Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) continues to assist the greater metropolitan area’s growing need to have highly-skilled employees in the cybersecurity, business and information technology fields. Twenty-eight students from NOVA graduated in the fifth class of Year Up National Capital Region (NCR) -Woodbridge. The graduation event was held on July 27 at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at NOVA’s Alexandria Campus. The second Year Up NCR July graduating class of 125 young adults, which included the program’s Arlington and NOVA-Woodbridge sites, completed a one-year intensive training, gaining valuable skills toward a career in cybersecurity or information technology.
Year Up is an award-winning, national 501(c)(3) organization that provides low-income young adults, ages 18-24, with a combination of hands-on skill development, college credits and corporate internships with a focus on IT and/or cybersecurity. For the first six months of the program, students develop technical and professional skills in the classroom. During the second six months, students are able to apply their professional and technical skills through an internship with one of Year Up’s corporate partners. Year Up NCR-Woodbridge, named by students as the Visionaries Learning Community, launched its first class of students (LC Limitless) at NOVA-Woodbridge in August 2015.
As an intern with Freddie Mac, Year Up graduate Chris Rainey strengthen his technical and communications skills while providing troubleshooting support for the organization’s 8,500 employees. While working a full-time job, completing Year Up assignments and taking courses at NOVA’s Woodbridge Campus, Rainey believes Year UP encouraged him to step outside of his comfort zone to pursue his goal of becoming a software developer.
“Before Year Up, I was enrolled at West Virginia University, but I had to withdraw due to academic and financial hardships,” Rainey said. “That experience was one of the biggest setbacks I had ever faced. Emotionally, it put me in a much deeper hole that I was already in. I lost all motivation for just about everything and neglected everyone. When I joined the Year UP Woodbridge cohort, they only saw the best in me. My classmates and program advisors inspired me to use my voice and become a better man. After I receive my associate’s degree at NOVA, I plan to transfer to George Mason University and enroll in their accelerated master’s degree program for software engineering. Whatever you want out of life, you have to go out there and earn it.”
Keynote speaker, the Honorable Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax emphasized how important Year Up’s mission was to contributing to the 175,000 middle-skilled jobs that are available throughout the Commonwealth.
“Year Up has trained over 2,400 incredible talented young men and women who will make a fundamental and profound difference throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, the national capital region as well as the country,” said Fairfax. “It is truly remarkable to take on as your organizational mission to close the opportunity divide within our society. Opportunity is the oxygen of a democracy and Year Up is helping us to ensure that everyone receives the same opportunities toward the American dream. I’m proud to be associated with Year Up and the work this organization does around the country.”
Visionaries Learning Community students earned internships with regional corporate partners Capital One Financial Corporation, Freddie Mac, GE Digital, Hilton Worldwide, Inc., Asurion, Neustar, CGI, LMI Government Consulting, Maximus Federal Services, Intersections Inc., Williams & Connolly, Fannie Mae, Carlyle Group, Leidos and Symantec Corp. As interns, the 28 students worked as information security/splunk analysts, desktop support technicians, IT security specialists, network operations center (NOC) analysts and help desk specialists. They completed tasks and career related projects ranging from computer systems configuration to installing software programs.
Year Up has served more than 17,500 young adults and operates in 16 cities across the United States. Within four months of completing the program, 90 percent of graduates are employed full-time, making an average starting salary of over $36,000 or are continuing full-time education.