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US Technical Institute

Fullerton company trains students for IT jobs.

It’s the age-old dilemma: How do you get a job if you don’t have experience? How do you get experience if you don’t have a job? We talked to Saleem Sheikh, instructor and administrator at Fullerton-based US Technical Institute, which has a unique solution to the dilemma.

What prompted you and Uzma Sheikh to start US Technical Institute?

Well, Uzma and I also own MSC Computers, with offices in California and Texas. At one time we were managing about five computer stores. We were always looking to hire new technicians and somehow every single time I met prospective employees they had various certifications–A+, MCP, MCSE, etc.–but when we put them to work, most of them had no clue about the industry or about real-life experience. We ended up training them ourselves.

So we decided to start a school with a goal of providing the students training that is geared toward real-life experience. All of our programs are designed to provide training to students in such a way that they learn the latest technology in a real-life environment. Since we also own computer stores, we can let them practice on the latest computer and networking environments.

For example, when our students learn about computer repair they do not learn from a hypothetical situation; they really repair a computer that had a problem during the one-year warranty period that Computers of America offers. The instructor lets them learn on a real repair job, makes sure that they know how to do it, and then checks it himself to make sure that the computer is fixed properly.

Who are your students?

Most of them are in the process of changing their careers. Some of them are in vocational rehab and some are getting retrained through a government program. It is a combination of established professionals who are changing careers and young students just starting out.

How is the institute related to Computers of America?

The US Technical Institute is a division of US Computers Inc. US Computers Inc. also owns Computers of America, and maintains a nationwide distribution center, DeliverMyPC.com, with online purchasing options.

Do students help with the building of PCs that customers buy at DeliverMyPC.com?

No, the students do not build computers that we sell. They do help in that they learn how to build computers and set up networks, and they learn on real-life repairs of Computers of America computers. However, not a single computer leaves our premises that is built by students. Each computer built at Computers of America is built and tested by our certified technicians.

What are the qualifications of your technicians and instructors?

All of our technicians are A+-certified MCPs. We have five MCSEs and four MCTs on staff. We only hire those instructors who are certified by the State of California and have expertise in their respective area of teaching.

Since the economy slowed down, have you had more or fewer students enroll, or has it affected your business at all?

The economy hurt everyone in the computer industry in some way. Our computer business slowed down a little, but we are feeling a boost on the training side.

How long does it take to complete your program?

Each program is different. A typical short program may range from two days to one year, especially in the case of advanced diploma programs. On average, I would say four months.

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