As an educator in her native Pakistan, Saira Mirza had a wonderful career where she helped children gain digital literacy skills. “Children would love coming to my computer class!” recalls Saira. In 2002, Saira moved from Pakistan to Garfield, Minnesota where she got married and just a couple years later, became a mom. In a very short span of time, Saira was immersed in a new country, a new environment, a new culture – all while being a new mom! For the next few years, Saira’s career switched to homemaking until her son was in middle school. Once it was time, Saira was ready to get back into the workforce, but didn’t know how to start until a mutual friend connected her with Program Manager Greg Shirbroun at IT Career Lab.
“I met with Greg, and he gave me a full overview of what [IT Career Lab] did, and how they did it, and the environment. I was allowed to audit a class, and I really liked the instructor,” says Saira. As a computer professional from the days of floppy disks and pre-C++, Saira was itching to get back in the field but didn’t know how to start. IT Career Lab gave her that start! She says, “I wasn’t sure how I would do. I had a different perspective now, and different attention span.”
Even with a different mindset many years later, Saira’s passion and hard work persisted. Not only was she studying and taking classes, Saira continued to take care of her home and her family. Talk about multi-tasking! Saira says, ”I have to say that IT Career Lab was amazing about all of this and they were very flexible, but at the same time pushing everyone to get it done.”
Saira wrapped up her classes, and took the exam for Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) – which she passed! Upon passing, Saira worked with Jon Kimmel, IT Career Lab Account Manager, to find a career that would fit with her schedule. Saira says, “Jon was a huge help. I don’t know if I would’ve been able to find a job on my own. He sent out my resume to a lot of places.” She was hired on a part time basis, which helped her transition from family obligations. As of October, Saira has been working full time!
When asked for advice for fellow job seekers, Saira says, “Be prepared to start from the bottom, but get back in the workforce…Be persistent.”