The Year Up Chicago graduate carries with him lessons learned at Year Up and in life.
“I always tell my friends that if you have a safety net, you need to be taking the most risk. If you want to start a new job you’re not sure you’re cut out for, try it. Start a business. Go to school abroad. Having a safety net means if you fail at your job, you can go live with your parents.”
After the passing of his mother, Year Up Chicago graduate Sig Huerta was without a safety net and unsure of his next step. He knew he wanted to pursue something in math and science, but a four-year degree just wasn’t in the cards. He also had a voracious appetite for learning – something he got from his mother, who was always a big advocate for education. Still, there were bills that needed to be paid, and Sig was already having trouble covering the cost of the two years he had spent at a city college.
“My mom inspired me to think about careers in STEM. Even though she was taken away from me – the short time I had with her was so impactful and helped me to make my decisions. I still think about the lessons she taught me. It piqued my curiosity about science – something I’m grateful for having from that relationship.”
It wasn’t until a childhood friend mentioned Year Up’s tuition-free job training program to Sig and three other friends, that he saw a financially feasible plan for his future. While the entire group wasn’t completely sold on the opportunity, Sig knew this was something he wasn’t going to pass up. When orientation day arrived, Sig was the first to show up, his three friends arriving shortly after.
With close friends at his side, Sig began the program with curiosity and an eagerness to learn. Because of his love for getting under the hood to find out how things work, Sig had already come across some of the concepts he was learning while on the cyber security track. In the learning and development phase, he was particularly interested in working on computers (he had already built a low-budget computer over the summer) and expanding his Excel spreadsheet skills. Sig also gained valuable training in key soft skills like networking, interviewing, and how to succeed in a corporate setting.
Where I grew up on the south side of Chicago, everyone was in trades – so I didn’t really have a mentor for professional jobs. I had experienced having a boss and doing work before, but not the same as a corporate America experience. There are both written and unwritten rules to abide by, and Year Up did a good job demystifying that culture.Lead Investigator, Accenture
Thanks to his hard work and dedication, Sig graduated from the program with the same close friend group he started with. He would then go on to earn himself an internship and, upon graduation, a full-time role at Accenture, a top IT company that has been a Year Up partner since 2011. Since the start of the partnership, Accenture has hosted over 180 interns and hired over 130 alumni to date.
“Sigifredo's journey from Year Up to Accenture is a testament to his intelligence, dedication, core values, and innovative thinking,” said Rich Servillas, Cyber Incident Response Team Manager at Accenture. “Since joining our team, he has consistently delivered valued contributions, proving himself to be a rising star within our Information Security organization. As a lead investigator, Sig has not only met but exceeded our expectations every step of the way,” he continued.
Over the last six years at Accenture, Sig has received two promotions and currently holds the title of Lead Investigator. His role on the Cyber Incident Response Team means he analyzes computer data for incidents of varying degrees – for instance, data breaches and intellectual property theft.
What’s next for Sig? He’ll keep learning, of course – and he will continue to take advantage of the safety net that he has created for himself because of his career at Accenture.
“I want to go back to school and finish my four-year degree. There are so many barriers in society because of the color of your skin or your religion; there are all these factors that impact your opportunity to get hired. Sometimes it’s your last name that keeps you from getting a job or interview. I’m eternally grateful to Year Up for opening the door and to Accenture for providing me with the opportunity.”