IT Career Guide

Paloma Vilceus' IT professional story

Paloma Vilceus’ Story of Transition: From Census Bureau Intern to an IT Professional

Some of the more lucrative jobs are in tech, with proficiency in Linux you can earn up to $95,000 annually (Payscale) and AWS skills get you around $112,000 (Payscale). However, despite the attractive salary, many people fear changing careers. That was not the case for me, Paloma Vilceus, co-founder of Yellow Tail Tech

I overcame several struggles: having no tech background, shifting careers while starting motherhood, and being a woman in a male-dominated industry. 

This story is about my journey into IT and helping other people reach their dreams.

Deciding to Go the Distance

Like many others, I was once just one of the people contemplating their future. I had a degree in social work, but I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted. I was at the point where I had to choose: get a bachelor’s degree in a different field or get a master’s degree in the area I was in already.

Either way, I would have to pay a lot of money. I had interests I wanted to pursue, too. I was inclined to tech, data, and statistics, which led me to be a Census Bureau intern. More exposure to data and statistics resulted in an interest in systems and tools, and eventually, I decided to take the leap and go into tech.

A Whole New World of Tech

Once I decided to go into tech, I had to choose between self-studying, returning to school, and something I liked to call “a wonky four-day training format.” I didn’t believe in the four-day training format and hadn’t wanted to be in serious debt just to return to school.

Jubee Vilceus, my partner and future Yellow Tail Tech co-founder, supported this decision. Even with an IT-related degree, he told me that he and his peers struggled to find the jobs they wanted. With his warning, I researched tech jobs that didn’t require a degree. I decided to become a Linux System Administrator, which only needed certification.

The “Bare” Necessities of Breaking into Tech

So, I began self-studying. I had help from my husband, who has a background in tech, and my IT professional friends helped me with a mentorship of sorts. 

Despite the lack of boot camps, I still had a wealth of information on the internet to sort through. I bought Udemy courses, YouTube videos, and books. I learned a little more than the basics; the more information I absorbed, the more I fell in love.

However, I am also a mother, and motherhood is already hard. My daughter was just eight months old when I took my first certification exam. Luckily, I had help from my supportive husband and a nanny we hired, leaving me to dedicate one to three hours a day to studying.

Different From the Rest of the Tech Pros

Eventually, I received my certification. I’m finally in tech, but being here made me realize that being a woman in tech has its challenges. I’ve had to convince people that I’ll be available when I’m on call, even though I’m a mom because admins and engineers are on call overnight every few days. I don’t think men have to prove that, even if they’re parents.

Back when I was starting, I couldn’t find a community of women. A woman never interviewed me, so, understandably, I developed impostor syndrome—doubting myself and feeling like a fraud. The longer I stayed in tech, the more I learned that being different isn’t bad. Soon, it became a plus when companies started to hire a more diverse workforce. 

Through the challenges, I persevered, learning from my experiences. I’ve found it’s essential to focus on a single track, as it is extremely easy to be distracted and overwhelmed with all the information. You must choose a path and stick to it.

When I finally made it in tech, I realized that much of what I studied was useless for where I ended up. I thought it would be great to eliminate the noise and offer a program that could smoothly transition people from different careers into tech. This thought led me to embark on yet another new journey. 

Turning Career Shifters from Zero to Pro 

Through Jubee and me, Yellow Tail Tech was born in 2014. By then, I was an IT professional and expert in cloud engineering and architecture. Based on our experience, we knew what would be necessary for beginners. 

We designed courses that would guide beginners with no tech experience or little knowledge of tech toward becoming IT professionals. We also hired industry-certified instructors, including Thierry Louis and Santiago Rivera. 

With Yellow Tail Tech’s courses and dedicated instructors, students can pass the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) exam or the AWS Certified Sysops Administrator exam. Many have even returned to share their knowledge as instructors, teaching and guiding the next generation. 

How Far Yellow Tail Tech Goes

Yellow Tail Tech offers two programs: Lnx For Jobs and Cloud For Jobs 2.0

Lnx For Jobs prepares students to become a Linux DevOps System Administrator. On the other hand, Cloud For Jobs 2.0 prepares students to work as AWS DevOps Engineers. 

Besides these, Yellow Tail Tech publishes blogs to share study tips, companies where students can work, and articles about instructors and IT professionals. The site also offers videos about the journeys of our former students. Through this, even non-students can see the IT professional instructors and former students or find tips to help on their journey.

I relish seeing students succeed in the program. I love seeing them find jobs, knowing that Yellow Tail Tech helped them get a career in New Year, Better Career In Tech: 5 Things to Add to Your New Year’s Resolutiontech that doubled their previous salary. Some of my most memorable experiences include seeing the children of people we know or are related to change their lives through Yellow Tail Tech’s programs. 

It Means No Worries for Learners

One of my concerns before I started self-studying was debt. It’s perfectly understandable, especially considering college by itself is already expensive. Student loans have always been a problem, and according to the Federal Reserve, student loans will total around $1.76 trillion by 2022. 

Through Yellow Tail Tech, Jubee and I addressed both these concerns. We offer a full tuition refund, which means that if students don’t find jobs five months after graduation, they will get their money back. Many alums see this as Yellow Tail Tech taking responsibility—something unheard of at other colleges. 

The great news is that Yellow Tail Tech hasn’t had to reimburse anyone because of its fantastic success rate.

Strangers Like Us

Despite the male-dominated industry, I found success through hard work and, from that experience, decided to help people like me—people who want to get into tech with no prior experience.

Jubee Vilceus and I founded Yellow Tail Tech for that exact reason, and now we’ve been awarded for it. Given Yellow Tail Tech’s glowing reviews from former students, you should book a 10-minute intro call now if you want to be an IT professional like me!

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Silvana Zapanta

Sil brings a wealth of experience to her writing and editing projects. After nearly a decade guiding college students in research and communication, she shifted her focus to freelance writing and editing. Her passion for education continues through volunteer work, where she empowers others by teaching research and writing skills.

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