I had been a waiter for ten years, before i.c.stars, working full time while also going to college. I was
studying Electrical Engineering, but the student loans just kept piling up and I couldn’t continue. I decided to try i.c.stars because I like technology, there was no cost to train, and trainees receive a stipend. If not for all that, I could not have made the move.
I thought that working in technology—starting with i.c.stars—would be a good fit for me. I enjoy working with organized systems, I’m comfortable with the software, and I like the creativity of problem-solving. The hardest part of the program is the long, twelve-hour days. The best thing is the help and support that you receive from instructors, fellow cohorts, alumni, and tech professionals. I had questions but there was always someone there to help me. I learned software, systems, etc. but I also learned public speaking, leadership, and professionalism.
Geek Week was very challenging, with 15 problems to solve to graduate. They were all things that would come up in an actual IT job. Completing Geek Week lets me know that I can make it in the real world. It taught me teamwork, patients, and how to bring others into the process. Cohorts help each other and they remain some of my best friends.
American Family Insurance sponsored our cohort and their RFP. Teams were asked to ideate a social
justice/justice tech solution, or resource for those who fall into one of the three justice system stages:
arrest, incarcerated, reentry. My colleagues and I were the presenters at the competition and I’m proud to
say that my team won! During the competition, and all through the program, we were able to meet CEOs
and leaders in the tech ecosystem. They gave us feedback on the direction that technology is going, the
most important credentials, and the industries that were actively hiring.
Today, I volunteer with a group that helps justice-involved people. I built an app that helps people who
have been arrested contact their parents and helps them organize information about the arrest. Knowing more about who has been arrested, where, and why can help us identify patterns and bring resources to problems. I have a good feeling about giving back to my community.
In the future, I’d like to work internationally, perhaps in international supply-chain logistics as a software
engineer. I know that, with my training in technology, the future is wide open.