My Path to a Job in IT

I work in the tech industry and like so many more in our industry, I am not a techy.

We all have different stories as to how we got here and I would like to share my unconventional story with you, how I got from a small village in Co. Donegal, Ireland, called Glenties to Chicago via Scotland and the UK.

We all have significant moments in our lives where we make decisions that may affect our future and our journey through life.

Mine was during August 1980 - I was seventeen years old and working in the family grocery shop during summer holidays while my parents were away on a summer break.

One of my customers that day worked for an organization who placed students into work based apprenticeship programs and he offered me an opportunity to join an electrical apprenticeship program starting a few weeks later.

Apparently, during a Career Guidance class earlier that year I had ticked a box confirming that I was interested in becoming an electrician!

I did remember the form and there were many other careers on the list but I am certain that becoming an electrician was not my first choice. In fact I do believe my first choice was to play football for Manchester United!!

He needed an answer that day and although I felt pressurized, I accepted his offer.

I  was convinced that my aspirations to play professional football were doomed and I also knew that this was the right move for me. When my parents returned from their break, they were none too happy at my career choice. as previously we had discussed university or working in the family business and expanding it, but being a stubborn teenager I stuck to my guns and joined the four year program.

For the first year I was in a training center with a three month block release to a college.

During that time I spent my weeks away from home and lived in a boarding house. I was seventeen and it was the first time I had lived away from my family learning a lot of valuable life skills that were critical to my development as a person.

After the first year, I was placed with a local employer where I was to serve out the remainder of my apprenticeship.

I spent three months each year at college and after a year in the workplace, I realized that I had made a mistake and that being an electrician was not for me. However, I also understood that I needed to continue and get my qualifications, which I did.

Once I finished my apprenticeship I started to consider other options and recognized that I had gained a lot of sales and customer service experience from working in the family grocery shop - check out one of my earlier blog posts, Lessons I learned from my first job.

So, using my electrical knowledge I got a job selling CCTV, intruder alarms, door entry systems and fire alarms.

I really enjoyed the sales aspect of the job a lot, I honed my skills and loved the face to face engagement with building contractors, engineers, architects and building managers.

As computers were becoming more common in the workplace I was offered a job selling computer consumables, specifically re-manufactured toner cartridges. We were one of the first in the UK to have a quality re-manufacturing process and our customers loved our products and our service and as a result we became very successful.

More importantly I had made that leap into the IT Industry.

Like so many industries over the years, the toner cartridge business was disrupted by entrepreneurs back in the early 90’s and the printer vendors did not like it. As the recycled cartridge became more in demand a lot more providers entered the market. Most of these latecomers were using unsophisticated processes and unfortunately the industry as a whole got a bad reputation from these “Drill and Fill” merchants.

The next step in my journey took me into IT training where I spent sixteen years getting a wider understanding of IT skills, assessments and the training industry. The IT industry was in its infancy and growing so fast and the demands for a skilled workforce were as challenging back then as they are today.

I joined my current employer, CompTIA over eight years ago.

During my journey I did not realize that I was on an intended path or if any of it made sense. As I look back now, everything seemed to happen for a reason and it was moving me along in an intended manner, working towards my goals and aspirations.

There were many bumps along the road (like most roads!) but all the skills I learned along the way have helped make the journey so interesting and rewarding.

Being in the IT industry, doesn’t have to mean you are a techy or that you need a degree to have a wonderful successful career.

I am a true product of the apprenticeship model and the skills I learned as an apprentice, the sales skills and the life skills I picked up along the way have all contributed to who I am and what I do.

On that warm summers day in Glenties, back in August 1980, I never once dreamt that my impulsive decision to become an electrician would have been so influential in crafting my journey. When I started working in 1980 I thought there was a destination somewhere but have come to realize that there isn’t a destination....just a wonderful journey!

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA



Busting Myths about a Career in IT

As I was looking back at some of my earlier posts, I was amazed how we are still failing to attract enough new talent  to the IT industry - this post from over three years ago about the skills shortage in the UK, particularly caught my attention.

There are still many myths that we need to smash to help build the pipeline of people coming into our industry.

There are three common contradictions I see that prevent people selecting a job in our industry:

  1. All the jobs are in coding
  2. You need to be a STEM genius
  3. You need a four-year degree

Coding - Only 25% of the jobs are in coding, 75% are in infrastructure - in networking, cybersecurity, IT support, and database administration.

