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Microsoft YouthSpark Star Yutiao Wang

Yutiao went from cleaning houses to working as an office clerk after receiving free computer-skills classes in Beijing.

YouthSpark Star Yutiao Wang Watch video

Big Dreams Become Reality in Beijing

Watching both her parents working in the fields in a rural village in northwest China, Yutiao Wang knew she didn’t want the same life for herself. The grueling farm work took a toll on her mom and yielded about $625 a year for the family. Like most families in Lintao, Gansu Province, one of the poorest regions of China, Yutiao’s parents couldn’t afford to send her to school. Her test scores weren’t good enough to get the funding for high school, she said, so she had to stop after nine years of basic education.

“Without this training, I would have gone back to my hometown and worked in the fields just as my parents. Now, I hope to bring my parents to live in Beijing with me.”

Yutiao Wang

Yutiao Wang, 20, gained tech skills that transformed her life from rural China to working in Beijing.

Yutiao shares the story of how computer-skills training changed her life at the launch of Microsoft Youthspark in China.

Attempting to gain information technology skills, Yutiao enrolled at a vocational school. But her father pulled her out after a week because he didn’t have the money to pay for it. Yutiao didn’t want to end up like many of the other girls in her village, who either join their parents in the fields or become migrant workers in big cities.

When she was 19, her father told her about a school in Beijing that offered free training in housekeeping skills. Yutiao made the tough decision to leave the village, bought a train ticket, and took the 20-hour ride to the big city.

At the Fuping School, which provides free domestic services training to low-income women and helps them find work, Yutiao learned how to operate household appliances. In her village, there was no electricity, so household appliances were new to her. After a week of training, she landed a job as a nanny for a professor’s family. She cleaned, cooked, and cared for a child for more than a year, earning about $200 a month.

“The work was uninspiring,” said Yutiao. “It was boring, repeating the same menial tasks day after day with no room to develop.” She yearned for a better job but didn’t know if it was possible with her limited education.

Yutiao considered returning to her village until she heard about free computer-skills classes offered through the Microsoft-Fuping Community Technology Learning Center. She jumped at the renewed chance to learn, even though it meant starting at 5:30 a.m. every Saturday and riding a bus for three hours each way to get to her classes on the other side of Beijing.

Yutiao had never used a computer before the training. “Every time when there was training, I was so excited,” she said. “I started off by learning how to turn on a computer. I gradually learned how to develop a resume, how to keep data using Excel tables, how to search for job opportunities via the Internet, how to upload and access photos on the Internet, and many other useful skills.”

Yutiao Wang at her new office job, using the tech skills she learned through training.

Yutiao Wang supports her family with the money she earns at an office job in Beijing.

In 2010, after a month of Saturday classes, Yutiao learned to use Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. She practiced with Excel by keeping track of grocery shopping accounts on the professor’s home computer.

She took another month of classes in early 2011. Her technical skills caught the attention of the school’s administrative office, and in May of 2011, nearly two years after she first journeyed to Beijing, Yutiao landed an office job at the school where she had first learned to be a housekeeper.

Madam Yang Shufang, the head of Teaching Affairs at Microsoft-Fuping Community Technology Learning Center, was Yutiao’s mentor.

“When I met Yutiao for the first time, she was so shy. I could hardly hear what she was saying,” shared Shufang. “I am really pleased to see that Yutiao has become one of my colleagues and turned into a confident office lady now.”

In her current job at Fuping, Yutiao manages the information of clients and trainees, matching them up and reviewing their service. She also supports her manager by keeping payroll and distributing wages to the trainees. She sends home most of her $600 monthly salary, and she enjoys health and other insurance benefits.

Yutiao Wang, who says she would like to live and work in Beijing forever, poses outside 798 Art Gallery in the city.

Yutiao Wang, who says she would like to live and work in Beijing forever, poses outside 798 Art Gallery in the city.

Empowering young people like Yutiao is the aim of Microsoft YouthSpark, a company-wide initiative to create opportunities for 300 million young people around the world by helping close the gap between those who have the access, skills, and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. Through partnerships with governments, nonprofits, and businesses, the initiative is working to help youth like Yutiao imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater education, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities.

When the YouthSpark program in China was announced in November 2012, Yutiao was invited to share her story with the audience and media. She did it with confidence.

Yutiao’s journey is also inspiring her family. Her parents and siblings have visited her in Beijing, and her younger sister and brother are interested in learning IT skills so that they too can find employment.

Now 23, Yutiao would like to stay in Beijing and keep learning new skills. She hopes to become an office manager in the near future.

“Without this training, I would have gone back to my hometown and worked in the fields just as my parents,” Yutiao said. “Now, I hope to bring my parents to live in Beijing with me.”