As frustrating as computer troubles can be, Donald Harlow always enjoyed troubleshooting and fixing his own devices when something went wrong. He enjoyed learning and searching for explanations to tech issues and the satisfaction of solving those problems like a puzzle.

After 12 years as an occupational therapy assistant, Harlow found himself disenchanted by the profession and wanted a career change.

Donald Harlow

He found the Work Education Program at Blue Ridge Community College in 2020 and began studying network security through the Virginia Ready Initiative.

While taking online classes in the evenings, Harlow was able to continue working his day job while he pursued his passion. He earned his Comp TIA Security + certificate and completed his program over the course of 7 months.

“Let your passions guide you. If it’s something you want to do, the sacrifices and extra time spent will all be worth it. Virginia Ready has helped me get my foot in the door,” says Harlow.

Harlow now works as a help desk analyst at SAIC, a founding partner of VA Ready.

He looks forward to continuing to develop his passion and grow in the cyber community.

“Every day there’s something new. It’s frustrating, but it’s exciting at the same time!” says Harlow.

“The partnership between SAIC and the Virginia Ready Initiative continues to pay dividends for us both, as we help prepare the next generation of the Virginia workforce,” says Michelle O’Hara, SAIC Chief Human Resources Officer. “We are very excited to have Donald join our company, and we congratulate him on his completion of the Scholar program. His journey is a proof point of the success of this great relationship.”

Are you looking to make a career change? Check out our supported courses: https://www.vaready.org/learn/programs/