However, those looking at a career in IT hear a lot about coding and are not attracted to that role. Yet coding gets all the limelight and is assumed to represent the “T” in STEM.

There are many other options to choose from, in both the tech industry and working in a tech occupation role.

There are over 7.29m tech occupation jobs and 6.89m jobs in the tech industry. Over 49% of tech industry jobs are in tech occupations.

STEM Genius - You don't have to be a math and science genius to have a really great career in IT.

But what you do need are skills, industry recognized skills that are mapped to job roles that allow you to make an impact with your employer from day one. CompTIA’s vendor neutral certifications do exactly that.

Less knowledge and a more skills-based education system is what we require to improve the pipeline of students coming into our industry.

Four year Degree - The IT industry has changed drastically over recent years, and as a result a B.A. doesn’t necessarily guarantee you success.

A bachelor’s degree has typically served as the first step into a career in the IT industry, but today’s organizations demand a different mix of skills and experiences.

As a result, hiring leaders are increasingly focused on identifying candidates with specific talents, regardless of where they were acquired.

98 % of HR and hiring managers are willing to consider qualifications outside of college on an applicant’s resume.

When we took a closer look at the 92% of tech jobs that are advertised and listed as requiring a college degree, less than half that number, 40% actually,  need a college degree to carry out the role.

Even still, a majority of students and parents view a college degree as a necessary credential within the IT industry.

College will always be a beneficial opportunity for millions of students to hone their critical thinking and research skills, but skills and experience are the new currency for budding careers in technology.

So, at your next dinner party or your next networking meeting or conference, Bust those Myths!

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA

Pen and Paper

Should we all go back to pen and paper?

You will be surprised to hear that I was playing golf at the weekend. As always over the duration of a round, we discussed all manner of things.

On Sunday, one of my playing partners brought up cyber security and how insecure he felt about his personal information and bank details.

He suggested going back to pen and paper and taking all his banking offline, because it's more secure.

We all agreed that this was a silly idea but in truth its not that silly unless we personally get very serious about our online security and staying up to date and ahead of the game.

In relation to our cyber security, we are all feeling insecure at the moment. But I'd like you to think about a time in your lives when you felt most secure. Go ahead and close your eyes for a moment.

Where are you? Are you a child? Are you with a parent or a trusted friend?

Remember how it felt to feel safe and content at that moment in time.

For me it was growing up in Donegal, in the northwest of Ireland. It’s also, by the way, the area National Geographic recently named as "the coolest place on the planet” (I'm so proud of Donegal - You must visit!!)

For me this was a great time, it was a safe time and it was a time when I felt secure.

And now - like when I remember seeing a storm roll in from the Atlantic Ocean back in my childhood home - we live in a time that can feel a lot less secure, don't we?

Consider the U.S. Elections and the alleged meddling by Russia and the hackers reportedly breaking into computer networks of companies operating the United States nuclear power stations, energy facilities and manufacturing plants, according to a new report by The New York Times.

It’s not just companies and organizations that are vulnerable - every person, place and every online device in the world is potentially vulnerable.

I don’t know about you, but back in the 90’s, whenever I used to hear about hackers and viruses, I tuned out.

But now, in the news, it seems we are hearing this happening on a daily basis - we're getting bombarded about the cyber-crime reality that we live in. It can make you feel anything other than secure.

An article in Chief Security Officer Magazine, predicted that damages from cyber-crime will cost the world six trillion dollars a year. The threat of cyber-crime will more than triple the number of unfilled cyber security jobs, which is predicted to reach 3.5 million by 2021.

So that's exactly why we need to become more dedicated to getting not just IT workers, but every worker, involved with protecting and defending apps, data, devices, infrastructure and people.

Cyber-crime is a very real and very scary threat, but I also see this as an opportunity if we embrace it -  to help us all feel more secure, to be committed in helping everyone with their cyber responsibilities - to become good cyber citizens and have superior processes in place before a cyber breach is threatened.

We are all imperfectly human and hackers are very skillful at tracking human beings, not computers, and taking advantage of our vulnerability, our weaknesses.

Human error is still the most likely reason for a hack.

Going back to pen and paper is definitely not an option but becoming more aware of our cyber responsibilities is.

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA

Lessons I learned from my first job!

I love this time of the year and one of the things that I really like about it is coming across so many young people who are clearly working in their very first summer jobs.

