How to Become a UX Designer

User Experience (UX) design focuses on creating products that provide meaningful, relevant, and enjoyable experiences for users. A UX designer creates the actual products that provide those meaningful, relevant and enjoyable user experiences. Think of your favorite app or website—a UX designer played a big part in bringing it to life. Are you the type of person who enjoys questioning how things work? Do you enjoy putting yourself in another person’s shoes to see how they might question how something works? Curiosity and a love of problem-solving are two of the key traits most UX designers possess; if you possess both and are interested in learning more about how to become a UX designer, read on. 

UX Designer Responsibilities

The UX designer role is broad and dynamic. Formal education in UX design can be highly beneficial, though many UX designers come from other fields, including graphic design, psychology, and web design. The variety of backgrounds helps contribute to a diverse array of valuable perspectives on UX. A lot of people compare what we do in design to art. While I can understand the correlation, design and art are very different. Art is more of a self-fulfilling affair. Design? Design is a science—we solve problems with the work we do!

A few of the key responsibilities of a UX designer role include:

User Experience Research

UX research involves understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through various research methods. This includes qualitative research, which involves interviews with users of a product and observing them perform specific actions using that product. It also includes quantitative research, which uses surveys and measurable analytics to validate or invalidate predetermined goals. Let’s walk through some of the other facets of UX research below.

Mixed method research combines both qualitative and quantitative approaches for a more comprehensive understanding of a product’s usability and the sentiment users have about a product.

Competitive/market analysis helps to identify industry trends and user expectations based on what a product’s competitors are already doing.

Research synthesis
involves combining data from research you’ve conducted to form an understanding and inform others of the work that needs to be done to improve a product.

Problem scoping defines the boundaries of the work that needs to be done and creates focus areas for design teams to solve.

Feature prioritization determines which features are most important to users and helps design teams tackle work in a way that organizes the level of effort any task may take against the impact it may have on the users.

Lastly, empathy mapping and persona development help create more detailed profiles of a product’s target uses to guide design decisions.

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Interface and Experience Design

UX/UI product design encompasses the creation and refinement of digital product interfaces and the thoughtful implementation of an overall satisfying user experience.

Every project starts with ideation and wireframing, where product designers brainstorm ideas and create low-fidelity sketches and various prototypes of potential solutions to resolve the established problem statement.

Once product designers have a solution, strategic decisions around typography and color selections come next. Both ensure that the text and layout are readable, visually appealing, and accessible to users of all types of abilities or any lack thereof. Other facets of the design process include the below.

Developing an information architecture and navigational structure for a digital product helps to organize content in a way that most logically suits a user’s mental model and makes it easier for users to find what they need within a product.

Heuristic and accessibility audits check for usability and again ensures the design is accessible to all users. Multi-device responsive design ensures the interface works well on various devices.

Usability testing may happen at multiple stages during the design process and after the product’s launch to gather feedback from real users on ways to improve the design’s usability, and functionality, or recommend potential stylistic changes.

Throughout each of the iteration cycles noted above, it is important for a UX designer to develop and maintain their design library. A design library is a collection of standards explaining the design intent behind stylistic choices around color, typography, and grid structure, as well as creating reusable components and supporting documentation around the appropriate times to use these materials.

Presenting Work

 Designers are required to be master storytellers—particularly when it comes to talking about our work. When done correctly, every single element of a design has been meticulously thought over, debated, and ultimately decided upon.

Presenting design work involves effectively communicating these design decisions and the eventual outcomes they’ll have. Sometimes, designers may even need to deliver a presentation showcasing designs to stakeholders to gather feedback on work. And ultimately that work usually ends up in a portfolio where our work remains curated to demonstrate skills and experience to potential employers.

At the end of the day, A UX designer is the bridge between a business and their customers. Designers have to be fluent in both business goals and user expectations. 

UX Designer Salary and Career Outlook

A career in UX design can be a promising path filled with opportunities for those who are passionate about making technology both functional and enjoyable for users. 

According to May 2024 data from ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a UX designer in the United States is around $106,224 annually, with starting salaries above $53,000.

Also, according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for digital designers in the United States is projected to grow 16% from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is fueled by the continuous demand for digital user experiences that are more accessible, engaging, and effective.

So as you can see, there is a robust job market for those who are interested in learning how to become a UX designer. Next, let’s look at both the technical and soft skills needed to succeed in the field. 

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UX Designer Skills

UX design careers require a certain set of soft skills and technical skills to succeed. Let’s look at soft skills first. 

Soft skills for UX designers

  • Empathy: Understanding user needs and feelings is crucial for creating designs that resonate on a personal level.
  • Creativity: Divergent thinking helps in ideating original solutions that enhance user satisfaction and lead to conversion on a desired action.
  • Problem solving: The ability to address design challenges with effective solutions is essential.
  • Communication: Clear verbal and written articulation of design concepts and user needs to team members and stakeholders is key. Superb communication skills are especially important for remote work environments. 

Technical skills for UX designers

  • Google Workspace tools: 
    • Google Forms: For gathering quantitative feedback data
    • Google Sheets: For organizing and storing feedback data
    •  Google Docs: For writing research reports
    •  Google Slides: For presentations to peers and business stakeholders
  • Sketching:
    Necessary for roughing out initial design concepts. You do not need to have a mastery of drawing for the sketching phase of a design project.
  • Figma and FigJam:
    Figma is a collaborative design tool and it is where UX designers spend most of their time. Wireframes and prototypes are built using Figma. Any exercises like card sorts, diagram building, or feature prioritization done collaboratively with users or colleagues who are non-designers is generally done in FigJam, a collaborative whiteboard tool.

Mastering UX Design

With the right combination of education, tools, and networking, you can position yourself as a top contender in a rapidly growing and changing tech industry. Let’s touch on some of the other needs for launching and succeeding in a UX design career. 

An interest in human psychology and behavior

A foundational understanding of the psychological and behavioral process behind what drives user interactions helps UX designers create intuitive design patterns. Two books I recommend on these topics include:

A strong UX design portfolio

Unlike other fields, designers have to display that they are capable of executing work at a proficient level. Demonstrating your design process and a project’s final outcomes in a well-curated portfolio is crucial to landing a job in UX.

UX tools and technology

Proficiency in tools mentioned in the Technical Skills section of this article, plus Notion, Zoom, and survey tools is critical for even the simplest of UX designer tasks.

Networking and professional development

Building a professional network and continuing to develop your skills are vital aspects of a UX design career. Attend industry meetups, participate in online forums, and join professional groups to discover invaluable career advancement and continuous learning opportunities. 

Learn How to Become a UX Designer at Flatiron School

If you’re a problem-solver who wants to learn how to create user-centric products, consider enrolling in Flatiron School’s Product Design Bootcamp. You’ll learn the necessary skills to launch a rewarding and fulfilling career in UX design through hands-on projects and deep dives into the latest technologies and problem-solving techniques used in the industry. Take the first step towards your future in UX design by applying today or booking a call with our Admissions team to learn more.

How Much Do Cybersecurity Jobs Pay?

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, the role of cybersecurity professionals has never been more critical. From cyber engineers fortifying digital infrastructures to security consultants providing strategic guidance, each role plays a crucial part in safeguarding organizations against cyber threats. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for skilled security analysts is expected to grow by 32% through the year 2032. If you have wondered “How much do cybersecurity jobs pay?” you have come to the right blog post. 

Below you will find profiles of the average salaries for four common cybersecurity jobs, plus details on what the roles entail and the key skills needed to succeed.

Cybersecurity Engineer (Information Security Engineer)

Cybersecurity engineers, also known as information security engineers, are vital in protecting an organization’s digital assets from cyber threats. They identify potential security threats and vulnerabilities through risk assessments and penetration testing. Once these vulnerabilities are pinpointed, they develop and implement security measures such as firewalls, encryption protocols, and intrusion detection systems.

