He had been standing in line for quite some time waiting impatiently—like everybody else appeared to be on his side of the stage. It was hot and somewhat humid, the sun was glaring on his face, and the dark outfit he was wearing from head to toe wasn’t helping in any way.

The crowd seemed very friendly, they cheered every time they heard a name—a little over the top in his opinion. He seemed to know that after walking across, things were not going to be as simple as they had been for the past few years; that things were most likely going south for many of the twenty-somethings standing next to him. 

The crowd was well aware of the crude reality of adult life, but they cheered for everyone anyways. He wondered why, but it didn’t matter anymore, it was his turn. “Kevin Lee”, a voice said loud and clear. He walked across the stage in front of a cheering crowd, counting every step of the way as if his fitbit wasn’t already doing it for him. He stretched his hand, grabbed it and walked off. Right in the middle, in big fancy bold letters, it read: Bachelor of Arts in Economics.

When Kevin graduated in 2014 from Rutgers University, he had completed one of the most challenging programs offered at that school. His family was very proud, of course. All those years of preparation and hard work had finally paid off. It was now time to capitalize on the skills he had developed.

When Kevin stepped off that stage he was looking to jumpstart a career full of intriguing challenges and opportunities. He had very high but realistic expectations of himself and his career, and was very excited for growing as a person and as professional.

Nonetheless, less than three years after his graduation, he isn’t working in anything related to economics. All that hard work, the time he put into mastering econometrics and calculus. All the all-nighters he pulled off trying to understand different theories, just to end up doing something else.

Right out of college, he jumped into a role as a project manager working for an interior design company. It wasn’t what he had envisioned—not much to do with economics. But a much better start than the one many of his struggling classmates were experiencing.

After almost a year, Kevin realized that he wasn’t inspired by the company’s mission, and felt like project management wasn’t for him. So, he decided to quit and do something where he could put his degree to use.

He landed a job working as an accountant in a CPA office. But shortly after, he found himself looking at the clock way too many times when he was at work. It was too repetitive.

Two years into his career, he was considering leaving it all behind and starting from scratch. He wanted a challenging job—a job where he could tackle new big projects often and grow his skill set all the time. So, he began looking for alternatives, and found an information technology (IT) training program called Zero to Engineer.

Kevin had made up his mind about switching careers, but knew nothing about IT at the time. He certainly didn’t want to go back to school for several years to get another degree. So, he jumped on the phone with Zero to Engineer’s head instructor and mentor, Terry Kim, to talk about his situation.

Kevin wanted a career full of new challenges and opportunities for growth. So despite not knowing anything about technology, he was intrigued by the ever-changing nature of the IT industry, and how it constantly pushes people to develop their skill set—not to mention the potential for great pay and variety of career paths that IT offers.

A career in IT was exactly what Kevin had been looking for—but he was starting from ground zero. After considering his options, he decided to enroll in the Zero to Engineer program, which promised to teach him the secret formula to jumpstart an IT career within months.

Obviously that was much less than what it was going to take him to get an associates degree at the local community college. He committed to his decision and dove into the program—following all the advice he was given and executing on every homework assignment, only pausing to catch up on sleep.

He never doubted his decision of not pursuing a career related to his hard-earned college degree. Instead, he studied hard—as if this were the last chance he had to have an exciting and fulfilling future. It only took him 2 months to finish the entire program.

It was now time to put what he learned into use and break into the industry. But before, he needed to solve the hands-on experience problem, and he needed to do it quickly—before started thinking that leaving his college education on the shelf and pursuing a career in tech wasn’t a smart decision.

Fast forward 18 months. Kevin now works as a network engineer for Samsung’s infrastructure team. In just a year and a half, he accomplished something that “experts” claim is supposed to take several years of study and experience.

He has now embarked on a new career, in an industry that never stops growing and changing. In the beginning he might have taken a pay cut, but it was only while he gained some experience working in an IT environment. 

From there, he had no trouble moving up because he followed the advice given in the Zero to Engineer program. Last time I checked, he was about to break the 6 figure salary mark. But, most importantly, was excited to go to work every morning and excited about his future.