Back to stories

Hardship and Hard Work Lead Nico Cargo to Microsoft


Location | Puget Sound

Sophocles said, “there is no success without hardship.”

Growing up in The Philippines was tough as it is. It didn’t help that at an early age, I was diagnosed as a high-risk bronchial asthma patient.

At 4 years old, I was intubated in the ICU, and fought for my life. I still remember not being able to eat or speak, communicating with my family using hand gestures. My condition was worsened by the poor air quality—dust, smoke-belching vehicles, and so on—and I would be in and out of the hospital every year, resulting in my family’s funds rapidly depleting.

In 2009, Typhoon Ondoy (or Ketsana) added to our burden when we lost a lot to the knee-deep flood waters. And yet, somehow my parents were still able to send my older sister and I to good schools. At times, we were practically enrolled off of promissory notes when my parents could not pay tuition on time, but Mom always emphasized that education is the only thing they can give us that cannot be taken away. She’s one of the hardest working people I know, and because of her my sister and I were able to graduate college and high school respectively.

I powered through those gritty first six months of learning and development and landed an internship with my dream company, Microsoft (343 Industries).


Nico Cargo
IT Support Analyst, Microsoft (343 Industries)

When it came time for me to attend college at San Beda University, it was a blessing that my Ninang (Godmother) Marife Biscocho-Lee was able to help us afford tuition.

At San Beda, I studied Legal Management. It was demanding, and I spent the next four years leaving campus at 10 p.m. and getting home at 12 a.m. – I would either cling to the back of a jeepney (bus) as it swerved left and right, or just walk the two miles home on the dimly-lit sidewalks beside traffic in the ninety-degree heat. I studied all day and night, reading and taking notes on hundreds of pages of provisions, doctrines, and cases. Eventually, I graduated to earn my bachelor’s degree, and even passed the LSAT equivalent in the Philippines before it was declared unconstitutional.

I was about to enroll in San Beda College of Law when my family found out that our immigrant visa that we had been waiting 24 years for had finally been approved. I almost didn’t make it as I was about to age out, which unfortunately my sister experienced. But next thing I knew, I was on a plane heading to the “promised land” – the United States.

When I arrived, I came to learn that the bachelor’s degree that I had worked so hard for didn’t mean anything here. College had trained me to work in a professional environment. But with no experience, I had to swallow my pride wholly and I applied as a cashier at a supermarket.

I wanted to have the ability to give back to the people who supported me, especially my parents and my sister, and for my current and future family to have a better life, to escape yesterday’s poverty, but being in a minimum wage job was not the way.

That’s when I found Year Up. I was skeptical at first because it sounded too good to be true: “Enabling young adults to move from minimum wage to meaningful careers.” But I decided to apply.

At Year Up, I specialized in Helpdesk/Desktop support. All of our classes were conducted online during the Learning and Development phase of the program due to COVID-19, yet I had to manage my time efficiently to meet assignment deadlines while also juggling a job at Walmart and other personal matters. Year Up taught me how to be a young professional by providing skills in areas such as data analysis, business communications, project management, network support, hardware troubleshooting techniques, and so on.

I powered through those gritty first six months of learning and development and landed an internship with my dream company, Microsoft (343 Industries). At Microsoft, I was able to interact with servers and other types of machines and apply the skills that I learned at Year Up. I have learned so much because of this entire experience. It was hard, but extremely worth it.

As I graduate from the program and my internship ends, I am very happy to report that I will be starting my role as an IT Support Analyst at Microsoft (343 Industries) in October 2021. All of this wouldn’t be possible without two key factors: hard work and support – the latter has been provided marvelously by Year Up and Microsoft. I am forever grateful for this kind of program because it shows you the doors that you’re able to step into, and all you have to do is let yourself in.