Paloma Vilceus, one of Yellow Tail Tech’s co-founders, is a seasoned IT professional. She’s an expert in cloud engineering and architecture, and has a total of 9 IT certifications: five from AWS, three from Red Hat, and the Network+ certification.
But would you believe that even she started just like most of our students did—a non-tech professional who wanted to break into IT but didn’t know where to start? So how did Paloma even become such a tech expert with a rewarding career on one hand AND an EdTech company on the other that’s, by the way, awarded as the Best Coding Bootcamp in 2022?
Read along as she shares how it all happened: transitioning into IT, co-founding Yellow Tail Tech, the challenges she faced along the way, and some personal advice for that lucrative tech career.
It’s not supposed to be difficult
About a decade ago, Paloma, having a non-IT degree, was at that stage of her life where she was exploring what else she could do, career-wise. “My options were to go to college and get a different degree, or get a masters in the same field I already was in. Either was going to be an expensive path and I had other interests that I wanted to pursue. I had an inclination for tech, but I didn’t know where to start.”
Fortunately, Paloma had Jubee Vilceus, Yellow Tail Tech’s other Co-founder whom she got married to, and other friends that were in the field, so she had the mentorship of some sort. She decided that she wanted to focus on being a Linux System Administrator, “but there was an ocean of information out there: Udemy courses, YouTube courses, books, you name it.” She started investing in these materials and eventually got certified. However, by the end of it, she realized that it cost her too much time and she consumed too much information than what was actually necessary.
So then it occurred to Paloma, “what if we eliminated a lot of the noise and offer a program that can smoothly transition people from different careers into tech?”
A toast to a little bit of you and a little bit of me
When asked where the name “Yellow Tail Tech” comes from, Paloma told us that when Jubee and her met, the first thing she noticed they had in common was their love for a cheap wine that also shared the name of a fish commonly consumed in the Caribbean where they are both from. “So when we were looking for a name for the business, we couldn’t come up with anything and we said ‘well, let’s just settle for something that has a little bit of you and a little bit of me’.”
In this case, an Australian wine called Yellow Tail. Cheers to that!
Paloma explains that Yellow Tail Tech’s mission has always been “to serve people who want to break into tech regardless of their work background and experience.” The EdTech company wants them to have a high-paying job with a satisfying role where they can perform well and later climb the tech career ladder which of course, offers greater benefits than what they got when they started.
The first name is “Linux” and the surname is “For Jobs”
With Paloma’s proven expertise in tech, she also oversees the Curriculum Design of Yellow Tail Tech’s programs. We asked her why they decided to go with Linux as the pioneer program to offer, and she told us that Linux System Administration is like the best-kept secret in IT. “Basically, it was a path to a high-paying tech job that does not have high entry requirements, as long as you can prove that you are certified and have a clear understanding build/configure systems that will host important enterprise workloads.
“We were able to design a six to eight-month program where we can confidently train people to get these jobs in a reasonable amount of time, without getting students into a terrible debt compared to attending similar two-year programs or traditional college.”
We then asked why they added “For Jobs” to the name of the program. As per Paloma, Yellow Tail Tech wants to differentiate itself from other training providers that were solely training for certifications. “It’s like you’ll join a class for five days and you’ll be expected to know everything that the certification requires. However, we don’t believe in that training method so we wanted something that trains people to actually find a job and keep that job.”
Paloma also shares that when it comes to creating the program curriculum, the main influential factors would be the tools that the industry is currently relying on, the frameworks that are used to manage IT operations, and figuring how to provide the best entry-level and adaptable knowledge. “We have to train our students in a way that they will be able to adapt to any environment so we try to give them a little bit of every tool that is used in the production environment.”
Make your Mama proud
For Paloma, as a co-founder, nothing beats the feeling of witnessing our students find success in the program. “My favorite part is seeing our students find jobs. Knowing that we transform people’s lives when we take them out of, say, the retail industry making $40,000 and they go to their first tech career with more than double that amount.”
“My most memorable experience is training people from our own community—like seeing the sons of people that we know, seeing people that are even related to us go through the program and change their lives.”
IT is a male-dominated field, so as a woman and a mother, Paloma has had her fair share of challenges. There won’t be as many women like you in your workplace or the industry in general so it’s going to be difficult to find a circle. From an HR perspective, for instance, they’re always looking for someone who’s available 24/7 since you’ll be babysitting servers as system administrators. “I had to do a very good job in convincing people that as a mom, I’ll be available when needed, and I don’t think men have to prove that even if they’re parents.”
For women, specifically, those who are trying to break into tech, Paloma’s advice is to go with the fear.
“Women tend to express interest in our program but I’ve noticed that they are hesitant to do it because they have a lot of fears. We don’t have as many women role models as men do in IT. As women, we have to look harder for our IT role models perhaps outside of our direct work environments. I still operate with my fear in every single step of my career, but then I learn from it and persevere.”
For others, in general, her advice is that “even if you don’t stay with Yellow Tail Tech, you have to choose a track in IT and commit to it. It will be easy to get distracted and overwhelmed when there’s too much information, so you have to choose a track and stick to it.”
A trend in our successful students
Lastly, Paloma shares that all those students who stand up to lead the study groups or become Teaching Assistants later on tend to succeed more easily than others. “They end up being the firsts to find a job in their cohort, and I think it’s because they develop a capacity to explain what they know and put that into their own words which translates to having leadership.”
If you want to be like Paloma who started from a non-tech career to an IT expert, Yellow Tail Tech offers programs that can take you from zero to job-ready. Book a 10-minute intro call with our Enrollment Advisor and let’s discuss if the shoe fits!