DUMBO, Brooklyn — The pandemic brought so much hardship, pain and suffering for so many New Yorkers.
But for a small group of young people, when their work shut down because of COVID-19, they took a chance on a free tech training course and it paid off for them.
“I make way more money than cooking and it tripled my salary,” said Jevante Smith, a Bushwick resident.
Smith’s dream had always been to become a top chef but when the 26-year-old graduate of the International Culinary Center was laid off from his cooking job because of the pandemic, his girlfriend suggested he try a free tech training course called NPower for six months.
And now he says he is so happy he did, working at Citi as a risk and control manager.
“They helped us fix our resumes, taught us how to speak in the corporate environment, network and maneuver that many of us going to NPower weren’t used to,” Smith said.
Helen Kogan, the executive director of NPower of New York and New Jersey, loves the effect they’re having on people.
“It feels wonderful to make an impact on the young adults we served and it also makes an impact on their families,” she said.
More than 2,000 young people in New York City have taken the nPower tech training course in the last ten years. Kogan says not only is it free but transportation and computers can be provided, since it’s totally underwritten by corporate sponsors and foundations.
The only requirements: that you must be between the ages of 18 to 25, have a high school diploma and be legally allowed to work in the United States.
“You don’t have to be a tech genius,” Kogan said. “You don’t even have to have a tech background. You have to be hungry and want to work and have the discipline to come to class.”
Those taking the course are so grateful for it.
“It changed my life,” Daniel Asafo-Adjei, a Harlem resident, told PIX11 News.
The 26-year-old man was working two jobs when the pandemic hit. One in construction, the other in housekeeping in New York Presbyterian Hospital. His sister was a graduate of the NPower tech training course and with his daughter on the way, Daniel decided to try for a more secure future.
Now a software engineer at Accenture, he has doubled his pay.
“Even now I’m trying to lay the groundwork for when my daughter is bigger, she can understand coding and she’ll have a head start,” Asofo-Adrei told PIX11 News.
The next training session starts August 16. If you want to apply, there are still spots available and you can go to their website to find out how at their website. The program is also available in New Jersey and is open to military veterans and their spouses in New Jersey.