Written By: Christine Garcia
Francine Holt is the CEO and founder of Holt Computer Training, Holt Staffing, and Holt Career Services. Before starting her business she served as a Navy Career Wife. By doing so she was relocated all throughout the United States. Unfortunately because of this instability, it was difficult for her to hold a steady career. As she kept moving, she also kept dropping careers.
Her life began to change, however, after arriving in Jacksonville, Florida. Once there, she decided to open a training business that she initially began in her laundry room. Later on, after being relocated to New York she began working a temporary job with CitiBank which she ultimately quit after 6 months in order to continue pursuing her training business. After quitting she opened up her first company, Holt Computer Training.
Francine’s company is very diverse in the group of people that it services. Not only does she work alongside corporate America in training their employees for corporate purposes, but she also works with unemployed people returning to the workforce and people who wish to switch career paths among many others. Her business provides hands-on computer training on an individual basis. They also provide training that “leads to Microsoft certification as well as top placement.”
Francine refers to her business as being “the pathway to the American dream” simply because it allows for her students to elevate from low-income jobs, to high-income, highly-ranked positions. She says, “my students sometimes start working at McDonald’s or in fast food restaurants or as Uber drivers. After taking my class for three months, they are Microsoft certified. They type more than 50 words a minute and they know Microsoft upside, backwards, and forward, so they’re certified, and it enables them to get a working wage. Pretty much the average wage is $25.00 an hour and right now they work in a Bank of America, or Goldman Sachs, and others of the top companies in New York.”
The company’s success in providing this to their students does stem from some outside inspiration, however. Francine credits Julissa Ortiz, a student of her 1999 program called Workforce 2000, located in New York City at the time. The program was started so that “women on public assistance, if given the right set of tools and training could return to the workforce or enter the workforce at a liveable wage.” Of the 20 women that initially began in the program, Julissa Ortiz was one of the 10 that graduated. She was even recognized as Goldman Sachs employee of the year. Watching this student grow before her eyes is what inspires Francine to prove that you can start anywhere and at any time if given the right set of skills to succeed and if equipped with a great sense of determination.
For this reason, Francine values her sense of hope as she believes that “with hope everything is possible.” She ultimately believes that in the face of any challenge, you must have enough hope to overcome it and move forward with grace. In fact, she holds so much hope that when she says her name Holt, she replaces it with Hope “so it is hope at Holt.”
However, despite this sense of hope, setbacks are inevitable, especially when starting up a business. When asked if there is anything she has considered to be her biggest failure, Francine reminisces on how she was not able to get the job she initially applied for. But, after reading the book Failure is Never Final she began to question her belief in the concept of failure to begin with. Instead of seeing the obstacles that stood in her way as setbacks or failures, she acknowledged them as lessons to be learned so that the same mistakes would not be repeated later on.
Now, although she has been able to run her business successfully, she does wish to expand on Holt Trainings and develop a home called “Home for Pregnant Teens.” Francine loves working with children and is thus going to work with New York PD to help with doing a training program for children as well as an entrepreneur training program.
None of this would be possible without the help of the Tech Incubator at Queens College. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tech Incubator served to provide Francine and her company, as well as various other small business owners with several resources in order to boost their businesses and approach different obstacles in a new light. Francince especially thanks Ying Zhou, Executive Director, as she says “If we could just clone her and everyone can get the value that Ying has, I think small businesses will flourish.”
Even with 20 years of experience running a business in her corner, Francine joined the Verizon Mentorship Program where she underwent training on how to ultimately market and grow your business. Her experience with the Tech Incubator was so great that she even notes, “I’ve learned a lot from the Tech Incubator and if you haven’t heard of them, you should call them and join their training programs. They are a valuable resource and need to be expanded across all boroughs.”
Francine’s top piece of advice for those starting out would be to find a mentor, get into a program, the Tech Incubator being a program she highly suggests, and to never give up. She refers back to the Habakkuk Chapter 2 verse 2 where it says, “make the vision, write the vision and make it plain, wait for it, it will happen, and don’t tell everybody and just work it, don’t quit.”
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