Cybersecurity engineers continuously monitor network traffic and systems for unusual activities, responding swiftly to security breaches and incidents. They also create and maintain security policies and procedures to ensure compliance with regulations and standards. Additionally, they train staff on security best practices and conduct regular security audits.

Cybersecurity engineer salary

According to ZipRecruiter, as of May 2024 the average yearly cybersecurity engineer salary in the U.S. is roughly $123,000. 

Cybersecurity engineer skills

  1. Technical proficiency: Understanding of network architecture, operating systems, and database management. Proficiency in programming languages like Python, C++, and Java.
  2. Cybersecurity tools: Expertise in using firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, and penetration testing tools.
  3. Risk management: Ability to conduct risk assessments and develop mitigation strategies.
  4. Incident response: Skills in detecting, responding to, and recovering from security incidents.
  5. Analytical thinking: Strong problem-solving skills for addressing complex security issues.
  6. Attention to detail: Precision in monitoring security logs and identifying potential threats.
  7. Communication: Effective communication to articulate security policies and work with IT professionals.
  8. Continuous learning: Staying updated with cybersecurity trends and obtaining certifications (e.g., CISSP, CEH, CompTIA Security+).
  9. Compliance knowledge: Understanding regulatory requirements like GDPR, HIPAA, and ISO/IEC 27001.
  10. Project management: Managing security projects and conducting training sessions.

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Security Analyst

Security analysts are tasked with safeguarding a company’s digital assets against unauthorized access and cyber threats. Their responsibilities include securing both online and on-premise infrastructures, ensuring robust protection across all platforms. They actively monitor network traffic, systems, and data for suspicious activities, utilizing advanced security tools and software.

When potential threats are detected, security analysts investigate and respond to mitigate risks, implementing necessary security measures to prevent breaches. They conduct regular security assessments and audits to evaluate the effectiveness of existing security protocols and identify areas for improvement.

Additionally, they develop and enforce security policies, procedures, and guidelines to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations. Security analysts also play a key role in educating employees about security best practices and fostering a culture of security awareness within the organization. 

Security analyst salary

According to ZipRecruiter, as of May 2024 the average yearly security analyst salary in the U.S. is roughly $107,000. 

Security analyst skills

  1. Technical expertise: In-depth knowledge of network security, operating systems, and cybersecurity tools such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software.
  2. Analytical skills: Strong ability to analyze data and identify patterns indicative of security threats.
  3. Risk assessment: Proficiency in conducting risk assessments and developing strategies to address vulnerabilities.
  4. Incident response: Skills in detecting, investigating, and responding to security incidents quickly and effectively.
  5. Attention to detail: Keen eye for detail to accurately monitor and analyze security logs and reports.
  6. Communication: Excellent communication skills to explain complex security issues to non-technical staff and collaborate with IT teams.
  7. Continuous learning: Commitment to staying current with the latest cybersecurity trends, threats, and technologies through ongoing education and certifications (e.g., CompTIA Security+, CISSP, CISM).
  8. Compliance knowledge: Understanding of relevant regulatory requirements and industry standards such as GDPR, HIPAA, and ISO/IEC 27001.
  9. Problem solving: Strong problem-solving skills to develop effective solutions to security challenges.
  10. Team collaboration: Ability to work well within a team, often collaborating with other IT professionals to enhance the organization’s overall security posture.

Penetration Tester

Penetration testers, also known as ethical hackers, play a crucial role in enhancing an organization’s security posture by identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities. Their primary function is to simulate cyber attacks on digital assets and computer networks, mimicking the tactics, techniques, and procedures of malicious hackers. This involves planning and executing controlled attacks on systems, networks, and applications to uncover weaknesses that could be exploited. 

Penetration testers use various tools and methodologies to perform vulnerability assessments, conduct penetration tests, and analyze the results to pinpoint security flaws. After testing, they document their findings, providing detailed reports that outline the vulnerabilities discovered, the potential impact of these weaknesses, and recommendations for remediation. They often collaborate with other IT and security teams to implement these recommendations and ensure that security measures are effectively reinforced. 

Additionally, penetration testers stay abreast of the latest security threats and hacking techniques to continually refine their skills and improve testing strategies. 

Penetration tester salary 

According to ZipRecruiter, as of May 2024 the average yearly penetration tester salary in the U.S. is roughly $120,000. 

Penetration tester skills

  1. Technical proficiency: In-depth knowledge of network protocols, operating systems, and security frameworks. Proficiency in programming and scripting languages such as Python, Bash, and PowerShell.
  2. Hacking techniques: Expertise in penetration testing methodologies and tools such as Metasploit, Nmap, Burp Suite, and Wireshark.
  3. Analytical: Strong analytical abilities to assess the security landscape, identify vulnerabilities, and determine potential impacts.
  4. Problem solving: Creative problem-solving skills to develop effective strategies for breaching security defenses.
  5. Attention to detail: Meticulous attention to detail to thoroughly analyze systems and identify subtle security flaws.
  6. Report writing: Ability to document findings clearly and concisely, creating detailed reports with actionable recommendations.
  7. Communication: Strong communication skills to explain complex security issues to stakeholders and work collaboratively with IT teams.
  8. Continuous learning: Commitment to ongoing education and certification in cybersecurity to stay current with emerging threats and technologies.
  9. Regulatory knowledge: Understanding of regulatory standards and compliance requirements relevant to cybersecurity.
  10. Ethical standards: Adherence to high ethical standards, ensuring that testing activities are conducted responsibly and within legal boundaries.

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Security Consultant

A security consultant acts as an expert advisor, guiding organizations in the development and implementation of comprehensive security measures to protect their assets. Their primary responsibilities include assessing potential security threats and vulnerabilities across the company’s digital and physical landscapes. 

Security consultants conduct detailed risk assessments and security audits to identify weaknesses in existing security protocols. Based on their findings, they develop customized security strategies, contingency plans, and protocols to mitigate identified risks. They design and recommend the implementation of security solutions such as advanced surveillance systems, cybersecurity tools, and access control mechanisms. 

Additionally, security consultants ensure that security policies and procedures are aligned with industry standards and regulatory requirements. They also play a supervisory role, overseeing the execution of security measures and coordinating with internal security teams to ensure effective implementation. Security consultants provide training and guidance to staff on security best practices and emergency response procedures. In the event of a security breach, they assist in the incident response process, helping to manage and contain the threat, investigate the incident, and develop measures to prevent future occurrences. 

Security consultant salary 

According to ZipRecruiter, as of May 2024 the average yearly security consultant salary in the U.S. is roughly $106,000. 

Security consultant skills

  1. Security expertise: Comprehensive knowledge of physical security systems, cybersecurity principles, and risk management strategies.
  2. Analytical: Strong analytical abilities to conduct thorough security assessments and identify potential threats and vulnerabilities.
  3. Problem solving: Creative problem-solving skills to develop effective security solutions and contingency plans.
  4. Project management: Proficiency in managing security projects, including planning, implementation, and oversight.
  5. Communication: Excellent communication skills to articulate security strategies and protocols to clients and internal teams.
  6. Regulatory knowledge: Understanding of relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards related to security.
  7. Continuous learning: Commitment to staying updated with the latest security trends, technologies, and best practices through ongoing education and certifications (e.g., CISSP, CPP).
  8. Interpersonal: Strong interpersonal skills to effectively collaborate with various stakeholders, including clients, security personnel, and management.
  9. Attention to detail: Meticulous attention to detail to ensure thorough security assessments and precise implementation of security measures.
  10. Leadership: Leadership abilities to supervise security teams and oversee the execution of security plans and protocols.

Conclusion: How Much Do Cybersecurity Jobs Pay?

