By Yvette Scorse, Communications Manager
One year ago, Olivia Byrd was living in her car. She was working as a security guard but faced frequent bouts of unemployment, with little help from the unemployment center.
Then a friend said, “If you get this certification, you should never have an issue being unemployed again.”
When asked where she would be now, a year later, if she hadn’t taken this free course, earned the certification, or started a new career, Olivia just shakes her head. She’s speechless for a moment. “I don’t even know. I’d be somewhere hurting.”
Finding Her Way
Out of high school, Olivia didn’t know what she wanted to do, but now she wishes she would have listened to her brother, who told her to study computer science. She tried it for a while at University of DC, and then studied business at Prince George’s Community College and Bowie State University. But she never graduated.
Her experience at Byte Back was far different than at other institutions.
Not Just a Number
“I had never experienced any learning institution like that in my life,” Olivia says about Byte Back. At other places, “you’re just a number in the back.”
She was refreshed by a more personal learning experience. “It was like Byte Back took my hand and walked me though, like a mother does with a child,” she says.
She was impressed with the patience of her A+ instructor Michael Williams but also that she got test preparation, resume help, and even advice on what to wear to job interviews. “Every minute detail is covered to get you on the right path,” she says, and she was ready.
Getting Used to Success
After Olivia passed her exams and earned her A+ certification in September, “it was on – the flood gates were open,” she says. Employers and recruiters started calling and emailing.
“Being a security guard has had me unemployed and employed and unemployed and employed for 10 years,” she says. Olivia’s new position at the IT help desk at General Dynamics is a different story. “It’s a career change. It’s a life change,” she says.
Never Be Unemployed Again
Along with starting a new career, Olivia got life-changing support. At Byte Back’s 18th birthday celebration in November, she met Elizabeth Lindsey, executive director, and immediately told her, “Byte Back saved my life.”
Olivia also feels her own academic potential now. “They can start you from scratch and get you here,” she says, although her skills have not reached their peak just yet. She’ll earn her Network+ and Security+ certifications next, and then “I’m going to get rich and donate to [Byte Back],” she says.
Meanwhile, all the way in Oklahoma, Olivia’s family is relieved that she’s finding success. “My mom’s really happy – she’s not as worried,” she says, looking happy herself.
It looks like her friend was right – with her new skills, confidence, and certification in hand, Olivia won’t ever have to be unemployed, or homeless, again.