According to CNBC, today more than one third, or about 57 million U.S. workers, are in the gig economy. This is an increase of $3.7 million since 2014. More and more people are switching out of the traditional 9-5 role in favor of more flexibility and control over their career.
For CTE educators, the question often remains on how certification can benefit these students, if they’re not using it as a resume builder, or applying for traditional jobs. Cory Bolles is a great example of how certification is the perfect lead into a freelance career. Cory is a former MOS US National Champion, who is now using his certifications to run his own design and internet marketing company. Read on for his full story!
Certiport: Cory Bolles! It’s been a few years since you’ve connected with the Certiport team.
Cory: It has been awhile. But it’s so good to hear from all of you.
Certiport: For those of our readers who don’t know your story, why don’t you share a little bit about your history.
Cory: Absolutely. I’m a lifelong Floridian, currently living in Parrish, Florida. Originally, I got certified because of my FBLA teacher in high school. She suggested I work on some Microsoft certifications, and from there it kind of spiraled! I have certifications in every Office program (2003 & 2007), as well as the core Adobe products – Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Premier, and Flash. I’m also CIW certified in the Web Foundations Series, meaning I’ve received their Internet Business Associate, Site Development Associate, and Network Technology Associate certifications. Finally, I’ve received associate and professional level certifications for Mechanical Design through SolidWorks. So yeah, just a few certifications!
Certiport: That’s quite the understatement. Did your certifications lead you to the MOS US National Championship?
Cory: Yes! That was a such an amazing experience! I loved meeting and interacting with other students from around the world. I met people from countries that I didn’t even know existed and learned about other cultures. Seeing how everyone else trained and prepared was something I’ll never forget!
Certiport: That’s what we hear from most of our students, that the friends and relationships are the best part. But if we remember correctly, one of the big highlights for you came after the competition ended.
Cory: Definitely. Winning was such an amazing honor, and I was on cloud nine. While waiting in the airport, a woman approached me. She had all sorts of questions. “Why do you have a giant check? What did you do to earn it?”
I explained that I’d earned my Microsoft Office Specialist certification in school, and that my high score allowed me to compete in both a national and world competition for Microsoft Office. She was so impressed, that she offered me a job on the spot!
I learned so much in that role! I gained the experience and skills I needed to start my own business. I don’t necessarily put all my certification skills to use every day, but they helped me reach where I am today!
Certiport: That is amazing! Not exactly your traditional job interview. Tell us a little bit about what you do now.
Cory: I’m currently the owner of a website design, branding, and internet marketing company called Mythic Design Company. Being an entrepreneur has given me so much experience in different areas. Right now, I’m doing everything from writing and managing client contracts to bookkeeping for my company to actually working on and managing web design projects. Starting a small business has been both terrifying and educational at the same time, and I’ve loved every step of it!
Certiport: Do you see yourself doing this long-term?
Cory: Well I graduated from high school three years ago and I’m pretty much doing what I want to be doing! I have ambitions to grow my business, hire employees, etc. but I’m very content where I am now.
Certiport: Amazing! We can’t wait to see your business continue to grow. Any other big changes on the horizon for you?
Cory: The biggest thing is my upcoming wedding in January. But when I’m not working or planning my wedding, I’m trying to relax. Woodworking and PC strategy games keep me from being too overworked.
Certiport: Congratulations on your engagement! That’s amazing! Sounds like things are going well in all aspects of your life.
Cory: I can’t complain. Life is going well. So many people helped me get to where I am today, but I’d love to say thank you to the teacher who got me into certification, because that’s led me very directly into where I am right now! Mrs. Christy Goehring from Braden River High School is an amazing teacher who deserves every bit of respect!
Certiport: It’s hard to underestimate the impact teachers like her have on their students. Speaking of students, we always like to end with a question: What advice would you give to other students just starting on their journey?
Cory: Surround yourself with people who will support and care about you. In my experience most of the students I met were very confident people, but it’s easy to feel otherwise if you don’t win or don’t do as well as you’d hoped. When I went to the MOS US National Championship my second time around and didn’t place, it was hard. I felt like there was an expectation on me to win again, and I didn’t meet that. But I had a solid support system of people around me who treated me like I had won regardless and helped me to adjust my perspective on the situation. It was a national competition after all – it’s not meant to be easy – and I still had gotten in. Without my friends and family constantly encouraging me and pushing me to do more, I don’t think I would be at all where I am today.
Looking to give your students an opportunity to compete, like Cory? Learn more about the MOS US National Championship at www.moschampionship.com/us.