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Cameron Johnson: Transitioning to an IT Career with Talent Hub

To launch his new career in IT, Cameron turned to Year Up’s Talent Hub, a flexible pilot program

Cameron Johnson, a 27-year-old Philadelphia native, is a participant in Year Up’s Talent Hub. A new pilot, Talent Hub offers primarily virtual, asynchronous learning for participants ages 18 to 30 in a shorter, flexible format: a 12-week intensive training followed by a 16-week workplace immersion. Cameron earned his work immersion opportunity at Merck, where he is a Business Technology Analyst Intern. Hear more from Cameron about his experience.

Prior to Year Up, I spent the first eight years of my career in the hospitality industry. Through my passion and determination, I acquired the position of senior sous chef for a steakhouse in Center City Philadelphia. During that time, my son, Cameron, Jr., was born. As he got older, I knew I had to ensure I was fully present during the crucial development stages of his youth. I looked for time to learn new skills I could use to transition into another career, but the demand of time from my career did not allow me to do so.

In March, I was furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I made the choice to use that time to pivot and leverage what I’d learned into a career transition. I started out with some self-led learning to gain fundamental IT knowledge. Then I furthered my learning through the cybersecurity course at the University of Pennsylvania. As I was wrapping up my course, my girlfriend introduced Year Up to me, as she had been an intern and graduated. I couldn’t have asked for better timing! I was able to start Year Up right before my course completion.

Year Up’s curriculum gave me good exposure to technical fundamentals needed for participants to be successful during the work immersion phase. The courses on finances and money management were helpful, especially being from a community that doesn’t always provide those types of learnings. The best part of the Learning & Development (L&D) phase for me was the structure that allowed for a true evaluation of self-awareness. Everything was virtual, so we had to find a way to way to create a culture of community and togetherness during a time when the country lacked the social interaction we are used to. Enrichment Sessions, Team Sessions, and office hours provided opportunities where people such as my Program Director and Learning Coach were able to truly see my potential. They listened to what I felt were growth areas and set up multiple opportunities to illustrate my strengths.

It’s interesting because I came here [to Merck] to do IT, but I’ve learned so much more than I could imagine by being in this hybrid role. My team acts as the liaison between the business and technology owners. We are the gap between the two. In my role, I work a lot with Jira, agile methodology, and creating stories of progress. Recently, I completed my risk assessment. This may not seem like a lot, but it’s incredible because that means that I’ve earned the trust of my manager. I love the team that I’m part of because they really interact with me as an employee. My manager describes our working relationship as a professional partnership – we work in tandem to make things go! Her setting the dynamic of trust, being a thought partner, supportive, and having a hard work ethic is motivation for me.

After Year Up, I am hoping to convert to full-time employment as a Business Analyst at Merck. I’d also like to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a closely-related business field. I haven’t given up my aspirations of IT and cyber security, so I’ll look for opportunities that involve those skills if I am not converted. Aside from that, I’m absolutely committed to supporting new participants as they attend Year Up. I’d love to be a mentor one day!
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