With some of the top cybersecurity jobs boasting average salaries exceeding $100,000, the field offers a lucrative career path for those passionate about digital security. By staying abreast of the latest trends, continuously honing their skills, and embracing a proactive approach, cybersecurity professionals play a pivotal role in ensuring business resilience in a world saturated with cyber threats. Their dedication and proficiency are fundamental to maintaining trust and integrity within digital ecosystems. These tireless efforts are not only essential for individual organizations but also for the collective security of our interconnected world.

Fastrack a Career in Cybersecurity

Gain cybersecurity skills employers want in as little as 15 weeks in Flatiron’s Cybersecurity Bootcamp. Flatiron offers three easy ways to pay tuition, multiple course start dates throughout the year, and post-graduation career services that include 180 days of 1:1 career coaching. Learn more by scheduling a quick 10-minute call with our Admissions team. 

What Do Data Analysts Do?

In today’s data-driven world, organizations rely heavily on insights derived from data to make informed decisions and stay competitive in their industries. Data analysts are at the forefront of this data revolution. They are equipped with the ability to interpret complex datasets and extract valuable insights to help guide businesses toward smart decisions. 

In this blog post, we’ll answer the question “What do data analysts do?” by outlining the key data analyst duties and responsibilities and highlighting the essential skills and qualifications for the role. We’ll also explore the diverse impact of data analysts across various sectors and examine potential career paths for those interested in pursuing a career in the field. Whether you’re considering a career in data analytics or simply interested in understanding the role better, read on to find out more.

Data Analyst Job Description

A data analyst collects, cleans, analyzes, and interprets datasets to address questions or solve problems. They work across various industries, including business, finance, criminal justice, fashion, food, technology, science, medicine, healthcare, environment, and government.

Data Analyst Duties and Responsibilities

The process of analyzing data typically moves through these iterative phases:

Data gathering

This involves identifying data sources, and collecting, compiling, and organizing data for further analysis. Data analysts must prioritize accuracy, reliability, and high quality in the data they gather. They employ diverse tools and techniques, such as database inquiry and web scraping, to accomplish this task. 

Data cleaning

Data cleaning is the meticulous process of removing errors, inconsistencies, or inaccuracies from data to maintain its integrity. This involves handling missing values, outliers, and transforming data while ensuring consistency in formats. Data analysts also focus on resolving inconsistencies in values or labels, ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the dataset. They utilize a range of tools and techniques, including Python, R, SQL, or Excel for data cleaning. Data analysts often spend more time on data cleaning than on modeling or other analysis tasks.

Exploratory Data Analysis

Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA) involves examining and visualizing datasets to understand their structure, uncover patterns, detect anomalies, and identify relationships between variables. It involves descriptive statistical analysis and data visualization, utilizing tools such as R, Python, Tableau, and Excel. Insights gained from EDA can inform decisions to optimize business operations, enhance customer experience, and increase revenue. 

Data modeling

Data modeling enables the generalization of findings from a sample to a larger population or the formulation of predictions for future outcomes. For a data analyst, data modeling involves selecting or engineering relevant features, determining appropriate modeling techniques, constructing inferential or predictive models, and assessing model performance. Utilizing tools like R, Python, SAS, or Stata data analysts execute modeling tasks. These models can range from straightforward linear regression models to advanced machine learning models, depending on the nature of the data and the research question.

Data visualization

This involves creating visualizations such as charts, graphs, and dashboards to effectively communicate findings and presenting reports to stakeholders. Data analysts use tools such as Python and R visualization libraries, Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, and Microsoft Excel to create charts, graphs, and dashboards that convey complex information in a simple and easy-to-understand format. Data visualizations help stakeholders to easily discern patterns and trends in the data, facilitating informed, data-driven decision-making.

Decision support and business insight

Decision support and business insight are the ultimate goals of data analysis. Data analysts can offer actionable recommendations for business decision-makers that impact the bottom line. How? By analyzing data to identify patterns, trends, and correlations, which provide insights to support strategic decision-making for businesses. Data analysts optimize business operations, enhance customer experience, and increase revenue.

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Data Analyst Skills and Qualifications

Excelling in the data analysis field demands a blend of technical and soft skills, including:

  • Critical thinking: The ability to objectively evaluate information, analyze it from multiple perspectives, and make informed judgments.
  • Problem solving: Strong analytical and problem-solving skills to interpret complex data sets and extract meaningful insights.
  • Curiosity about data: A natural inclination to investigate, experiment, and learn from data, which can lead to new discoveries.
  • Attention to detail: Meticulous attention to detail and a methodical approach to data cleaning and analysis to ensure accuracy and reliability.
  • Communication skills: Strong written and verbal communication to convey complex findings clearly and concisely to both technical and non-technical stakeholders.
  • Basic mathematical abilities: A solid foundation in mathematics and statistics to identify the most suitable tools and analysis methods.
  • Technical proficiency: Proficiency with data analysis tools and programming languages like R, Python, SAS, and STATA, and database management tools such as Microsoft Excel and SQL for efficient data querying and data manipulation.
  • Data visualization: The ability to create clear and compelling visualizations such as charts, graphs, and dashboards to effectively communicate insights. Proficiency with visualization tools such as Python and R visualization libraries, Tableau, Power BI, and Excel.
  • Domain knowledge: Industry knowledge—healthcare, business, finance, or otherwise—to understand the context of data analysis within organizational goals and objectives.
  • Time management: Efficiently managing time and prioritizing tasks to meet deadlines and deliver high-quality analysis within timelines.
  • Adaptability: The ability to quickly adapt to new tools, technologies, and methodologies in the rapidly evolving field of data analytics.
  • Collaboration: The ability to work effectively in a team environment, share insights, and collaborate with colleagues from diverse backgrounds to solve complex problems

With these essential skills, you will have the necessary tools to excel in the field of data analytics.

Career Paths for Data Analysts

As technology continues to advance, the range and volume of available data has grown exponentially. As a result, the ability to collect, arrange, and evaluate data has become essential in almost every industry. 

Data analysts are essential figures in fields such as business, finance, criminal justice, fashion, food, technology, science, medicine, healthcare, environment, and government, among others. Below are brief profiles of some of the most common job titles found in the field of data analysis. 

Business intelligence analysts analyze data to provide insights for strategic decision-making, utilizing data visualization tools to effectively communicate findings. They focus on improving efficiency and effectiveness in organizational processes, structures, and staff development using data.

Financial analysts use data to identify and evaluate investment opportunities, analyze revenue streams, and assess financial risks. They use this information to provide recommendations and insights to guide decision-making and maximize financial performance.

Operations analysts are responsible for improving a company’s overall performance by identifying and resolving technical, structural, and procedural issues. They focus on streamlining operations and increasing efficiency to improve the bottom line.

Marketing analysts study market trends and analyze data to help shape product offerings, price points, and target audience strategies. Their insights and findings play a crucial role in the development and implementation of effective marketing campaigns and strategies.

Healthcare analysts utilize data from various sources—including health records, cost reports, and patient surveys—to improve the quality of care provided by healthcare institutions. Their role involves using data analysis to enhance patient care, increase operational efficiency, and influence healthcare policy decisions.

Research data analysts gather, examine, and interpret data to aid research initiatives across various fields such as healthcare and social sciences. They work closely with researchers and utilize statistical tools for dataset analysis. Research data analysts generate reports and peer-reviewed publications to support evidence-based decision-making.

Data Analyst Career Advancement

A career as a data analyst can also pave the way to numerous other career opportunities. Based on their experience and the needs of the business, data analysts can progress into roles such as senior data analyst, data scientist, data engineer, data manager, or consultant.

Senior Data Analyst: With experience, data analysts can progress to senior roles where they handle more intricate projects and lead teams of analysts. They are also often responsible for mentoring junior analysts, shaping data strategy, and influencing business decisions with their insights.

