ROCKET CENTER (West Virginia) • Ms Nichole Clark of Paintsville, Kentucky, heard a radio ad last year for TechHire Eastern Kentucky.
The stint offered six months of training in software programming that included working with a company while being paid US$400 (S$552) a week. That was not much less than what Ms Clark, 24, was making as a Pizza Hut manager.
Without a college degree, Ms Clark said, her horizons seemed confined to low-wage jobs in fast-food restaurants, retail stores or doctors' offices. The TechHire programme, she said, could be "a doorway to a good-paying job, which is everything here".
TechHire provides grants and expertise to train workers around the United States and links them to jobs by nurturing local networks of job seekers, trainers and companies. In just two years, its network has growntremendously and it has helped place more than 4,000 workers in jobs.
Ms Clark made it through online screening tests and an interview and got into the programme.
TechHire's role varies, and it often funds training grants, but in this programme it solicited applicants and advised and shared best practices with Interapt, a software development and consulting company.
After four months of taking all-day classes on the basics of writing software and two months of working in an internship alongside Interapt developers, Ms Clark was hired by Interapt last month.
As a member of the team that performs software quality assurance and testing, she is now paid more than US$40,000 a year, about double what she made at Pizza Hut.
Ms Clark is growing confident about her employment future. "There are endless roles you can play if you have these skills," she said.