Through watching my mother work two jobs most of my life, I learned that independence is important. If you want something, you have to go get it yourself. When I started paying my own bills at 16 it felt good knowing I was taking care of my responsibilities without being asked. Juggling work and school was difficult, but I knew that if I wanted to keep my job I had to make sure I was getting good grades. The truth was, I wanted all of my hard work to pay off in a way that truly benefited me, and not just do something because I was told to.

I chose to major in Business Administration because I knew it would open up opportunities for me in the future, but when I heard about Year Up I jumped at the chance because it was an alternative that made sense to me. I knew the program would benefit me because I was held to higher standards than I was used to in school. Year Up put expectations and incentives in my life for the first time. I felt like my future was on the line with each project, which pushed me to manage my time a lot better. It gave me a reason to better myself and make the most out of the work I was doing.

I was the first Year Up intern to be placed at Juniper Networks. I was a little nervous knowing I was going to be the face of the program and setting the bar for any future interns they may accept, but I felt prepared for anything they could throw at me. My responsibilities included updating and distributing project plans and getting employees trained on new programs. The challenges I faced were not so much about the work I was doing, but about showing who I am and what I am capable of. I needed to make sure I was showing them that there was a place for me there, even with little experience, so I introduced myself to everyone I could, I stayed busy, and I made sure my voice was heard.

That extra effort paid off because I now work at Apple Inc. as a Technical Consultant in project management. I love what I do. Being a Consultant allows me to get a wide range of experience from a variety of companies and soak up so much knowledge. In five years or so, I see myself being much closer to my Project Management Professional Certification, with my bachelors in business administration, a business license, and a place to start a small business of my own.

Year Up couldn’t have been presented to me at a better time. There is so much hidden talent within urban youth, and oftentimes we just need that opportunity to show it. I am so glad that I am able to help pave the way for other people out there who aren’t sure if it is possible to achieve their goals.