In an ideal world, four years at a traditional college or university in the US will result in a hard-earned degree and, hopefully, a job upon graduation. In the real world, that’s not necessarily the case. Nowadays, the pursuit of higher education as a path towards a career is leaving young adults in crippling student debt and chronic unemployment.
The good news is is that there’s hope.
In just one year, San Francisco native Christian, 20, went from working overtime at a local grocery store to working as an Associate Technology Support Analyst in Deloitte’s IT department.
How did he do it? Year Up.
Year Up is a free, year-long training and internship program for careers in technology. It serves as a career accelerator for young adults between the ages of 18 - 24 that are disconnected from livable wage employment and higher education.
In the first six months of the program, students learn the in-demand hard skills and business soft skills that will allow them to excel at at their six-month paid corporate internship. Not to mention, students can earn up to 24 college credits and receive a weekly education stipend throughout the program.
85% of Year Up graduates are employed or attending college full-time within four months of completing the program. Those employed earn an average starting salary of $16 per hour or $32,000 per year for salaried employees.
Let’s hear more from Christian about his experience.
Did you have aspirations to pursue college after high school?
College seemed like the natural next step after high school, but I decided it wasn’t for me. I noticed that a lot of my fellow classmates were extremely stressed. I didn’t want to put myself through the confusing and time-consuming process of filling out applications and scholarships, figuring out financial aid packages and out-of-pocket expenses.
Most of all, I didn’t want to put my parents or myself into debt.
From your perspective, what’s the purpose of college?
The way I see it, college gives you the tools and knowledge to get a better job. But I know that a degree doesn’t mean you’ll get your dream job, which is why it was difficult for me to justify the pursuit for higher education.
Now that you’ve graduated from Year Up and have a great paying job, do you want to pursue college still?
Yes, absolutely. I think continuing my education will keep me “in the know” for my field of work. Right now, I’m working towards technical certifications from Apple, HP and Dell. My employer also offers an amazing tuition reimbursement benefit where I can take college courses related to my functional role and have them pay a portion of it. I definitely plan to take advantage of that.
What impact has Year Up had on your life?
I don’t have a college degree yet I still have a great paying job at a great company where I can see myself grow and stay for the long-term. I don’t have to worry about money anymore and I also get to financially support my parents. It’s incredible that I got myself here in one year when it could’ve taken me four years and a lot of debt.