I’m Paige, and I graduated from Calbright and got a paid apprenticeship at Bitwise Industries, working in technology. I worked hard to make it happen, and I am thrilled.
I moved to California last year, and I thought I had a plan of what I was going to do. But the way the plans turned out was not what I had in mind. I was here all on my own, in Sacramento, and my family all lives in Oklahoma. So I had to adjust fast.
I did some part-time work to get by, but I wanted something that would put me on a good trajectory. I’d always been interested in IT, but as a woman growing up, the message I always got was: “math and science, they’re not your thing,” so I never really tried. But now, in California, it seemed like a good time to explore it! I started looking at coding boot camps, seeing what I could find.
I realized I didn’t want to do a traditional kind of boot camp because I didn’t want to do something that was paced for me. I wanted to do something that was self-paced. That was big for me. And I didn’t want to do something that I had to do at a certain time of the day, because my work schedule was crazy.
As I was researching boot camps I came across Calbright, and the fact that it’s flexibly paced and you can study whenever you want was exactly what I was looking for. Plus Calbright is free, so you don’t have to go thousands of dollars in debt! Moving and being by myself, I don’t have a large support system.
I talked to somebody in Calbright’s admissions, and they said, “If it’s something you’re interested in, we’d love to have you!” So I started the program.
I knew that financially I needed to get through the program pretty quickly in order to get into a good career. When I read the opportunity to be an apprentice at Bitwise, that was it – I decided to do it. It wasn’t just that I needed a better job; I really like Bitwise because of the values they hold. I really wanted to work at a company where I didn’t feel like I was just another person and they didn’t care if I came in tomorrow or not. I wanted to have a position where I knew I am helping the community, and where they care if I’m growing. So I really wanted this.
The trouble was: the opportunity was only available to people who had graduated from Calbright, and the deadline for applying was in just 20 days!
The program is supposed to take six-to-eight months, and I was only about 40% of the way through, but I really wanted to do this, so I told myself “I have 20 days.” Then I worked really hard to complete everything and make sure I had a good understanding of the material. Calbright is a place where you can move through a course really quickly if you put the time in. There were definitely times when it was hard to keep myself on task, but I did it. I applied, and then got in, and now I’m getting paid to learn more and work in tech!
Studying at Calbright was a great experience – I really enjoyed it. I like that it was self-paced. I like that it encouraged me to be curious and look around and see what I could learn about different careers. Everyone was super welcoming. Anytime I needed anything there were tutoring options available, or open drop-in sessions, and the Slack community was amazing. I felt like even though I wasn’t going in-person and I didn’t know anyone, if I needed help I could ask for it. And if I didn’t need help that was okay too.
Now I’m just where I want to be, and it was free, and anything and everything I can learn in my new opportunity, I’m ready to do it.