Data Scientist: Transitioning into a data science role, data analysts can apply advanced statistical and machine learning techniques to solve more complex business problems. They develop innovative algorithms and predictive models, enhancing company performance and driving strategic decisions through future forecasting.

Data Engineer: Moving into a data engineering role, data analysts can work on designing and building data pipelines and infrastructure. They will ensure the scalability and reliability of these systems, enabling efficient data collection, storage, and analysis.

Data Manager: Transitioning into a data management role, data managers oversee the entire data lifecycle, from acquisition and storage to analysis and utilization. They handle data governance, database administration, strategic planning, team leadership, and stakeholder collaboration. 

Consultant: With several years of experience, data analysts can transition into a consulting role. They may work as a freelance contractor or for a consulting firm, serving a diverse range of clients. This role offers more variety in the type of analysis performed and increased flexibility.

Data Analyst Job Outlook

Data analysts are in high demand. The need for data analysts is rapidly growing across various industries, as organizations increasingly depend on data-driven insights for a competitive advantage. As of May 2024, the estimated annual salary for a data analyst in the United States is $91K, according to Glassdoor (although this figure can vary based on factors such as seniority, industry, and location).

The Future of Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum listed data analysts among the top high-demand jobs in 2023, predicting a growth rate of 30-35% from 2023 to 2027, potentially creating around 1.4 million jobs.

What Do Data Analysts Do? A Conclusion

Data analysts play a critical role in transforming raw data into actionable insights that drive business decisions and strategies. With a diverse skill set and a passion for problem-solving, individuals can thrive in this dynamic field and contribute to organizational success. Whether you’re just starting your career or looking to advance to higher-level roles, the field of data analysis offers ample opportunities for growth and development.

Start Your Data Analysis Career at Flatiron

Our Data Science Bootcamp provides students with the essential skills and knowledge to stand out in the data analysis field. Through practical projects and immersive learning, students gain experience applying state-of-the-art tools and techniques to real-world data problems. Learn how to clean, organize, analyze, visualize, and present data from data professionals and jumpstart your data analysis career now. Book a call with our Admissions team to learn more or begin the application process today. 

Why a Cybersecurity Career Change Might be the Perfect Move

Cybersecurity presents itself as a compelling career change for numerous reasons, notably due to the ever-growing demand for professionals equipped with cybersecurity knowledge and skills across various industries. In today’s digital age, where data breaches, cyber attacks, and privacy concerns are rampant, organizations worldwide are prioritizing strong cybersecurity measures to safeguard their sensitive information and infrastructure. This escalating threat landscape has led to a significant shortage of cybersecurity experts, creating abundant opportunities for career transitioners interested in a potential cybersecurity career change. Regardless of one’s previous professional background, individuals with a passion for problem-solving, critical thinking, and a knack for technology can seamlessly pivot into cybersecurity roles.

Industries Seeking Cybersecurity Professionals

Industries ranging from finance and healthcare to government agencies and e-commerce are actively seeking cybersecurity professionals to strengthen their defenses against cyber threats. Financial institutions require experts to protect customer data and financial transactions, while healthcare organizations need to secure patient records and medical devices from potential breaches.

Similarly, government entities rely on cybersecurity specialists to safeguard sensitive information and critical infrastructure from cyber espionage and attacks at a larger purview. Moreover, the booming e-commerce sector depends on cybersecurity experts to ensure the security of online transactions and customer data, fostering trust among consumers.

Furthermore, the versatility of cybersecurity skills enables professionals to explore diverse career paths within the field. From ethical hacking and penetration testing to risk assessment and security analysis, individuals can specialize in various domains based on their interests and aptitudes.

Additionally, the continuous evolution of technology and the emergence of new cyber threats guarantee a dynamic and intellectually stimulating career in cybersecurity, offering endless opportunities for learning and growth.The burgeoning demand for cybersecurity expertise across different industries, coupled with the flexibility and constant innovation within the field, makes it an ideal career change for individuals seeking rewarding and future-proof professions. Whether making a cybersecurity career change from a technical or non-technical background, embarking on a cybersecurity career path promises both professional fulfillment and the chance to make a significant impact in safeguarding digital assets and preserving online privacy and security.

phishing image

Cybersecurity Career Opportunities

A diverse array of career opportunities exists for individuals possessing cybersecurity knowledge and skills, extending beyond traditional roles to encompass non-traditional paths in various industries. 

Traditional cybersecurity careers

Firstly, traditional careers in cybersecurity include roles such as cybersecurity analysts, penetration testers, security engineers, and incident responders. These professionals are responsible for protecting organizations from cyber threats, conducting vulnerability assessments, implementing security measures, and responding to security incidents.

Non-traditional cybersecurity careers

Moreover, the demand for cybersecurity expertise has proliferated into non-traditional sectors, offering unique cyber career opportunities. In the healthcare industry, for instance, healthcare cybersecurity specialists focus on safeguarding patient records, medical devices, and hospital networks from cyber attacks. Similarly, the automotive industry has seen a rise in automotive cybersecurity engineers tasked with securing connected vehicles and autonomous driving systems against potential cyber threats.

Furthermore, the rapidly expanding field of Internet of Things (IoT) presents unconventional career opportunities in IoT security. The IoT provides a unique landscape of career opportunities as it opens doors to industries outside of directly working with computers. IoT refers to the world of devices that connect to the cloud, such as smartwatches and smart home devices. 

IoT security specialists work to secure interconnected devices and networks, ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of data transmitted through IoT ecosystems. Additionally, the gaming industry has witnessed a surge in demand for cybersecurity professionals specializing in gaming security, protecting online gaming platforms and digital assets from hackers and cyber attacks.

Beyond industry-specific roles, non-traditional careers in cybersecurity also include positions in academia, policy-making, and law enforcement. Cybersecurity educators and researchers contribute to advancing the field through academic institutions, while cybersecurity consultants provide specialized expertise to businesses and governments. Moreover, cybersecurity policy analysts and law enforcement agents play crucial roles in shaping cybersecurity regulations, enforcing cyber laws, and investigating cyber crimes.

Cybersecurity career change and the job landscape

The career landscape for individuals with cybersecurity knowledge and skills is vast and diverse, encompassing traditional roles in cybersecurity as well as non-traditional opportunities across various industries and sectors. Whether pursuing a career as a cybersecurity analyst, IoT security specialist, or cybersecurity policy analyst, professionals in this field have the flexibility to explore a wide range of career paths and make significant contributions to safeguarding digital assets and protecting against cyber threats.

blackbox hacker image

Diverse Backgrounds in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a field where diversity isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a necessity. In a world where cyber threats evolve at lightning speed, the need for individuals from diverse backgrounds in cybersecurity careers has never been more critical.

Diversity brings a multitude of benefits to the table. Firstly, it fosters innovation. When people from different backgrounds and age ranges collaborate, they bring unique perspectives and problem-solving approaches. This diversity of thought is essential for staying one step ahead of cyber threats and developing innovative solutions.

Moreover, cybersecurity is a global issue. Threats know no borders, and understanding global perspectives and cyber threats is crucial. By recruiting individuals from diverse cultural, linguistic, and geographical backgrounds, cybersecurity teams gain a deeper understanding of global challenges.

Effective communication and collaboration are also enhanced in diverse teams. Different communication styles and cultural norms create an environment of mutual respect and understanding, facilitating more effective collaboration towards common cybersecurity goals.

Additionally, diversity helps address the skills shortage in cybersecurity. By actively recruiting from non-traditional career paths and underrepresented groups, organizations can tap into a larger talent pool, promoting inclusivity and addressing the industry’s skill gap.

