He had been standing impatiently in line waiting for quite some time, like everybody else on his side of the stage. It was hot and somewhat humid, the sun was glaring on his face and the dark outfit he was wearing from head to toe wasn’t helping in any way.
The crowd seemed very friendly, they cheered every time they heard a name—a little over the top in his opinion. He had a funny feeling. He seemed to know that after walking across the stage, things were not going to be as simple as going through a study guide and answering a list of questions.
That things were most likely going south for many of the twenty-somethings standing next to him. The crowd was aware of the crude reality of adult life, but they cheered for everyone anyway. He wondered why, but it didn’t matter, it was his turn. “Kevin Lee”, a voice said loud and clear.
He walked across the stage in front of the cheering crowd, counting every step of the way; as if his Fitbit wasn’t already doing that for him. He stretched his hand, grabbed it and walked off. Right in the middle, in big fancy bold letters, it read: Bachelor of Arts in Economics.
Kevin graduated in 2014 from Rutgers University. He completed one of the most challenging programs offered at the school. His family was very proud, of course. All those years of preparation and hard work had finally paid off. It was now time to capitalize on the skills he had developed.
He was looking to jumpstart a career full of intriguing challenges and opportunities. He had very high, but realistic expectations of himself and his career. He was very excited for growing as a person and as a professional. When he stepped off that stage with his diploma in his hands, he was full of ambitious goals for the future.
Nonetheless, less than three years after his graduation, he was not working in anything related to economics. He had spent so much time mastering econometrics and calculus. All the all-nighters he pulled off trying to understand different theories led to nothing.
Right out of college, he jumped into a role as a project manager working for an interior design company. It was an amazing experience, but it wasn’t what he had envisioned—not much to do with economics. But a much better start compared to the struggles his classmates were facing.
He wasn’t inspired by the company’s mission, and felt like project management wasn’t for him. So after 8 long months he decided to quit and do something where he could put his degree to use. He landed a job working as an accountant in a CPA office.
But once again, he found himself looking at the clock way too many times when he was at work; it was too repetitive. He learned a lot on the job, but two years into his career, he was considering leaving it all behind and starting from scratch. He wanted a challenging job. A job where he could tackle new, and big projects often and continuously grow his skill set. He began looking for alternatives, and found Terry Kim.
He learned about IT for the very first time and about the Zero to Engineer mentorship program. Especially the ever-changing nature of the IT industry, and how it always pushes people to develop their skills sets had intrigued him. He was very curious about all the different career avenues that IT could offer.
He immediately knew that he wanted to enroll. It was exactly what he had been looking for. Zero to Engineer could teach him the secret formula to jumpstart an IT career within months. It would take much less time compared to what it was going to take to get an associates degree at a local community college.
He committed to his decision and dove into the program. He followed all the advice he was given and executed on every homework assignment, only pausing to catch up on sleep. Lesson after lesson, he acquired a thorough understanding of the industry.
He received a solid networking foundation through the lessons Terry instructed him to go over. And, he earned a couple of technical certifications along the way. He took great advantage of his one-on-one mentorship sessions, which he used to plan his career roadmap. He never doubted his decision of not pursuing a career related to his hard-earned economics degree.
Instead, he studied hard—as if this were the last chance he had to have an exciting and fulfilling future. He studied and studied, reaching out to the Zero to Engineer community every time he needed help with something. He made the most out of every minute of his mentor sessions.
It only took him 2 months to finish the entire program. He was ready. It was now time to put what he learned into use and break into the industry. But before, he needed to solve the hands-on experience problem. He needed to do it quickly—before he had second thoughts about leaving his college education on the shelf and pursuing a career in tech.
Terry helped him evaluate the best way to break into the industry. At the time, he was living with his parents and wasn’t in serious need of earning an income. So, Terry suggested that he apply for internships to get experience handling real equipment.
This way, he could aim for a network engineering role right from the start. The only issue was that landing an internship to develop his skill set was going to be hard. There were often hundreds of applicants seeking one or two spots. He used one of Terry’s industry navigation tactics, to fix this issue.
He woke up early the next morning. He felt the same anxiety he had before when his name was called at his graduation ceremony. He got on his computer and reached out to dozens of people via LinkedIn asking to meet for coffee.
Each time, he would craft a well-thought out message, looking over every person’s profile and searching for common interests to add to the messages. This way, he could increase his odds of starting a conversation. No one, but one person replied to him. They met at a local coffee shop a few blocks down from where he was living at the time.
They spoke about trends, recent controversies, new technologies and the IT field in general. They ended up talking for over an hour. It was a thoughtful conversation full of occasional laughs here and there. Kevin walked away with a 3-month internship offer. Mission accomplished. During his internship, he learned about troubleshooting, ticketing, monitoring and reporting on new configurations.
Three months flew by. The end of his internship was approaching fast and he needed to capitalize on his experience. He took on LinkedIn once again and reached out to people asking for coffee. Shortly after ending his internship, he landed a role as a Network Engineer at a company called Coranet Corp. At Coranet, he installed, configured and deployed many access points and devices onto various networks.
Two years and a significant pay bump later, Kevin now works as a Network Engineer for Samsung on their renowned infrastructure team. He feels grateful and satisfied with his new career. He always feels challenged and is learning something new everyday. He is super happy with his job and is not looking to pursue any advanced certifications right now. His parents are still very proud of him.
Around two million people graduated college the same year as Kevin. Many of them are stuck in repetitive jobs or unemployed. Kevin was smart enough to admit that he had made a mistake when choosing economics as his major. And he did it quickly. He has now embarked on a new career, in an industry that never stops growing and changing.
Unlike other early students of Zero to Engineer, he didn’t know anything about IT. But this motivated him even more. At the time, the program was designed to help people who were already in IT. But Terry made it work out for him. He told Kevin what to study and where to go to find it.
Kevin literally went from Zero to Engineer in less than a year. Since he graduated from the program, Terry has added more content. It is now a complete solution for those who want a career in IT. Within months, anyone with motivation and drive 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. In the bootcamp, student gain experience handling real world equipment. On the fifth day, they have the opportunity to earn the title of Full Stack Network Associate.
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. If Kevin ever needs help, he can reach out to the NexGenT community of students, alumni and mentors.