I love their youth, their energy and their enthusiasm (hopefully!) and I wonder about the valuable part that this first job will play in their professional lives.

It makes me reflect on my first job, many moons ago.

Growing up in the north west of Ireland had many advantages, especially during the summer months. We had long days, with lots of tourists milling about and as I remember through my rose tinted glasses, the sun was always shining in Donegal!

Although we always had a lot of fun, we were no strangers to hard work either. That work ethic gave me a real respect for the value of earning a wage.

My parents returned to Ireland from London in the late fifties and opened a small corner shop at the bottom of the main street in a small village called Glenties (this name is derived from the word 'The Glens' as it is situated where two glens meet, west of the Bluestack Mountains).

Initially the store sold basic supplies, the necessities, like bread, milk, butter and newspapers.

If you consider their typical customer at that time, it was quite an ambitious plan. Glenties was a very rural town (a population of under 1,000 ) where most of the community baked their own bread, grew their own vegetables and used their cows for milk and butter. People were very self-sufficient.

However, the family business grew and thrived.


Both my parents were very innovative and committed to providing excellent customer service. They introduced new product lines, like frozen foods, or what was considered rare fruits back then, such as pears and tangerines. They built a reputation for having really great ice cream and the business grew and from the initial small room to other parts of the house.

During those exciting years with the business growing, my brothers and I chipped in and helped in the shop, after school and in the evening, at weekends and during holiday times.

Being part of the family meant sharing the work load.

This is where we really learned the valuable lesson of working to earn pocket money. We weren’t just given money, we had to earn it. If we spent all our money and wanted to go to the cinema or if we wanted to buy the new Thin Lizzy album and didn’t have any money left, my dad found a job for us in the shop. And there were many of those jobs to choose from!

Back then, eggs came in a large box and had to be packed into smaller, dozen and half dozen cartons. Potatoes came in four and eight stone bags and needed to be packed into smaller size bags.

None of us liked filling out the potatoes. The fear of that foul-smelling potato hidden somewhere in the sack and the horrible sensation when your fingers slid inside that rotten potato...yeuch!

And then there were the customers - as we know only too well these can come in all sorts and sizes and like each of us they all have their own quirks and strange habits.

Each of us served behind the counter and we all had the responsibility of looking after the customers - in a small village we were dependant on a small number of people and it was up to us to make sure that they were happy and kept returning.

While it was tough and every one of us was expected to do their part to look after the family business, these were special, simple days that will warmly stay with me forever.

Learning the value of hard work and the importance of customer service are valuable lessons that have stood to me throughout my career - these apply in my parents little grocery store just the same as they do in a global organisation such as CompTIA.

Thank you mum and dad!

What did you learn from your first job?

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Executive Vice President of Global Certification for CompTIA

My Christmas Wish for Jobseekers

Nicholas with his siblings, Julia and Cody
Nicholas with his siblings, Julia and Cody

A big thank you to Teresa Varela-Lauper, another one of my valued colleagues at CompTIA for being my guest blogger this week.

John McGlinchey

My 19 year old son Nicholas dropped out of college last year.

He tried it, didn’t like it and didn’t know what to do next. I know many people who have succeeded in life without college…. however, for the most part the odds are stacked against him.

Unemployment rates triple for high school graduates compared to those with a 4 year college degree. Couple this with an income disparity when you think of the pool of jobs available without a college degree and it’s not a pretty picture. (Bureau of Labor Statistics and Pew Research)

What are we doing to encourage our young people to get into IT?  

And, how do we show our kids there are solid careers out there without requiring a 4 year degree?

How do we encourage change among businesses to hire and invest in these kids?

A career in technology will be a lifesaver for many….there is low unemployment, high demand for skilled workers and a mass of free training to encourage folks to start their careers here.

It’s my Christmas wish that our new U.S. administration will look at apprenticeship programs to help at risk employees learn new skills.

The UK has done an amazing job with this. Instead of talking about saving coal jobs, the better question is how can we re-skill these workers? How can we encourage businesses to take on that challenge and pay employees as they learn? Let’s look over the pond at a model that is working.

As for Nicholas, I’m happy to share he recently started an IT helpdesk program at Hunter Business School here on Long Island. This is a 15 month computer technician program where he will learn PC repair/installation, planning and maintenance and also earn his CompTIA A+ certification.

