Fabien Cartal: Sales to Product Design

Fabien Cartal, a May 2020 graduate of Flatiron School’s UX / UI Design program, selected his initial career based on his love of socializing. In his next career, he chose to pursue his creativity. 

He shares his journey from Sales to Product Design below.


Fabien grew up in France, earning a degree in Business and Sales. He cited his social nature as the primary reason for choosing the field, driven by the desire to interact with others regularly for his work. But, a few years in, he was no longer satisfied with his choice of profession.

“I knew something was missing, and that something was an outlet for my creativity,” Fabien explained. 

In the mid-2010s, Fabien moved to Palo Alto, California. It was while living there, surrounded by a thriving tech community, that he began to consider a career change. 

“[It was a] tech Mecca, where you could see that everywhere around you,” he recalled. “I was inspired by what I was seeing around me and admired the people working in design and tech.”

Transitioning Into Tech

Another move later – this time to Austin, Texas – Fabien had resolved to switch to design. He credits admiring others in the field, as well as his natural creativity, as his reasons for choosing the field. 

“I had always been inspired by my cousin who is a Product Designer. He would share projects he was working on at work and it really interested me,” he said. “Product Design really spoke to me because I wanted a creative job. It was an added bonus that it also has a collaborative aspect.”

This desire for a change of careers, he said, is what ultimately led him to Flatiron School.

“I started looking into bootcamps and I saw Flatiron School and that it offered UX / UI. I was instantly interested,” Fabien explained. “I also saw that Flatiron School’s reputation was one of the best ones in the country, so I jumped on it very quickly!”

Bootcamp Experience

Fabien enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time UX / UI Design program* in early 2020, committing 40 hours a week to his studies. The workload, he said, could be challenging at times. 

“On my third project, we were a team of 2 instead of 4 with a heavy workload. It was very challenging but we were very proud to complete our project at the end.”

Despite the grueling pace of accelerated learning – or perhaps because of it – Fabien and his classmates forged a deep bond that carried them through the course. 

“The people [were my favorite part]! My UX classes gave me the chance to meet amazing people that now 2 years later I still talk with almost every week. Collaborating with my teammates on fun projects was my favorite part of the program.”

Job Search

Fabien graduated from the Flatiron School UX / UI Design program in May 2020, just two months into the COVID-19 pandemic and global market shutdowns. To say that it made his job search difficult would be an understatement. 

“My job search experience [during covid] was very challenging,” he said. “It was a difficult period for me.”

But, throughout the ordeal, Fabien’s dedicated Career Coach kept him moving forward. 

“My career coach was great and very motivating. She taught me how to create an edge against other candidates when I interviewed [by] continuing to evolve as a designer and to constantly renew my portfolio.”

When we spoke with him in early 2020, Fabien was working as an Associate Product Designer at Red Hat and thriving in his new field. 

“I love this career. I feel incredibly lucky to have pursued this field and it was what I had hoped for.”

Reflecting On His Journey

A continent and career change later, Fabien has come a long way from where he began as a business student in France. Looking back at the journey, his main takeaway is the importance of endurance. 

“Persistence when looking for a job [is key]. And when you feel overwhelmed, just try to do your best each day.”

Fabien’s advice for current Flatiron School students centers on his ideas of persistence. 

“It’s very important to stay with the program! Don’t stop after one phase – I learned that even if one was hard, you could miss something great later.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Fabien Cartal?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Fabien Cartal in a program that’ll teach you the design skills you need to land your first job in tech.

Not quite ready to apply? Try out our Free Product Design Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. 

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

*UX/UI Design course is no longer available. For prospective students interested in this course of study, visit the Product Design course page to learn more.

Roger Brown: Amazon Career Choice 2021

Roger Brown, an October 2021 graduate of the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity Engineering program, transitioned into tech by way of Amazon’s Career Choice program

He shares his bootcamp experience and journey toward tech below.


Roger began his career in hospitality. He worked in the field for several years before transitioning into tech.

“I was drawn to the constantly evolving nature of the tech industry and the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology.” 

In early 2021, he’d been working as an Inbound Problem Solver at Amazon for two years when he learned about the Amazon Career Choice program. The program allows Amazon employees to receive technical training from partner institutions to pursue higher-paying career paths. 

“I decided to apply because I wanted to receive a high-quality education in a short amount of time,” he explained. “I hoped to gain the skills and knowledge needed to break into the tech industry and start a new career.”

Bootcamp Experience

Roger was accepted into the Amazon Career Choice program and enrolled with a cohort of fellow students from Amazon. The program ran for 32 weeks from February through October with the curriculum delivered online via live lectures. Students completed about 15 hours a week of classwork while continuing to work full-time, a logistical challenge for any new student. 

“Balancing the intense coursework with my other responsibilities was challenging,” Roger recalled. “But, my favorite part of the program was the hands-on projects, which allowed me to apply what I had learned and see the results firsthand.”

Job Search

Eight months after deciding to embark on his education journey, Roger graduated from the program with a brand new set of Cybersecurity skills. Like many of his classmates, he jumped right into the job search supported by his dedicated Career Coach. 

“My job search experience was made much easier by my career coach, who provided valuable guidance and support throughout the process.”

Ultimately, his efforts paid off. When we chatted with Roger in early 2023 he reported that he was “working as a Cybersecurity Specialist at a top tech company.”

