VERIZON NEWS: Verizon Skill Forward Helps Texas Delivery Worker Pivot Into IT

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Crystal Morris is a Jr. Full Stack Java Developer in the Verizon Global Technology Solutions (GTS) department. Credit: Michael Cirlos

Ten months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Crystal Morris was laid off from her job delivering packages. Instead of feeling defeated, Crystal saw this as an opportunity to learn and eventually enter the tech industry. She found the Verizon Skill Forward program and embarked on a journey that would change her life.

Verizon Skill Forward is a free virtual bootcamp that provides technical and soft skill training for high-demand IT careers. It was the right help Morris needed to move from working minimum wage jobs for years to a career that is rewarding and a steady income.

” “So much stress has lifted now,” said the mother of five, based in Arlington Texas. “Being able to pay the bills without breaking a sweat is kind of surreal.”

Crystal Morris learned code and new social skills through Verizon Skill Forward. Credit: Michael Cirlos

Tech skills in demand

As technology continues to disrupt today’s workforce, many U.S. workers like Morris need reskilling and upskilling in order to stay competitive and avoid job displacement. Verizon Skill Forward is part of the company’s $44 million workforce commitment to prepare 500,000 individuals for jobs of the future, and a key initiative within its Citizen Verizon responsible business plan to move the world forward for all.

Participants in Verizon Skill Forward can choose from a range of 10- to 15-week programs such as: Cybersecurity Analyst, Digital Executive Assistant, IT Support Specialist, Junior Web Developer, Junior Cloud Practitioner, Digital Marketing Analyst or Junior Full Stack Java Developer – which Morris opted for. Morris was able, through the daily 9-5 training, to further her knowledge in HTML, CSS and JavaScript as well as SQL and Spring Boot. Soft skills training, career coaching and peer support were also provided to Morris, which she believes was the missing link in her quest for a job as an IT professional.

Morris earned an associate’s in web development in 2013 but says her limited social skills kept her from a career in tech. Credit: Michael Cirlos

A soft skills transformation

Morris knew her hard work in Verizon Skill Forward was paying off after she finally made it through a job interview without breaking into tears.

“Even though I didn’t get the job, it was a great interview for me,” Morris wrote on LinkedIn.

Morris said that she has struggled with anxiety for years and has a crippling fear of failing. Morris was passionate about technology but believed a career in this field was impossible. After completing the Verizon Skills Forward program, Morris was able to overcome her fears and find a job.

In June 2021, she was hired as a Jr. Full Stack Java Developer in the Verizon Thrive Apprenticeship Program. Morris is now part of the Verizon Global Technology Solutions (GTS), billing team. She is responsible for analyzing data to identify patterns and errors. Morris states, “I am the first step in debugging.”

The support Morris received in Verizon Skill Forward was life-changing. Credit: Michael Cirlos

Invaluable support

Equally valuable were the positive interactions and ongoing encouragement she received from the other members of her training group.

” I was able talk about my weaknesses, and others would be like, “Hey, that’s me too,” Morris said. Everyone cheered me on. Everyone cheered me on.”

Morris now works virtually from the comfort of her home. Credit: Crystal Morris

That support, she says, has helped her rebuild her confidence. It’s okay for you to fail. It’s okay for things to go wrong. She says she never felt this before. “Now I say, ‘Hey, I don’t understand.’”

Armed with these new skills, Morris has a restored sense of purpose in her job and life.

” I see coding as an artistic form – creating tools that are both aesthetic and practical,” Morris states. “Being creative and useful is my main reason for waking up in the morning.”

Verizon Skill Forward is a partnership with nonprofit Generation USA that aims to close the opportunity gap for American workers and expand access to digital skills for careers in tech. Some graduates are invited to participate in the Verizon Thrive Apprenticeship Program. Apprentices work for Verizon managers while also receiving one-on-one coaching and continuing education through a partnership with Multiverse.

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