Success at a glance: Anel Perez, Amazon
Ask Anel Perez how he’s doing these days and he’ll tell you, he’s flourishing. No stranger to unpredictable bends in the road, the 33-year-old has taken a non-conformist approach to education since his charter school upbringing led him to various internships and odd jobs, long before reaching the age of 18.
Though his charter school emphasized robust experiences and pre-college internships, Anel still needed to support his family and took up customer-facing, entry level jobs – working in a fast-food restaurant, a movie theater, and an office supply store. These were minimum wage jobs paying ~$7.50/hour, and Anel had another mouth to feed as a teen father, preparing to graduate high school in the throes of a global financial crisis.
Anel set aside applications for undergraduate programs and searched for full- time work, which is when a friend introduced him to Year Up, the program that gave him core skills he now applies as a Solutions Architect at Amazon’s New York office.
Solutions architecture was not the initial target for Anel, who was captivated early on by the work of mechanical engineers, but after increasingly interacting with those in the field, he realized a natural interest in IT complemented his existing customer service skills.
In the second half of Year Up, he joined CVS Corporate as, an intern supporting the IT needs of their growing corporate headquarters in Providence.
With no full-time offer available in IT at the conclusion of his internship, Anel was hired for the CVS Corporate call center, where he spent the next three years alternating between daycare drop-offs, consistent eight hour shifts on the desk, and night classes at the local community college.
After a series of challenging technical interviews and course certifications to supplement his training and work experience, Anel halted the search for a full-time job in favor of contract work – a strategic choice that resulted in roles with Polytech Institute and rich projects, like leading FM Global’s Windows migration. These rich experiences as a contractor, paired with opportunistic networking from friends in recruiting, led Anel to robust, full-time offers in IT in the larger markets of Boston and New York.
His strong career profile, now covering years of training and recommendations from former colleagues and clients, attracted a recruiter from Amazon on LinkedIn. Following a comprehensive, four-hour interview, Anel received an offer with relocation to Virginia, where he spent three fruitful years before relocating back to New York.
Now, Anel can’t stop grinning. You can hear his wide smile and pride when the conversation turns to Amazon as we speak to him on the phone. “I’m amongst the best of the best here; it’s truly a dream come true working for such a recognized tech company.” At Amazon, Anel works with universities to identify solutions on Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has been a major puzzle to address with the increase in remote coursework during Covid. While he’s felt the two-year itch before with previous employers, he’s rounding out year five with the tech giant, and “life here has never once felt repetitive.”
Five years after juggling night classes and fatherhood with full-time work, Anel can hang up his degree from Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies. The degree is a testament to his perseverance, but not necessarily the foundation for his success. For that, he credits both the development from Year Up’s program as well as the writing and people skills acquired over the course of his early education and customer-oriented roles.
Will Anel’s daughter, now in high school, have to find a job soon? “Yes,” he guarantees. “She’ll get a job in retail or hospitality very soon, while she continues schooling.”
“That combination of work ethic from manual labor and perspectives from customer interactions is crucial to setting her up for a successful career.”
In today’s job market, the lines between work experience and training are blurred – a person’s“education” comes just as much from what they’ve done in a workplace as what they’ve been taught in a classroom.
We know that Anel’s story is one of many, but it is, in many ways, a best-case scenario.
At AdeptID, we’re building technology that learns from the stories of millions of Anels, so that employers, training providers, or Future of Work builders can see them for their latent talent and help them realize their potential.