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on where he began, Roger emphasized the perseverance needed to change one’s life and switch careers. 

“The biggest takeaway from my time at [Flatiron School’s Amazon Career Choice program] is the importance of hard work and perseverance,” he said. “No matter how challenging the program may seem, it is possible to succeed with dedication and determination.”

As for his advice for other students walking the same path, he recommends sticking with it when things get hard. 

“Stay focused and make the most of every opportunity. It can be difficult at times, but the effort will pay off in the end.”

Flatiron School Retraining Programs

Amazon’s Career Choice offers eligible Amazon employees like Roger Brown the opportunity to pivot careers into higher-paying jobs through retraining

The program was created as a way to attract top talent as well as improve employee engagement and retention. 

Following the initial cohort’s success, Amazon again selected Flatiron School to deliver Career Choice programs in 2023

Contact us to learn how a Flatiron School retraining program can attract and retain top talent at your organization.

Pride in Tech 2023 Panel Discussion

At Flatiron School, we know that meaningful things happen when people from diverse backgrounds work together. That’s why, each Pride month, we host a panel highlighting members of the LGBTQ+ community thriving in tech.

Last Year’s Pride in Tech 2022 Panel:

In 2022, our “Pride in Tech” panel participants shared how diversity and inclusion impact the LGBTQIA+ community working in tech and how companies can support LGBTQIA+ equality. Panelists featured were: 

August Rowe (They/Them), Data and Impact Director at Southwest Youth and Family Services.

Louis Casanave (He/Him), a former Data Science student. He went on to graduate from Flatiron School in November 2022 and is now an Analytics Consultant at Wells Fargo.

Brandon Tomecsko (He/They), a former Software Engineering student. He went on to graduate from Flatiron School in April 2023 and is now a Software Developer at Cook Systems. 

Em Kramm (She/They), a former Software Engineering student. She went on to graduate from Flatiron School in August 2022. 

Reito Serizawa (He/Him), a former Software Engineering student. He went on to graduate from Flatiron School in July 2022 and is now a Software Engineer at Skift.

Wael Gomaa (He/Him), a former Software Engineering student. He went on to graduate from Flatiron School in June 2022 and is now a Data Analyst at SDG Group.

Brittany (Ritta) Kelly (She/Her), a former Software Engineering student. She went on to graduate from Flatiron School in August 2022 and is now a Membership Director & Head of Influencer Relations at Parlor Social Club.

Throughout the event, panelists discussed what tech does to support the community, what it could do better, and their own experiences in the field. Watch last year’s full panel below:

This Year’s Pride in Tech 2023 Panel:

This year, Flatiron School will host another thought-provoking panel conversation on the challenges and triumphs of being LGBTQIA+ in the tech industry. Our panelists will share their personal stories and insights on how to create a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture for the LGBTQIA+ community in tech.

Whether you’re a tech enthusiast, an aspiring LGBTQIA+ professional, or simply someone who wants to learn more about this incredible intersection, this is the perfect opportunity to expand your horizons and join the conversation.

Whether you’re hoping to get into tech, currently pursuing an education, or are looking for your next opportunity, this panel is for everyone. Bring all of your questions and get ready to be inspired by our panelist’s stories!

Eric Saber: Professional Organizer to Product Designer

Eric Saber, a March 2020 UX/UI* graduate from Flatiron School, followed a self-defined winding road to get to Design. But, by following his need for a change throughout his career, he’s now thriving in tech.

He shares his journey from professional organizing to product design below.

Beginning In Business

The route Eric Saber took to becoming a Product Designer was, in his words, a “winding journey”. Eric began his career in sales as an Account Executive working with non-profit arts organizations. But, a decade into his first profession, he was ready for a change.  

“I felt an itch to strike out on my own. So, I made a bit of a left-turn and started my own professional organizing company (a la Marie Kondo). I’ve always been an organized person and I love creating order and efficiency,” he explained, “so it was a natural fit for me.”

Eric had his organizing business, Outer Calm, for just under 3 years. But eventually, the itch came back that told him he needed something different.

“While I loved organizing and helping my clients, I preferred a more structured work life vs. being a freelancer.”

Pivoting Into Product Design

As he contemplated his next move, a chance encounter with a family member put him on the path toward tech.

“I was talking with my father-in-law who was redesigning an app he built. He was asking my opinion on the interface since he knew I was pretty well-versed in tech, and that was the lightbulb moment when I knew I wanted to be a designer. Shortly thereafter I found Flatiron School.”

Looking back, Eric’s eventual decision to pursue a career in Product Design was a long time coming. 

“I’ve always been a bit of a tech nerd, but I’m also a guitarist and songwriter, so for the longest time I was looking to have some form of creativity be a part of my work life,” he said. “I thought that that ship might have sailed until I learned more about product design as a career.”

His decision to apply to Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design program was informed by the testimonials of peers who’d previously attended the Software Engineering program and had a positive experience.

“All the alumni I spoke with said that it was a really difficult program but worth it if you put in the hard work […] Flatiron had one of the more robust design programs and I also got the impression that, of all the bootcamps out there, Flatiron had some name recognition that was respected (which would help with the eventual job search).”

