After graduating high school, I wasn’t able to attend a university. I didn’t have the financial stability to do so. So instead I worked part-time and took classes at a community college. I hoped to transfer after two years. That didn’t happen. My family needed me to help out so I wasn’t always able to take classes every semester. When I was 24, I found myself working as a barista and taking computer science classes. I longed to finish school and start my career in tech. My responsibilities made it hard to dedicate myself completely to school.
A friend told me about Year Up. Their mission was to close the opportunity divide by “empowering low-income young adults to go from poverty to professional careers in a single year.” They do this by providing six months of learning and development and six months of internship. I was interested! Then I found out that it was all free and they provide students with a stipend. I knew I had to apply.
The admissions process included attending an information session, submitting a personal statement, and an interview. A couple weeks after my interview, I received a call at work. I had been accepted! It felt like things were finally being set into place.
On my first week, I was introduced to my learning community (LC). My LC was 40 students, and about 10 faculty staff members. We would gather on Mondays and Fridays. LCs become very tight-knit and want everyone in the LC to be successful in the program. Year Up also provides each student with an advisor. Four students share an advisor and meet frequently to talk about their progress and any challenges they are facing. I felt very supported that week knowing so many people were hoping for my success.
The first five months were intense. Classes included IT, professional skills, business communications, and independent learning. In IT, I learned how to take a computer apart, identify all the parts, and troubleshooting. In professional skills, I learned small talk, the importance of LinkedIn, and how to create a resume. In business communications, I learned how to create an elevator pitch, how to give an effective speech, and how to communicate in a business environment. In independent learning, I learned Google Suite, Microsoft Office, and Outlook.
The last month of learning and development, all students were put in different tracks. The tracks included Cyber Security, IT, Quality Assurance, and Project Management. I was placed in the Project Management track. I prepared for a support role in project planning, execution, measurements, and control. I developed an understanding of Agile Methodologies such as Scrum and Kanban, learned MS Project, Asana and Scrum Master roles.
After the six months, students were placed at an internship site with one of Year Up’s corporate partners. Corporate partners include Facebook, Twitter, Bank of America among many others. I was placed at Salesforce. Salesforce is The world’s #1 CRM app. I would be a Project Coordinator for the Technology Services team.
For six months, I assisted 4 program managers with the planning and execution of events that included: holiday parties, tech talks, foundation events, among many others. I also researched and proposed a new social media outlet for the team to use for branding and recruiting purposes. I felt very lucky to be there. Just a few months ago, I was working as a barista feeling down about how slow my career was going. I knew that after my internship I would be able to apply for roles that would further my career.
My manager liked that I was motivated and a hard worker and kept me as a Marketing Coordinator when I finished my internship. I led the social media strategy and organized events, including external networking nights, technical meetups, holiday events, and employee appreciation activities.
Year Up helped me get the skills I needed to start a career in in tech. Do you want to start your career? Check out Year Up https://www.yearup.org/.