July 6th, 2021 Revature

My Revature Story: How Working With a Purpose has Sparked a Fire

by April Garvey

This is my story. This is how my journey led me to Revature.

I will never forget my first Revature promotion ceremony. As I stood there clapping with others congratulating the 25-strong cohort who just completed their training program, I had to dry my eyes, as I could hardly believe these were the same people I’d seen come into the office 3 months ago.

I recalled a group of uncomfortable 20-somethings walking the halls on their orientation tour. Most looked nervous, unsure how to act, wearing ill-fitted suits, some of which still showed where the store tag had been. One guy was wearing white sports socks with his dress shoes. They all seemed like they wanted to run away.

These 20-somethings had all gone to college—many of them as the first person in their family to do so—expecting that a degree would instantly open up career paths for them. But after graduation, reality hit them hard: again and again, they’d been passed over for even entry-level jobs because they didn’t have enough experience. And they couldn’t get the needed experience because they couldn’t get an entry-level job. This catch-22 must have seemed like a cruel joke.

Now here was this company, Revature, promising that after a couple of months of free training they would wind up working for top-tier tech companies. You couldn’t blame them for feeling cautious. I wanted to hug them, tell them it would be okay.

Why did I identify so strongly with these young people? Because that could have been me. At Revature, approximately 60% of our software engineers are first-generation college graduates—just like me. My dad worked construction jobs while my mom, who never finished high school, stayed at home to raise me and my four siblings. We were taught to value education, hard work, and most important: grit—meaning perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a long-term goal. It must have worked because today all five of us kids have at least two degrees.

I was able to go to college because of a New Jersey state opportunity fund reserved for underprivileged youth. The fund required each recipient to attend a special program on campus the summer before freshman year. They weren’t kidding when they called it a “boot camp.” Our supervisor was a drill-sergeant type who got us up in the morning by blasting Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” through the dorms and made us do exercises on the lawn before class. More than once, I called home crying. But I stuck it out, and in the end, it made me more resilient and confident on campus.

After college, I landed my first job at Citibank. My office was literally the last building on Wall Street before the East River. Talk about an experience! My gratitude as I walked down the entirety of that famous street every day was like nothing I had ever felt before. In spirit, I was a reflection of those that came before me, standing on the shoulders of those that lifted me up. I was nervous, excited. I felt unworthy, unready, but so tremendously grateful.

I went on to work at other great companies in my career, starting up one of the very first online banks, launching a search engine, expanding the market for language-learning software, and eventually starting my own marketing consultancy. Along the way, I met my husband. Matt works for the American Red Cross. It’s not Wall Street, but his work feels like he is helping to save the world, and for that, I’ll confess that I was a bit jealous. My jobs, for all their variety, had always been ultimately about one thing: revenue.

About five years ago, that all changed. Out of nowhere, I got a call from an agency wanting to connect me to Revature. They desperately needed somebody with my skills for a 3-month contract. Why not? I thought. It’s only for a few months. But when I saw how the Revature experience transformed that first cohort, a lightbulb went off: finally, I was working for a company that was about more than making shareholders rich! Yes, we care about the bottom line; we are a business, after all. But our business just happens to change lives for the better. I still wake up every morning excited to do more to create opportunities for people that need them.

Revature continues to generate incredible stories. Just the other day, I saw a job title update from a young lady that was previously a waitress, and today, less than 18 months after coming to Revature, she now works as a software engineer at one of the largest tech companies in the US. And she is by no means alone. That is why, five years later, after my initial three-month consulting project, I’m still thrilled to be here.

There is a powerful saying that I love: “TALENT IS EQUALLY DISTRIBUTED, BUT OPPORTUNITY IS NOT.” On a macro level, Revature is shrinking the opportunity gap. Everyone needs an opportunity to launch—an equal opportunity, that is. And when individuals who never had a chance are finally given the opportunity to show their potential, they exceed expectations every time. Every. Time.

Working at a company that has a greater purpose feels good. I feel like I can give back and my work is making a difference. Working at Revature is an experience that I am proud of and that sense of purpose has fueled a fire that will never be extinguished.