Furthermore, building trust and credibility is paramount in cybersecurity. By prioritizing diversity, organizations demonstrate their commitment to understanding and addressing diverse stakeholder needs. This fosters trust and enhances the organization’s reputation.

Diversity is not just a nice-to-have in cybersecurity—it’s a must-have. Embracing individuals from diverse backgrounds enriches cybersecurity teams, fostering innovation, understanding global perspectives, enhancing collaboration, addressing skill shortages, and building trust. In an interconnected world facing evolving cyber threats, diversity is the key to resilience and success in safeguarding digital assets and data.

 Learn Cybersecurity at Flatiron School in as Little as 15 Weeks

Embark on a transformative journey into cybersecurity with our comprehensive Cybersecurity Bootcamp course. Equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary for a successful career change into this high-demand field, where average salaries for many key roles are in the 100k range. Apply today or book a 10-minute chat with our Admissions team to learn more. 

Enhancing Your Tech Career with Remote Collaboration Skills

Landing a career in the tech industry requires more than just technical/hard skills; it requires soft skills like effective communication, adaptability, time management, problem-solving abilities, and remote collaboration skills. Remote collaboration is especially key for those who work in tech; according to U.S. News & World Report, the tech industry leads all other industries with the highest percentage of remote workers.

At Flatiron School, we understand the importance of these skills in shaping successful tech professionals. Hackonomics, our AI-focused hackathon event happening between March 8 and March 25, will see participants sharpen remote collaboration skills (and many others) through the remote team-based building of an AI-driven personal finance platform. We’ll reveal more about Hackonomics later in the article; right now, let’s dive deeper into why remote collaboration skills are so important in today’s work world.

Mastering Remote Collaboration Skills

Remote collaboration skills are invaluable in today’s digital workplace, where teams are often distributed across different locations and time zones. Whether you’re working on a project with colleagues halfway across the globe or collaborating with clients remotely, the ability to effectively communicate, problem-solve, and coordinate tasks in a remote work setting is essential for success. Here are some other key reasons why this skill is becoming so important. 

Enhanced Productivity and Efficiency

Remote collaboration tools and technologies empower teams to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate in real-time, leading to increased productivity and efficiency. With the right skills and tools in place, tasks can be completed more quickly, projects can progress smoothly, and goals can be achieved with greater ease.

Flexibility and Work-life Balance

Remote work offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing individuals to balance their professional and personal lives more effectively. However, this flexibility comes with the responsibility of being able to collaborate effectively from anywhere, ensuring that work gets done regardless of physical location.

Professional Development and Learning Opportunities

Embracing remote collaboration opens doors to a wealth of professional development and learning opportunities. From mastering new collaboration tools to honing communication and teamwork skills in virtual settings, individuals can continually grow and adapt to the evolving demands of the digital workplace.

Resilience in the Face of Challenges

Events such as the COVID-19 pandemic—and the massive shift to at-home work it caused—has highlighted the importance of remote collaboration skills. When faced with unforeseen challenges or disruptions, the ability to collaborate remotely ensures business continuity and resilience, enabling teams to adapt and thrive in any environment.

Join Us for the Hackonomics Project Showcase and Awards Ceremony

Come see the final projects born out of our Hackonomics teams’ remote collaboration experiences when our Hackonomics 2024 Showcase and Awards Ceremony happens online on March 28. The event is free to the public and offers those interested in attending a Flatiron School bootcamp a great opportunity to see the types of projects they could work on should they enroll.

The 8 Things People Want Most from an AI Personal Finance Platform

Great product design is one of those things you just know when you see it, and more importantly—use it. It’s not just about being eye-catching; it’s about serving a real purpose and solving a real problem—bonus points if you can solve that problem in a clever way. If there ever was a time to build a fintech app, that time is now. The market is ripe, the problems to solve are plenty, and the tools and resources are readily available. Flatiron School Alumni from our Cybersecurity, Data Science, Product Design, and Software Engineering bootcamps have been tasked to help me craft Money Magnet, an AI personal finance platform that solves common budget-making challenges. They’ll tackle this work during Hackonomics, our two-week-long hackathon that runs from March 8 to March 25.

There is one goal in mind: to help individuals and families improve their financial well-being through an AI financial tool.

A loading screen mockup for AI personal finance platform Money Magnet
A loading screen mockup for AI personal finance platform Money Magnet

My Personal Spreadsheet Struggle

The concept for Money Magnet sprang from personal frustration and mock research around user preferences in AI finance. As a designer, I often joke, “I went to design school to avoid math.” Yet, ironically, I’m actually quite adept with numbers. Give me a spreadsheet and 30 minutes, and I’ll show you some of the coolest formulas, conditional formats, and data visualization charts you’ve ever seen.

Despite this, in my household, the responsibility of budget management falls squarely to my partner. I prefer to stay blissfully unaware of our financial details—knowing too much about our funds admittedly tends to lead to impulsive spending on my part. However, occasionally I need to access the budget, whether it’s to update it for an unexpected expense or to analyze historical data for better spending decisions.

We’re big on goal-setting in our family—once we set a goal, we stick to it. We have several future purchases we’re planning for, like a house down payment, a new car, a vacation, and maybe even planning for children. 

But here’s the catch: None of the top AI financial tools on the market incorporate the personal finance AI features that Money Magnet proposes bringing to the market. Families need an AI personal finance platform that looks into our spending patterns from the past and projects into the future to tell users when the budget gets tighter. This product should be easy to use with access to all family members to make changes without fear of wrecking the budget.

For more context, each year, my partner forecasts a detailed budget for us. We know some expenses fluctuate—a grocery trip might cost $100 one time and $150 the next. We use averages from the past year to estimate and project those variable expenses. This way, we manage to live comfortably without having to scale back in tighter months, fitting in bigger purchases when possible, and working towards an annual savings goal.

Top financial apps chart from Sensor Tower
Top financial apps chart from Sensor Tower

But here’s where the challenge lies: My partner, as incredible as he is, is not a visualist. He can navigate a sea of spreadsheet cells effortlessly, which is something I struggle with (especially when it comes to budgeting). I need a big picture, ideally represented in a neat, visual chart or graph that clearly illustrates our financial forecast.

Then there’s the issue of access and updates. Trying to maneuver a spreadsheet on your phone in the middle of a grocery store is far from convenient. And if you make an unplanned purchase, updating the sheet without disrupting the formulas can be a real hassle, especially on a phone. This frustration made me think, “There has to be a better solution!”

Imagining the Ultimate AI Personal Finance Platform

Imagine an AI personal finance platform that “automagically” forecasts the future, securely connects to your bank and credit cards to pull transaction histories, and creates a budget considering dynamic and bucketed savings goals. This dream app would translate data into a clear dashboard, visually reporting on aspects like spending categories, monthly trends in macro and micro levels, amounts paid to interest, debt consolidation plans, and more.

It’s taken eight years of experiencing my partner’s budget management to truly understand a common struggle that many other families in the U.S. face: Advanced spreadsheet functions, essential in accounting and budgeting, are alien to roughly 73% of U.S. workers.

The extent of digital skills in the U.S. workforce according to OECD PIAAC survey data. Image Source: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
The extent of digital skills in the U.S. workforce according to OECD PIAAC survey data. Image Source: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Money Magnet aims to automate 90% of the budgeting process by leveraging AI recommendations about users’ personal finances to solve eight of the key findings outlined in a mock research study based on some of the challenges I had faced when developing a budget of my own.

