Illia Shabaiev - GTWhat is Year Up? Some people consider Year Up as a good opportunity to start a career, while others might see it as a chance to get 30 credits for free; however, I strongly believe that Year Up offers students much more than that. I see Year Up as a self-development program that gives many people, including myself, a chance to become a different person who everyone wants to be, but may never had a chance to be.

I come from a culture where people are not open-minded nor communicative. To be honest, it was challenging for me to adapt to the societal norms here. However, this program was a turning-point in some ways for me.

In just the first 6 months of the program, I realized that Year Up offered every participant a tremendous amount of opportunities to get out of your comfort zone. However, it is each participant’s choice whether or not to take a hold of it. In my opinion, if you did not better yourself after going through this program, you did not take advantage of it.

Overall, I think Year Up was a remarkable and unique experience – from the first day when Gerald Chertavian looked every student right in the eyes until the moment when I got my graduation certificate. This past year seemed incredibly long, yet, very short. I have met a lot of different people with very diverse backgrounds, experienced new things, underwent a lot of different emotions, and I am better now because of that. I have learned to do things in a more efficient way. Now I understand that I have the capability to do a job I want to do, not just a job I need to do. I am also incredibly pleased with my internship experience with Allstate and grateful for all people who surrounded me for these 6 months. I believe that everyone had a positive impact on me, and made me better than I was. I learned many hard skills there and met several people with different roles and career paths. My internship experience made me understand what exactly I want to do for my career and how I can achieve it.

Looking back, I understand that I could have done some things differently to more quickly achieve my goals. However, I can say with full assurance that it has been the most progressive year of my life so far.