Troy Hendrickson: From Sales to Stats Auditor for the NBA

Driven by a passion for sports and a desire to leverage data for deeper insights, Troy Hendrickson attended Flatiron School’s Data Science bootcamp in the hopes of joining his dream industry – professional sports. Read his inspiring story of transformation from coach and salesperson to Stats Auditor at the National Basketball Association (NBA)!

Before Flatiron: What were you doing and why did you decide to switch gears?

Troy’s background in sports management and sales success hinted at his potential in the data-driven world of sports analytics. However, the lack of technical skills held him back from his dream career. “I knew data science could one day lead me to work for a sports franchise,” he says, “and sales wasn’t my passion.”

During Flatiron: What surprised you most about yourself and the learning process during your time at Flatiron School?

Flatiron wasn’t just about learning new skills; it was about self-discovery. “I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the learning process,” Troy admits. The supportive community and emphasis on practical application fueled his drive. “Flatiron’s values aligned perfectly with mine,” he says, highlighting the school’s focus on grit and a growth mindset.

After Flatiron: What are you most proud of in your new tech career?

After 277 days of dedicated job search, Troy landed his dream role at the NBA. His journey wasn’t without challenges. “Initially, I applied too often,” he reflects. But by strategically leveraging his network and continuously learning, he landed interviews and impressed hiring managers with his data-driven insights and passion for sports. “My NBA Prediction Capstone project was a clincher,” he reveals, showcasing the power of project-based learning at Flatiron.

Inspired by Troy’s story?

Flatiron School can equip you with the skills and confidence to pursue your tech dreams, no matter your background. Join a supportive community of learners and experienced instructors, and step outside your comfort zone like Troy. The future of tech awaits you!

Ready to take charge of your future? Apply Now to join other career changers like Troy in a program that sets you apart from the competition. Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

The Best-Paying Cybersecurity Careers in 2024

Cybersecurity threats continue to evolve and organizations are looking for skilled cybersecurity professionals that can help them secure critical data and services. In fact, security misconfigurations are one of the top threats to cloud environments, and cloud security engineers help organizations protect against these threats. If you’re considering a career in the field and want to know which cybersecurity careers offer the highest earning potential, you’ve come to the right place.

In this blog post, we break down several cybersecurity careers, including overviews of the roles, common certifications recommended for the roles, and the average salary for the roles. 

The total compensation for these careers can vary based on experience level, geographic location, type of industry, and any specialized skills or training that you may have.

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts are on the front lines of protecting an organization’s networks, systems, and data from cyber threats. They use a variety of tools and processes to identify, assess, and respond to cybersecurity incidents, and to implement security controls to help protect against future attacks.

Information security analysts may conduct tasks like vulnerability scanning, analyzing log data through security information and event management (SIEM) tools, and implementing incident response (IR) playbooks.

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Cybersecurity Specialist
  • Network Security Analyst
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst
  • Incident Response Analyst

Growth and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) estimates employment growth for this role to grow over 32% in the next 10 years. The average salary for an information security analyst is around $112,000 in the United States. Total compensation will vary based on geographic location, education, and the company you work for. 

Certifications

While cybersecurity certifications are not always required for an information security analyst career, some popular ones include the CompTIA Security+, the Google Cybersecurity Certificate, and the ISC2 Certified in Cybersecurity certifications. 

After gaining a few years of experience as an information security analyst, some other certifications that are popular include the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) from EC-Council and the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Depending on the organization, certifications can help you command higher compensation and get promoted.

Key Skills

While there are many skills that information security analysts hold, some of the key skills include having a solid grasp of computer networking and how data moves around an organization; the ability to analyze network traffic for anomalies; and the ability to be adaptable to changing situations.  

Information security analysts will also use a variety of tools, like Splunk, but the exact tools you use will depend on the organization.

Cybersecurity Engineer

Cybersecurity engineers focus on designing secure architecture for an organization’s network and systems to help protect critical data and business processes. They take data from past incidents to build better, stronger security across an organization.  

Cybersecurity engineers also work on developing security protocols, conducting vulnerability assessments, and responding to security incidents. They may also work closely with software development teams to help them build more secure software applications.

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • Security Engineer
  • Product Security Engineer
  • Cybersecurity Architect
  • Information Security Engineer
  • Security Automation Engineer
  • Cybersecurity Platform Engineer
  • DevSecOps Engineer

Growth and Salary

The BLS estimates employment growth for this role to be around 9% over the next 10 years. In the United States, the average salary for a cybersecurity engineer is around $101,000 but this can vary based on location and the organization.

Certifications

While certifications are not required to get a job as a cybersecurity engineer, some popular certifications are the CompTIA Security+, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) from EC-Council, the CompTIA CySA+, and the CompTIA CASP+. Holding certifications can help employers validate your skills and allow you to earn more compensation throughout your career.

