JMesquita2After 20 years of experience as a telecommunications network engineer, Jerry Mesquita knows the value of North Lake College’s networking academy. He’s seen it help employers—and change the lives of students. That’s why Mesquita dedicates himself to expanding NLC’s networking training program, and connecting as many students to jobs as he can.

Building a Link Between Students and Employers

Mesquita runs the North Lake chapter of the Cisco Networking Academy. The academy trains its students to become certified network administrators, architects, and support technicians, tapping into a digital job sector which expects 14-22% growth in employment by 2022.

When Jerry Mesquita started at NLC, the Cisco Academy had just four part-time instructors. Now there are twelve, teaching hundreds of students each semester. North Lake has been recognized by Cisco as one of the ten fastest-growing networking academies worldwide.

Connecting Students to Jobs

Mesquita quit his industry job to teach, and says teaching is his calling. He personally instructs every first-semester student, making sure to know them so that he can place them in jobs that fit their strengths. He also takes students to regular meetings at local Cisco offices, and invites recruiters to speak at NLC about resume-writing and interviewing skills.

Mesquita also reaches out to an extensive network of business contacts. For example, when one company was looking for workers trained in Linux, Mesquita added Linux classes and the company hired 15 NLC graduates.

“We make a point of getting to know the hiring managers at these companies,” Mesquita explains. “We want them to have North Lake College graduates on their radar. We also want to understand the kinds of candidates that they’re looking for, so we can enhance our courses to meet their needs.” As a result, “The companies keep coming back to us.”

Nearly 100% of the students who complete North Lake’s academy courses obtain a job, and over 80% enroll in advanced courses and earn Cisco certifications.

Teaching That Changes Lives

Mesquita has seen so many lives change because of the Cisco program that he shares it with everyone. “I talk to people at supermarkets and in church. I look them in the eye and tell them that this program can change their lives. I’ve gotten entire families to come to the school and talk to us. I take them to the financial aid office at the college to find out how they can get started.”

He adds, “Parents are so proud of their kids for their success, and they’re thankful to Cisco and North Lake for this program. I know, because we hear from them all the time.”

Mesquita can give examples. “From time to time, an old student will take me out to lunch. ‘I can afford to buy you lunch now,’ the former student will say. And in that moment, it would be tough to tell which one of us is prouder.”