“Have you ever been in a situation where you had to relocate from a country where you were doing well to a country where you had to start from scratch, and you know just one person?”
This is how Chidi Ohammah opened his speech at his graduation from York Solutions’ Barriers to Entry program (B2E) this past April.
When navigating the employment market, job seekers encounter many different obstacles, but for Chidi – who was born in Nigeria and came to the United States in 2016 – these challenges were formidable. He tells people that when he arrived in the U.S., he faced a triple barrier: following the rapid-fire pace of American conversations, entering a completely different work culture, and transitioning into a brand new career.
“I was an HR Operations Manager in my previous life, working with the British Council, and I did not know a ton about IT project management,” Chidi said. “Though I had a PMP [a Project Management Professional certification], I lacked the required experience and the knowledge of the inner workings of American corporations.”
Chidi heard about B2E from Jewish Family and Children’s Services, and joined the program in May 2017. The B2E program is a paid, comprehensive training program that helps participants break through barriers to re-enter the workforce or switch careers.
Led by trainers with executive-level experience in the IT industry, B2E offers professional development, mentoring/coaching, and networking opportunities to individuals from groups that are often under-represented in IT. Program graduates go on to fill essential roles at York Solutions’ partner companies, allowing them to address skill gaps and further their business goals.
“The B2E program took me in and gave me hope,” Chidi said. “Hope that my fears could be wiped away if I was prepared to work hard. Hope that despite my challenges and inadequacies, I could excel in my unfamiliar environment.”
Shortly after starting the B2E program, Chidi was hired at Braun Intertec, a geotechnical engineering, environmental consulting, and testing firm. After 12 months as a consultant, he converted to a full-time employee and continues to work there today. He credits the B2E program with giving him a strong foundation on which to build his IT career.
“B2E provided a ‘fail fast and learn fast’ environment for me,” Chidi said. “It challenged me to think differently and learn how to operate in this new environment. It provided excellent networking opportunities I never thought I could find.”
Chidi said that as a result of B2E, he has grown intellectually, professionally, and personally. And he emphasized that the program’s influence has a far-reaching impact, beyond just the lives of individual participants.
“To the clients of York Solutions, I want you to remember that each time you engage a B2E graduate, it is more than a business relationship,” said Chidi. “You are making the world a better place.”
Learn more about the Barriers to Entry program.