One of the very first students of Zero to Engineer already had years of experience. He had served as an IT instructor at the Air Force, and was currently working as a network engineer. He had served in the Air Force for about 8 years, after which he decided to transition back to civilian life. But shortly after, Andrew Pratt realized he didn’t know how to apply his skills to the IT industry. He was setting himself up to be at his current role for many years to come, which wasn’t an option.

He already had three kids and wanted to provide the best life he could for them. He was grateful for his job. But, he wasn’t pleased with his current salary, which had him and his family living in a very small house. Andrew doubled his salary right after graduating from the Zero to Engineer program. He moved his family to a much bigger house—over three times bigger than their last house, in fact. Nowadays, he loves his current job, which often gives him the flexibility to work from home.

Related: The one thing that transitioning vets should know but no one tells them

His story begins back in the day, when he couldn’t stand his job anymore. It wasn’t what he had expected—flat-out boring. Every day, before the first hour had passed, he was already staring at the clock on the top right of his screen. He had always been into gaming and technology, reason he had applied for the role. Yet, it wasn’t even close to what he had expected it to be when he was going through the long and tedious hiring process.

Customers would walk in, some in need of help to fix a problem and others to look around. But, most of them walked out unhappy. Not because Andrew wasn’t good at dealing with people. In fact, most people praised him for his good service and willingness to help. But because the company’s policies, it appeared to him, squeezed every penny out of customer’s pockets.

He was very young, and knew there were better options so he decided to leave his job at Sprint. He joined the Air Force, where he served as part of the Network Infrastructure team and as an IT instructor. There, he developed a character full of discipline and accountability, always falling through with anything he set his mind to.

While at the Air Force, he started a family with his wife Natalee, who also worked in the communications department. He was very comfortable where he was, but his military career was coming to an end. He had decided to transition at the end of his second period.

He was planning to use his tech skills to break into a stable career in the civilian world, but it wasn’t that easy. He spent about three months looking for a job. Finally, he landed a position as a network administrator for a medium-sized law firm.

In this role, he applied all the knowledge he had acquired over the past few years. But a few months later, he realized he wasn’t making enough to provide for his family like he wanted to.

Also, working at a law firm wasn’t the ideal setup to move up in the IT industry. He wanted to switch jobs but didn’t want to risk losing the one he had, which had taken him plenty of effort and stress to get. So, he began to wonder if his decision to transition to the civilian world was the correct one. After all, he had walked away from a stable career and everyday job structure and he had given up his right to receiving great benefits in the meantime.

He needed a better paying job, but he had never asked for a salary raise nor he felt comfortable going through job interviews again. He decided to to establish structure and set goals for his new career. But, he realized he didn’t understand the industry well enough to do so. There wasn’t much he could do besides scouting the web looking for advice.

 

Frustrated with his situation, he decided to look for a mentor that could guide him. It was then that he stumbled upon one of Terry Kim’s ads on Facebook offering a free online masterclass. Terry said he would  teach a few of the methods he used to move up the IT industry faster than normal. Also, he promised to share some of the key things he had learned in his 15+ years of experience.

Terry, was also a former Air Force IT instructor. He had transitioned out of the military over a decade ago. In the civilian world, he had gone on to work as a Systems Engineer for some of the biggest tech companies in the world. He has worked for Cisco, Arista Networks and Dimension Data, which was something  Andrew aspired to do.

Terry had also ran his own IT consulting firm for quite some time, so he knew what he was talking about. During the online masterclass, Terry talked about the big picture of the industry. He gave a brief explanation of the most valuable and in-demand skills of the moment. He elaborated on a few of the tactics he used to advance through the IT world faster than normal. And, he told the inspirational story of how he went from being broke to becoming a network engineer making over 6 figures a year within 24 months.

Andrew paid close attention as Terry spoke about the exact things he needed to do to be successful in IT. But an hour and a half wasn’t enough for him to change his situation.

Andrew decided to enroll in Zero to Engineer right after the webinar. He wanted to learn all the tactics and soft skills to negotiate salaries, get promoted and plan for a successful career. He was very intrigued by having the possibility of having Terry be his mentor.

After all, Terry had been in his same position in the military and had had major success in the civilian world. Now a father to four kids, Andrew made it his main focus to make the most out of the program. He followed all the advice Terry gave him and worked on every homework assignment.

He learned how to sell himself much better. Going through the Zero to Engineer program he got a job at NASA working as a network engineer. In this role, he provided WAN/CAN/LAN network engineering, and management for over 5000 nodes. And, he managed and auditing firewalls, VPN concentrators, routers and switches.

He successfully negotiated two salary raises and was able to double his salary to over 6 figures a year. Later on, Andrew left his role at NASA for a network engineering position at Insight Global. He now enjoys having enough flexibility to work from home often and spend extra time with his wife and kids.

He is also working as contractor for a gaming company, which allows him to work on things that he has always liked to do. Currently, he holds many advanced certifications, including a CISSP and a CEH.

When Andrew went through the Zero to Engineer program, he already had a lot of experience. He needed mentorship and guidance, which he received and applied. Everything worked out quite well for him. But, ever since he graduated, the program has added a lot more content. It is now a complete solution for those who want a career in IT.

Within months, a student with no experience can now become a network engineer. Additionally, students who finish the program have the option of getting certified in-person. During a 5-day boot camp, students can gain experience handling real world equipment. On the fifth day, they have the opportunity to earn the title of Full Stack Network Associates.

Zero to Engineer is now offered in an online learning platform called NexGenT. Here, students can interact with other students, mentors and alumni. They can book one on one live mentor sessions.

They can work on their own labs, and even carry out their own full stack networking project. After a couple of months at his current role, Andrew accepted Terry’s offer of becoming a NexGenT mentor. He is looking forward to helping many people reach their career goals.