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 Interviewing.io 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.

GitHub Profile and Git Practices for Job Seekers

If you’re a software engineer or are in the process of becoming one, you will almost certainly use tools and services like Git and GitHub. Almost every single software program you use or will use is built by a team. Version control systems like Git and source code management services like GitHub allow teams to collaborate effectively and manage large-scale software projects with ease and clarity.

Your GitHub repos (repositories) can act as your portfolio, especially if you’re at the beginning of your software engineering career journey. GitHub can help you stand out from the crowd by showing your repos and showing that you are familiar with industry-standard tools, workflows, and automation.

In this post, we will focus on standard Git practices and offer advice on how to tailor your GitHub profile for a job search.

Will a Recruiter Really Check a GitHub Profile?

Software engineering interviews vary drastically from company to company. The number of interview rounds, types of interviews, and even the interview performance metrics vary from company to company. 

However, the initial application process is fairly straightforward. You will likely apply through an online form, submit a resume, and link to your projects. Optimizing your resume and portfolio will improve your chances of securing interviews at companies you want to work for.

So how will having a strong GitHub profile help you?

Example Github profile

Recruiters spend around 6 seconds per resume on the initial scan—and the initial scan might be all you get. For entry-level applicants, the Projects section on a resume is one of the most important, especially if the applicant does not have a formal computer science or software engineering degree. If a project sounds interesting, the recruiter will check out any linked demo, video, or documentation. A GitHub README doc is a great place to prominently display all the relevant demos, videos, live links, and features so recruiters can quickly make sense of the project.

Some recruiters also look at an applicant’s GitHub profile activity. The activity is a somewhat solid indicator of how much the applicant practices coding, and it offers a glimpse into what kinds of projects the applicant is or has been involved in. Robust GitHub profile activity is helpful for candidates who don’t have CS coursework to demonstrate the necessary time spent on programming and building software.

What to Expect in an Interview

In the latter interview rounds, engineers and hiring managers may look through your projects in greater detail. This entails looking through the README and code on GitHub project repos. For certain interviews, candidates are asked to walk the interviewers through the project and justify design decisions. Interviewers may also check for best practices around project structure, app design, testing, commits, etc.

Having a solid GitHub profile and creating good READMEs for projects helps candidates in the application stage and may also help them during the latter interview rounds. There’s no downside to spending some time sprucing up your GitHub profile and project overviews.

Let’s look at some concrete ways to improve both your GitHub profile and your Git commits.

GitHub Profile Best Practices

The goal of your GitHub profile during a job search is to showcase your best projects, skills, and coding history to potential employers. Here are some guidelines that will help you create a unique profile that highlights the value you can bring to a team:

  • Create a clean overview page
    • Use a profile generator for easy to read layouts
    • Add contact links (LinkedIn, email)
    • Short description or bio
  • Pin your best projects
    • Write detailed documentation for each project
    • Add images and walkthrough videos for each project (the examples below have walkthrough videos)
    • Use a README generator to ensure consistent formatting
  • Have a consistent commit history (we’ll cover Git best practices later in this post)

I highly recommend looking at a few great GitHub profiles for inspiration. But don’t spend too much time on your profile overview page. The goal is to highlight your strongest skills and experiences so recruiters take immediate notice.

You should instead spend more time on writing the READMEs and making short walkthrough videos for your projects. Check out a couple of examples READMEs from Flatiron School  grads:

Git Best Practices

Engineers and hiring managers may look at your Git commit history to get a better sense of what it would be like to work with you on a team. Git best practices ensure better collaboration by minimizing risk and facilitating faster review and automation workflows.

The following are the most important practices you can follow to stand out with your Git commit history:

  • Make frequent commits
    • Mitigates the risk of losing work by saving it
    • Facilitates collaboration since smaller commits are easier to review and merge
    • Makes deployment easier since CI/CD pipelines usually run on new commits
    • Encourages writing more modular code, which improves readability and maintainability
  • Follow consistent commit structure (Conventional Commits Guidelines)
    • You don’t necessarily have to follow a specific set of guidelines but whichever convention you decide to follow must be applied to all of your commits
  • Write descriptive commit messages for bigger changes such as feature additions, large refactors, or infrastructure changes


If you follow these Git and GitHub guidelines and best practices, you will better your chances of standing out to both recruiters in pre-interview stages and engineers/hiring managers in interview stages. 

