A Year Up at the Twitter nest

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Growing up in the city of San Francisco, I’ve always been a technical person who enjoys creating something out of different scraps of metal and doing incredible things with it. That curiosity led me to discover the nonprofit organization Year Up, a program training me in technology as well as providing me with career and life connections.

A Year Up at the Twitter nest

By providing a learning community and an earned internship, @YearUp provides highly motivated urban young adults the necessary expertise, experience and support to realize their full potential. Students in the program begin with six months of training. For me, that involved learning about and working with computer hardware and developing other skills that tech companies here in the Bay Area require. After the initial six months of instruction, students are paired with a tech company that partners with Year Up. I was lucky enough to earn an internship with Twitter, where I have been working for four months.

The first two weeks of training at Year Up are designed to get you out of your shell, helping you open up emotionally. On the first day, we were encouraged to get up in front of our entire group and tell our story. This was an empowering and heartfelt experience for me. I remember walking out that day the happiest I’ve ever been in a long time. Experiencing my colleagues’ heartbreaking stories, from where they started to where they have ended up — and what they have become now — is something I’ll always remember and treasure.

At Year Up we have six core values we embody not only through our everyday lives but also in our weekly feedback sessions:

  1. Respect and value others
  2. Build trust, be honest
  3. Be accountable
  4. Engage and embrace diversity
  5. Strive to learn
  6. Work hard and have fun

During our feedback sessions, I’ve learned to think critically and communicate fearlessly, address conflict in a well communicated manner and how to deal with people from diverse backgrounds. We learn to be in touch with the energies and feelings of others before making judgment or criticism. I’ve found that the skills I’ve acquired go way beyond the workplace.

I didn’t know where I was going to end up until the last week of the Year Up training program. They place us based on culture, and it turned out they thought Twitter was the best fit for me. Boy, were they right.

My four months at Twitter have been an amazing experience. For my internship, I work at the IT Help Desk providing technical support and troubleshooting issues. Engineers put their trust in me when they come in and ask high-level questions (and after all, Twitter embodies not just trust and accountability but community as well). There’s such a diversity of people here, and I’ve been able to network with many of them.

My advice to other young adults interested in tech is to not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, and remember that you can always teach yourself things to keep up or get ahead. I plan to go back to college part time at Berkeley Community and major in IT and Computer Engineering while working on a full time position in IT. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities that I have had, thanks in part to Year Up and Twitter — and am excited for what the future will hold.

Monet Wilson is a Year Up intern working on the Twitter IT team.