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How the Cisco Networking Academy is Getting Results and Jobs for IT Students around the World

August 17, 2009

By Mike Stone

It goes without saying that most people who acquire skills through the Cisco® Networking Academy® are looking to get a job with an IT company. What student Selim Kolgeci, of Suhareka, Kosovo, did not expect was that he would set up an IT company of his own.

Impatient for commercial success, Kolgeci did not wait to complete his Cisco CCNA® course before becoming his town's first-ever Internet service provider (ISP), for 200 clients, and opening and running one of the first Internet cafés in Suhareka.

Kolgeci sold his ISP business in October 2007 to take on a more traditional job as a network manager, although he still retains his cybercafé. He is a prime example of how the Networking Academy not only delivers skills but also directly helps to create employment.

"I used the skills that I got from the Networking Academy to enable me to start this business. And I achieved my dream," Kolgeci, an experienced IT enthusiast, explains. "When I first applied, I thought that I was just going to attend the course and consolidate my knowledge.

"But after spending a week there, I saw that I had made a really good decision."

Gabriela Sandu, now a successful programmer for IBM, similarly remembers how the Networking Academy made all the difference to her technology career.

Before breaking into programming, says Sandu: "I attended a lot of long courses on algorithms, C, C++, Java, Prolog and scheme programming, but none of them got me where I wanted to be." And this was despite her attending the most prestigious university in her native Romania.

Then, about three and a half years ago: "I saw an announcement in a bookshop saying that a Networking Academy course was going to begin in two weeks time. For me, this was the spark I was looking for. So two days later I enrolled and I couldn't wait to begin the training."

"This was the spark I was looking for."

— Gabriela Sandu, IBM programmer and former Networking Academy student

Sandu passed the course with flying colors and after graduation got a job as a Java developer in Portugal, before being headhunted by IBM. She says: "I'm still working for IBM Romania. I have been working here for almost two years now as a programmer, mostly in Java."

Her responsibilities in the role are daunting, but she still has time to extend her skills through the Networking Academy. "For two months now, I've been enrolled in a new course," she says. "I'm taking the Unix class and I'm very pleased with it so far.

"I always encourage other people to enroll in a good class. For me the Networking Academy program is the best way to go. Working in IT really rocks."

Every day, the Academy, one of the biggest corporate social responsibility initiatives on the planet, takes hundreds of young and not-so-young students and prepares them, too, for a rocking career in IT.

And for some, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or find themselves in difficult circumstances, the Networking Academy is not just a route to a new job. It is a route to a new life. Take Gordon McCallum, whose career path from oil rigs to IT involved a nasty car accident.

McCallum's injuries were too severe to allow him to return to his original profession, so he started looking to the IT industry as a new career direction. During a three-year recovery he studied at his local Cisco Networking Academy at Speedwell in Bristol, United Kingdom.

He completed a CCNA course in one year and passed his exams in August 2005.

"The Cisco Networking Academy played a major part in my successful career change from being an oil rig engineer to working at what I spent over three years retraining for: working as close to Cisco as possible," says McCallum.

After gaining his qualifications, McCallum was quickly hired by Comstor UK, the most successful Cisco distributor in the United Kingdom. "I will always be grateful for the opportunity that the Cisco Networking Academy has given me," he continues.

At 45 years of age, McCallum was a mature student when he entered the Academy. In contrast, Tim Groote, from Schoonhoven in the Netherlands, found his studies helped him become the network manager and administrator of an entire company at just 19.

Groote completed his CCNA1 and CCNA2 courses at Da Vinci College, Dordrecht. He says: "The knowledge Cisco has provided me with has proven to be invaluable on more than one occasion, and helped me a great deal in acquiring a position as network manager."

Mike Stone is a freelance journalist located in Barcelona, Spain.

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