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Former Construction Worker Finds New Success in IT Role

After completing four semesters at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) and earning multiple certificates along the way, the first cohort of students in the College’s INTERFACE-funded Network Enterprise Administrator program earned their technical diplomas and graduated in May. Among them was Jesse Klafka, who was honored with an outstanding student award.

Before enrolling at WCTC, Klakfa spent 14 years in the construction industry but was sidelined due to a work injury. He was seeking a profession that would accommodate his injury and support his family – his wife, Emily, and his 7-year-old daughter, Kira – so he chose to explore a career in Information Technology (IT).

Klafka, second from left, alongside WCTC's other INTERFACE graduates and two WCTC staff (photo property/courtesy of WCTC)

Klafka, second from left, alongside WCTC’s other INTERFACE graduates and two WCTC staff (photo property/courtesy of WCTC)

“I have always had an interest and a natural talent for computers. I chose the Network Enterprise Administrator program because it was fast paced and allowed me to get the most professional certificates I could in the two-year program,” said Klafka. “I like the network side of IT because it allows me to work with both software and hardware, and I can still build things with my hands, which the construction worker in me loves to do.”

The education he received at WCTC led him to a position as lead technician at Smart Home Technologies, a company that designs and installs custom automation systems for homes and businesses. In his diverse role, Klafka spends his time preparing technical documentation and bidding jobs, running various cables, installing high-end equipment and other related tasks. He works to automate everything from blinds, lights, HVAC, home audio and visual, phone systems, alarm systems and more.

“I love being able to use my networking knowledge while still being hands-on and in the field,” said Klafka. “I like working directly with the customers and being able to see the projects from start to finish. I also have a great boss who is a great mentor; his positive and encouraging attitude makes it easy to go to work every day.”

Pairing construction with IT has been a boon for Klafka. Experience in two distinct fields has given him an advantage in his current job.

“My construction background has equipped me with the knowledge I need to read blueprints, do the installations, and know the building codes and materials,” he said. “My education at WCTC gave me the knowledge behind everything that runs these systems. I understand how to connect and configure all the equipment to a large-scale network.”

Klafka credits WCTC with putting him on a new career path and achieving a new level of professional development. That, along with support from family, is helping him succeed in the IT field.

“The opportunity to go to WCTC and have such a supportive group of teachers and advisers was crucial to my professional growth,” said Klafka. “I grew on a personal and professional level more than I ever thought possible when I first enrolled at WCTC. My family has been so supportive and is incredibly proud of me. That drives me to keep moving forward and continuing to grow.”

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