More Than What’s On Paper: Being Empowered By Change

What I remember most about my school years was playing video games. I don’t remember exactly what my first video game was but I remember being fascinated. I was not just fascinated by the characters, the story, or the in-game mechanics. I wanted to know how the games worked. I dreamt of creating my very own video game. It was that childhood dream that inspired my interest in IT.

I had a very unusual childhood. I was born in Oklahoma City, OK, but lived in Belgium until I was seven years old. Then, my family moved back to the U.S. and we lived in Georgia, moving around the state rather frequently.

Having to move from one place to another was not hard for me because I really enjoyed seeing new places. Also, being the new kid was fun for me. Everyone would be excited to get to know me and would try and guess where I was from. The consistent relocation taught me how to embrace change and deal with different types of personalities. I attended many different schools before graduating from Shiloh High School.

After high school, I worked at major sporting venues for Juma Ventures, a social enterprise organization aimed at providing low-income students with access to sustainable employment. During that time, I became more financially independent, built my communication skills, and developed professional relationships that I still have to this day. Although I enjoyed my time with Juma Ventures, I could not ignore my childhood calling. I told one of my supervisors at Juma about my interest in IT and he recommended me to Per Scholas’ IT program. The certification program ran for eight weeks, during which students were held to high standards of professionalism. Any student who did not meet that standard would lose their seat in the program. The opportunity intrigued me, thought I was afraid of doing something unprofessional. But I have never been afraid of change and I felt like I needed to make a change in my professional life.

Jaquil, pictured center.

With the encouragement of my supervisor, I applied to the program. I showed up early for my interview, stomach full of butterflies, head full of doubt. But I powered through. I passed the initial test and advanced to the in-person interview. My interviewer, Jasmine, sat me down and ran through her questions. Then, she leaned forward and said, “Jaquil, I’m hesitant to let you in. I’m not sure you will be able to make it to class on time and that is a big part of participating in this course. Why should I let you in this class?”

I was stunned. I did not know how to answer so I gave a generic response and hoped it was good enough. Days after the interview, Jasmine’s word stuck with me. I promised myself that, if I was accepted, I would prove Jasmine wrong by putting my best foot forward. A week after the interview, I was accepted into the program. I showed up early every day and applied myself to every task, project, and assignment. After eight weeks, I graduated with my IT certification and soon after, I went on the strangest interview I have ever been on.

The interview was very short. I was ushered into the office and sat down across from the interviewer. He looked at my resume, looked up and me, and then looked back at my resume. He asked me one question. After I was finished answering, he lifted up his head and said, “I’m not going to waste your time and I don’t want to waste mine. You’re clearly more advanced than what we need." That was it. He offered me the job. I found the interview very strange, not because of how short it was but because I had never really been told I was overqualified.

Today, I work as an IT Support Specialist for Computer Generated Solutions. In my role, I provide technical support and assistance to hotels across the globe. What I love most about working in IT is how it’s always changing. I’m always trying new software, exploring new tools, or creating new experiences. I am never bored. In this role, I am gaining the knowledge of systems and software needed to bring my childhood dreams into reality.

Change has always been a constant in my life and I consider myself an advocate for embracing change. Without the changes in my life, and my bold acceptance of those changes, I would not be as strong and resilient as I am today. More people should feel empowered to welcome the changes in their lives, to consider new perspectives, or to do things differently.

Jaquil Stevenson is currently a n IT Support Specialist for Computer Generated Solutions.

The average employer spends seven seconds reviewing a resume, often screening out young adults like Jaquil Stevenson. Please visit to learn more about an available pool of talented young adults that you may be missing out on.

Personal Story, Skills Gap, Workforce Development,
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