Bootcamp Experience

Eric enrolled in Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design program on the NYC Campus in late 2019. Eric, like many students, initially struggled with the accelerated pace of learning. 

“Soaking everything in and putting it into practice at such a breakneck pace to meet deadlines was not easy. As a brand new designer and student, it felt like learning to build a plane while flying it,” he recalled. “That said, in hindsight, it was super valuable to learn that way because it mimics the real-world deadlines designers face on the job.” 

What’s more, after spending over a decade in careers where he worked independently, learning to work cooperatively with the other students in his cohort presented a learning curve that he appreciates looking back.

“The group work was invaluable since so much of the work you do in the real world is going to be collaborative and cross-functional.”

Even with the demanding schedule and rapid learning, Eric found that he thoroughly enjoyed his coursework.

“My favorite part of the program was the initial education around design thinking and the overall process that goes into solving some of these big problems. It takes so much work to make things work. When you’re using a great website or app, it’s easy to forget that a lot of people did a lot of hard work to make that experience a good one for you.”

Job Search Journey

Eric graduated from Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design program in March 2020, right into the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

“As you might imagine, the job search was tricky, though I’m sure it would have been even without a pandemic. It was hard getting my foot in the door and convincing hiring managers to give me a phone screen, having no prior design experience,” he explained. “Even though I knew all my other experiences and soft skills were extremely valuable to the work, many hiring managers just wanted to see your past work in design.”

Despite the rough launch post-graduation, Eric’s dedicated Career Coach supported him throughout the job search.

“[My Career Coach] helped to focus me and frame my applications in a way that allowed me to stand out not despite my unconventional background, but because of it.”

Working In Tech

When we talked with Eric in early 2023, he’d been working as a Product Designer at FCB Health in New York City for almost 2 years.

“I love being a designer and I am so grateful for my experience at Flatiron. I really feel like I have found my calling and I owe so much of that to you guys. The reality is even better than the dream, and I think the way that the program is set up allows for designers to be well-prepared for real-world work.”

The overlap between his previous and current work, he says, is more than one might expect. 

“It has been a perfect marriage of my skills and experience in sales (where I learned how to present work and help clients) and the time I spent running my own company (where I had a direct impact on people’s lives by creating order out of chaos). Add in the creative aspect and you couldn’t draw a better Venn diagram of the things I’m passionate about.”

Reflecting On His Journey

Eric’s advice for other Product Design students is to lean into the hard work required to thrive in the course. 

“You really do get from the program whatever you put into it. If you’re willing to hit the ground running and realize that it won’t be easy, that there might be some nights where you don’t get much sleep, you will get so much in return. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the structure and support of Flatiron. I feel very lucky to be an alumn!”

Looking back on where he started, Eric’s biggest takeaway is that hard work pays off.

“If you have the right mindset, a good eye, and a strong desire to learn, you can make your design dreams come true. I pinch myself every day that I get to do this for a living!”

Itching For A Change, Just Like Eric Saber?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Eric in a program that’ll teach you the design skills you need to land your first job in tech.

Not quite ready to apply? Try out our Free Product Design Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. 

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

*UI/UX Design course is no longer available. For students interested in this course of study, visit the Product Design course page to learn more.

Naftali Kulik: Rabbi to Software Engineer

Naftali Kulik, a September 2022 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, spent nearly a decade pursuing Rabbinic Studies before transitioning to tech.

He shares his journey from Rabbi to Software Engineer below. 

A Foundation In Faith

Naftali Kulik began his career pursuing Rabbinic Studies. While he spent nearly a decade in the effort, he never intended to make a lifelong profession out of it. 

“A long-term career in the field was never really part of the plan,” Naftali said. “I always knew I’d eventually transition [to something else].”

After spending some time researching different career options, Naftali settled on the field of Software Engineering. 

“In my mind, the ideal career would be the chance to do something that a) I enjoy doing, b) I am good at, and c) will enable me to comfortably support my family. The more I learned about Software Engineering, the more I felt it had the potential to check all three boxes.”

But, as a busy father of two, he knew he didn’t have the time or financial resources available to take off years and go back to school for a traditional 4-year degree. 

“What originally drew me to a tech bootcamp was the possibility of making a quick career change,” he explained. “I chose a bootcamp over college because of the ability to acquire a valuable skill in a fraction of the time it’d take to earn a college degree, and for cheaper.” 

As for why he chose Flatiron School specifically in an industry with lots of options, Naftali said that he wanted “the best”.

“[Flatiron School] is one of the most respected bootcamps in the industry, and I wanted the best for myself. Attending a bootcamp with the combination of a quality curriculum, good career coaching, and a sterling reputation felt like the best way to set myself up for success.”

His Coding Bootcamp Experience

Naftali enrolled in Flatiron School’s Software Engineering Flex (or part-time) program in April 2022. The online-only, self-paced format of the course allowed the busy father of two the flexibility he needed to make a career change. But, like many students new to tech, he found adapting to the material and an engineer’s mindset difficult at first. 

“The beginning of the program [was challenging], before I learned how to think like a developer,” he recalled. “But as coding became more instinctive and intuitive, it got easier and easier even though the material was getting more advanced.”

As Naftali adapted to and progressed through the program’s material, he found that he particularly appreciated the projects he worked on.

