jeffersonwongLife before Year Up was tough. My mother passed away unexpectedly so I had to support my younger brother and myself. That meant putting his education before my own. I dropped out of school and took a pharmacy job to make ends meet. I was taking random classes to try to figure out what I wanted to focus on career-wise. I didn’t know what my next steps would be. I just wanted to enter a field I could really enjoy.

I heard about Year Up through a friend of a friend who loved his internship at Google. He told me more about his success in the program, so I went for an information session. I thought this might be the one big move that could change life for my brother and me, so I decided to gamble on it.

At Year Up, I learned how to work in IT help desk support and how to build my own computer. I also learned professional and networking skills and how to apply them to a career. One of the high points of my training was getting experience with elevator pitches and practice interviews. While I was making progress toward my goals, I still had my brother to take care of at home. Knowing that Year Up could open doors for both of us was the motivating factor that helped me stay focused.

I interned at the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) as a Software Quality Assurance Tester and was surprised at how much they expected of me. They gave me really important roles including communicating with other testers around the world. I felt proud to take on so much responsibility.

I graduated from Year Up on January 30, 2013 and it felt bittersweet. It was sometimes challenging to stay ambitious along the way, but I was able to set a good example for my brother by showing him my determination and motivation to succeed. It felt like I had passed a huge hurdle in my life and that our future was changing for the better.

I now work full time as a Software Test Engineer at Microsoft while studying to get my BS in Informatics part-time. All the skills and experience I gained through Year Up and my internship apply to my job and I use them every day. My plan is to finish school and focus on moving up within Microsoft.

I think future employers should know that Year Up students are diverse, determined, and driven. When we put our minds to it, we can amount to anything.