He Overcame Setbacks to Thrive in Information Technology

He Overcame Setbacks to Thrive in Information Technology

In late 2014, Darius Jones arrived at a computer training class in the Bronx soaking wet. He could not afford a MetroCard and had to walk in the rain.

Five years later, he is thriving as an information technology analyst at Christian Louboutin, one of the world’s most exclusive luxury brands.

“It’s been a huge learning experience,” said Mr. Jones, 26. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities presented to me, and I’m essentially learning how I.T. fully operates for a job.”

Mr. Jones dreamed of attending college when he was a student at the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching in Manhattan, but he did not have the money for a private college or university, and he did not want to take out student loans. In 2011, he enrolled in the New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn to study computer science but had difficulty with the subject matter.

“A part of me wishes that I did my homework,” he said. “The work didn’t come as easily to me as I thought it would.”

Around this time, his grandmother died. She was instrumental in raising Mr. Jones and his three brothers, and he took the loss hard.

After switching his major to computer information systems, Mr. Jones needed to take several prerequisite courses. As a part-time student, he was ineligible for much financial aid and could not afford tuition on his own. He left college a few credits shy of his associate degree, pondering what his future would look like.

His mother, with whom he lived after his grandmother’s death, brought home a flier for Per Scholas, a nonprofit organization that offers free technology job training to people with low incomes. Per Scholas referred Mr. Jones to the Community Service Society of New York, one of the seven organizations supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. The society provided him with an unlimited MetroCard for two months.

Mr. Jones excelled at Per Scholas, graduating in 2015 and earning a pair of certifications for various operating systems that allowed him to apply for I.T. positions.

However, the next steps were not easy. Mr. Jones’s grandfather died later that year, and he had to sign up for food stamps until he could earn a steady paycheck.

In fall 2015, he landed a paid position integrating the computer systems of two New York real estate companies. He then worked as an intern at Praxis Housing Initiatives, a Manhattan-based organization that provides transitional housing to homeless people who are mentally ill or have H.I.V. or AIDS.

Mr. Jones then accepted contract positions with the School Construction Authority, which is responsible for the building and maintenance of New York City’s public schools, and Standard & Poor’s, the global credit ratings agency.

Then, in May 2016, Open Systems Technologies, a staffing firm that provides recruiting services to financial and technology companies, screened Mr. Jones and selected him to interview for a temporary position with Christian Louboutin, best known for its tall, expensive, red-soled high heels.

Mr. Jones was told he was being hired as a system analyst on a three-month contract. Christian Louboutin was not sure whether the job would turn into a full-time position, so it extended his contract until November 2016.

In January 2017, a decision was made to hire a new operations manager and a new analyst, and Mr. Jones expressed his interest in the analyst position.

“The new manager told me that I was very knowledgeable of the systems and well-liked in the office,” he said. “He spoke to the director, and they came back to me in March, approving me as a full-time hire.”

As an I.T. analyst, Mr. Jones sets up and repairs computers while making sure everything is running smoothly in Christian Louboutin’s New York office and its boutiques in the Americas.

The company generally sends an I.T. employee to set up new stores. Mr. Jones has been dispatched to Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles, and he is going to Toronto in the spring.

“One of the reasons I like working at Christian Louboutin is that everyone knows everyone, and the people are approachable,” Mr. Jones said. “It’s a friendly, calm environment.”

After years of living with his mother and brothers in Harlem, Mr. Jones moved to Brooklyn in 2016. He lives with his girlfriend and their dog in the “very quiet” Homecrest neighborhood.

Despite his accomplishments, Mr. Jones has not forgotten what his struggles have taught him.

“It might seem like there’s nothing over the horizon, and it’s very easy to basically fall into despair,” he said. “If you’re able to put your best foot forward, you will get to the top of the hill.”

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