Key Skills

Cybersecurity engineers need to have strong technical skills that include hands-on experience in conducting vulnerability assessments and analyzing security tool log data. They also need skills in building security policies, plus project management, threat analysis, threat modeling, and secure architecture design skills. Besides these technical skills, cybersecurity engineers need to have strong communication, critical thinking, and conflict resolution skills.

Many cybersecurity engineers also have computer programming skills because this helps them understand the challenges of software development teams.

Cybersecurity Software Developer

Cybersecurity software developers focus on combining security knowledge and skills to build more secure software applications. They use their knowledge of cybersecurity threats to fix issues in the software code, like logic flaws and bugs, as well as removing hard-coded login credentials. Cybersecurity software developers can also use their skills to build security tools at leading cybersecurity companies.   

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • DevSecOps Engineer
  • Secure Code Developer
  • Software Security Architect
  • Secure Software Development Engineer

Growth and Salary

Career growth for software developers over the next 10 years is estimated at 25%. The average annual salary for a cybersecurity software developer is around $75,000; however, compensation will vary depending on the employer and geographic location.

Certifications

There are no certification requirements for a career in cybersecurity software development, but a few common certifications are the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP) from ISC2 and the EC-Council Certified Secure Programmer (ECSP). Earning a certification in secure software development practices can help you earn more compensation and accelerate your career growth.

Key Skills

Two technical skills a cybersecurity software developer needs are the ability to write software code and knowledge of secure coding best practices. Good soft skills to have for this job include public speaking skills, project management skills, and critical thinking skills.

If you have already gone through a software engineering program to learn the fundamentals of software development, a career in secure software development could be a solid match for you.

Penetration Tester

A penetration tester (also known by the title Ethical Hacker) is responsible for conducting security assessments of an organization. They identify vulnerabilities and the ways a threat actor could exploit those vulnerabilities, and then make recommendations to the organization on how to correct or mitigate the vulnerabilities.

Before conducting any penetration test, it’s important to have the rules of the engagement understood and signed. A penetration tester will work with their employer to ensure this document is signed by the employer and client before beginning the penetration test. Since unauthorized computer hacking is a crime in the United States, this rules of engagement documentation acts as a “get out of jail free” card when conducting a penetration test. In fact, some penetration testers were arrested several years ago in Iowa even though they had the correct legal paperwork in place.

The rules of engagement in a penetration test also map out what the penetration testers can test and what is off limits.  

For example, the penetration test might limit the range of IP addresses that can be scanned.  In the case of a manufacturing facility, the penetration tester might be blocked from running any scans on the Industrial Control System (ICS) network because this could cause malfunctions in the plant equipment, which could lead to a loss of human life.

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • Security Tester
  • Red Teamer
  • Offensive Security Engineer
  • Web Application Penetration Tester
  • Network Penetration Tester
  • Mobile Penetration Tester

Growth and Salary

The demand for penetration testers is expected to grow by 9% over the next 10 years. The average salary for a penetration tester in the United States is $92,000 but varies based on the geographic location and organization.

Certifications

Penetration tester is a career where certifications are not required. However, some popular certifications include the TCM Security Practical Network Penetration Tester (PNPT), the Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), the INE Security Junior Penetration Tester, the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker, and the CompTIA Pentest+. While certifications are not required for a penetration testing career, holding certifications can help you get promoted and earn more compensation.

Key Skills

The top technical skill for a penetration tester is the ability to write comprehensive reports of the findings from the penetration test. Penetration testers should also have strong knowledge of computer networking, hardware, operating systems, vulnerability scanning, threat modeling, and critical thinking. Coding skills in scripting with Bash, PowerShell, and Python can be helpful, too. 

Application Security Engineer

Application security engineers work to identify vulnerabilities in applications and their architecture. They work closely with software development teams to integrate security practices into the software development lifecycle. Application security engineers also conduct code reviews, assess application vulnerabilities, and recommend security improvements.

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • Product Security Engineer
  • DevSecOps Engineer

Growth and Salary

The demand for application security engineers will grow by approximately 9% over the next decade. The average salary for this role in the United States is around $136,000 but can vary depending on the organization and location.

Certifications

Certifications are not required for this role, but many professionals hold a secure software development certification and/or a cybersecurity certification. Some of the most popular certifications are the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP),both from ISC2, and the EC-Council Certified Application Security Engineer (CASE). Obtaining certifications in secure software development best practices or application security can help you earn more compensation in your career. 

Key Skills

Application security engineers need to have solid technical skills in software development as well strong skills in vulnerability assessment and threat modeling.