Features to Simplify Your Finances

This dream budgeting tool is inspired by my own financial journey and the collective wish list of what an ideal personal finance assistant should be. Here’s a snapshot of the personal finance AI features that aims to position Money Magnet as one of the top AI financial tools on the market:

  1. Effortless Onboarding: Starting a financial journey shouldn’t be daunting. Money Magnet envisions a platform where setting up accounts and syncing banking information is as quick and effortless as logging into the app, connecting your bank accounts, and establishing some savings goals (if applicable).
  2. Unified Account Dashboard: Juggling multiple banking apps and credit card sites can be a circus act, trying to merge those separate ecosystems as a consumer is nearly impossible. Money Magnet proposes a unified dashboard, a one-stop financial overview that could declutter your digital financial life.
  3. Personalized AI Insights: Imagine a platform that knows your spending habits better than you do, offering bespoke guidance to fine-tune your budget. Money Magnet aims to be that savvy financial companion, using AI to tailor its advice just for you.
  4. Vivid Data Visualization: For those of us who see a blur of numbers on statements and spreadsheets, Money Magnet could paint a clearer picture with vibrant graphs and charts—turning the abstract into an understandable, perceivable, engaging, and dynamic visual that encourages you to monitor the trends.
  5. Impenetrable Security: When dealing with informational and financial details, security is non-negotiable. Money Magnet will prioritize protecting your financial data with robust encryption and authentication protocols, so your finances are as secure as Fort Knox.
  6. Intelligent Budget Optimization and Forecasting: No more cookie-cutter budget plans that force your spending to fit conventional categorization molds! Money Magnet will learn user preferences in AI finance and forecast from your historic spending, suggesting ways to cut back on lattes or add to your savings—all personalized to improve your financial well-being based on your real-world spending and forecast into the future to avoid pinch-points.
  7. Smooth Bank Integrations: Another goal of Money Magnet is to eliminate the all-too-common bank connection hiccups where smaller banks and credit unions don’t get as much connectivity as the larger banks, ensuring a seamless link between your financial institutions and the app.
  8. Family Financial Management: Lastly, Money Magnet should be a tool where managing family finances is a breeze. Money Magnet could allow for individual family profiles, making it easier to teach kids about money and collaborate on budgeting without stepping on each other’s digital toes or overwriting a budget. It’s important for those using Money Magnet to know it can’t be messed up, and that any action can always be reverted.

See the Money Magnet Final Projects During Our Closing Ceremony on March 28

Attend the Hackonomics 2024 Showcase and Awards Ceremony on March 28 and see how our participating hackathon teams turned these eight pillars of financial management into a reality through their Money Magnet projects. The event is online, free of charge, and open to the public. Hope to see you there!

A Career Coach in Your Corner

Considering a career change can be daunting. Even after extensive research about new career fields to pivot to, most still face the “devil you know versus the devil you don’t know” conundrum. Can I really learn a completely new skill? And even if I do, can I secure a job in my new field with a background in [fill in the blank]?

Most students at Flatiron School probably grapple with this line of thinking at some point. And if you too have grappled with this line of thinking, I’m glad you’ve landed on this post. I lead the Learning & Community teams at Flatiron School and have had front-row seat privileges to over 7,500 successful job searches over the last eight years.

What makes all the difference? Having a career coach from Flatiron’s Career Services department in your corner—until you get a job or for a full six months after you graduate. Many of you probably have some high school or college recollection of a Career Services office—somewhere down a dimly lit hallway with a friendly person there ready to review your paper resume or offer some general tips on how to interview at companies. This is not that.

If you’ve ever played a sport, you understand the impact of a great coach—someone who both challenges and supports you, expects you to bring your best, and provides invaluable insights to help you level up continuously. (If you’re not into sports or are skeptical about partnering with a Career Coach, I encourage you to check out this 2017 Ted Talk, by Atul Gwande.)

I like to think of coaching as a gift you give yourself. It’s the gift of undivided attention from a neutral job search expert who is dedicated to helping you secure a job you’re excited about. 

The Flatiron Career Coach Advantage

Flatiron provides 1:1 coaching to every graduate as part of their tuition. For six months from the time you graduate, you’ll meet with your coach regularly to assess your progress and tailor your job search efforts to your unique strengths.

Whether you’re hesitant about networking, struggling to find job leads, or nervous about technical interviews, your career coach is there to ask the right questions to get you thinking, and to provide guidance, practice, and honest, objective feedback. Many students also find coaching to be a helpful form of accountability in what can sometimes feel like a lonely or intimidating job search.

As a trained coach myself—Flatiron’s first-ever career coach, actually—I can attest that our school’s coaching methodology is rooted in setting clear goals, understanding your reality, exploring options, and making steady forward progress toward landing you a job. We also help you develop professional skills you’ll use throughout your career. In fact, one of the best parts of my job is hearing from our alumni who often share that the practice they gained from working with their career coach in skills like summarizing their work to different audiences; narrating a thought process or a project demo using screen recording tools like Loom; presenting themselves and their background authentically; and staying focused and creative in their approach to problem-solving has been invaluable to them as they’ve advanced their careers after Flatiron School.

Exclusive Access As A Grad

As a grad, you’ll also have access to:

  • A Flatiron-only job board curated by our Employer Partnerships Team, offering insider tips from select employer partners
  • Weekly community events, including Employer Spotlights and Alumni AMAs, providing invaluable networking opportunities
  • A comprehensive Career Prep course with over 50 lessons tailored specifically for career changers breaking into technical roles

Now, whether to go for it? Only you can decide that. Just know if you do, you’ll have a career coach in your corner cheering you on every step of the way after graduation. As of today, we have helped over 8,000 Flatiron graduates land jobs in cybersecurity, data science, product design, and software engineering fields. Know that we’re prepared to help you should you decide to enroll!

The Building Blocks of Code: Understanding Programming Variables, Data Types, and Operators

Most software engineers end up using multiple programming languages throughout their careers. The great thing about programming languages is that certain core principles or concepts translate easily across languages. Once you learn and understand the building blocks of code, you’ll be able to pick up any technology on your own. Programming variables, data types, and operators are three of the most common building blocks across programming languages. In this post, we will be briefly exploring each of these fundamental concepts. 

I’ll be using Python examples since concrete examples are more illustrative. But the concepts will easily translate to other languages.

Understanding Data Types in Programming

A computer does not understand information like humans do. For example, when we look at a text or string like “Hi! My name is Al!” or a number like “10” we can distinguish between them easily. We understand that strings and numbers have different properties and are used in various contexts.

The computer cannot distinguish between different types of information automatically. There are unique ways to represent values so that the computer can differentiate them. Each unique type of value is assigned a “data type” to classify or organize them, allowing us to know what contexts a certain value can be used.

We will look at the most common data types used in Python:

  • str: Represents text or string values
  • int: Represents integer number values (whole numbers like 1, 5)
  • float: Represents floating-point numbers (decimal numbers like 1.556, 3.14)
  • bool: Represents the idea of correctness, (i.e., whether something is true or false)

String Values

We use the values of the str data type to represent textual information to the computer. Quotation marks are usually used to denote text as “string” in programming languages.

Here are some examples in Python:

Code for displaying various string values in the console using Python

Here’s the output of the above code:

Output of the code for displaying various string values in the console using Python

Notice a few important things:

  • The text is displayed exactly as it is written (i.e., the string values are case-sensitive)
  • Numbers wrapped in quotation marks are treated as strings
  • Single and double quotations can be used together. The opening and closing quotation marks must be the same. For example, we can’t start a string with a double quotation mark (“) and close it with a single quotation mark (‘).


We can represent numbers by writing them without the quotations.

Code for displaying various numbers in the console in Python

A few notes on the code:

  • Numbers written without quotations are interpreted as numerical values
  • A whole number (both positive and negative) is categorized as an “integer”
  • A decimal number (both positive and negative) is categorized as “float”

Bool or Boolean 

Human languages have the concept of correctness. For example, the sentence “elephants can fly” is incorrect or false. Similarly, computers also understand this concept. Programming languages provide a boolean data type (bool in Python) to express this concept.

