When Kareem first left prison after 28 years inside, he wanted to pursue a career he was passionate about. When he first came to The Fortune Society in the summer of 2019, he aspired to one day work in a corporate office setting. As the first participant to complete Fortune’s Microsoft Imagine Academy program, Kareem attained many of the marketable skills needed to meet this goal.
“[The Microsoft program] was important because it gave me a chance to add something to my resume,” said Kareem. “It’s a skill set that can carry me far because my goal is to work in office-type settings. [It’s] a skill that’s in high demand there.”
Soon after he came to Fortune, Kareem pursued his interest in office work as a Fortune Fellow at Bloomberg, L.P. The 16-week Fortune Fellowship program allows participants to intern in a corporate office, helping them hone their professional skills and gain employment opportunities. During his time at Bloomberg, Kareem quickly fell in love with the corporate workplace.
His time at Bloomberg would end up being the gateway to enrolling in Fortune’s Microsoft Imagine Academy program. Microsoft Imagine Academy is an online educational program that trains individuals in the Microsoft Office suite. Upon completion, there are various certifications that participants can receive, which help them qualify for jobs.
At first, learning Microsoft seemed daunting for Kareem. However, he soon began developing a passion for learning the software, and by the end of the program, his skills drastically improved. He now aspires to obtain a Microsoft certification and continue using his skills in the workplace.
“[The Microsoft program] always challenges you,” he said. “It’s fun...I didn’t feel burnt out and frustrated while trying to learn it. It was actually fun. I enjoyed the experience.”
In an increasingly technological world, it can be challenging for formerly incarcerated people to obtain digital skills. However, as remote work and learning become the norm, learning programs like Microsoft Office are even more important.
Although his eight weeks of Microsoft Excel training are complete, Kareem is planning to pursue additional certification as a MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) and has also explored video editing and online blogging. He is far from finished with his learning.
The Digital Divide: over the next year, The Fortune Society will publish a series of stories and social media posts about the growing digital divide and its impact on the justice-involved population. We will talk about the increased need for digital literacy training and access to technology and how Fortune is helping our clients bridge the divide.