Nisso’s favorite place as a child was her grandparent’s house. Located in the ancient city of Tashkent, Uzbekistan (the “City of Stones”), the home sat next to streets where Nisso ran through with her neighborhood friends, sometimes kicking around a soccer ball, other times playing hide-and-seek. She had so much fun that the games could often last past 11pm or midnight.
It was a happy time filled with warm memories. Nisso’s cousins would often come visit and they would all go to their grandparent’s home. It was an oasis for Nisso who grew up to love to read. Her mother was a psychologist and she often picked up her mother’s books lying around the house. One day Nisso would be reading a random section on the psychology of pregnant women. Another day she’d end up on the chapter about psychopaths.
Nisso’s home had a banged up television, but no one used it much. Once in a while, she would sit as a kid in the living room for a few minutes to see the usual soap opera on. All she remembered was that it came from Brazil, of all places, and was dubbed in Russian. She much preferred going to her grandparents and spending time with her cousins.
During this time in the 1990s, the first Internet cafes began popping up in Tashkent. For 1000-1500 Uzbekistani Soms (about a dime or so), people could get an hour to surf the world wide web. Though she passed these cafes often, Nisso was not that interested. All the links and search boxes seemed strange to her. Growing up, students simply went across the street into the local library if they needed information for a school report.
Nisso also didn’t have a smartphone and did not own a laptop. The old and clunky family computer sitting in her home rarely got used. There was no high speed Internet and no one needed it. Once in a while she used the word processor, but only for the rare school assignment that involved typing.
Then came university. Nisso decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a psychologist. For the first time in her life, she was required to do a lot of research for an endless pile of assignments, presentations, reports, and essays. She could only carry so many books and spend so much time in the library.
So she decided, “Okay, this Internet cafe thing, let’s give it a go.”
The local cafe was always filled with people. Nisso counted 40 computers inside and had to wait in line for the next available station. Once she finally got a computer and sat down, she took her first steps into exploring cyberspace.
“I realized wow, like there’s so much information and you can get everything so fast.”
So instead of dragging around books all the time, Nisso could take notes from what she saw online or print off what she needed. Everything seemed so much easier.
She also had an uncle whose job was done totally online. He lived and worked at Nisso’s grandparent’s home, so they decided to get high speed WiFi. Nisso was so happy. She finally had a place where she didn’t have to wait in line to grab a computer.
Then, at age 18, she also finally got her first smartphone, which her cousin bought her as a gift. Two years later, as a surprise, her parents got Nisso her first laptop, an old Hewlett Packard.
Yet despite all this, Nisso preferred being offline and doing her own thing instead of spending time on social media like all the youth her age.
Once she got her degree, Nisso started working at a school as a counselor. Then she transitioned into banking, and finally into her family business, which helped students in Uzbekistan obtain documentation to study abroad. All these jobs required lots of time online. Nisso did what she had to do, but her focus was on family. Particularly her grandparents, who she loves very much.
Then came marriage and her child. In 2018, Nisso’s then husband decided to make a bold move to the East Coast of the United States. She followed with her son. It would be a new beginning in a completely new environment. Yet her family life began to deteriorate, especially as the pandemic began to set in. Her marriage began going downhill.
“I felt so lost,” Nisso said, “I had no family here and a child to take care of. I needed a new direction to know where I was going.” She confided in a friend, who urged her to find a new career. But as a newcomer, Nisso didn’t know where to start. It seemed overwhelming.
Her friend told her about a tech education program at a place called Cydeo that could equip her with the skills needed for a career in IT. Nisso was extremely skeptical, having avoided technology most of her life. She decided to attend an intro session but became immediately intimidated.
“I thought, oh my God, all this coding, these numbers, I can’t do this,” she recalled.
But as the days passed, and with a son in tow, Nisso knew she needed to make a change. Her friend then told her about another Cydeo graduate, Zarina, who now had a full time, well paying job. Nisso decided to connect with her online.
“It was Zarina who gave me the confidence, to be honest,” she said. “She told me I could do it, that I was smart enough, that I absolutely had what it took, and that my inexperience and hatred for math didn’t have to get in the way.”
So finally, Nisso took the plunge and enrolled in Cydeo’s 7-month training program.
She was shocked at the information she absorbed day after day, week after week, month after month. Her progress was extremely fast. For someone who barely used a laptop until her 20s, Nisso was picking up the knowledge quickly, and even managed to become an “early bird” graduate who excelled in the work.
But at home, Nisso’s divorce was wearing her down emotionally. Once it came time to apply for jobs, she felt drained and unready. That was when Sam came in.
“Saim was one of my instructors, but also one of my most important friends,” Nisso noted. “He was the one who encouraged and pushed me day after day to apply for as many jobs as I can.”
It wasn’t easy, but Nisso found the strength inside, with Sam’s help, to get up everyday and put one foot in front of the other. Almost immediately, she started getting calls from dozens of recruiters. “I was shocked,” she said, “because they were calling one after the other, and one would call while the other hadn’t even hung up yet.”
Then the interviews started rolling in. Nisso met with five companies, who all showed lots of interest. In her last interview, she said she finally found people who she enjoyed being around.
“I was so nervous, but they made me feel relaxed,” she said. Minutes after the interview, Nisso got an offer for full time work with an amazing six-figure salary. She now works as an automation engineer in the Q/A department of her company.
“I can’t believe how well things turned out, I got everything I wanted,” she said with a lot of gratefulness in her voice.
“But honestly, please include all my thanks for Cydeo. I read that they could change lives. But it wasn’t until I experienced it that I knew what they actually meant. My life has changed. I was lost, and Cydeo gave me direction. They gave me so much of what I now have.”