In Python, the following values represent this concept:

  • True: indicates correctness in Python
  • False: indicates incorrectness in Python

Basic Operators in Programming

In mathematics, we can perform calculations using operators like +, -, / and so on. Programming languages also provide operators to perform calculations using values. Here’s an example of addition:

Code for displaying the plus operator usage in Python


Code output for the code displaying the plus operator usage in Python

Operators are usually used within expressions to get desired results.

What is an Expression?

An “expression” in Python is any code that evaluates to a value. A single value is also an expression. Here are a few examples:

  • 1 produces 1
  • “Hello!” produces “Hello!”
  • 5 * 2 produces 10
  • num > 100 produces either True or False

An expression can contain multiple expressions within it. Let’s take a look at a more complex expression:

An arithmetic expression example in Python

The above line of code has five expressions:

  • 5 (produces 5)
  • 2 (produces 2)
  • 3 (produces 3)
  • 5 + 2 (produces 7)
  • (5 + 2) + 3 (produces 10)

Here’s the expression used with the print function in Python:

Displaying output of the arithmetic expression example in Python

The computer evaluates the expression by simplifying it incrementally. Here are the intermediate steps that are hidden from us:

A breakdown of an expression into its final return value

Expressions in parentheses are evaluated first.

Variables in Coding

Variables are a way to make the computer remember values. A variable is a label to which a value can be assigned.

Variables allow programmers to give meaning to values and use those values throughout the program easily. For example, the number 238,900 doesn’t mean anything but if we label it as “the distance to the Moon from the Earth” it’s easier to reference. We don’t necessarily have to remember the exact value as we can look it up using the phrase “distance to the moon from the Earth.”

Here’s how we would use a variable in Python:

Code for assigning and displaying a variable in Python

We can use _ (underscore) to make big numbers easier to read in Python. Notice that we’re also using the _ to separate words in the variable name.


Code output for the code assigning and displaying a variable in Python

Variable Declaration and Assignment Walkthrough

Let’s look at how to create a variable again:

Code for declaring a variable in Python

There are three parts to this line:

  • cat_name is the variable name
  • = is an assignment operator
  • ‘Fifi’ is an expression that produces the value Fifi of type str.

So this is the general structure:

Shows the general variable declaration and assignment structure
  • The right side of the = operator is evaluated first
  • The value produced by the expression evaluation is then assigned to the variable name or label

The line cat_name = ‘Fifi’ is usually verbalized as “declare a variable called cat_name and assign the value ‘Fifi’ to it”

Learn About Programming Variables and More at Flatiron

If you’d like to learn more about foundational concepts such as fundamental data types, programming variables, operators, and functions, check out Flatiron School’s Software Engineering Bootcamp. You’ll find info on upcoming course start dates, career paths in the field, student success stories, and an FAQ.

How to Continue Learning After Graduating from a Software Engineering Bootcamp

A software engineering bootcamp provides structure, curriculum, and periodic assessments to make sure you’re learning effectively. However, it can be difficult to learn consistently once you graduate from a bootcamp, since you’ll have to define your own goals and schedule. You’ll also need to find ways of holding yourself accountable.

In this post I will share strategies on how to effectively continue learning after graduation. At the close of the post you will find links to several resources to improve specific software engineering skills. 

How to Continue Learning Effectively

A lot of the strategies discussed below may be familiar to you since you’ve likely deployed them during bootcamp. They will be equally effective in your postgraduate journey. 

Set Goals

Bootcamps set concrete goals spread out over an entire program. Every student is expected to learn foundational skills. But once you graduate from a software engineering bootcamp, your goals will likely vary from your peers. For example, you may want to look for front-end roles over back-end roles. Or, the types of companies you want to work for may be different from those of your peers. It’s important to define what your goals are to effectively plan out your job search strategy and learning schedule. Make decisions about the types of roles you want to land, as well as what you want to continue learning about. 

Determine Your Baseline

Bootcamps are effective because they are heavily focused on practice. Practice does not end once you graduate. You will especially need to focus on interview practice and coding assessment practice. You should continuously apply whatever you are learning post-bootcamp to gauge your skill levels and identify areas of improvement.

For software engineering job readiness, use services like Pramp, Meet A Pro, or for mock job interviews. These platforms usually allow you to get detailed feedback from your interviewers (unlike real job interviews). Interview practice is crucial for success. If you don’t use one of the services mentioned above, find a friend to practice with. Prep answers to commonly asked software engineering job interview questions. Also, prep answers to general interview questions

Make a Plan and Stick to It

Continuous software engineering skills development is key to your success. Once you have identified the skills you want to learn or sharpen, create a schedule for learning and practicing. For example, one of our alumni wanted to learn Java on his own while also practicing the skills needed for job interviews. The following is a schedule snapshot of one of his weeks:

Sample schedule image of gmail calendar
Source: Mike Diaz

Be Consistent

Mastering new skills requires consistent effort and self-reflection. Regular practice and review are key to solidifying your understanding and developing intuition.

Establishing a consistent study and practice routine is crucial for building good learning habits. Setting dedicated study and practice times throughout the day helps train your brain to focus effectively. It also ensures you are making consistent progress towards your goals.

Take Notes

Make note of new concepts you are learning and write down questions about the concepts that you find difficult. This is especially helpful when learning complex and complicated concepts like data structures, algorithms, and system design. Writing out the processes by hand will improve your retention and understanding since it will force you to think through every step.

Use Active Recall and Spaced Repetition

Active recall, also known as active retrieval or practice testing, is a learning strategy that focuses on retrieving information from your memory instead of passively absorbing it. By actively struggling to retrieve information, you engage your brain in a deeper way and foster deeper connections to the learned information. 

Spaced repetition refers to the process of revisiting things you’ve learned or practiced in an increasing cadence to make sure the concepts stick in your mind. In the case of programming, you’ll end up using various foundational concepts over and over again. However, for certain uncommon concepts such as graph traversals, you’ll have to be mindful of revisiting them and practicing so you don’t forget how to apply them.

Use Analogies and Metaphors

Using analogies and metaphors can help unlock a deeper understanding of problems and strengthen information retention. A vivid imagination fuels this process, as it allows you to connect abstract concepts to concrete experiences. When taking notes, actively rephrase ideas in your own words and forge connections with your personal knowledge by drawing on past experiences or relevant examples.

Track Your Progress

Tracking your problem-solving and learning journey can be a powerful motivator. It can also help foster accountability and inform future planning. Use a spreadsheet to maintain a running log of solved challenges and completed projects for a clear picture of your progress. Conclude each day with a review, adjusting your tasks for the following day. This practice can sharpen your focus, streamline your workflow, and help eliminate unproductive indecision.

Try Different Perspectives

When you get stuck on a problem, try approaching it from a different perspective. There are usually multiple ways of solving a coding problem. When using websites like Leetcode, make sure to read up on alternate solutions from the discussion section to learn new concepts, frameworks, and approaches.

Don’t Forget to Rest

Your brain requires rest to embed information into your long-term memory. Not thinking about a problem you’re stuck on also engages your diffuse mode of thinking, which can help provide you with a creative breakthrough. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, as it’s crucial for long-term memory formation and mental health. Account for rest in your day-to-day life in order to sustain motivation and prevent burnout.

If you want to learn more about the above strategies and why they work, check out the book A Mind for Numbers by Dr. Barbara Oakley.

What to Practice

The specific areas you focus on after graduating from a software engineering bootcamp will depend on your personal goals. I’ll share some useful resources for specific skills to help you get started. 

JavaScript concepts:


Front-end practice:

CSS Games:

Back-end practice:

Data structures and algorithms:



Mock interview services:

Mock interview examples:

Hopefully, these guidelines and resources will help you make solid plans for your post-graduate life. If you are new to software engineering and curious to learn more about Flatiron’s program, check out our Software Engineering Bootcamp page. You’ll find information on how to apply, details on upcoming course start dates, and a link to a free syllabus download.

