Just because someone has a nontraditional background doesn’t mean they can’t excel in the working world — in fact, it’s often a tremendous asset. That’s the philosophy behind Year Up, a nonprofit dedicated to helping close the opportunity divide and “providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.” Through their free, one-year training and internship placement program, Year Up has helped tons of opportunity youth gain the tools that they need to build their career.
This year, Glassdoor became a Year Up corporate partner and is now lucky enough to have two students from the program interning right here at our Mill Valley headquarters for six months. Glassdoor’s Emily Moore recently caught up with one of them, Desktop Support Analyst Intern Alex Navarro, to learn a bit more about why he chose Year Up, how he came to Glassdoor, and how he’s enjoying the experience so far.
Glassdoor: How did you get started with Year Up?
Alex Navarro: I was in and out of college, really didn’t have a path, and decided to do Year Up because of all the success stories I’d heard of. A few of my friends actually went through the program and now they have careers. Someone that I know personally works for Year Up now, so I thought it would be a great opportunity for myself to join and now I’m seven months in and about two months with Glassdoor.
Glassdoor: What’s the Year Up training program like?
Alex Navarro: It’s three phases of seven weeks over about five months. The first seven weeks you really just get used to the culture and how they want you to go about your day-to-day in the location. First, they make you dress up in professional attire, so every day I came in wearing dress shoes, slacks, and a button-up. Also, when you’re in class, they make you not touch your phones at all. They have a strict rule about that because they want you to be learning and be very attentive and understand the material you get. You learn the basics of how to do emails, start conversations and some technical skills like using Microsoft Office and Outlook. Then, depending on what kind of role you want, skills like PC building, public speaking, etc. The next two phases, you actually go into your job track. My track was IT. Those next two months, I really learned a lot about the IT service, so how to troubleshoot tickets, active directory and the different operating systems like Windows and Mac.
Glassdoor: How did you get assigned to Glassdoor?
Alex Navarro: Someone on my team at Glassdoor, Pallavi, actually worked with Year Up during her previous job at Airbnb, so she already had a connection there. Glassdoor’s a first-year partner, so myself and Maurice [O’Sullivan] are the first interns from Year Up. They choose your location, so the criteria and what they were looking for within the IT team matched our skills, and that’s how we joined Glassdoor.
Glassdoor: What does a day in the life here at Glassdoor look like for you?
Alex Navarro: Every morning I do my morning checks, which are visiting the conference rooms to make sure the tablets are working, the Polycom system’s working, and the TVs are on. I do all of Building A and then depending on Maurice’s schedule, Building B, so about 31 conference rooms within an hour. I get here about 6:30 or 7:00 AM and have to be done by 8:30 AM, since most of the meetings go on from about 8:00 to 8:30 AM. Then, I’m at the service desk from about 8:30 AM to lunch. Normally people come up with issues like they forgot their laptop at home, or they need an adapter or something kind of device, and that’s where my team’s very helpful. I can’t give enough appreciation to Brandon and Randy for these last few weeks of really training me and helping me troubleshoot issues that I’ve never seen before. The rest of the day, from about 1:00 to 4:30 PM, I’m running around trying to solve other tickets or do a minor setup. Every new hire gets a laptop and a desk, and that’s my responsibility right now — to set up their desk and make sure their laptop’s up to date so that their first day in, they have everything they need.
Glassdoor: What’s been your favorite part about working at Glassdoor so far?
Alex Navarro: I think the first week. Everyone was really welcoming — I’ve never felt so much camaraderie. I have to thank my manager, Tim. He introduced us to a lot of people the first few days and I think that was one of the best experiences I’ve had. From then on, I think just learning, and picking up everything I’ve been taught.
Glassdoor: What are some of the things you’ve learned while you’ve been here?
Alex Navarro: I learned a lot at the last Speaker Series with Rich Barton. Learning about his experience and what kind of companies he’s worked for and been a part of was interesting. Year Up has something like that called Friday Guest Speaker — someone would come in, tell their story, and show the steps of how they got there. That was inspirational because you could see someone working so hard at a big company but wanting to expand and do their own thing.
Glassdoor: What’s your ultimate career goal?
Alex Navarro: At the moment, I just want to know as much as I can and get all the information I can. With Year Up, they stress that your learning doesn’t stop after your five months at the program. Then going into your internship, it’s really been about how you capitalize on that. My goal these next few weeks — I have a four-week plan — is to understand other employees’ stories, and try to network. It’s a small company, but you get to know so many people if you just extend that hand out, and that’s what I’m going to do so that I have the necessary tools for after my internship.
Glassdoor: What are your plans for when your internship at Glassdoor is finished?
Alex Navarro: Last year, in my learning community, the success rate of people getting converted to full-time hires after internships was about 55 percent, so that’s a big number. But if people don’t get converted from their site, Year Up starts this transition within four months for you to start looking at other opportunities outside of your current situation.
Glassdoor: After working here for a couple of months, what do you think makes Glassdoor different than other companies?
Alex Navarro: Even though it’s a well-known company, it feels small, so every individual that works here is important. You have your title, but you have different skill sets that make your job unique, and everyone’s versatile in their own way. That’s a great stepping stone to different career paths. You have ownership of what you do and how you do it.
Glassdoor: One thing I really like about Glassdoor is how treating employees well is really in their DNA, given the space that we occupy.
Alex Navarro: It’s crazy how you see all these executives and VPs come down and shake your hand and even talk to you. Even though they have an office, they don’t look down on you — we’re one big community.
Glassdoor: Are there any fun facts about yourself you want to share?
Alex Navarro: I was born and raised in San Francisco. I hear a lot of people within the company are from the Bay Area and I think that’s amazing. I’m really into sports. Right now it’s football season so I’m really into fantasy football. I have three leagues going on, and I’m excited about the NBA as well. I also love comics — I’m a big Flash fan and I can’t wait for the DC movies to start hitting theaters. In my spare time, I try to go out and enjoy different parts of the Bay Area — I like exploring my city. Before I started driving, I used to bus around the whole city so I know the public transportation system like the back of my hand.
Glassdoor: What are some of the hidden gems that you’ve found in the Bay Area?
Alex Navarro: I’m not too sure a lot of people know what McLaren Park is — that view right there is to die for. You can just see everything from there. You can see the Bay Bridge, Salesforce Tower, the Golden Gate bridge, all the businesses downtown. Every day when I was in high school, looking out there, I just dreamed of working at one of those companies, and now I am.
Glassdoor: I imagine that’s a pretty good feeling!
Alex Navarro: It is! It’s crazy how you can go from the south side of San Francisco and then work your way up. That’s how Year Up makes you feel. When you put on those dress clothes and you’re taking BART from the south side of the city to downtown every day, it gives you a different perspective.