Updating your profile and learning these conventions will take some time in the beginning. But the best part is that once your Git and GitHub profile are set, you do not have to focus on them so much. You can instead focus on your job search. You will improve your job prospects for every job you apply to afterwards.

Are you a software engineering enthusiast looking to gain the education needed to land a rewarding job in the field? Flatiron School’s Software Engineering Bootcamp can help put you on the path to success in as little as 15 weeks. You can apply today for one of the upcoming course start dates, or book a 10-minute chat with Admissions through our Tech Prep page to learn more about the program. 

System Design Interview Overview for Software Engineers

If you have looked into the software engineering interview process, you may have come across something called a system design interview. These interviews tend to be very different from the usual coding interviews.

In this post we will look at why interviewers hold system design interviews, the expectations they have for job candidates, and how to prepare for this type of interview.

But first, we need to understand what functional and non-functional requirements are in a software system and how they should be considered in the design process.

Functional and Non-Functional Requirements

Let’s say you’re building an app where users can post and share images. What functions can users perform on the app?

A user can register and sign in on the app. They can post, share, and comment on images. All of these functionalities are user-focused.

Functional requirements define the specific functionalities, features, and capabilities that the app must provide to meet the needs of its users.

But in addition to these functionalities, the app needs to perform well, be reliable, and securely store user information. Non-functional requirements describe the qualities and characteristics of the system that are not directly related to specific behaviors but are critical for its overall effectiveness.

It’s critical to consider both functional and non-functional requirements when designing and building software.

What is System Design?

System design refers to the process of designing an application while taking into account both the functional and non-functional requirements. It involves making high-level decisions and choices regarding the structure, components, interactions, and behavior of the system.

The System Design Interview Process

In system design interviews, you will generally be asked open-ended questions with vague requirements. You’ll have to collaborate with your interviewer to figure out which qualities and characteristics to prioritize while designing your system.

Unlike coding interviews—where you may have to do algorithm challenges or build apps to specifications—system design interviews have no correct solutions. You will have to justify all of your design decisions in the context of the functional and non-functional requirements while also comparing alternatives.

A typical system design interview will usually follow this format:

  • The interviewer asks the candidate to design a system
  • The candidate then does the following:
    • Clarifies requirements
    • Does back-of-the-envelope calculations
    • Establishes scope of the design
    • Defines a data model
    • Proposes a high level design
    • Defines the APIs for the system
  • The candidate and interviewer discuss details, trade-offs, and extensions

Generally, the interview is 45-60 minutes long so you won’t have time to dive deep into every aspect of the system. This is why it’s important to communicate with your interviewer about the areas you should be focusing on. For certain problems, they may ask you to focus more on the data model and what kind of database you’d use. For others, they may ask you to define your APIs in detail and describe how they would communicate with each other.

Interviewers are generally looking to assess the following skills:

  • Fundamental system design concepts
  • Requirements clarification and analysis
  • Well-reasoned decisions
  • Trade-off considerations
  • Collaboration
  • Communication

These aren’t in order of importance since different interviewers may prioritize different skills based on the job description, role level (IC3 will get easier problems than IC6), and their own experiences.

System Design Study Resources

A system design interview may seem impossible to study for since there are so many topics that can be covered. But thankfully, there are some fundamental concepts that will help you to get through most of the junior to mid-level interviews. Once you’ve got those down, you can read up on real system design on company blogs or research papers.

Below are some additional resources to help you learn how to excel in the interview:

For practice problems:

You should ideally try designing and building some complex systems yourself to see how all the pieces fit together. Starting with simple data pipelines or simple microservices may be helpful.

But the free resources (except for the books) mentioned above should give you a solid system design foundation which will allow you to understand most of the system design interview questions and walkthroughs you may encounter.

It takes time to get really good at designing systems. You will learn new concepts, tools, and techniques throughout your career which will influence your unique way of designing systems. 

For your interviews, focus on understanding the fundamentals, prepare in advance, and do practice interviews on sites like Pramp or Interviewing.io. Best of luck!

Interested in a Software Engineering Career?

Flatiron School’s Software Engineering Boot Camp can provide you with industry-ready skills in software engineering in as little as 15 weeks. You can try a free software engineering lesson, download the course syllabus to see what you can learn, or apply today.

How to Become a GRC Analyst

A GRC Analyst is responsible for assessing and documenting an organization’s policies and regulations that involve the compliance and risk posture of information assets in the organization.

As a GRC Analyst, you might work on an internal cybersecurity team or for a cybersecurity consulting firm.