Life After Graduation From a Product Design Bootcamp

So what’s it really like to graduate from a product design bootcamp? Can a bootcamp really provide the skills necessary to land a job as a junior designer?

The answer is yes—absolutely —provided you’re aware that your hardest work begins the day you graduate.

Completing a product design bootcamp is an achievement surely worth celebrating. But know this: the grads currently succeeding weren’t simply handed a job on their last day of school. Getting their foot in the door took a lot of hustle: networking, refining portfolios, and completing new projects. 

We spoke to Flatiron School alumni about how they used their time between graduation and landing a design industry job.

Define Your Unique Value Proposition

In her Medium article “Your Portfolio is Freaking Boring,” Melody Koh cautions against generic-sounding welcome statements like I am a junior UX designer passionate about solving problems. If your bio sounds like it could describe almost any junior designer, you’ll find it difficult to distinguish yourself.

Alexandra’s Value Proposition Story

One way to define your unique value proposition is to to connect your pre-bootcamp experience to your new UX knowledge. Flatiron graduate Alexandra Grochowski came from a background in the banking industry. After graduation, she began blogging on Medium about the overlap between UX design and finance. One of her posts caught the attention of the marketing director of Amount, a banking software platform. Alexandra started writing for Amount’s blog, which eventually led to a full-time position as a product designer.

Design graduates are sometimes reluctant to highlight their non-design experience in their promotional materials, but this is a missed opportunity. By blogging her insights about the intersection of design and banking, Alexandra established herself as not just another junior design candidate, but instead, a unique voice with a specifically marketable set of skills.

Revise Your Portfolio Thoughtfully

A common mistake among recent product design bootcamp grads is to wait to apply for jobs until their portfolios are perfect. But here’s the thing:

Perfect design portfolios don’t exist.

Since there’s always room for improvement, take a Lean UX approach to developing your portfolio. Revise until it’s complete enough to receive meaningful feedback from industry contacts and mentors. Use the advice you’ve gathered to make improvements. And in the meantime, keep applying for jobs.

Crystal’s Portfolio Revision Story

Flatiron grad Crystal Ma credits her mentor, a designer at a large Chicago marketing technology company, with providing actionable feedback on her portfolio. Recalling her mentor’s advice that hiring managers may spend five minutes or less reviewing each portfolio, Crystal heavily edited her case studies, using block quotes to call out main points and reducing the amount of text in favor of eye-catching visual assets. She also worked to improve her case study storytelling, removing lengthy design process descriptions and instead highlighted moments of discovery that demonstrate the true value of a design project.

Crystal also emphasized a learning moment from early in the interviewing process: “I didn’t realize that for portfolio presentations, it’s typical to use a slide deck. I used to just open up my website and scroll through it. Do not do this. Go and make a simple slide deck in Figma.”

Find Real Stakeholders

Many product design bootcamps don’t require you to work on actual client projects prior to graduation. And in a way, this makes sense. The typical bootcamp experience involves a quick immersion in the principles of UX research, UX design, and UI design. This is followed by projects that provide an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge. The short timelines of these projects don’t always allow students enough time to gather and apply feedback from stakeholders.

However, design projects without stakeholders are less likely to impress hiring managers. These rapidly executed assignments allow students to demonstrate their ability to satisfy target users of a product or service. But what about balancing user goals with business needs?

Working with real stakeholders also frequently involves respecting constraints, such as budget limitations or technology requirements, that are hard to replicate in the classroom. You’ll also find that working with actual stakeholders is a great way to practice your communication skills and build connections that can lead to future job opportunities.

Laurel’s Stakeholder Story: Working With a Non-Profit

For her final student project, Flatiron grad Laurel Klafehn worked with the Immigrant Freedom Fund, a non-profit organization advocating for the end of cash bail that pays immigration bonds for people detained in Aurora, Colorado. Laurel’s client provided tangible, real-world goals—including reworking the organization’s digital presence—to attract more donations from community members, as well as allowing people advocating for their detained loved ones to request help. 

Just as importantly, Laurel learned to work within the project’s constraints, including a limited budget, providing support for users who speak languages other than English, and the need to help families navigate a civil detention system that is intimidating and unclear. Laurel has continued working with the Immigrant Freedom Fund after graduation, demonstrating a high level of commitment and an alignment between her design work and her personal values.

Nonprofit organizations like the Immigrant Freedom Fund can be a useful and rewarding source of real stakeholder work after graduation. To find nonprofit opportunities, try reaching out to your LinkedIn network. Or, search Google for design volunteer opportunities in [your location]. You might also check out some of the websites aimed at connecting volunteers with organizations in need. While a few websites such as UX Rescue are aimed specifically at helping designers make an impact, most offer a more general collection of volunteering opportunities.

Tara’s Stakeholder Story: Leveraging Family and Friends

In addition to partnering with nonprofits, some graduates have used their existing network of family and friends creatively to help them find opportunities to create client work. Flatiron graduate Taras Sarvas graduated from Flatiron shortly before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a moment of high uncertainty where design projects were difficult to find. Taras used this time to design an e-commerce website for San-Tech, a plumbing fixture retail chain located in Ukraine and run by Taras’s father.

Source: Taras Sarvas
Source: Taras Sarvas

Taras also credits part of the success of his job search to letting his personality shine through in his portfolio. Recruiters and hiring managers view dozens of portfolios in a single sitting, so a list of technical abilities alone won’t grab their attention. Taras recalls hearing “multiple times from hiring managers that my portfolio is memorable because I have a silly waving .gif of me on my landing page.”

Network, Network, Network

It’s no secret that networking is essential to developing your career and discovering job opportunities. In fact, after graduating from a product design bootcamp, you’ll need to spend just as much time networking using LinkedIn as you do revising your portfolio, completing new projects, and filling out applications. Especially since having someone in your network refer you for a position is far more productive than filling out online applications at companies where you’ve made no connections.

One common networking mistake is concentrating only on people in a position to offer you a job. Being referred to an open position can be a bonus effect of networking, but the true goal is to build meaningful relationships within the industry, and to learn from other people’s experiences. Establishing industry contacts has tremendous value even when it doesn’t immediately result in a job lead.

Max’s Networking Story

Flatiron grad Max Shakun connected with as many people as he could after finishing the program, including recruiters and hiring managers, junior designers with less than a year’s experience, and more senior professionals. 

Max notes recruiters and hiring managers frequently stated a preference for real-world projects as opposed to school work, which emphasizes our earlier point about the importance of working with real stakeholders. In fact, reaching out to his existing network (including non-designers) led Max to his first client project, participating in a redesign of the non-profit Symphony New Hampshire website with an emphasis on WCAG accessibility compliance.

Source: Max Shakun
Source: Max Shakun

As Max looked for jobs, he learned from the missteps and eventual successes of junior designers who were six months to a year ahead of him in their career path. And as for senior designers, Max found them a valuable source of design mentorship:

“I have found the UX/UI community to be incredibly supportive, and so many senior designers are happy to answer questions you may have about the field and your portfolio. I think the support system likely comes from the built in iterative nature of product design. We all value and appreciate honest feedback!”

Is Product Design Right For You?

If the experiences and portfolios of design professionals like Alexandra, Taras, Crystal, Laurel, and Max have you feeling inspired, consider applying to Flatiron School’s Product Design Bootcamp. You’ll learn the design skills needed to build a competitive portfolio and land your first job in the product design industry.

Not sure if you’re ready to apply? Download the syllabus to learn more about the skills you can acquire in our bootcamp. Or, check out our free Product Design Prep Work to explore the material we teach in the course.

And if you are curious about what students learn during their time at Flatiron, attend our Final Project Showcase.