“I enjoyed watching everything I’d learn come together to produce real results (which would suitably impress my non-technical friends and family of course!),” he recalled. ”Working on projects allowed me to push my limits and helped me solidify my understanding of the languages and technologies I was working with.”

The Job Search

Naftali graduated from his Flatiron School Software Engineering program on September 13, 2022, and jumped right into the job search. The experience, he said, was turbulent. 

“[It] was exhausting, at times discouraging, and thankfully relatively short!”

Despite the rough seas, his Flatiron School career coach guided him throughout his job search journey.

“My career coach helped me stay the course and not let short-term discouragement get in the way of my long-term goals. He gave me the confidence to trust my instincts and was always there when I had questions or was unsure how to proceed.”

In December 2022, Naftali ultimately accepted a role as a Software Developer at 100 Boulevard Management. 

Working In Tech

When we followed up with Naftali in January 2023, he’d only been at his first tech job for a week. Despite being brand new to both the company and the industry, he felt well-prepared to succeed. 

“I feel like my skills are up to par with what’s expected, though I’ll still need training on the particulars of the project I’m working on.” 

As for how his previous religious career fits into his new path, Naftali said that the two fields have more in common than meets the eye.

“Studying Talmud is an exercise in closely analyzing information so as not to miss a single detail, and applying critical thinking skills to resolve disputes and inconsistencies,” he explained. “These skills were useful when learning how to code, as I am already trained to identify small but important details and to apply my knowledge creatively to solve problems.”

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on where he started, Naftali is sure that he made the right decision. 

“My biggest takeaway is that I chose the right profession! I enjoyed the program and discovered a natural talent for coding. Everything I learned only reinforced my conviction that Software Engineering was the right career path for me.”

As for his advice to others currently in a Flatiron School program, he recommended taking the opportunity to practice as much as they can. 

“You can absorb all the information you can, but the only way to truly internalize it is to put it to use. When working on projects, push your limits (within reason of course) and incorporate as much of what you’ve learned as possible. The projects (and to a lesser extent, the labs) are your opportunity to go from ‘someone who knows some stuff about coding’ to a true programmer.”

And about the job search? Naftali advised taking a macro look at the experience, instead of floundering in the inevitable micro disappointments. 

“Play the long game. A good job hunt strategy requires patience to let your efforts bear fruit, and a lack of short-term success doesn’t reflect on the overall progress toward the eventual goal of getting a job. Just keep building relationships and making yourself as hireable as possible and you’ll get there eventually.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Naftali Kulik?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Naftali in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Software Engineering Prep. Or, review the Software Engineering Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and can help launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Mike Roth: Fine Arts to Data Science

Mike Roth, an August 2022 Data Science graduate from Flatiron School, began his career learning computer engineering before a love for creating pulled him towards a degree in fine arts. A decade later, however, he’s come full circle.

He shares his journey from the arts to Data Science below.

A Foundation In Fine Arts

Mike Roth has spent his career in the pursuit of creation. Initially beginning his education studying Computer Engineering, he ultimately graduated with a degree in Fine Arts. While many would question the transition between the two fields, Roth says that they overlapped at their core and differed only in the method of creation.

“I didn’t see much difference between the two [majors] since they are both highly creative fields, and I wanted to combine the two interests to take advantage of the power of coding in art.” 

Post-graduation, he used his combined skillset in a variety of positions including graphic design, web development, and marketing. But, a decade into his career, the financial pressures of living in a major city pushed him to consider a new career. 

“I was using my coding skills to create art and design, but I still struggled to make enough money to survive in New York with just a degree in Fine Arts,” he explained. “I’d designed graphics and websites my entire career and was looking for a new challenge.”

Roth didn’t have to look far to settle on his next path. He simply went back to the beginning – back to his enjoyment of coding.

“I love to code and wanted to pursue a career where I could code all day.”

His Bootcamp Experience

While looking into fields where his coding skills would be a valuable asset, Roth discovered Data Science and bootcamps. 

“Initially, Data Science seemed more interesting to me because it was one of the most challenging courses in a bootcamp,” he recalled. “Then I realized that I could do so much more with math and science on top of my software engineering skills.”

A referral from a friend spurred his interest in Flatiron School’s Data Science program

“I had an artist friend who graduated from Flatiron’s software engineering program a few years before me and has had a lot of success since. His experience made Flatiron one of my top choices for bootcamps. I wanted stability and progress in my career, and I knew from his experience it was achievable.”

Roth applied to Flatiron School’s full-time, 15-week Data Science course during the pandemic, but delayed his start date until in-person classes at the NYC Campus resumed.

“I really wanted to learn data science from people around me, not just online tutorials,” he explained. “Attending the bootcamp on campus was an amazing experience.”

He recalled how challenging the accelerated pace of the program was, but highlighted the support he received and the connections he made with those around him on campus. 

“The coursework is very demanding. Keeping up with every topic and project often required me to work late at night,” Roth said. “But my favorite part [of the bootcamp] was learning from my peers and professors, who would discuss complex math and neural network ideas.”

Job Search Experience

Mike Roth graduated from the Flatiron School Data Science program in August 2022. Unfortunately, his job search initially got off to a rocky start.

“I think because of my untraditional background I had trouble getting interviews. It was very difficult and disheartening at times.” 

But, throughout his job search, his dedicated Flatiron School career coach was there to keep him moving forward.

