At Flatiron School, our success is our students’ success — when students get jobs, we achieve our mission of enabling the pursuit of a better life through education. But, students’ stories don’t end after they graduate. In this series, we chat with Flatiron School’s alumni community about their journey into coding, and how that journey transformed their life.
Dasha N. made all the right career moves. She had a degree in marketing, took those skills she learned, and went into advertising. As a marketing professional, she did it all. She went from small agencies to global conglomerates and everything in between. Dasha was a media sales planner and, later, an integrated marketing manager.
She spent seven years climbing the ladder only to find a ceiling. There was nowhere else to go. Dasha enjoyed the work, but wasn’t challenged. She needed to change her career.
Luckily, she picked up a lot of skills along the way. With her business savvy, her passion for design, and interest in tech, Dasha decided to become a software engineer. But, she needed a coding bootcamp that could fit her schedule whether she was in Morocco or Berlin. Dasha turned to Flatiron School and, after graduating, became a UI Engineer at Auth0.
Below, Dasha discusses how she used her experience to guide her to a new career she loves. Just because you’re changing careers doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch.
In the market for something new
Dasha spent seven years in advertising trying to get her foot in the door. “I had to go through that to find out what my next thing would be.” Dasha was proactive and switched roles and companies, but still couldn’t quite find a role that fit her needs and skills.
She believed she found her ceiling in marketing. “Even though I was having all of these good experiences, I wasn’t being challenged,” said Dasha. “I wanted to switch over to tech. Whether it was a product or environment, I always wanted to learn more about the technical side.”
Dasha found inspiration in graphic design for her next career move. She had some experience from college and tried to apply those skills in different parts of her job. Graphic design was technical and creative. She wanted her next career had to satisfy those two needs and realized programming checked those boxes.
Even though Dasha found a potential career path, she knew she had a long road ahead of her. Not only did she have to learn how to code, she had to overcome her fear that she wasn’t good enough to code.
Key takeaway → A job can run its course. That’s not a reflection on you or your choices. Instead, think about your experiences and how you can apply those skills and your interests to find a new career path.
Getting comfortable with code
Learning to code can be intimidating. You’ll find a lot of people asking if learning to code is really that scary if you do a quick Google search or scan Reddit and Quora threads. That’s understandable because it’s a new experience.
Dasha had those same feelings. “I was afraid I wouldn’t understand it and it would be too difficult,” said Dasha. “I was worried it would be too hard to comprehend.”
What helped Dasha overcome her fear was looking at what was ahead of her. She had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why not try something difficult? “When I reached that ceiling, nothing else mattered. I needed something that would challenge me and help me grow,” said Dasha.
With that incentive in mind, Dasha began searching for the right coding bootcamp.
Key takeaway → Don’t let fear dictate your next steps. If you want to pursue something, understand that there are going to be some hurdles along the way. But, those challenges are growth opportunities.
The Flatiron School experience
A good bootcamp needs to train and support students. Without a strong network to turn to when faced with difficult challenge or lesson, a student will get frustrated and quit.
Dasha also had an interesting situation that would also affect her bootcamp decision. She was accepted to a program where she spent a year working remotely around the world. While that sounds like an incredible experience, her ultimate goal of learning to code meant she needed a bootcamp that could be there for her regardless of her physical location.
She needed to juggle new timezones, freelance work, and learning how to code. Flatiron School’s Online Web Developer Program — now called the Online Software Engineering Immersive — was self-paced while providing the support and community Dasha needed. “If I was stuck, there were people who were available,” recalls Dasha. While completing projects at Flatiron School, Dasha traveled to Colombia, Morocco, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Germany to name a few.
Throughout her travels and education, Dasha was constantly trying to figure out how she could practically apply the skills she had and the skills she was learning at Flatiron School. She enrolled in a remote UX/UI design internship, a web development volunteer program, and attended hackathons. All of these helped her understand what it meant to be a programmer and confirmed that she made the right decision. Dasha also met her now husband at a hackathon in Berlin.
As Dasha made her way back to the United States, she knew she was done with New York. She wanted a change of pace and Denver seemed like a natural fit. “While working with Career Services, I attended every Meetup I could. I met people and tried to get an understanding of work-life balance and what these companies needed,” said Dasha.
Her hard work paid off and she’s now a UI engineer at Auth0 in Denver.
Life as an engineer
“Coding definitely scratches the creative itch," said Dasha. She’s an engineer, which lets her have a huge impact on the product. “You have the capability to create, not just the way something looks, but the way it is,” said Dasha. In marketing what she was doing was always a mix of theoretical and creative. And that’s what coding is for her as well.
At Auth0, she’s one of five developers on the Marketing Experience team and works closely with the design team. She works on the front-end of the company’s marketing websites and everything a customer experiences. She’s also working on migrating from a legacy code to React. “There are a lot of moving parts, but a lot of people to support all the work,” said Dasha.
Dasha said learning to code was the right decision for her. “It was in line with what always fueled my curiosity, which is problem solving, and coding also gives me a sense of instant fulfillment,” said Dasha.
For Dasha, she lights up when she talks about how her life has changed. She has a job she loves, she can work remote, she really likes her colleagues, and she feels challenged every day. “I can play around the code and I don’t feel pigeonholed. I can keep on plugging away at my potential,” said Dasha.
For anyone who felt like Dasha, she recommends taking a prep course. These courses are free and let’s you know if coding could be the right choice for you. “Everybody has a different learning style and, because of the traditional educational system, most people don’t know their style,” said Dasha. “A big thing about coding is learning how to learn. Taking the time to think about that aspect will help you find success.”