Regina originally heard about Byte Back years ago, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that she had time to take courses. She had lost her full-time job, and she thought an introductory computer class would help her into new employment.
“I had started courses before,” Regina said, “but wasn’t able to complete them due to scheduling conflicts. I always wanted to return to Byte Back, and I finally had the chance.”
Things were tough for Regina when she first started the course. “My daughter bought me the laptop, but I didn’t touch it for three weeks because I was so intimidated,” Regina said, reflecting on the first few weeks.
Though she had some experience with computers from her career of over 30 years in the hospitality industry, she didn’t feel comfortable enough to approach managerial positions in the field due to their technical comprehension requirements. This all changed after she took Byte Back’s Computer Foundations 1 course.
“It’s given me the confidence to go after the best,” Regina said. She credits much of her success to her instructors and to her mentor, Melissa Daley, who is also the founder and CEO of Orca Intelligence, an IT company based in the DMV.
“Melissa told me, ‘You’re on your phone everyday – your phone is a computer,’” Regina recalled. Comparisons like this helped Regina realize that she already used technology and that it didn’t have to seem so foreign. She felt more free to explore technology and gain interest and confidence.
“That’s a part of being an instructor: Providing the confidence and letting people know, ‘You know this. You just have to practice. It’s like playing a sport – it’s just muscle memory,’” Melissa said regarding her experience working with Regina. “I just told her, ‘Regina, I know you’ll get this, but you have to be patient with yourself.’”
Regina also found that she was working from a different operating system than the rest of the class – she had an Apple computer, while her instructor (and the other students) had PCs. “I was able to convert the curriculum for her,” Melissa said. This was critical for Regina.
Though she successfully completed the course months ago, she still reaches out to Melissa occasionally to thank her for the guidance. “It worked miracles for me,” Regina said.
As a mentor and instructor, Melissa sees that having tools to gain technical comprehension is critical to building a safe digital environment. “We need to turn the virtual environment into a space that is just as safe as our reality,” she shared about her overarching goals in working with organizations like Byte Back.
Through her volunteer work with Byte Back students and workshops she creates for individuals, we will create a safer environment for future generations. “We need to safeguard (the upcoming generations) so they can feel safe in their environment, especially their digital environment,” Melissa said.
As Regina finished her course, she found she was well-prepared to approach higher-level positions. With her new skill set, Regina found two new jobs: Community Leader at Jobs for Justice, and Bar Manager at the Victory Lounge & Bar – both positions requiring a lot of work on the computer. “I never thought I’d be able to do (these jobs) that easily and confidently,” Regina said.
She plans to continue taking classes at Byte Back, with the hopes of completing a professional track.
“I would just like to finish (all the programming at Byte Back), just so that I have no doubts, no fears, and I can just feel even more confident,” Regina said.