“My career coach was extremely helpful and supportive, and I owe all my interviewing and applying skills to him,” Roth said. “I called him my job therapist because while most of the job search work is on you, my career coach was there to back me up technically and emotionally.”

Despite the trying start to the search, Roth ultimately accepted a role as a Senior Consultant at GCOM Software. When we spoke with him in early 2023, he had only good things to say about his new career. 

“I love it! I didn’t know how much I would enjoy Data Science before I applied to Flatiron, but I really can’t get enough of it. I’d do personal science projects all day if I could, but I’m so happy to get paid for it and work with an amazing team of engineers and scientists. I can’t wait to see where my career leads.”

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back at his journey from Flatiron School student to professional Data Scientist, Roth is particularly proud of the projects he completed while in bootcamp. Those projects, fittingly, combined his love of the arts with his new data skills. 

“In one project, I used informational entropy and neural networks to authenticate any artist’s work from fraudulent copies, specifically Bob Ross’ paintings. For my final project, I created a sound wave similarity search engine that uses data from Spotify’s API to find songs that are similar sounding. Try out a working demo here.”

Roth commented that he’d also learned to let go of societal notions around changing careers.

“My biggest takeaway from the bootcamp is that I’m not too old or unworthy to pursue a career change and that I can always expand my knowledge and experience, even if it seems different from my background.”

The fact that he’s come full circle is not lost on Roth either. 

“This was the path I had always been on to begin with; headed toward something challenging and new. I still have a bit of an imposter feeling about my math and science abilities, but I’m really excited to do this kind of work and I’m proud of what I’ve learned.”

His Advice For Other Students

Roth’s advice to others pivoting to a new career by way of Flatiron School is to lean into the uncertainty and inherent struggle in learning something new. 

“Don’t get too worried about whether you understand everything the first time. These concepts can be really difficult to understand or visualize the first time around, and take time to sink in.”

He also emphasizes the fact that, even after graduation, they should expect to continuously be improving and expanding their skillsets.

“I’m still constantly learning and feeling frustrated when I don’t understand something right off the bat, but I know it will come eventually. Work is work, but the work you put in always pays off – you learn more from your mistakes and difficulties than anything else.”

As for his love of creation, that passion is here to stay. 

“I’m working as a data scientist now, but I think I’ll always be an artist, no matter what my job is. Plus, at times Data Science can be more of an art than a science.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Mike Roth?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Mike in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Data Science Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. Or, review the Data Science Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and help launch your new career.

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Zachary Greenberg: Musician To Data Scientist

Zachary Greenberg, a May 2021 Data Science graduate from Flatiron School, spent a decade as a professional musician until the COVID pandemic made him rethink his career path. 

He shares his journey from professional musician to Data Scientist below.

Bit By The Music Bug

Zachary began his professional career by earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a specialization in statistics. It was during college however that he “was bit by the music bug”. 

“After graduation, I decided to pursue a singing career which led me to become a lead vocalist for theme parks and major cruise lines.” 

But, like many other artists, he was soon out of work when the 2020 pandemic heated up. He took time during the lockdown to evaluate the path he was on, ultimately deciding to make a career change to Data Science. 

“I was drawn to data science for 2 reasons. One, I already had a statistics background and was randomly learning Python in my spare time. Two, when I started getting more serious about it, I was amazed at the effect a data science project could have on people.”

His Bootcamp Experience

After researching bootcamps, Zachary applied to Flatiron School’s full-time, 15-week Data Science program. He cites the school’s reputation as a contributing factor to his decision to apply.

“I was particularly impressed by Flatiron’s word of mouth,” he recalled. “I was hoping that it would give me the tools and confidence I needed to enter the data science workforce.”

Zachary had previous experience coding before enrolling at Flatiron School. His twin brother – a Software Engineer – had taught him the basics as a hobby. But, once he reached the advanced concepts taught at the tail-end of the course, he recalls it being a challenge. 

“Making the switch from coding and statistics into machine learning [was hard]. It’s a very quick turn, but if you stick with it and lean on the support of your cohort you’ll come out successful.”

But once he made it through the advanced modules, he thoroughly enjoyed using everything he’d learned to create a capstone project. 

“It’s a passion project that not only shows you have the skills to see a project through from start to finish, but it also helps you to learn who you are as a data scientist and helps your audience to learn who you are as both a data scientist and a person.”

Working In Tech

Zachary graduated from Flatiron School in May 2021. He first interned at Sentara Healthcare before landing a full-time position with Guidehouse as a Data Scientist Consultant. Almost two years on from graduation, he is enjoying his new career.

“I am loving working in Data Science. I get to work with and learn from a great team of talented people every day,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. Reality absolutely lives up to the dream.”

Looking back on his journey, Zachary says he is “proud of the journey itself”.

“It’s crazy for me to think about where I am now from where I started. I’ve gained many new skills and made many valuable connections on this ongoing journey. It may be a little cliche, but it is that hard work pays off.”

As for his advice to other current or future Data Science students, he recommends looking at the big picture when things get hard.

“If you focus on your work’s impact on others, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to succeed.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Zachary Greenberg?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Zachary in a program that’ll give you the tech skills you need to land a job in tech.

