Back to stories

My Journey From Year Up To LinkedIn: Yesenia Morales



Location | Bay Area

Yesenia Morales is a Year Up Bay Area graduate who continues to gain momentum in her career at LinkedIn. She considers herself a natural introvert who got out of her comfort zone and challenged herself both personally and professionally. Through Yesenia’s words, we understand the power of self-belief, opportunity, and community. 


I remember in high school someone asked me about my five-year plan. “There is no plan,” I remembered saying. I couldn’t plan for tomorrow, let alone five years into the future. 

I was six years old when I moved to Virigina from Mexico with my mother and two siblings. By the time I graduated high school, it was clear that college was out of the question. There aren’t a lot of options for undocumented students in Virginia, so I decided to move to Texas on my own. Unfortunately, my five-year plan wasn’t in Texas, and I was quickly running out of money. Moving back to Virgina would feel like I failed, so I decided to try California. Having done very little research, I was shocked by how expensive it was but decided to stay anyway. It would end up being one of the best decisions of my life. 

After arriving in California with $500 in my pocket and few prospects, I needed to find work quickly. In the beginning of the first year, I got a job as a nanny and made a few friends. It was through those friends that I learned about Year Up. I thought to myself, “a free job training program? This might be the kind of opportunity I’ve been looking for.” 

I started the program on the project management track. As an introvert, it’s not necessarily in my nature to be the most outspoken or the leader in the group. But during classes, I was encouraged to raise my hand and make my voice heard. In the program’s learning and development phase, I focused on task organization, public speaking, and networking – skills that would pay off further down the road. One of my favorite parts of the program was getting to attend classes and form bonds with my fellow students. I realized it was the community aspect that I craved so much, and it gave me a taste of what college must be like. 

My efforts paid off when I was matched with an internship at LinkedIn. Until this point, I never had any professional milestones to share – and now I was about to work at the largest professional network in the world. While juggling an internship with my everyday life would be challenging, I knew I was all in. 

My second day as an intern at LinkedIn with former CEO and current Executive Chairman, Jeff Weiner.

My first week as a Year Up intern at LinkedIn was inspiring. I had someone welcome me and help me get familiarized with the company and the products. On the second day I was invited to an all-hands meeting where I was encouraged to get a photo with Jeff Weiner, the CEO at the time and current Executive Chairman. I only realized how special that moment was after other team members approached me, saying how much they wished they had gotten a photo too!

From that moment on, I started seeing LinkedIn differently. Not everyone gets this chance, I realized. Not even people with college degrees. I spent the next six months of my internship trying to find ways to stretch myself and stand out. I asked a lot of questions, initiated networking calls, and offered to help whenever I had the opportunity. I also rebranded webinar decks, assisted with website development by mapping the customer journey, and continued working on building relationships.

It was the networking and relationship building that really helped me to get my contract role at LinkedIn. My internship was coming to an end, and I wasn’t sure about my next step. During a 1-on-1 call with a project manager, I asked for some feedback or tips on getting hired. Ten minutes later, he connected me with a team where he thought I’d be a huge asset – and two days before my internship ended, I was offered a contract position as a Portfolio Analyst at LinkedIn. 

After joining as a contractor supporting multiple cross-functional teams, I would eventually obtain a full-time position as Bilingual Member Support Consultant 1 with the support of my team. By 2022, I was then promoted to my current role as Bilingual Member Support Consultant 2. Just like in my internship, I knew that not everyone gets an opportunity like this. This opportunity has even allowed me to move my mom to the West Coast after she was diagnosed with Devic’s disease, which is something I’d been trying to do for over five years. 

The Alumni Affinity Group at LinkedIn sitting on a panel for Year Up students. 

I’ve learned and grown so much at LinkedIn. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of different teams and to build a great community. As part of the Leadership Team at LinkedIn, I am able to assist internally with our interns and alumni. Externally, I’ve also been able to work in partnership with other Year Up alumni to identify any gaps that can aide in increasing engagement after the program. As part of this Alumni Affinity Group at LinkedIn, I’ve been able to contribute to the mission by participating on panels and sharing my story.

What I have now is an opportunity I want to see happen for the next generation of Year Up students – and I hope to use this community to make a difference in any way that I can.  

My advice to future Year Up students? Take the leap of faith. If you want something, it’s up to you to go for it. I’m an introvert who got out of her comfort zone and is gaining momentum in her career. I moved my mom across the country to share in my good fortune. Today, I’m in my second year of college studying Project Management – and I have a plan that works for me and my family. 

Yesenia is just one of the thousands of Year Up graduates ready to grow their professional careers.