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Cindy Veach - Technology

Network Operations Technician
“I had the analytical skills...the communications skills...I definitely thought at times I had hit a paper ceiling."


That’s what led Cindy Veach to the online posting that changed her life.

“I was looking for jobs I had the right skills for, organizational skills in particular,” she remembers. “I just happened to come across a listing for a network administration apprenticeship through IBM. Before then, I never saw myself going into tech.”

Cindy was tech-savvy so suspected she’d catch on fast. But the scope of the apprenticeship program touched only broadly on the skills she’d thus far mastered: as a therapeutic massage therapist (“I was a self-starter with a private practice and people skills”), a victim’s advocate at a social services agency (“I helped families through crisis and court systems”) and a resourceful single mother of two.

In other words, even before she applied for the IBM apprenticeship, Cindy Veach was a STAR - Skilled Through Alternative Routes, rather than through a bachelor’s degree. She’d been amassing expertise for years. And though she loved her seven years in social services advocating for her often very young clients, she longed for a career with a lower burnout rate and a greater chance for non-degreed advancement.

And then, Happenstance: finding, applying and getting accepted into the one-year IBM program. It was late winter 2020 and the world was on the brink of change.

“I got hired the week of the pandemic! I was getting ready to report for my first day and got a notification that everything was going virtual!”

Everything was going virtual and everyone was heading home, including her elementary school-aged kids, Eden and Remy. Cindy, who is a single mother, couldn’t have been more thrilled.

“I worked at the kitchen table while they were on their laptops doing homework. We got a routine and adapted. With my other jobs I’d never see the kids until dinner. I felt so fortunate.”

Still, having had only a casual relationship with the tech world, she faced a steep learning curve, exposed to everything from the range of operating systems to specialties such as cloud computing and virtualization.

“At first, I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into!’ But at no time was I made to feel stupid asking questions. The opportunity was presented as, ‘As much as you put in, you get out.’

“What surprised me the most about the apprenticeship,” she remembers, “is that I could pursue so many paths. I heard multiple times from my mentors, if you’re getting into something and you feel like this isn’t ‘it,’ we can train you for something else.”

After her year-long tech-fest, Cindy Veach was ready to go pro. She applied for and was hired as an IBM network operations technician - a position with a hybrid work environment (allowing both remote and on-site work) that enables her to be around for her kids. Happenstance may have led her to the apprenticeship, but today her career trajectory is her own - with her agile mind, appetite for learning and an employer equally ambitious for her limitless success.

Alternative Routes:

  • Apprenticeship
  • Work experience

Top 3 Skills:

  • Communications
  • Digital Skills
  • Problem solving