Year Up Bay Area Alum

Class of January 2014

Before I learned about Year Up, I spent six long years working in retail. I took community college classes when I could afford them and had time to attend, but overall didn’t see a future for myself. I was stuck. I knew I wanted to do something more with my life. I just didn’t know how to go about achieving that. Then one day, my grandmother emailed me an article about Year Up. I read it and liked what I saw, so I attended an info session and applied.

Once I was accepted into the program, I had to leave my old life behind in Arizona and move to California, an entirely new city, which was a huge challenge. Despite my initial difficulty shifting from a retail environment to the more corporate environment of Year Up, I knew I had made the right decision. I learned IT and communication skills, and most importantly, I learned how to network—how to make connections and find new opportunities. The staff helped me work on my growth areas and enhance my strengths, which set me up for success when I earned an internship at Bank of the West.

As an intern, I worked on daily data reports. One day I found a problem in the new employee on-boarding process. Using what I had learned at Year Up, I took initiative and asked if I could tackle the issue. My manager said yes, and I continue to manage the employee on-boarding project to this day. By stepping up and taking on this responsibility, I learned the value of both independence and knowing when to ask for help. 

When I graduated from Year Up, my initial plan was to continue my education and get a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Then, Bank of the West offered me a job. I returned to school and started working full time. After two years, I moved to Los Angeles to continue my career at Bank of the West working as a Business Systems Analyst, Officer. In the past, I was stuck in a dead-end retail job that I’d probably still be working if I hadn’t found Year Up. Because of this program, I have options for the future.

As a graduate, I’ve been a mentor for the first Los Angeles class and helped with the launch of Year Up Arizona. I also lead the Millennial Research Group and we’re planning to partner with the Los Angeles site to volunteer with event opportunities. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish and excited about what comes next. Once I complete my degree, I’d like to move into management in either the corporate or nonprofit sectors. I want to spread the word about Year Up’s mission and show the world that young people like me are just as capable of working hard and succeeding as anyone else.