SRPMIC Offering Program to Jump-Start Careers in Information Technology

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computers circuit-board and microchips

A novel way to get Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members into the information technology field is starting a seven-month-long course this August. Called the SRPMIC Apprenticeship Training Program, the initiative aims to train individuals to become IT professionals. 

The goal is to create opportunities for Community members to enter the IT field, while providing them the certifications to thrive in the industry. It is an apprenticeship program in which Community members may work with SRPMIC and its properties, like Casino Arizona. 

Salcido, an IT apprenticeship program graduate, demonstrates working on a laptop’s internal hardware. 

“We always take a look at the Community and see where we can add additional capacity with Community members and the necessary training to meet those needs,” said James Smith, manager of the SRPMIC Human Resources Apprenticeship Program. 

He said the previous training cycle, passed seven individuals who went on to obtain full-time employment with the Community, casino and Saddleback Communications, an enterprise of SRPMIC. “Working with the IT departments here and working with the casino IT, it really benefited them, because [these] individuals, who completed the course are already coming in with an entry-level certification, like an A+ certification,” said Smith. 

“When I saw the IT apprenticeship program advertised on Facebook, I jumped on it,” said Peter Salcido Jr., SRPMIC IT Desktop Specialist I. Salcido is a graduate of the previous IT apprenticeship program, who completed his A+ certification last year. “I always wanted to be [that] person people could call upon to fix their computer,” said Salcido. 

“The A+ certification is kind of like ground zero, it’s your basic intro to technology. You learn about the basics of computers how each component interacts with each other,” said Salcido. He said the Net+ is more about networking, switches and routing and provides more knowledge on Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

Priscilla Granados, also an IT Desktop Specialist I with the Community, spoke about the motivation behind her interest in the apprenticeship program. 

Granados talks about her interest in networking and the many opportunities that come with the field.

She said growing up around older siblings, who were knowledgeable about computers, seldom passed their knowledge onto her, which fueled her interest in seeking opportunities to learn more about computers. 

When the opportunity to take part in the apprenticeship program opened up, she seized the opportunity. 

Now that Granados has completed her A+ certification, she continues to work towards her Net+ certification. “With A+, it is the foundation to everything, because it introduces you to the world of computers and what you can get involved in going into IT. A+ is more of a stepping stone, some of it covers hardware, your simple things to remember and how to put things together and so forth. Net+ is building off of that and enables you branch out to other types of things, like network security, data and other areas of IT,” said Granados.

 To be accepted into the course, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and be 18 or older. According to Smith, there are exceptions for individuals who are 17 at the time they submit their application but will turn 18 by the start of the program. 

Applicants must present a social security card, a copy of their high school diploma or GED, a tribal enrollment identification card, state identification and proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. 

The seven-month-long course is divided into sections on the motherboard, computer memory and computer processing unit cooling. These are just the basics; the course covers many IT topics, including hardware and network troubleshooting. 

“[In] the last class we had, out of seven [students], at least four [pursued] dual certification, so four of them will have their A+ certification and then their Network+ certification. So, on paper they are following a three- to three-and-a-half-month portion on their A+ certification and another three or four months on their Network+ certification, if they choose to become dual certified,” said Smith. 

Smith wants to attract individuals who have a strong interest in IT to learn about the program’s benefits. He said, “When it comes to IT, there are so many different avenues they can go down.” 

Although the course is for individuals over 18, Smith hopes younger Community members who have recently graduated from high school will consider programs in IT like this one. 

“They are the next workforce of the Community, so to get an 18-year-old in here and get their dual certifications under their belt is fantastic. They are setting themselves up for a nice career,” said Smith. 

 Granados said, “It’s probably too early to say what my ultimate goal is in IT, with what I am doing right now. Although, I want to get into networking, get my Net+ and go from there.” Her advice to others, “There is a lot to explore and so [these] certifications stack onto each other, so it is not a hit or miss if you go for one certification or the other.”

As for Salcido he said, “In this IT position, it is one of the best things you can get into, it’s always changing and adapting and its ground breaking, there’s always something new you are doing. You will never stop learning in IT, it’s always changing, it’s a department that will always be moving forward.

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