Sometimes you just know what you are meant to do. For Cleona Vassell, it was IT. Although she had a business degree and experience launching a family business, she knew that her path was not working in an office, but one filled with variety and solving IT challenges.
In 2005, Cleona Vassell arrived in the United States from Jamaica. She had a bachelor’s degree with a minor in computer science and was looking to launch her IT career.
Cleona began working odd jobs at senior centers, healthcare organizations, and finally as a marketing specialist focused on driving affiliate marketing opportunities. It was in this role that she developed a passion for working with the Internet and all its possibilities.
Taking on IT roles for the first time
Cleona saw an ad for an on-demand workforce platform, and realized the gig economy would provide her with an opportunity to gain more IT experience than her current career track.
The initial signup process was intimidating, as Cleona didn’t have a lot of expertise starting out. “I was quite nervous and worried that no one would hire me since I was new to the platform,” she states. “It was two weeks before I got my first job. It was two hours away, but it was a start.”
That first job is still her favorite because the customer had unfaltering confidence in her. It was this trust that drove her to keep at it and continue to pursue her IT skills.
Cleona continued to secure a variety of jobs that increased her reviews and ratings on the platform. She took every opportunity provided to boost her profile and skills.
Moving on to larger projects
Several years later, Cleona’s week is filled Monday through Friday. Many of her roles are for desktop support or hardware/server swaps, as well as anything related to routers and data systems. These roles have sent her to a variety of employers, including Citigroup, Food Lion, and Morgan Stanley.
“By being flexible, I was able to gain new experiences and skills with every job. It opened new doors and allowed me to take on larger and more interesting roles,” explains Cleona.
Today she is a sought-after IT expert for companies in the Washington D.C. area, bringing a wealth of experience and positive ratings from all that have the pleasure of working with her.
Standing out in the gig economy
Today it’s not simply Cleona’s high ratings and widespread expertise that keep her busy, it’s her professionalism and positive attitude. “Once I find a job that fits my skills, I send the organization a personal note or cover letter letting them know that I am available and qualified for the role.” It is this extra effort that demonstrates that she has the IT skills but also the interpersonal skills to work with their teams.
“The biggest skill that clients look for is soft skills that enable contractors to work alongside their staff and manage issues in a professional manner,” states Cleona.
At the job site, any number of issues or challenges can arise. Cleona has found that by solving issues in a respectful way is often what makes her work stand out.
Cleona states, “Technical skills can be taught and communicated through manuals or other documentation, but providers shouldn’t overlook the value of the soft skills needed to work with the customer’s teams. It’s not always easy, but recognizing that we all have different priorities, we can work in the same space to all get our jobs done.”
Perseverance is key
An on-demand work strategy provides Cleona with the variety of work that she craves, as well as the ability to take days off when she wants to. However, looking back at her early experience, she advises others to be patient and stick with the model.
“As I didn’t have much experience, it took about 12 months before I could become selective about my jobs. You have to be patient and stick with it. I often had to travel more than I would’ve liked, but as my ratings and reviews grew I saw things fall into place,” explains Cleona.
A bright future in IT
With a goal of working in database administration or cybersecurity, Cleona is using online education resources, such as Google, to earn new IT support certificates and expand her software experience. She hopes to secure fewer field jobs, and more corporate ones that will use these newer skills and offer her new challenges through the Field Nation Marketplace.
To learn more about building your IT skills by becoming part of the on-demand workforce, visit fieldnation.com/signup