Last week, I got promoted to the position of Senior Client Operations Specialist at State Street Corporation. It wasn’t too long ago—just a few years—that I was working at H&M, in and out of college, and picking up side jobs, such as selling candy at the mall during the holiday season. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I needed more attention in classes than I received at a big college. I was working all the time, never with a set schedule, and it got to a point where I thought “ok, I’m tired of doing this.” A lot of my customers would come in looking for professional clothes, and when I asked “What are these for?” they would always say “Year Up.”

I walked into the Year Up office and applied right away. Being at Year Up changed me. The person I walked out as was a completely different person than who I was when I started the program. I grew as a person: I started understanding money, responsibility, and the value I brought to a team. My advisor at Year Up taught me everything from how to take care of myself to how to dress for the job I want. I built my confidence and now approach issues with an “I can do it” attitude. All of a sudden, I was in a supportive environment where people believed I could do something.

I was at Year Up because I wanted a job, and I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. I started my internship at State Street on a cash team, reporting on cash flow and matching account books before the end of each day. I was constantly on a deadline and I had to be on-point every second—one slip up and the books wouldn’t match. I was used to fast-paced environments, but here, working carefully was key. When I messed up is when I got better. I used to think that failing was not an option.

Now I know that you have to fail in order to succeed. I became very organized, and that’s a skill I’ll take with me throughout my career.

Two months before the end of my internship, my manager told me there wouldn’t be a position open on the team. But he knew that I wanted a job, and I knew that Year Up would continue to support me after graduation in figuring out my next step. I switched to a new team to finish out my internship and had a limited time to prove myself. At the end of it, I was hired. In that role, I was able to apply almost all of the hard finance skills that Year Up taught me.

Today, I’m finishing up my Bachelor’s degree and looking forward to starting my more senior role. I’m the treasurer of the Year Up Boston Alumni Board, and I speak to young people about Year Up every chance I get. I was lost before Year Up. Without this program, I wouldn’t understand personal growth and ambition, or want more for myself. I always tell people “Whatever you do, think about those who will come after you. What you’re doing is far bigger than you think.” When you get an opportunity, that means that someone else didn’t—so be wise with that opportunity, because they don’t come often.