Paul lives in the Bay Area and has always wanted to work with computers. But it seemed so complicated. He went to college, graduated with a major in economics, and worked in several different industries instead. But he had no passion for these jobs. He needed to find a way to make his career something he is passionate about.

When he found Calbright, Paul said, “it seemed too good to be true. I wondered if it was a scam, but I decided to check it out. It’s free, so why not give it a chance? And I’m really glad I did. It literally changed my life.” He’s now working in IT support at one of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley, and loving it.

Calbright programs are flexibly paced, and most students use that opportunity to take their classes more slowly, so that their class schedule can accommodate their lives. Paul took another approach. “I worked really hard. I studied Monday through Sunday, probably four hours a day, on top of my full time job.” He could do that because Calbright lets students progress based on what they know and how committed they are, not where a textbook says they should be in the class. Students can take time when they need it, or test through as quickly as they are able. It’s up to them. Paul wanted to go faster, so he did. 

But Paul also took advantage of Calbright’s student centered approach. “In the middle of the course I had to leave for about a month to go out of the country. That wasn’t a problem at all. Calbright just made it work.”

The experience wasn’t just faster than his Bachelor’s degree at a traditional college had been, it was better for him.

“Calbright is definitely more flexible and efficient,” he said. “When I paid an enormous amount of money to go to a public university that has over 50,000 students, it was extremely hard to get the courses I wanted, the classes I wanted to take, or the major. If they say ‘oh, we’re full,’ then you have to wait six months or a year to take the class or the major. There were so many ‘no’s,’ so many restrictions and rejections. But Calbright has open arms. If you are passionate and you are serious about studying, there’s no limitations.”

When he had completed his studies and was ready to take the Core 1 test for his CompTIA A+ certification, he was shocked to discover that not only were his classes at Calbright free, but the college paid for his certification exam. “That was a blessing.”

“It was also great timing. I departed from my previous job on Friday, and took the Core 2 exam the next Wednesday, and passed. I’d been applying to jobs, and I got a verbal offer within less than two weeks of passing the second exam and getting A+ certified. So from departing from my job to taking the exam to getting hired in IT was about five weeks.”

Paul worked with Calbright’s Career Services program, and says they were an essential part of his new future.

“I give a big shout out and a lot of credit to Kelty in Career Services,” he said. “She really helped me work on my resume. It took a while to keep on editing it, you think you’re done and you always find something else before its final form. Seeing the resume that I had at the end and comparing it to where I started, it was like an NFL football team compared to a high school team.”

The resume got him in the door, got him the interview, but Paul said it was the skills he learned at Calbright that got him the job. “When I got in front of the interviewers, I could correctly answer their questions. I was prepared by the course content. Nobody can know everything, but finishing the course and passing the exam gives you expertise that you can show in the interview.”

He has since passed his Comp TIA Security+ exam as well, opening up new career options in cybersecurity.

Now he wants to encourage other people to take this opportunity. “Calbright doesn’t guarantee anyone the outcome they want, but it gives them a chance. It is possible. Calbright gives people hope, confidence, and encouragement.”