Young Mother’s Patience Pays Off
By Erin Jayes, Community Engagement Assistant & AmeriCorps Public Ally
“I always wanted to work with computers. Every time I saw someone having computer issues, I’d think, ‘I wish I could help them!’” Jewel Smith was determined, and after earning computer certifications and interning at Byte Back, she found that being proactive really paid off.
A Southeast DC native, Jewel was independent-minded from a young age. Shortly after graduating from Ballou High School in 2005, she had a son. Jewel was lucky to have supportive family nearby, but raising her son by herself while working part time at Giant was tough.“I was spending more money getting to work then I was earning. I wasn’t happy.”
After three years of waiting on government assistance and being in constant debt, she knew that it was time for a change.Jewel found Byte Back while looking for job training programs online and enrolled in PC Hardware in November 2013 and later in the A+ certification course. Although she struggled at first with the A+ exam, one-on-one assistance from her Byte Back instructor and her First Time Technology internship helped, and she earned her A+ certification in July 2014.But she didn’t immediately find a job. “I told myself that I had to be patient. A lazy mind is always a dangerous mind,” Jewel said. As someone who has had friends and family members fall into drugs and alcohol, she wanted to stay busy and focused on her goals, both for her and for her 8-year-old son.
Jewel received resume assistance from Byte Back’s employment services team and became a certified Excel specialist. Looking back at that time now, she encourages other job seekers to just have patience. “You will get there. Be proactive. In the meantime, prep yourself by editing your resume, practicing your interview techniques, and taking classes,” she said. “Byte Back helped me make goals to work towards.”
In September, Jewel’s patience paid off when she was hired as a tech administrator by the Office of the Chief of Technology Officer to work at DC Public Schools. Helping teachers solve computer issues “comes naturally to me,” she said. “The minute I walk in the school door, people grab me asking, ‘Can you come help me?’ I love feeling needed and depended on.”
Jewel finds extra satisfaction in teaching others how to fix something instead of doing it for them. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” she said, quoting a proverb.
“Byte Back doesn’t just teach you computer skills; they hold your hand every step of the way,” she said