Your daily responsibilities as a GRC Analyst could include auditing existing cybersecurity policies and procedures, developing security policies, identifying and analyzing risk, and reporting on regulatory compliance.

What Other Job Titles Are There for This Career?

You might see other job openings in the GRC Analyst career field with titles such as:

  • Cybersecurity Compliance Analyst
  • Security and Compliance Engineer
  • Security and Compliance Analyst
  • Cloud Compliance Security Engineer
  • Governance and Policy Analyst
  •  Third Party Compliance Analyst

How Much Can You Make as a GRC Analyst?

GRC Analysts in the United States can make between $34,000 and $212,000, with the average salary at around $97,000. This doesn’t include sign-on or annual bonuses, stock options, or other compensation, which means a career as a GRC Analyst can be a very lucrative one.

Compensation influencers for this role depend on the company, geographic location, experience level, specialization, and industry.

Do You Need Certifications?

There are no specific cybersecurity certifications requirements to get a job as a GRC Analyst; however, many people study for the CompTIA Security+, the Cloud Security Alliance’s Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK), or the ISACA Certified Information Security Auditor (CISA).

As you gain more experience in a GRC career, you may also study for more privacy-focused certifications like the Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) from lAPP. One Trust also has a GRC Professional certification that is popular amongst GRC Analysts.

Do You Need a College Degree?

There are no college degree requirements for this career.

Many career changers find GRC Analyst to be an easy cybersecurity career to transition into because there are no strict requirements on certifications or college degrees. If you do want to pursue your college degree, then a degree in cybersecurity or business can be helpful in helping you land a GRC Analyst position after graduation.

Do You Need Technical Skills to Get a Job as a GRC Analyst?

Technical skills or a background in information technology are not required for many GRC Analyst roles. However, you will benefit from building up your technical understanding (especially as it relates to security controls and their implementation) because you will work with technical teams across an organization, including the incident response, security operations, and penetration testing teams.

Do You Need Experience to Get Your First Job as a GRC Analyst?

Experience is not required for your first job.  

In fact, many people just like you have successfully changed careers to become GRC Analysts, including a young woman who used to sell swimming pools for a living!

Are There Opportunities for Internships?

There are some internships available for this role depending on the company; however, most people are hired directly into full-time positions as GRC Analysts instead of starting with internships. Do know that internships are paid or unpaid and many college students earn credits for working internships.

How do I become a GRC Analyst?

Step 1 is to determine the type of industry you would like to work in as a GRC Analyst.

Would you like to work in healthcare, retail, the energy industry, or another industry entirely?  Having a handle on this will help you determine what regulations and frameworks to focus on.

For example, if you choose to work with companies in the energy industry, then Step 2 is to identify the frameworks, standards, and regulations in use in that industry. One example would be the NERC standards, which were created by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.

Step 3 is to review those standards, frameworks, and regulations and identify any example case studies of their application, and any financial consequences a particular company faced for not being compliant.

Having this information at the ready in a job interview can be beneficial because you can discuss standards, frameworks, regulations, and case studies with the hiring manager to show you understand the complexities of the job and the industry.

Step 4 is determining if you want to pursue a certification or college degree prior to applying for GRC Analyst jobs.

There are many cybersecurity certifications, college degree programs, and bootcamps out there, so it’s important to narrow down your list and then conduct deeper research to determine what will work best for you.

How Do You Find a Job as a GRC Analyst?

The best way to get any cybersecurity job is to network on social media with people working in the job you want, and to build your personal brand.  

Building your personal brand means as you are learning, you are posting about what you are learning on social media. This helps show recruiters and hiring managers your passion for GRC. (There is a lot more to learn about building your brand in cybersecurity; check out this LinkedIn article “How Do You Build a Strong Cybersecurity Brand?” for more information.)

You can also find job openings on LinkedIn, Indeed, CyberSN, and other job board websites. Be sure to learn how to write a resume and a cover letter before you begin applying for jobs, and know that you have to customize both documents for every job application you submit.

Should You Become a GRC Analyst?

A career as a GRC Analyst might be good for you if you like to solve puzzles or analyze and solve problems. It might also be a good career choice for you if you have solid skills with effectively communicating information to a variety of individuals, because you will be working with multiple teams and stakeholders across whichever business you join.

Working as a GRC Analyst can be a rewarding career both financially and in the sense that you will play a critical role helping businesses build better cybersecurity programs to keep sensitive information safe.