Let’s change the narrative for our future workers and ring in 2017 with technology apprenticeships.

Teresa Varela-LauperTeresa Varela-Lauper is Director of Business Development. She works with SMB and Fortune 1000 clients in the US who are looking to attract and retain good IT talent as well as promote a culture of innovation and productivity. She lives in the Greater New York City Area.





Everything is possible with a Growth Mindset

growth mindset

I’m touring Asia at the moment and over the next couple of weeks, the CEO of CompTIA and I are personally meeting with hundreds of business and education leaders and government officials in India, China and Japan.

At CompTIA we are committed to reducing the IT skills gap and increasing the number of Certified IT professionals around the globe.

No matter where I travel, those who are eager to join us in this effort have at least one thing in common: The Growth Mindset.

People with Growth Mindsets understand and believe that our abilities and skills and even intelligence can be improved over time through dedication, discipline and practice"

RESEARCH supports this point of view.

Crucially our MINDSET has everything to do with how we view our ABILITY TO LEARN. It is not just about our skills, but it is how much we BELIEVE we can learn, how much we believe we are adaptable, teachable and stretchable.

Fixed or Growth Mindset? 

It is really worth challenging ourselves to see what mindset do we hold - be honest!

To determine whether you currently have a GROWTH mindset or a FIXED mindset, let’s examine four statements.

As you read them, think about how much you may agree – or disagree with each point. 

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
  2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
  3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it.
  4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

Okay – what did you think??

Questions 1 & 2 are fixed mindsets. 3 & 4 reflect the growth mindset.

Which one did you agree with more? You can be a mixture but most people lean towards one or the other.

You can also have beliefs about core abilities.

So for instance, I could substitute the word “intelligence” with “artistic talent”, "sports ability" or business skill.

In a fixed mindset, for instance, you believe “She’s a natural born singer” or “I’m just no good at dancing.”

In a growth mindset, you believe “Anyone can be good at anything. Skill comes only from practice.”

And it’s not just about ABILITIES

There are FIXED and GROWTH Mindsets around your Personal Qualities too – like PERSONALITIES AND CHARACTER - do you consider these to be innate, an inherent part of who you are from an early age? It is interesting!

Your personality mindset comes into play in situations that involve your personal qualities. For example, how dependable, cooperative, caring, or socially skilled are you? Can this change or is it fixed?

The fixed mindset makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged

The growth mindset makes you concerned with improving.

Think about someone who is steeped in the fixed mindset. Think about how they are always trying to prove themselves, and how they’re super-sensitive about being wrong or making mistakes. Did you ever wonder why they were this way?

Are you this way? Now you can begin to understand why.

Universal language of learning

As I travel throughout Asia, I am noticing how many people from all cultures understand that important qualities can be cultivated. They are investing in IT education and in growing the Growth Mindset, which is the essential first step to maximising your learning.

Once you have a Growth Mindset then everything else is possible - do you have it?

John McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA




CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner conference 2016

Every year I look forward to our CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner conference and this year in the UK (11th & 12th October) was bigger and better than ever before. Since my move to the United States, it gave me an opportunity to meet old friends and catch up on all of the gossip!! 

It just seems like yesterday that I did a quick video for YouTube (see below) in preparation for the conference.

The conference is always one of the highlights of our year in the region bringing together over 500 attendees, from a diverse and unique audience across Europe and the Middle East. 

This year’s two-day event gave IT executives, commercial training partners and academic partners, a forum to network and share resources; gain knowledge they can put into action in their businesses upon returning home and benefit from and enjoy sessions customized for their specific market. 

At the event we had some great high-level panel discussions and exceptional networking experiences with key IT influencers. We were also delighted to use the event as an opportunity to educate our partners and members about the current trends in tech and tech education. The rate of change in our industry is phenomenal but yet all of the core basics and philosophy such as best practice will always remain the same.

All segments are presented by leading industry subject matter experts so it is no surprise that 9 in 10 attendees say it has a positive impact on their business.

At CompTIA we work hard to ensure that it is a truly collaborative and rewarding environment, where the connections made will be just as valuable as the lessons attendees take home.

Even in our fast paced technology world you can never beat the value of face to face meetings and connecting in person!

The event was hosted by a combination of CompTIA leadership and industry experts, offering insights into key trends, relevant business challenges and the most notable opportunities in today’s market. 

