Alondra Felipe tells Moneyish how her experience as a receptionist inspired her to train for a new career in IT — even as she struggled with health issues.
Alondra Felipe built a computer while she was home dealing with a debilitating eye condition. Then a tuition-free training program helped her start a new career in IT. This is the eighth episode of “The Search,” a Moneyish original series about finding work.
Alondra Felipe doesn’t just know how to fix computers — she can also build them.
In the summer of 2016, the 30-year-old was stuck at home in the Bronx battling a long illness when she built her first PC. She put it together reading instructions and watching tutorials she found online. (Her mom gave her the money for parts thinking it would be a good project, said Felipe, who was hoping to use the final product to play video games.)
“People say it’s like Legos, and it is like Legos, but you have to know what to connect with what; otherwise, it won’t turn on,” Felipe told Moneyish. “I thought that was really fun, and I think more than anything I was like, ‘Yes, I can do this.’”
The victory was sweet: Not only did she have a new computer, she felt sure she wanted to pursue IT as a career.
Felipe’s parents brought her to the U.S. from Mexico at age 2 and she started work as soon as she was legally able, in retail and front-desk jobs. As a receptionist at a yoga studio in Chelsea, she paid extra attention when an IT professional would come in to fix issues.
“I thought he had the most amazing job ever,” she said.
After she got her green card, she quit her job and was thrilled to start attending Bronx Community College full-time, later transferring to Brooklyn College. But in 2015, Felipe started to feel sick. Early the next year she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, a form of hyperthyroidism that has led her to experience double vision and other debilitating eye issues. As the double vision worsened, she dropped out of school that fall.
“I couldn’t go anywhere without assistance,” she said.
Last year, after two eye surgeries and with a prism inserted in her glasses to help focus her vision, Felipe kept her college plans on hold and instead enrolled in a 15-week course at Per Scholas, a nonprofit that offers free IT job training to low-income and unemployed adults.
The organization, based in the Bronx, was a short drive from the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, who decided he would also attend. Felipe felt sure it would lead to a big boost in salary and more stability. She graduated from the program Dec. 1 and the school connected her to Fordham University Law School, which offered her work proctoring exams, then a part-time help desk job.
“Computers are amazing. There’s so much you can do with computers,” she said. “What really gets me excited is where I can take this as a career.”
Watch Felipe in the eighth episode of “The Search,” a Moneyish original series about finding work.
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