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Data Science Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Tyler Luckewicz: Amazon Career Choice 2021

Tyler Luckewicz, an October 2021 graduate of the Amazon Career Choice Software Engineering program, began in the business side of tech before pivoting into a hands-on role.

He shares his journey to Software Engineering below.

Beginning In Business IT

Tyler graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 with a degree in Business IT. He cited an early interest in tech as the reason he chose the program.

“I played video games from a young age. The idea of learning how to code and creating a game always appealed to me,” he said. “While in school I took some programming classes and enjoyed them. It was intimidating and complex yet at the same time incredibly satisfying when a concept clicked and you could get a program to do what you wanted.”

Despite his interest in technology driving his initial career path choice, Tyler did not enjoy his first post-university job. 

“I was working as a Business Analyst for KPMG. But I felt like I was not adding much value,” he explained. “I was mainly focused on documentation but worked closely with software developers who I saw as building real things of value that others would see and use.”

Pursuing A Tech Path

After realizing that he wanted to do something different with his career, Tyler quit his Business Analyst role and went to work for Amazon as a Warehouse Associate. 

“I eventually moved into a role in the IT department at Amazon. I enjoyed this new job and the skills I needed to learn. It was a step in the right direction but I still felt there was another path I wanted to pursue.”

Tyler didn’t have to look far for that next path. In fact, he’d wanted to pursue it all along. 

“Software Engineering was always in the back of my mind [but] I knew I had to acquire more hard skills,” he said. “I figured if I was going to put in a lot of extra time to study and learn, it might as well be towards something I was more passionate about.”

Applying To Amazon Career Choice

After deciding to pursue Software Engineering, Tyler began to self-study using online resources. Then one day, he spotted a flier on the outside of his workplace’s building. 

“It was for the Amazon Career Choice program which would pay for employees to pursue a career in a new field,” he recalled. “One of the partnerships highlighted was with Flatiron School for Software Engineering.”

Tyler looked into the curriculum Flatiron School taught and felt like it was the logical next step for him.

“It was everything that I was currently learning plus so much more,” he said. “Being a completely self-taught developer is possible but this seemed like just the thing I needed to push me to the next level and give me the confidence that I could break into this field and write code professionally.”

His Program Experience

Tyler was accepted into the Amazon Career Choice program and matriculated with a cohort of fellow students from Amazon. The program ran for 32 weeks from February through October with the curriculum delivered online via live lectures. Students completed about 15 hours a week of classwork while continuing to work full-time. 

“The level of commitment required [was challenging]. Every single week required a huge amount of time and effort,” Tyler remembered. “You could not afford to take time off. The nature of the material we were learning meant that if you fell behind it was very difficult to catch up. It was so worth it but anyone thinking about joining the course needs to be ready for a big commitment.”

Despite the pressure of learning Software Engineering at an accelerated pace while continuing to work, Tyler found the course’s structure and his cohort’s camaraderie refreshing. 

“Studying programming on my own was isolating, trying to figure out all the different technologies and how they worked together,” he said. “Having an organized structure, with a class of peers all going through the same thing, and instructors there to guide us and answer questions was an amazing experience.”

When comparing his time in the Amazon Career Choice program to his efforts in teaching himself the material, for Tyler there is no comparison. 

“[It]was on another level that really pushed me and got me so much further along. I truly believe that no one could gain the same amount of experience and put in the same amount of effort by studying on their own. You can learn on your own but it will not compete [with this program]!”

First Job In Tech

Tyler graduated from the Amazon Career Choice Software Engineering program in October 2021 after completing 480 curriculum hours. While most of his classmates jumped into the job search at that point, Tyler was in a unique position – he’d already accepted a job offer. 

“I had kept in touch with a friend from college who worked as a Software Developer,” he explained. “I told him about what I was learning and working on. He said it would be great if an opportunity came up and I could work with him and his team. It ended up working out and I was offered a job with his company before I finished the program.”

When we talked with him in April 2023, Tyler was still in the role, working as a Software Engineer at the pharmaceutical consulting company IQVIA. 

“I love my new career. I still can’t believe that I actually get to solve problems and write code for a living. I’m currently working on an application that tracks lab results for patients who are participating in clinical trials to help develop new drugs.” 

As for whether the dream lives up to reality and the journey was worth the destination? Tyler’s answer is a resounding yes. 

“I still pinch myself sometimes when I am solving a problem or writing code and think to myself ‘this is what I get paid to do now’! It’s an incredible feeling and one of the most rewarding accomplishments of my life.”

Reflecting On The Journey

Looking back at where he began, Tyler emphasizes the value of committing to the path you want to be on.

“It is amazing what you can accomplish when you fully commit and jump into something 100%.”

He’s also become an advocate for others looking to break into tech to pursue an accelerated bootcamp program, like the one he participated in.

“To anyone who has an interest in becoming a Software Engineer and does not want to go to school for four years to get a degree, there is absolutely no better way to break into the industry than going through this program. It will push you further than you could ever go on your own and will build the experience and confidence that you can do this at the professional level.”

As for his advice to other students, his advice is to prioritize planning your time.

“This is a demanding program but building a routine of when you do your work is critical to success. If you give this your full attention you will be amazed at what you have learned and accomplished when you come out the other side. It will literally change the rest of your life.”

