Jose Enrique Rodriguez, an Army Veteran, who is originally from Puerto Rico, moved to Chicago more than 10 years ago. When he transitioned into a civilian career after his military service, Jose found success working in sales and insurance. Although he had a long-time passion and interest in the  IT industry, the opportunity to explore it as a career had not yet come his way. However, when Jose was laid off, he finally jumped at the chance to pursue a new career pathway. Through his contacts at the VA, Jose connected to National Able Network and IT Career Lab.

“Things happen when they have to happen and the way they have to happen,” says Jose about the way his professional life had taken a new and exciting turn. As he pursued his Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), he also participated in job search workshops including one on LinkedIn. “I used to think of LinkedIn as just another social network, but no. Once they showed me the tools, I saw the value and as a veteran, I had free access to premium for a year!” says Jose.

After completing his courses, Jose passed his exams and earned his CCNA certification and his MCP certification! Jose then worked with Jon Kimmel to find an opportunity in IT. On how his certifications helped his job search, Jose says, “It opened a lot of doors for me that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Jose began working, and had the opportunity to manage a variety of projects in his new role, including a handful of projects that were international in scope. In one of these projects, Jose created a “study guide” for a technical process. His talents shown brightly, and he was asked to create, structure and teach a course on this process. As his talents as an instructor blossomed, he heard about an instructor position at IT Career Lab, Jose applied and was quickly hired.

Reflecting on his new role, Jose says, “This is kind of surreal…instructing at the same place that changed my life.”