Lakshmi Rapaka works as a Resource Manager for Cognizant Technologies, where she leads projects for specific clients within the company.
“[Goodwill’s] Business Analyst/Quality Assurance course helped me understand how to analyze the resumes that I review each day; knowing whether or not to advance them or to reject them,” Lakshmi said.
While she enjoys her current role, Lakshmi never thought she would be working in Information Technology.
“I was an entrepreneur and then I took a break to spend more time with my kids,” Lakshmi said. “I have an MBA from India and previously worked in finance at Vanguard before owning my own business.”
After being out of the workforce for years, Lakshmi struggled with knowing how to obtain her next job.
“It’s not easy to get back into the workforce. I didn’t want to do another business; I just wanted a full-time job, and I couldn’t figure out how to get one” she explained.
That’s where Goodwill came in. Lakshmi was referred to the nonprofit through a friend who had completed courses through Goodwill University, Goodwill’s job training division.
After reading the description of IT courses offered at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, Lakshmi decided to give the courses a try. Starting with Google Analytics, then the Business Analyst/Quality Assurance course.
“I did not have any background of computer science, coding or any of the jargon and terminology. When I took the Business Analyst/Quality Assurance course, I started understanding the role of a software programmer or programmer analyst; what they do and how these projects run.”
Lakshmi stresses that she is not a hardcore coder or programmer, but she loves her job. “I didn’t choose to be one of them. I chose a role where I can use that knowledge and do other things.” Lakshmi said the classes and guidance received at Goodwill helped her find the perfect job she was passionate about.
“Being with this cohort and with somebody who’s guiding us, leading us mentally, that helped me a lot,” she added.
In addition to courses, Goodwill participants also receive wraparound services. They have access to family stability services and are assigned a Career Navigator and Employee Engagement representative.
She emphasized the support she received from Career Navigator David Washam and Employee Engagement Representative Craig Kalhagen. “To have that support and be able to call them and talk through how I was feeling. Sometimes that is all we need.”
Lakshmi added the support was crucial for her. She found the resume help from David to be extremely beneficial.
“Goodwill is not just about the classes for me. It completely changed my career and gave me the confidence and support that I didn’t know I needed. Now that I’ve received it, I know I needed it.”
Training courses, like the one Rapaka took, are available free of charge thanks to donations and purchases made by shoppers at Charlotte-area Goodwill retail locations.
“I’ve already recommended the courses at Goodwill to a few of my friends,” Lakshmi added. “What I received I can positively give back 100 times more.”