Flatiron School Retraining Programs

Amazon’s Career Choice offers eligible Amazon employees the opportunity to pivot careers into higher-paying jobs through retraining. The program was created as a way to attract top talent as well as improve employee engagement and retention. 

Following the initial cohort’s success, Amazon again selected Flatiron School to deliver Career Choice programs in 2023.

Alisha Murray: Fashion To Product Design

Alisha Murray, a 2020 UX / UI Design graduate from Flatiron School, credits her grandmother for her early interest in fashion. Her love of creativity, however, eventually led her to a career in Product Design.

She shares her journey from Fashion to Product Design below.

An Early Fixation on Fashion

Alisha grew up in the small town of Sabinal, Texas, where she spent a lot of time on her grandparent’s chicken farm. It was there that she was first introduced to the world of fashion through humble beginnings.

“My grandma would make Halloween costumes for me or fix a hole in my grandpa’s pants,” she recalled. “It was always intriguing to me when I saw her pull out her Singer sewing machine and work her magic.”

She got her first sewing machine in high school and went on to earn a degree in Textiles and Apparel, Technical Design from the University of Texas. But after graduating, Alisha said she felt lost.  

The hobby that I grew to love turned into a real prospect as a career but it turned into just that. A hobby, a prospect, something I didn’t know how to attain anymore.

After graduating from college, Alisha worked as an Assistant Manager at a department store. 

“I loved interacting with people and being active; not always sitting behind a desk. I could be involved in fashion without actually creating it.” 

But, after two years, she knew she needed to make a change.

“I just grew tired of the same old day-to-day business,” she explained. “Something was missing. I wasn’t being completely myself and I wasn’t using all of my creative capabilities.”

Pivoting To Product Design

Once deciding to pursue a new career, Alishia began to research her options.

“I wanted to find a new way to express my creative energy […] to figure out what I wanted to do and be for the rest of my life. I looked at trade schools and Masters’s programs.”

Eventually, she stumbled upon the concept of coding bootcamps, which led her to the Flatiron School website and Product Design. She recalls going down a “rabbit hole” learning about UX / UI Product Design, combing the course’s website, and watching videos about the subject.

“I’ve never felt more drawn to something than I did learning about this field of work,” she said. “When I came across Flatiron [School’s] website the answer to what I was looking for was staring back at me, this was it. I immediately signed up for an interview to learn more.”

Her Flatiron School Experience

Alisha applied for and was accepted to Flatiron School’s UI/UX Design course.* But, having been out of the creative field for several years, there were growing pains getting back into the imaginative mindset. 

“[It was challenging] learning how to open up my creative mind again. It felt like that aspect of me was lost a little bit,” she said. “I had to retrain myself to have an imagination and cross boundaries and just be open to being scrappy with my work.” 

Her classmates eased her transition back into the field, serving as a source of both support and inspiration. 

“So many of my classmates had come from different areas of design already, and I was able to learn a lot from them. I learned about different areas of work and they helped me better my skills.”

Overall, she reports having a positive experience during the course and growing as a creative professional.

“Once you start giving it your all, and not worrying about how perfect the work is, you open up to a much larger picture of what can be accomplished.”

Pandemic Job Search

Alisha graduated from Flatiron School in February 2020, a month before the onset of the pandemic. To say that it made her search difficult, she says, would be an understatement.

“Graduating straight into a pandemic was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I quickly started seeing interviews fall off my calendar and companies telling me that they just can’t hire right now. That was the longest 8 months of my life.” 

Throughout her difficult job search and the evolving pandemic, her career coach was there to support her and keep her motivated and moving forward.

“My career coach kept reminding me to network and how things can be done virtually. I utilized LinkedIn and reached out to Senior Designers and managers,” she said. “I received so much more insight into product design that I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t ask people about their day-to-day business.”

Despite setbacks, Alisha ultimately accepted a job as a Product Designer at General Motors in November 2020. When we spoke with her in February 2023, she reported that it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience.

“Working as a product designer has been so fulfilling. I am constantly working on different projects. Priorities shift so much that I am never bored and always stay creatively active. I have found the career that fulfills parts of me that I wasn’t using in retail.”

Reflecting On Her Journey

Looking back on her path, Alisha highlights the importance of connecting with others.

“My biggest takeaway is understanding how important networking actually is. Whether that’s just chatting with your colleagues and learning about their career backgrounds or reaching out to a manager at a company of interest,” she said. “You can learn so much from people and being able to compare your interests with a prospective job title is important to know if that’s what you want to do.”

As for her advice for others who may be considering a career change, she recommends leaning into the inherent uncertainty of the process. 

“Don’t stay in a job you are not completely happy at, and just have fun finding yourself along the way. Step outside of your comfort zone and be scrappy with your work. We don’t know how far we can push ourselves until we actually try. And then continue to push yourself.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Alisha Murray?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Alisha in a program that’ll give you the tech skills you need to land your first job in tech.

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Product Design Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. 

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

*UI/UX Design course is no longer available. For students interested in this course of study, visit the Product Design course page to learn more.

Matthew Thomas-Wicher: Law to Design

Matthew Thomas-Wicher, a March 2020 UX Design graduate*, spent 5 years pursuing a career in law before dropping everything to pursue design.

He shares his journey from law to UX / UI Product Design below.

