02 Aug Goodwill Tech Course Helps Woman Achieve Lifelong Career Goal
When Kara Isreal was 16, she glimpsed an exciting future for herself in the technology industry.
As part of a women’s networking program, the teen from South Central Los Angeles spent a day with a marketing manager from Accenture, a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security.
“I’m hearing all about this wonderful company with a supportive, family atmosphere and thinking, ‘Wow, this is somewhere I’d love to be,’” Kara recalls. “But eventually, I had to give up on that dream.”
Kara moved to Nashville in 2010 to attend Tennessee State University. Then she got pregnant with twins and had to drop out of school to support her new family.
For several years, she worked as a digital marketing specialist, but her lack of technology training held her back.
“I was at a company where I felt very pigeon-holed. I was almost at a point of depression at the time,” she says.
Kara was also going through a divorce and would soon be a single mom to her three daughters. She desperately needed a more lucrative position with the potential for advancement. She began researching options for education and careers.
In 2019, a friend showed Kara a story in the local newspaper about another single mom — Chelsea Rucker — who was once homeless but after taking an information technology course from Goodwill was able to launch a career with Google.
Kara contacted Chelsea through social media, and the pair quickly struck up a friendship. Chelsea encouraged Kara to apply for a scholarship in Goodwill’s Google IT Support Professional Certificate. She even contacted a program administrator to help get Kara enrolled.
Kara began the program — which typically lasts 12-18 weeks — in April of 2019. Most of the class work is done online through self-paced, instructional videos, so she could be home with her kids and also maintain her work schedule. The program was challenging.
“It was not for the faint of heart,” she explains. “However, there was enough information on the platform for me to be able to succeed.”
Along the way, Kara lost her marketing job and began working a series of day-labor positions to make ends meet. Nonetheless, she remained dedicated to her IT support studies, completing lessons on her phone during lunch breaks or after her children went to bed.
“At that time, the class was a place of peace for me. I felt as if I was drowning in every other situation of my life,” she recalls.
Within days of Kara’s graduation from the program in June of 2020, the administrator called her about a potential apprenticeship opportunity with Accenture — her dream company.
“It was divine intervention,” Kara says.
The one-year apprenticeship program at Accenture’s technology delivery center in Nashville is part of a significant investment by the company to acquire new talent through upskilling. Successful candidates come from diverse backgrounds, but all have foundational technical skills and other desirable traits such as enthusiasm and strong communication abilities. The company finds these candidates by partnering with military veteran programs, community colleges and nonprofit organizations such as Goodwill.
With her Google IT Support Professional Certificate atop her resume, Kara applied for an apprenticeship and was quickly accepted. Right away, she began taking full advantage of Accenture’s culture of training, learning about cutting-edge technologies such as Blue Prism, a robotic process automation software.
When her apprenticeship ended in June, Kara was offered a permanent position at Accenture.
“Kara performed exceptionally well during the apprenticeship program. She shows not only great professional character but also soft skills that are not easily found,” says Alejandro Sam, an Advanced Technology Center lead for Accenture. “We have a vision for her in which she will continue to grow and create a huge impact for our clients.”
Kara marvels at her personal and professional development. Her salary with Accenture allowed her to move into a nicer apartment in Murfreesboro, where her children enjoy better schools. She began attending church, met a special man and got married in August of 2020.
“My life is 100% different now,” she says. “My confidence has been restored and my faith in people has come back. Sometimes you just need that extra push from someone, and I found it at Goodwill.”
Tech Program Graduate Joins Goodwill’s IT Team
After Daryl Robertson graduated from the Google IT Support Professional Certificate program in early 2021, he had job offers “coming in left and right.”
The 49-year-old Navy veteran and single father of three had enjoyed a long career in retail, working with Office Depot and Staples. But his services had never before been so much in demand.
Goodwill Career Solutions trainers say Daryl’s experience is common for graduates of the program. With hundreds of thousands of jobs available, IT support is one of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations.
Daryl had always been interested in electronics and computers. As a teen-ager, he took apart his car stereo amplifier just to see what was inside. Wherever he worked in later years, he was known for easily grasping new technologies.
So when a job with a Nashville nonprofit organization lured Daryl away from retail — and then ended unexpectedly, he decided to pursue a career in technology. He found a job as an onsite technician for an electronics company, but he continued looking for ways to grow his skills. He also hoped for more income to support his family.
While researching opportunities on the Internet, he discovered Goodwill’s IT Support program. He completed the online classes while also working full-time during the pandemic.
After graduating from the program and shaping up his resume with the help of Goodwill trainers, Daryl immediately began going on interviews and receiving job offers. One of those offers was from Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee — to work as a support analyst with the Information Technology team.
Daryl, who has coached baseball for inner-city children for nearly two decades, was drawn to Goodwill’s nonprofit mission.
“The mission helped me choose Goodwill,” he says. “I saw Goodwill making a difference in people’s lives, and that lines up perfectly with what I’m trying to do. I want to be a difference-maker.”