Sher’s journey to a Bachelor’s degree was derailed when her marriage ended five years ago and she became the sole provider for her family. After a challenging divorce, Sher had to work two-to-three jobs to support her three children. But without sustainable employment and a living wage, she was barely making ends meet.
Her life changed forever when, in early 2019, she was introduced to Orange County United Way’s UpSkill OC program, an innovative workforce development initiative that offers unemployed and underemployed residents in Orange County a pathway to middle-skill jobs and career opportunities.
“That day, I learned about United Way and the UpSkill OC program, and how this really is a platform to catapult you onto greater things,” Sher said. “I didn’t realize how much of a positive impact it would have until I took a step back.”
As part of the program, Sher completed a career assessment that identified her computer science skills. Her father, who had been a civil and structural engineer and had changed careers to become a computer engineer, had taught her about the trade. This made her an excellent candidate for the cybersecurity industry.
In June, Sher enrolled in a free four-week training program with CISOSHARE, an UpSkill OC partner and a leading provider of cybersecurity services that was recently ranked by the Orange County Business Journal as the third fastest-growing private company in the county.
CISOSHARE looks to identify and recruit people with cybersecurity aptitudes who can quickly transition into higher-paying cybersecurity careers. Addressing the skills gap within the cybersecurity industry, CISOSHARE’s Cybersecurity Foundational Training program focuses on identifying talent and then removing roadblocks that often prevent people from entering and gaining sustainable employment in the industry.
After finishing the initial course, Sher moved onto a six-week internship with role-specific training and working alongside CISOSHARE security experts in the three of the most-needed cybersecurity positions.
“While I was interning, I gained valuable training,” Sher said. “Cybersecurity is complicated and there are a ton of technical terms. The exposure and repetition embedded into my memory and I’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time.”
Starting October 2019, Sher is now working at CISOSHARE as a full-time employee with a living wage. While she has tripled her income in a matter of two months, Sher is determined to continue to study and take on additional courses to gain certifications in the cybersecurity field.
“You can do so much with this program,” Sher said. “I’m confident and excited about the future and I’m excited for even more experience and exposure to the different avenues of cybersecurity.”
Grateful for the opportunities UpSkill OC has given her, Sher plans to pay it forward by giving back to the UpSkill OC program because she knows there’s going to be someone in her position who needs that level of support.
Orange County United Way’s UpSkill OC workforce development program serves as the bridge connecting two challenges in Orange County: the need for affordable housing and the need for sustainable wages. UpSkill OC aims to ensure that once an individual is able to secure housing, s/he has the means and skills to be on the path towards independence and housing security. Would you or your company like to do more to equip individuals with the support and training needed to secure long-term sustainable employment?