Before I discovered Year Up, I was finishing my freshman year at Chicago State University. My first year of college didn’t work out exactly like I had planned. I started off well in all my classes, but in the spring semester my effort wasn’t good enough and my grades began to drop. I was staying with my mother at the time and she wasn’t too pleased to learn about my performance. It pained me to see her disappointed because my mom raised me for most of my life. And there’s one thing I like to keep consistent: a happy mom.

Then a friend from high school told me about Year Up. He vouched for the legitimacy of the program and what he said they were learning sounded right up my alley. It sounded like a chance at a fresh start and the perfect opportunity to redeem myself in my mother’s eyes. With this second chance, I was more motivated to succeed than ever before.

When I started Year Up, I was a bit of an introvert. However, with all the team assignments and activities at Year Up I had no choice but to come out of my shell. In fact, I really valued the soft skills we learned in class, everything from how to dress in a corporate environment to how to engage in small talk. I look back now and realize that these soft skills could very well make the difference in landing a job.

The most important lesson I learned on my internship at Re:Sources was to ask questions. I found it was much better to ask a question as soon as I was unsure of what I was doing rather than trying to do something and messing up when the entire situation could have been avoided with a simple question.

At the end of my internship, I was offered a job as a Field Services Technician at Re:Sources. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is that I get to share my knowledge and experiences with Year Up interns at our company. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I was in their position just over a year ago. Working with the interns gives me a chance to give back to the program that has given me so much.

My manager at Re:Sources has let me work a flexible schedule so I can take part-time classes at the Illinois Institute of Technology. I’m majoring in computer engineering and expect to have my degree by the summer of 2017. After graduation, I’d like to pursue a career in web development.

If I hadn’t participated in the Year Up program I wouldn’t be where I am today. Now, I’m in a position where I can have my own place, attend one of the greatest technical institutes in Illinois, and help others.

Today, my mom tells me all the time that’s she’s proud of me, and it means a lot. She just wants me to follow my dreams. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.