As always I was really busy between conducting the official welcome for the Certs Partner Track and introducing a session on our latest certification, Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA+), sitting on a panel discussing "The Value of IT Training and Certification - An International Perspective", presenting on the topic of "Growth versus Fixed Mindset businesses" and finally providing the welcome address for the Canon meeting.

Once again I left full of excitement and enthusiasm with even more new ideas and some new challenges.

See you again next year!

John McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA


The Pilot and a Career in IT

Tom Cruise - Top Gun

I got in a plane recently and had an aisle seat as I always do.

On the inside seat at the window was a young kid with his headphones on. He took them off when I sat down and we made our introductions. He asked me what I did. I told him I worked for one of the largest IT certification providers in the world, people with our certs get hired into really good jobs in the IT industry. He picked up his headphones and before he put them back on, said "Cool accent man".

The middle seat between us was still empty as other passengers came on board so we thought we might have the middle seat free for the duration of the flight. We heard the doors close and one last passenger came down the aisle and sure enough occupied the middle seat.

He was a pilot for the airline and was wearing his uniform. As soon as he sat down, the kid at the window took off his headset and started taking to him. Quizzing him on the type of training a pilot needs, how long he had to train before becoming qualified, how much did it cost, how much a pilot starting out earns. They talked for the duration of the flight.

My takeaway from the story is that kids are not interested in careers in IT. They just don't see it as being "sexy" enough, not like being a pilot!

One of our biggest challenges in the IT industry is attracting young talent where we have a huge skills gap. There are fantastic opportunities in the IT industry providing fulfilling and rewarding careers to those starting their journey.

We need to demonstrate that a career in IT is as exciting as being a pilot!


John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA

Stop SLURPING DATA! The BIGGEST Challenge for Educators.

If like me, you are bombarded with data and information from every imaginable source, you are at times probably feeling overwhelmed. You suddenly realize how much you don’t know about the world.

We now have sophisticated tools to filter through that data and find the pieces we are most interested in, however, we are still constantly being confronted with stories we know nothing about, in countries we weren’t even truly aware existed. We must accept our present condition: we will always be more ignorant than knowledgeable about the world.

Our societies are too complicated and the human lifespan is too short to ever hope to try to bridge that gulf. We need to accept ignorance and handle it graciously.

This doesn’t mean we should revel in our ignorance, but we shouldn’t be bothered when we don’t know the latest trend or some news story, nor should we judge others as “stupid” if they don’t know some factoid. There is a fear that we will enter a conversation not being completely up-to-date, but what is the point of a conversation if all we are exchanging are the facts we already know?

We can consume all the facts in the world and still not comprehend what is really going on. People can be incredibly smart, even brilliant sometimes, and yet still be bad at deep learning. The internet has given us this omniscience that we have never had before, and we suddenly have this ability to see all of the details that we didn’t know about before.

But the key question is: How can we become more purpose-driven learners?

Jonathan Drori a visiting professor at the University of Bristol, posed four questions to science teachers, TV producers, science audiences and seven-year-olds during a TED talk. Surprisingly he found that the seven-year-olds did better than the other audiences.

One of those questions was - Why is it hotter in summer than in winter? We can all agree that it is hotter in summer than winter, but why?

He goes on the say that children get their ideas not from teachers but from common sense from their experiences of the world around .

The challenge is that most of us aren’t actually that good at learning. Sure, we can seek out facts, read news articles and tweets, and even analyze some tough problems.

But we need to develop thinkers, not information processors.

Danny Crichton’s recent article, How Should We Learn explains data is everywhere, and knowledge is accessible on almost any subject imaginable with just a few clicks. Suddenly, we have gone from people ignorant of our own ignorance to content consumers struggling to keep up with the information all around us. We can learn about almost any subject imaginable today, and of course, get the details and data that the internet always offers.

With all this knowledge and data available to us on so many platforms, we wonder why academic institutions still exist. The answer comes down to their ability to teach students both knowledge and wisdom. So far, this combination is not being achieved online or through books. It remains one of the greatest challenges for entrepreneurs in the edtech learning space today.

Hopefully, aided by a new generation of education startups – we can learn how to better navigate in a world where the frontier of knowledge is rapidly expanding and dynamic.

We need to inculcate purpose-driven learning and move away from a model of slurping up all the data in the world.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey. All Rights Reserved.