Bouncing Back from Unemployment: Youthful Spirit Helped Student Find Success
By Erin Jayes, AmeriCorps Public Ally Community Engagement Assistant
“Losing a job crushes your ego,” said DC native Betty Gentry. “It’s an emotional roller coaster.”
When Betty was laid off from National Geographic last year, she felt outperformed by a younger, more tech-savvy staff. As a seasoned professional who had been working in administration and finance for 14 years, this was difficult to digest. “What took the younger employees a half hour took me three hours,” Betty said. She knew that she had to increase her computer knowledge to compete.
Betty discovered Byte Back through the Department of Employment Services and took Office Track in the summer of 2014. She passed with flying colors but still hadn’t found a job.
“I was in a downward spiral. I’m a middle-aged woman, and age discrimination is real. My experience wasn’t selling me the way I thought it would. I was starting from scratch. I had zapped my savings, and I desperately needed help.”
A Byte Back instructor recommended that she become certified in Microsoft Excel. When Betty attended her first day of class at Byte Back IT Academy, she met an enthusiastic instructor who shared his positivity and expertise with his students. “Whether they knew it or not,” said Betty, “Byte Back uplifted my spirits that night and gave me the encouragement to keep persevering.”
Learning marketable skills and building her resume made this frustrating period of unemployment more bearable. “The class made me feel like I was working towards something,” she said.
Betty remained in constant contact with Byte Back Employment Specialist Paul Negron and Job Developer Abdullah Alnassar during her job application process. “I had previously held a vice president position, but since I didn’t have a college degree, it made me less competitive,” Betty said. Byte Back’s employment services team saw Betty’s potential. They helped her with her resume, suggested resources and websites, and helped her network with the right people.
“Get a second set of eyes to look at your resume. Enhance your skills so that you are more marketable,” she advises other job seekers. You have to tell yourself, “I am going to get a job.”
Betty did just that. After becoming a certified Excel specialist, Betty had two interviews and was hired by a Magistrate Judge at DC Courts. She’s now earning over $50,000 a year.
“I feel so obligated to Byte Back because I don’t think they realize how much they did for me,” Betty expressed. “They lifted me up when I was at my lowest.”