How many of us finish high school while still unsure of our path in life? There are many career fields we may be interested in, yet one doesn’t immediately stand out as the “right” answer. With endless possibilities, how do you make sure you choose a career path that matches your interests, gives you the skills to be successful, and allows you to keep growing?

This is where a young Rashawn found himself. As he tried out several jobs in an attempt to find his calling in life, it turns out his calling found him instead. Rashawn’s curiosity about Computer Systems Institute was piqued after seeing multiple advertisements for CSI on trains and passing by the school’s building while he was working around downtown Chicago. After looking into what programs the school offered, Rashawn knew right away that CSI’s Networking Career Program was where he was meant to be.

“I liked that I could complete the program in one year’s time and that they treated IT as a trade,” he shared, reflecting on what made him interested in the program at the beginning.

Rashawn wanted a program that would teach him valuable and practical IT and computer networking skills—and that’s certainly what he found through his classes at CSI. Not only did the Networking Career Program with a concentration in CompTIA/ Microsoft provide him the opportunity to get necessary IT certifications, but it also gave him many hands-on opportunities to try things out.

One professor, in particular, Brady Franklin, made a very positive impact on Rashawn’s learning, particularly when it came to the caretaking process for electronics. Rashawn recalled how his professor had the class break down their machines on the spot and put them back together.

“He would watch us and show how there’s more than one way to do something, but that there is also often a preferred and more efficient way to do it.”

Beyond breaking down and putting machines back together in class, Rashawn shared how his professor emphasized to students the importance of “breaking stuff” now so that they won’t break important equipment in their future IT jobs. Rashawn and his fellow classmates were encouraged to visit local computer and electronic recycling shops to practice working with electronics on their own time, which he found very beneficial to building valuable IT skills.

However, the quality of his IT courses is only one part of what made Rashawn’s experience with CSI so great. The focus of the Networking Career Program with a concentration in CompTIA/ Microsoft on learning valuable skills made him feel confident that many job opportunities would open up for him once he completed the program, as opposed to IT students who might seek out traditional degrees that don’t provide those necessary skills and certifications. Rashawn also enjoyed taking classes with students of all ages and backgrounds, which added depth to the program’s atmosphere.

One stand-out benefit for Rashawn was having an advisor throughout the course of his program—a formal one but also informal mentors and advisors through other faculty. Rashawn’s formal advisor, server engineer David Jackson, positively impacted Rashawn’s learning and future career path.

“He showed me how to get off to a great start,” Rashawn recounted.

Rashawn wholeheartedly recommends CSI to anyone interested in entering the IT field from the ground up, just like himself.

“I believe it’s better to have a small start to get a better feel for what you’re doing.” Rashawn further shared that the small class sizes and very focused nature of the program allow students to “sit and think about the core of what you’re doing.” Comparing CSI’s IT Career Program to IT programs elsewhere, Rashawn felt, “Many distractions take away from your focus and learning at a big university.”

As for advice to current or prospective students, Rashawn had many great words of wisdom to share. He emphasized how important it is that the Networking Career Program with a concentration in CompTIA/ Microsoft gives you the chance to create your own sandbox and find flexibility in your learning.

“Don’t be afraid to try independent projects and test out the way you learn best. If you can do these things, that’s a win.”

Since completing the program in 2014, Rashawn has gone on to a successful career in the IT field. He’s currently an IT support engineer in Chicago but has even worked in IT as a member of the Military National Guard. In fact, the first time Rashawn saw military people as IT people was during his time at CSI, which clearly made a very positive impact on his own career path.

Reflecting on his career path from before and after CSI, Rashawn gave his final reflection, stating,

“Before CSI, I thought I was going to have to try a whole bunch of jobs to find out what’s going to stick for me. But after, I discovered I could explore many areas within a single field. CSI was a place where I discovered that once I get better at those necessary career skills, I can show value and last a long time in the IT field.”

If you’re interested in starting your career in tech like Rashawn, CSI offers the same Networking Career Program with a CompTIA/Microsoft concentration and a Web Development concentration—both of which provide the core skills you need for a successful career in your chosen field.

Connect with the CSI admissions team today by calling 1-847-697-5030 or visiting to learn more.