It’s a grind, but Garcia said it’s worth it.
“I had no idea where I wanted to go in my life,” Garcia said. He took community college classes while in high school and earned an associate’s degree in film studies, but realized that making movies is expensive. He needed a plan B.
A friend of his aunt’s had completed the Year Up program, a national initiative that helps lower-income students take technology courses tuition-free and connects them with internships. After finishing the training, the acquaintance landed a job at the online real estate company Zillow.
“It was a perfect opportunity for me,” said Garcia, “because I’m broke and between 18-24 [years old]” — which are the required ages for participation.
Year Up does outreach with organizations including community and job-training groups to find interested students. But word of mouth is a powerful recruiting tool.
“When young people in the community see [Year Up] alumni working in spaces they didn’t expect to see them in, they start asking,” said Fred Krug, executive director of Year Up Puget Sound.
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