When Elizabeth Perez’s college career studying Computer Science was unexpectedly cut short, she knew she had to find another path to achieve her professional goals.

“I knew that if I wanted to be successful, education was a ‘must’ for me,” she said.

So Elizabeth joined the Year Up program, which led to her current internship here at Clarity Partners. With three years of high school website design courses under her belt, she entered the position already experienced in HTML and eager to learn more.

Year Up is a non-profit organization that seeks to close the opportunity divide by providing young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Clarity first became involved with Year Up through an employee request to Clarity Cares, our employee-run charitable giving program. Clarity expanded its involvement earlier this year to participate in the Year Up internship program, which connects young adults who need opportunity with companies who need their talent.

As our first Year Up intern, we asked Elizabeth to share a little bit about her experience with the program and working with the Clarity team.

Internship Role: Solutions Engineer

Internship Duration: January 2019 – July 2019

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got involved with Year Up. 

A: I love to shop, visit museums and am a big fan of coffee. I was staying on campus at Monmouth College – being a first-generation college student was hard because I had to figure a lot of things out on my own. Unexpectedly, college became too expensive. My parents never kept me from getting an education, they were going to do whatever they could to keep me in college. I was conflicted and took it upon myself to withdraw completely. I had no “back up” plan, until a family member mentioned Year Up and I jumped at the opportunity. I worked hard to get in because I didn’t want to settle for less.

Q: How has your Year Up experience prepared you for this internship?

A: My Year Up experience consisted of taking classes in Information Technology, focused on Cyber Security and Help Desk. I took a totally different route, though. Year Up does not offer programming as an area of study, but I had expressed to my instructor that I knew how to code and he challenged me to show him what I could do in ten minutes. After I showed him, he said “This changes completely where you’re going on internship.”

Year Up has prepared me by showing me the professionalism I need in the workplace. Year Up has built my confidence so much – I used to be terrified of public speaking. I still get scared but not as much. I was also a part of the Student Ambassador Committee where I got the opportunity to be an advocate, promoter and representative of Year Up.

Q: What skills are you developing and/or hope to develop with this internship?

A: I’m developing my coding skills in Java and SQL.

Q: What is one of the most valuable things you’ve learned so far?

A: Learning how to set up my environment. I’ve used so many applications that I was new to and I got stuck a few times, which only helped me learn more. Every application plays a specific part and it takes time to set up everything and get it to work. However, that is just one thing – I learn something new every day!

Q: What is your favorite part about this internship?

A: The events I’ve been able to be a part of. I think Clarity does an amazing job at balancing work and having fun. Each event has helped me get to know everyone and that’s what has made me feel comfortable.

Q: What is one thing that surprised you the most about Clarity?

A: It’s my first time being in a corporate setting, so everything is new to me. Clarity has given me the chance to explore different roles. From Java Developer to Business Analyst to SQL Developer, which has only given me the chance to learn more and be on two different projects.

Q: What are your long-term career goals?

A: I want to master my coding skills by doing some sort of bootcamp. I want to have a financially stable job as a programmer so I can help my parents – immigrants that have sacrificed a lot give me a better life – and give them peace of mind. 

About Year Up

Year Up is an award-winning, national 501(c)3 organization that enables motivated young adults ages 18-24 to move from minimum wage to meaningful careers in just one year by providing the skills, experience, and support they need to reach their full potential. Through a one-year, intensive program, Year Up utilizes a high-expectations, high-support model that combines marketable job skills, stipends, coursework eligible for college credit, and corporate internships at more than 250 top companies. Its holistic approach focuses on students’ professional and personal development to enable young adults with a viable path to economic self-sufficiency and meaningful careers. Year Up has served more than 24,000 young adults since its founding in 2000, and will serve more than 4,700 young adults in 2019 across 25 U.S. cities including Arizona, Baltimore, Bay Area, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Greater Atlanta, Greater Boston, Greater Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, the National Capital Region, New York/New Jersey, Puget Sound, Rhode Island, South Florida, Tampa Bay, and Wilmington. Year Up has been voted one of the “Best Non-Profits to Work For” by The NonProfit Times for eight consecutive years, and rated a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator for twelve consecutive years, placing them in the top 1% of tracked organizations.

About Clarity Partners

Clarity Partners is a Chicago-based, full-service management and information technology consulting firm that specializes in delivering comprehensive solutions to complex public sector and non-profit challenges. We provide management consulting, enterprise performance management, application development, website design and development, cloud solutions, project management, and IT staffing services to a diverse mix of businesses across the full spectrum of industries.