Pivoting From A Path To Law

Matthew Thomas-Wicher graduated from college with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a minor in Pre-Law. Followed by an internship in the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., his path toward a career in law seemed clear. 

“After [my internship], it just made sense at the time to break into the field before going to law school,” he said. “Unfortunately, after five years working in Corporate Law, I realized that path wasn’t for me.”

In the search for his next career, Matthew didn’t have to go far to settle on tech. 

“[My interest in tech] started with coding, and how each project you work on is essentially one big puzzle,” he recalled. “It makes you really think, and I loved each and every challenge presented to me.”

Matthew had previously learned coding during a 6 month in-person course in D.C. and saw Product Design as an opportunity to repurpose those skills. 

“I was always interested in Product Design and even tried to incorporate it into my job at the time, combined with a bit of coding knowledge,” he explained. “Product Design, just like code, requires a deep understanding of the problems you are trying to solve and that’s what drew me in. The fundamentals are transferrable, and together, they are very useful.”

Deciding On UX Design

Matthew’s decision to attend a User Experience Design course was based on the positive review of a friend. 

“One of my good friends in D.C. went to a [bootcamp] a couple of years before I did, and he had nothing but good things to say,” he said. “He had been successful in the field for some time, and [the bootcamp] was his starting point.”

But, he acknowledged, that switching careers after spending years building experience in a field was daunting. 

“To be honest, I felt like I spent so much time in [law], that it would be almost impossible to completely start over,” he recalled.

Despite his doubts, Matthew was committed to changing careers. 

“I decided to jump in head first! I quit my full-time job working as a paralegal and moved to Chicago to do the Full-Time UX Immersive Program.”

Spoiler alert for any nervous readers: looking back, Matthew said “it was a great experience.”

His Bootcamp Experience

Matthew enrolled in a full-time User Experience Design course*, committing 40 hours a week to his studies. The grueling schedule, he said, was made easier by the people he learned alongside. 

“[My favorite part of the program] was working with so many different people. Everyone there had similar goals, and we all worked together to meet them,” he said. “After spending so much time with everyone, day in and day out, you get pretty close.”

Those new connections also led to additional challenges. 

“The most challenging part was working on a team with people who have all different ways of doing things. Having to adapt and learn how to keep the cogs turning was a challenge,” he said. “But after working in the field for several years now, it definitely prepared me for working with multiple stakeholders at various companies.”

Matthew sums up the outcome of his bootcamp experience succinctly: 

“At the end of the program, I got a certificate and a bunch of new friends.”

Job Searching During The Pandemic

Matthew graduated in early 2020 right into the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The last two months of our cohort was during the beginning of the 2020 pandemic,” he recalled. “I had low expectations going into the job market.”

Despite entering the market just as the world shut down, Matthew landed his first job quickly. 

“I feel like I got pretty lucky with the job search. After I applied to a bunch of places I found a really cool startup based in Chicago that took a chance on me,” he said. “I took on the role of Founding Product Designer at a small seed-funded company that had coincidentally been in the process of moving its headquarters to DC. It was tough. I worked with the company from the beginning, all the way up to their Series-A funding in late 2021.”

Matthew worked at his initial company as a Founding Product Designer at The Demex Group until October 2021 before moving to his next opportunity. As of writing, he is working in a remote role as a Product Designer & Design Strategist at Oportun.

Working In The Field

Three years on from graduation, Matthew is enjoying working in Product Design immensely. 

“I absolutely love it! It definitely matches up to the dream, and I am so happy I made the switch. I feel like I look at the world around me and how people interact with technology so differently now.”

Having been in a senior-level design position right after completing his bootcamp, he has quite a few projects that he looks back on with pride, especially those where he got to flex his coding skills. 

“Back at my first company … I was a product designer but also a full-stack engineer. For my last task at The Demex Group, I got to take the lead on a huge project which was pretty groundbreaking in the field,” he explained. “I was able to take it through the entire design process and code the entire platform with the help of one other designer. The project ended up being one of the main things that helped them secure their Series-A funding and it was just amazing to see my work out in the wild and watch people interact with it.”

To see Matthew’s work, visit his portfolio.

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back at where his journey into Product Design began, Matthew’s takeaway is that of inclusivity and keeping oneself open to differing perspectives. 

“In this field, you work with many diverse groups of people. These could be the users who you are building for or the stakeholders who you work with at whichever company,” he said. “Different styles of working, understanding, communicating, etc. Having that experience at [the bootcamp], working with so many different thinkers was a bit frustrating at first, but looking back, it prepared me so much for my career.”

His advice for other students getting ready to enter the workforce is a single word: network. 

“My biggest piece of advice is to network. There are tech events all over no matter where you end up taking your program. I landed my first contract role at the same time I got my first job in the field, just by networking at an event and getting referred to someone.”

As for how he thinks of his bootcamp experience almost three years on, Matthew is all positivity.

“It was such a great experience.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Matthew Thomas-Wicher?

Apply Now to join other career changers in a design program that will set your portfolio apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free UX / UI Product Design Prep. Or, review the Product Design Syllabus for the full list of skills you’ll learn to prepare you to launch your next career.

Read more stories about grads who have successfully changed careers on the Flatiron School blog.

*Featured student was a graduate of Designation Labs, which was acquired by Flatiron School. The User Experience Design course is no longer available. Visit the Product Design Course page to learn more.