For a little while, Binh looked like he was a Silicon Valley success story. 

He grew up in San Jose and wanted to work in the tech industry. He got early access to community college classes while he was in high school, then transferred to a four year university for a computer science degree. He hopped around several jobs after graduating, getting better and better deals each time. It was going great.

Except that he was burning out. 

Binh is open about a long struggle with mental health issues that had tormented him in high school and college. Now he was working 14 hour days at companies that didn’t understand him; he was losing sleep because he needed to have meetings with teams in time zones across the world; his marriage was falling apart, and he was trying to support his in-laws.

It was too much.

“I burned out,” he said. “I’d gone from doing contract work and start-up work and going to school to trying to manage a demanding job while being abused and it was too much. I got a divorce. I was really depressed. I didn’t know if I should work in tech anymore.”

Binh thought about going into nursing, but a back injury meant that he couldn’t carry patients or meet other the physical requirements demanded of the role. 

He wasn’t sure how to get his life back on track. But while looking around for his next career, he found Calbright.

“I was talking to people, and they were saying that I’m an extrovert, I like to talk to people, so maybe I should do a technical support role. Those involve talking to people,” he said. “But despite my coding background I wasn’t getting interviews. I was trying to figure out why, and people were saying that getting a Comp TIA A+ certificate would really help. I didn’t even know what that was! I tried to study for it on YouTube and take practice exams, but I wasn’t doing well.”

Then “people started sending me links to Calbright, and I thought “Oh, that’s cool, they have a whole structured program, and it’s free!’”

He enrolled. He hasn’t completed his program yet, but he already has a new job and his life has changed for the better.

Calbright isn’t just online classes, it’s a supportive community dedicated to helping you meet your goals. It’s high tech and high touch. He realized he’d never had that before.

“I didn’t know what I was dealing with before. Mental health challenges were never talked about. I was just supposed to man up. So Calbright’s given me a lot,” Binh said. “Talking to counselors, learning how to manage burnout, acknowledging my situation. My accessibility counselor at Calbright always reminds me that I need time to heal. My career counselor kept pointing me towards better jobs that were a good fit for my skills, which at first I didn’t even think about applying for. It was a learning experience for me.”

It was very different from his time at a traditional college. “Calbright is very flexible. It fit much better for me than my bachelor’s degree did. At Calbright I knew what I wanted and if I needed contact with someone I could send them a Slack message and that was it. That was all I had to do, and I got the help I needed and then could decide the best use of my own time.”

But while he had independence, “They always made sure I knew about all the support services Calbright has, and that I could use them. Calbright gave me someone to talk to. People who really helped.”

Working with Calbright’s career services program, he found and applied for a role he wouldn’t have thought of: a Senior Developer in Test at a medical device company.

“Calbright really provided all the tools and support I needed,” he said. “They would talk me through my anxiety, talk me through putting my resume together, do practice interviews, work on mindfulness.”  

He applied, and half-way through his studies at Calbright he got the job. Now he’s working, his career is on track, and he’s using the skills he learned at Calbright to both succeed and avoid burnout. 

“Everybody can improve their communication skills. Everybody,” he said. “That was something important I learned at Calbright. At my new job, I have to sell ideas and decisions to management all the time. I shouldn’t be scared to speak up and say things, tell them things they need to hear.”

Binh has put his studies at Calbright on pause in order to focus on his new job and avoid stress. That’s okay: he’s on track, doing what’s best for him, and Calbright will be here when he’s ready.

“I still want to finish my program,” he Binh said. “It’s an amazing opportunity. That we can have access to a community college like Calbright and not pay a dime? That’s so surprising!”

Binh Tran headshot