threw me for a loop…two blessings in one day!” says David. Not long after, David was hired as Support Operations Specialist at Cisco Meraki.

Reflecting on the job search workshops and his overall experience, David says, “Fred Hairston’s LinkedIn workshops really helped because that’s where I found my job…I’m really thankful for everything that IT Career Lab and National Able Network have done…I’m thankful for everyone – Leslie, Donna, Jon, Azra and Carey – they were all instrumental pieces that made everything possible. It takes a village to make everything happen. I put in the work, but it was their guidance that helped me get to where I am now.”