SAN RAMON — Graduates of a free vocational training program focused on black and Latino communities say the transition to software sales is life-changing for their professional development and the stability of their families.
In an uncertain job market with several tech companies announcing layoffs by 2022, Re:Work Training Bay Area highlights a sector with plenty of opportunity.
“I knew I didn’t want to do what I was doing before, and I wanted to try something new,” said John Costa, chief development officer at Five9 Inc. and Re:Work alumnus. “If you’re willing to learn and willing to change,[you]can definitely get into this field.”
Costa in 2010 A 2020 graduate of San Francisco State University with a degree in political science was on the way. So he took the first job he could find as a delivery truck driver.
A friend told him about Re:Work in 2022 and he signed up for an eight-week program. He took classes every Saturday, and every Sunday, students in the course would role-play scenarios to help them work in the tech sales industry.
“I really didn’t see any other way out,” he said of his life and career before starting the program. “It affects your mood after work, before work, on your days off and then it affects those around you, the ones you love the most.”
Re:Work is a new program for the non-profit All Stars Help Kids and has placed 35 candidates in tech jobs. Candidates do not need a college degree, but must be at least 18 years old. Many graduates see their salary increase by more than 100%. According to Re:Work, some have more than tripled their income.
“It would have been difficult to be able to take care of my daughter financially and be the father that I needed to be there for her because I wasn’t there mentally,” Costa said. “It gives me a chance to take care of my family, but I’ve also met — made — some great friends, friends for life.”
After completing the program, he and his girlfriend moved away from the city and found a home to raise their young daughter. He has the ability to work from home on certain days when he is not at the Five9 campus in San Ramon. Costa’s manager said that he fits well with the company and can see the benefits of Re:’s work.
“He checked all those boxes and it’s clear that he shows up every day and wants to get better at his job, which we can all do at any time,” said Taylor Brewster, sales development manager at Five9 and supervisor at Costa. “I think it’s in that work ethic, in that eagerness to learn more and prove, ‘Hey, I’m here.'”
Brewster said the program’s lessons align with what Five9 and other companies are looking for when hiring new employees. He wants to encourage others to try a similar transition like Costa, and when they’re ready, he jumps into a tech career.
“The job market can be scary, I’ve been there, looking for a job, and looking for a job, it’s never easy or simple,” Brewster said. “You have to put yourself out there, put your best foot forward and go for what you really want.”
In the months of the new job, Costa has seen an improvement in his mental health and gets more time with his daughter. When she was born, he got four days of paternity leave before returning to work. The extra time he spends with her is a huge incentive, but his increased income means he can afford her birthday gifts he couldn’t afford before. Gifts he didn’t enjoy as a child.
“It’s life changing, 100 percent life changing and I’m blessed,” Costa said.
All Stars Helping Children | Re: work, training