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Q & A with Jo Blitz A. Escotal

COMDEX Chicago 2001

Q. When did you first become interested in computers and particularly the Internet?

A. In college, two of my friends, both computer science majors, started using something called the World Wide Web to send messages back and forth to each other. This was 1994, and the World Wide Web was still pretty archaic, but I thought, this is going to be important someday, so I started learning about the World Wide Web technology on my own. It wasn't until years later, after I realized the magnitude the Internet would have on business and society that I understood my true vocational calling - to train and consult people in information technology using the knowledge I had acquired since college.

Q. How did you first go about making this career choice a reality?

A. Well, first I took the A+ certification exam, to learn about the nuts and bolts of the computer from the ground up. I was successful with the work I did after becoming certified, so I then decided to go for my MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer). From there, the responsibilities to work in different IT fields became endless.

Q. Is that when you decided to open your own training and consulting business?

A. I opened Escotal.com in 1997 after spending a great deal of time in the field and getting to know what people needed as far as IT skills and services went. Many people wanted to develop IT skills for themselves, and that is when I saw an opportunity to work as a teacher, a dream I've had since watching my grandfather teach in the Philippines when I was a child.

Q. Since opening your business and working as a teacher, what have been some of the challenges and rewards?

A. I think the greatest challenge for me was developing a training style that recognized the student as a whole person with life experiences, strengths and limitations. I wanted to take into account, in a very positive way, that I would be training a variety of people -
Some with experience and some without; I needed to make the material accessible while taking this into account. I had to organize my lesson plan in the most efficient manner possible, given the average number of weeks and extra time I would spend with each student. My greatest reward has been the students themselves, and seeing the expression on their faces after they've passed an exam or have been hired for their first job in the computer field.

Q. Has your method of teaching changed since you first opened Escotal.com?

A. Shortly after opening Escotal.Com, I began teaching a web design course, the first in the city, for one of the larger computer training facilities in Chicago. I had to learn to train the students on basic Internet technologies and web design. I taught several different programs ranging from Flash Animation to HTML. I wanted to be able to cover not only the basics of these programs, but to get more in depth about the career field of web design itself, such as how much a web designer can expect to make in their new field, how do you go about getting a job as a web designer, etc. It became crucial for me to synthesize all this material into a time frame of about six weeks. That's when I developed the Escotal Web Design Training Program which covers everything you need to know about web design, from the history of the Internet, to designing a web page, to website administration. So many of my students passed their exams and started their own web design firms, that I still teach that course today. It has been one of my greatest achievements.

Q. What about computer and business consulting? Can you give us an idea of your background as a consultant?

A. After several years of working as a Business Manager and Consultant I decided to branch out into the IT field. I saw a need in the business world to merge the IT field with sound corporate management. E-commerce became crucial to a company that wanted to stay ahead of their game and I envisioned a method to consult companies on how to use technology in a very practical, strategic way.

Q. Here is the questions I'm sure you've been waiting for: Has your Dot.Com been affected by the economy, and if so, how?

A. My company has definitely been affected, but not as adversely as some. I wasn't in a position to start my company on a large scale. At the time, I saw this as an unfortunate situation. Now, however, I realize how lucky I've been. I didn't grow into a large Internet company overnight, but I also didn't fall as hard when Internet companies started going under. The fact that I didn't have investors to answer to actually saved the company.

Q. What advice can you give to someone who is considering a career in a computer related field, taking into account the current circumstances in the IT world today?

A. First and foremost, I would stress to someone entering this field that there will always be a need for IT people. The Internet is here to stay, technology as an integral part of the workforce is here to stay. The current crash of many Internet related companies doesn't change this fact; it only changes the types of jobs you will be looking for. Instead of sending your resume to different start-up companies, you'll be sending it to more established organizations. Think of it as business as usual; for every company that downsizes, there are a hundred more companies out there that need your IT expertise. Stay strong, stay determined and don't give up.

Interviewed by
Jennifer G
Chicago, IL
April 5, 2001



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