I always expected to be a corporate woman someday. I saw myself as better than struggling to find a job and pay bills, but I just did not have the financial resources to start a career I would be proud of.

I was going to Clayton State University for business administration, paying out of pocket and with student loans. My husband and I struggled after I lost a retail job in 2010, but being married without children meant I was ineligible for financial aid. At times, our lights got turned off, or we were short on the rent.

While job-hunting after spring semester at Clayton State, a receptionist recommended Year Up. Learning a skill, getting paid, going to school, and potentially earning a job sounded much better than acquiring more debt while trying to find work.

In the classroom, I learned so much about networking and about computer software, especially Excel. Though difficult for me, I eventually earned my Excel Certification. My otherchallenge was keeping my household together. I balanced a part-time job to get through the first six months. Whenever, I had to choose between gas money, and food, I chose gas. My focus through it all was if I could just get through the program I would never have to make those choices again.

I interned at Bank of America as a Project Coordinator, where I was immediately put in charge of coordinating building access to an important meeting for hundreds of people. From then on, I handled on-boarding of all new hires across the nation: providing them with cubicle space, laptops, corporate phones and charge cards. In fact, I received awards for creating and perfecting the on-boarding process for my organization.

Three months into my internship, Bank of America offered me full-time work as a Process Design Analyst. When I graduated from Year Up, I felt like I had accomplished what even my friends with bachelor’s degrees hadn’t: a great paying job, peace of mind, and success.

Now, I enjoy being in a highly visible area where each day I accomplish something, whether processing a new employee, putting a presentation together for a project kickoff meeting, managing my Senior Vice President’s schedule or mentoring our current Year Up intern. I see myself growing with Bank of America and expect to start school in the spring, using the company’s tuition reimbursement program to earn my bachelor’s degree and a project management (PMP) certification.

Without the skills and network Year Up provided, I don’t know how I would have landed this position. I truly believe in the movement and recommend Year Up to friends and family. I make myself available to talk to prospective partners or students/alumni or for whatever the staff needs.

Urban young adults are intelligent, proactive, and hardworking—we just haven’t had access to opportunities. Some of us just need a shot to show that we are bright assets to our companies and communities.