Several years ago, I worked for a company where I felt my potential wasn’t being tapped into. I didn’t feel challenged and quite frankly, I felt underemployed. My husband had mentioned to me that he knew about a company, by the name of Pragmatic Works, that gave away a free week of I.T. training to people who were interested in getting into a new career of Business Intelligence. To be honest, I didn’t know what that meant exactly, but it had already sounded better than what I was currently doing. You had to meet certain criteria to even apply: military veterans, unemployed or underemployed.

After submitting the required information, I was accepted into the Foundation. Now, I figured it would be incredibly challenging considering that extent of my experience with computers consisted of checking email and using company software. It took me 1 hour to drive to this little office out in Green Cove Springs. When I showed up on the first day of training, there were about seven other people standing around this little conference room table. You could see that some of the students felt just as apprehensive as I did. We really had no clue what were getting ourselves into.

Our instructor, Devin Knight, whom I might add was best suited for all of us newbie’s, patiently waited for us to get settled in. Devin covered the agenda for the week, which was around T-SQL and Reporting Services. To be honest with you, I think that it could have been the first time most of us heard those words. As the morning progressed, I realized that this would be a challenging week. During a break in the class, I spoke to my husband about booking a hotel for the week so I didn’t spend 2 hours a day on the road traveling back and forth to the office. I wanted to use that time to focus on studying and really just throwing myself into this great opportunity.

Even though I was just scratching the surface in my knowledge for TSQL and Reporting Services, I felt pretty good about what I had learned and I definitely felt like it would be a career path that would consistently push me forward and not allow me to become complacent like other positions I’ve held. Shortly after the Foundation class ended for me, I interviewed for a junior position within Pragmatic Works and received the position. Now let me fast forward a bit.

In my position, I was growing rapidly. A lot of it had to do with an enormous amount of late night studying and really just committing myself. I focused on growing my TSQL and Reporting Services skills and by the time the company was ready to hold another Foundation class, I asked if I could teach it. I felt so blessed and honored to have received that opportunity and it made such a huge difference to me personally and professionally, that I wanted to be a testimonial for other people who were also feeling the way I felt when I first arrived to the Foundation.

On the very first day of the Foundation class that I taught, as I told my story, all the students were shocked that in less than a year, I had sat on the other side of that table as a student myself. After the class ended that week, I felt such a high. I was fortunate enough to be in a position to share my experience and what some of the possibilities are with commitment, drive, passion and enthusiasm.

We are now at our present date and time. The Foundation has been going strong for 3 years now. The demand how grown so much that we went from teaching the class, 2 times a year, to quarterly, to bi-monthly and now monthly. After the conclusion of the weeklong training, students have the option of doing an internship to receive additional training. We have had over 100 students participate in the Foundation and over half of those students have found full time work in either a DBA or BI role.

The Foundation still sticks by its core values:

As individuals and as a company, we have received many great, unexpected opportunities. It is our responsibility socially, to pay that forward to individuals who might not expect to receive those very same equal opportunities. For the men and women who have served our country, you will have first rights to our training opportunities, for we cannot say thank you enough for the daily sacrifice that you are making.

Sherri McDonald
Business Development Manager
Pragmatic Works