Asher College graduate Michelle Chao has found her calling. But it isn’t the path she originally chose. After graduating high school, Michelle began nursing school. Unfortunately, life circumstances didn’t allow her to complete her degree. So, she began a career in customer service.
After years working in customer service, Michelle Chao found herself unemployed. She was laid off from her job as a call center manager and she sent out countless resumes and went through countless interviews to no avail. Through the Texas Workforce Commission, she was offered the opportunity to go back to school. But they said they needed her in a completely different field: Information Technology.
“When they told me the field they needed me in, I laughed. I knew nothing about computers, and I had zero interest in it. But then I started getting into it and it clicked. I thought well maybe this is where I am supposed to be,” Michelle said.
The Commission introduced her to several colleges. She toured Asher College and talked to people she knew who had attended. She chose Asher College because she said it is a lot more hands-on and she learns faster that way.
“Asher has a PC clinic and a lab where you can go in and get hand-on experience fixing problems that are relevant to what you are studying,” she said. “You are able to take what you are learning and make it happen. You can apply your knowledge into real-life situations and make it work. It is a puzzle and when you have all the pieces you just have to put it together.”
Michelle began Asher College in 2018. She began with the goal of only obtaining information technology certifications, but when she realized she only needed four or five more classes to get an associate degree, she decided to continue.
“I am a big advocate of learning. I love to learn. I take every opportunity that I can to learn,” said Michelle. I am raising two children, and this has shown them that you can go after the things you want no matter what age you are.”
Michelle graduated in 2020 with her Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information. She said that Asher helped her prepare for life as well as help her further her career.
“Asher College is amazing. Not only do they want to help you obtain your certifications, but they want to set you up for life outside of school,” said Michelle. “Asher offers career classes – they teach you how to deal with difficult people; they teach you resume writing and how to set up your LinkedIn profile.”
“Asher College teaches you all the stuff you need to know to be a true professional. They are not just interested in the school aspect…they are interested in how you succeed after school,” she said.
After graduation, Michelle began working as a level 1 help desk. She was later promoted as a team lead for the level 2 help desk. As a team lead, she has been able to see first-hand the importance of obtaining certifications in the IT world.
“Certifications show a level of competence,” said Michelle. “I have learned through watching people in my team, that those who have achieved certifications, are more likely to be successful, progress in their field, and think outside the box.”
Michelle continued her education and has a year left of obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security. Michelle hopes to eventually become a penetration tester for her organization – helping find vulnerabilities in their systems and help strengthen their cyber security.
Michelle says she is happy she chose her current path. And she encourages others to do the same.
“I feel like I belong. I never felt like I belonged. I was always the nerdy one on the outside of the group. Working with computers, I feel like I am part of something,” said Michelle.
“You have to find what you are happy with. If you are not happy in your current job, then that is probably not the job you were meant to stay with,” she said. There are thousands of career assessment tests you can take. Do your research. Find what makes you passionate. If you are passionate and happy in your career, you are liable to be more successful.”