Career Changer Embraces IT and Now Leads AITP Student Chapter

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With 15 years of experience in the insurance and financial industries, Richard Smith didn’t know a lot about computers. But when the recession hit in 2008, he knew it was time for a career change.

“I started figuring out computers and got the bug. I decided to embark on a new career in IT,” Richard said. “I figured, at this point in my life, I should do what I really enjoy.”

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Richard’s journey to a career in IT began with CompTIA certifications in A+, Security+ and Network+. But with a slow economic recovery, he ultimately decided that going back to school for a degree would increase his job prospects.

He enrolled at Trident Technical College in Charleston, South Carolina, and chose to double major in networking and information support systems. A job at the school’s help desk led him to the CompTIA AITP student chapter.

“When I first started school, I worked at the help desk for work study, and one of the women I worked with was the president of our AITP student chapter,” Richard said. “She asked me to join in 2015. In 2016, I became the vice president, then when she was graduated, I took over the role of president.”

Under Smith’s leadership, membership in the CompTIA AITP Trident Tech student chapter has tripled. Smith has focused his efforts as president on building the chapter’s board positions, as well as general recruitment and organizing activities that complement the classroom learning at Trident Tech with real world IT experience, such as providing IT services for local non-profit organizations.

What’s next for Smith? As graduation approaches, he’s planning to get more involved with the local chapter of CompTIA AITP—as a graduating student, he can take advantage of a free year of professional membership.

He has also turned his focus to searching for his first position in IT. With his degree, his CompTIA certifications and his leadership experience, he feels his prospects are strong. Moreover, he sees his previous work experience as a benefit and encourages other would-be career changers to consider IT.

“If anyone is changing from a previous career to IT, I’d want them to know that with the right training, it’s not as hard as you imagine,” he said. “IT supports all businesses, and there’s not an industry today that doesn’t have a need for IT services.”

This article first appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of CompTIA World magazine. Read the full issue