LeapIT Mentor Spotlight
Senior Technology Analyst
“Allow yourself to be able to be taught.”
Anyone who knows Chris, knows that he is a reflection of his IT career - passionate, flexible and committed. His journey, along with his engaging personality make him a perfect LeapIT mentor. Chris’ grounding in quality assurance has launched him into automation strategies, coding and development not to mention his recent certifications in Azure.
When Chris landed at CarMax, he felt he had finally found the right culture and environment. Too many of his previous employers felt rigid and a bit too stiff for his personality. At CarMax, it felt much more relaxed yet appropriately challenging, like a breath of fresh air. Chris is excited he has found a home, role and culture fit where he can stay and build upon.
A Squiggly Career Path
Chris describes his path as a squiggly line, but once he found his footing, it became more of a staircase leading in a professional direction he has been thrilled with. After taking some classes at VCU he intentionally challenged his skills by pursuing a variety of roles as he was in search of what would ignite his passion to another level. He tried help desk, desktop support, different industries like insurance, banking, industrial, finance, and even a couple of roles in retail IT.
While it took some time to find the right niche and setting, all of his engagements were invaluable in helping him discover the right path. Working short-term assignments in various roles exposed Chris to different industries and roles to learn what felt right. In some cases, Chris leveraged on-the-job training and education to round out certain areas where he felt uncomfortable. These variety of experiences afforded him the opportunity to travel, meet different clients, develop relationships and gather new experiences in different parts of the country. Chris has learned that his IT and general skills translate well across many disciplines. As an example, due to common numerical concepts, several industries including financial services and retail are easily interchangeable and Chris is able to migrate easily.
Keep Your Options Open, Seek Mentorship
For anyone new in their career, Chris encourages them to keep their options open. Trying different roles and assignments can help a person new to the IT field find their passion. He believes gathering a variety of work experiences and IT environments quickly outpace anything that is learned in a classroom. Chris explains that there are so many different avenues and ways to get into IT and trying different jobs helped him to find himself professionally.
It should go without saying that Chris was blessed in having mentors along his path. Each of them shared a passion for guiding the next generation, offering real-world advice because they had lived experiences in IT. Chris sees the value he received and is eager to continue to give back, as he does with LeapIT.
Mentorship - Personally and Professionally
Chris is the quintessential LeapIT Mentor. His variety of IT experiences, engaged nature, and passion for learning and giving back, make him a choice mentor for the mentees who have been fortunate enough to have him assigned to them.
In the LeapIT Mentorship Program, Chris connects with his mentees on a personal and professional level. Many of the challenges he has experienced are often aligned to the challenges facing the mentees. One recent example was encouraging a mentee to trust the overall process they were experiencing. Chris helped with setting long term goals, outlook and instilled confidence that hard work and faith always pays off.
Being a professional mentor is not for everyone. Chris describes that you definitely have to have the right persona to guide someone professionally. Having great mentors was a key factor in Chris’ career success which helped him in his journey. At each critical point in his career, someone always saw something in him and wanted to invest time in him. Chris’ advice to mentees, or anyone new in their IT career, is to allow yourself to be able to be taught.
LeapIT is Filling a Gap
“LeapIT to me is more than a workforce development agency. It appears that they've identified a gap in employment placement and are preparing their candidates for long term success. I see a bright future for LeapIT and am proud to be a part of their Mentorship Program.”
We are truly blessed to have Chris as part of the LeapIT family. He is a model for how LeapIT provides ongoing support outside the classroom and assignments for our Associates.