It was standing room only in the Open Cloud Academy common area yesterday as Rackspace Director of Learning and Development Duane La Bom started off the Linux for Ladies training program info session.
“As an organization we value diversity, but what company doesn’t say they value diversity? Every company says that,” La Bom said. “But we put our money where our mouth is and we are going to prove that to you with this program. The program is Linux for Ladies.”
Linux for Ladies is an eight-week training course which begins on June 2. The course will mirror the Open Cloud Academy’s existing Linux administration track, but with two major exceptions – the course is only for women, and it’s all paid for by scholarship.
Upon completing the course, the graduates will have learned Linux+, Apache, MySQL, cloud basics, RHCSA (Red Hat Certification), critical thinking, intro to strengths, and training in Rackspace Systems Administration. They will then be ready for entry-level positions as Linux administrators in multiple San Antonio companies and will have the opportunity to interview with Rackspace Hosting. Applicants at the info session heard from several Rackers in different departments, including some that started with no tech background at all.
“How many of you do not work in IT? I was you, 27 years ago. Now I’m a vice president at Rackspace,” Rackspace Vice President of Quality Assurance Gigi Geoffrion said. “What Rackspace offers in this Linux for Ladies class and other classes is a stepping stone for you. After you get these skills, the future is yours to make what you want it to be. That’s what I did.”
The program is open to almost everyone but not easy to get into. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent, have applied with Project Quest, have attended the information session and – most importantly – have a CompTIA Network+ certification by the May 12th application deadline.
Applicants without the certification need not despair, however, because the Open Cloud Academy will offer free workshops to prepare for it. The next set of workshops begin April 2. The three-hour workshop sessions will be offered from 6-9 p.m. and weekends from 2-5 p.m. Participants must attend a series of six classes before they can take their CompTIA Network+ exam.
The first 20 women to successfully complete applications will have a seat in the class and a full scholarship for the course, which costs $3,500 under general enrollment. Scholarships for the course are provided though Project Quest – a San Antonio educational non-profit that helps individuals pay for continuing education programs. The City of San Antonio already has designated a grant of $400,000 to Project Quest exclusively for Open Cloud Academy programs.
Women who don’t make the Linux for Ladies class can apply for a separate Project Quest scholarship worth 50 percent of tuition and utilize that same fund. Graduates from the program can also utilize the nonprofit for job placement. Project Quest Recruitment Coordinator Valentina Arevalo says San Antonio’s investment in IT training is a no-brainer because the money feeds back into the community.
“Wherever you work you are going to turn around and you’re going to buy a house, buy a new car, going to shop, pay bills, you’re going to shop (laughter), and you’re going to do it in the city of San Antonio,” Arevalo said. “For every one dollar we spend on your education you are going to turn around and invest thirteen dollars.”
Around 160 women RSVP’d for the info session, many of which see Rackspace Hosting as a great place to start a steady career.
“I thought this would be a really great thing to put on my resume, or fall back on in case the whole PH.D. thing didn’t work out,” UTSA Physics PH.D. student Laura McMaster said. “It would be nice to have an income and be able to have a family because right now with grad school I don’t have that option.”
The Open Cloud Academy has helped quite a few applicants start a new career trajectory since its opening on March 19, 2013 and first Linux Administration class graduation on June 14, 2013. To date, the Academy has graduated seven classes and 110 IT professionals. Forty-two of those graduates now work at Rackspace Hosting and another 16 graduates are currently interviewing for positions. The rest have gone on to work in IT for companies such as Host Gator, NuStar Energy, Citibank, CGI, RX Transcription & Coding, and more. The academy currently has both a Linux Systems Administration course and a Network Operations course available. New classes for the two courses will begin on April 7 and April 28 respectively.
If you are interested in attending the Open Cloud Academy, information sessions for future classes occur on the first Tuesday of every month on the 6th floor of the Weston Centre where the academy is located.
*Featured/top image: From left: Open Cloud Academy Project Manager Deborah Carter, Rackspace Director of Learning and Development Duane La Bom, and Academy Graduate Maeve Goetz all spoke at an info session about Linux for Ladies at the Open Cloud Academy. Photo by Andrew Moore.