Cloud Security Engineer

A cloud security engineer is a specialized cybersecurity professional responsible for ensuring the security of cloud-based systems, applications, and data. The role entails building and implementing security policies and controls; conducting risk assessments; identifying and addressing vulnerabilities; and monitoring and responding to security incidents in cloud environments (among other things).

Cybersecurity careers for this job title can include the following:

  • Cloud Security Architect
  • Cloud Security Administrator
  • Cloud Security Solutions Engineer
  • Cloud Security Consultant

Growth and Salary

The demand for qualified cloud security engineers is projected to grow by about 9% over the next 10 years. The average salary for a cloud security engineer in the United States is around $136,000. Again, this number can vary depending on the organization and geographic location. 

Certifications

Certifications are not always required for cloud security engineer positions; however, most professionals have at least one certification from a major cloud service provider. Popular certifications include the AWS Solutions Architect, AWS Certified Security – Specialty, Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate, the Certificate in Cloud Security Knowledge from the Cloud Security Alliance, and the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) from ISC2. 

Holding certifications in cloud computing and cloud security can help you earn more in compensation and also help accelerate career growth.

Key Skills

Cloud security engineers need to have strong technical skills in IT fundamentals, cloud computing technologies, and the security and compliance risks of using cloud-based systems. They also need experience with security tools and techniques used for securing cloud environments. In addition to these technical skills, it’s important for a cloud security engineer to have strong soft skills like time management and critical thinking skills. 

Cloud security engineers need to have skills in at least one of the large cloud service provider platforms, like Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud.

Cybersecurity Careers: Conclusion

The cybersecurity landscape offers diverse and lucrative careers for those with the right skills and drive. Regardless of the path you choose, remember that the cybersecurity field values passion, problem-solving prowess, and a commitment to protecting the digital world.

Flatiron School can help you discover cybersecurity career paths through our Cybersecurity Bootcamp program, where you can jumpstart a career in the field in as little as 15 weeks. Check out a tech prep course for free or download the course syllabus to see what you can learn. 

Logan Miller: Technical Consulting to Software Engineer

Logan Miller, a July 2022 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, spent 5 years working as a pre-sales engineer for a technical consulting firm and another year in Iceland earning a Master’s degree before deciding to switch career paths into tech.

He shares his journey from consulting to tech – with a stop in Iceland – below.

Early Exposure To Tech

Logan Miller grew up around tech. From his early childhood, it was almost always nearby, either through family or the gadgets themselves, and credits this early exposure with his interest in the field.

“Many of my closest friends are in tech, my mom was in tech, and just growing up around computers and technology had a huge influence on me,” he said. “I was like 11 and started messing around with HTML.”

It wasn’t until he was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in European History at university that an accidental class enrollment led him to pick up formal programming for the first time. 

“When I was a freshman at Pace University I somehow found my way into a senior-level game design class (don’t ask – I barely even know how it happened),” he explained. “It was pretty daunting when I found out we were going to have to actually program things in C++ considering I didn’t even know what javascript was. I leaned on pretty much everyone I knew to get through it – friends, mom, girlfriend’s dad – anyone who knew anything about coding was sure to hear from me at random hours with random questions.”

Technical Consulting By Way Of Iceland

After graduating, Logan worked as a technical writer and pre-sales engineer for a technical consulting firm in New York. He recalls having the opportunity to work with “impressive people,” but ultimately felt that the work lacked meaning.

“I spent a lot of time working on documents that were ten, twenty, ninety pages in length just skimming for compliance reasons,” he said. “I never really enjoyed what I was doing in a way that would make me, for example, actually want to work all day on a Saturday or something.”

It was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 that made Logan, like many others, rethink his career and path in life. Unsure of what to do next, he applied to the University of Iceland and was accepted. 

“I didn’t feel like my career was going the way I wanted it to and applied on a whim […] because it was essentially free,” he explained. “My intention with grad school in Iceland was to try a few different classes and see what stuck.”

Logan continued to work remotely for the US-based technical consulting firm while attending the University of Iceland. It was during his time in the land of ice and fire that his interest in computer science reignited. 

“Some of my friends [at the University of Iceland] were in computer science programs so I would see what kind of problems they were working on and languages they were learning. It was a lot of fun just messing around with logic and talking about the kinds of bugs and problems they ran into.”

Committing To Changing Careers

Logan left Iceland and returned to the states in July 2021 with his eye set on a career in software engineering. He highlights the field’s range of opportunities as one of the reasons he decided to pursue the field. 

“There aren’t a ton of career paths out there that allow you to land a job in almost any company or vertical, but you can find a Software Engineer who works for Whole Foods just as easily as one who works for the Department of Defense,” he said. “It allows for so much creativity and opportunity since you get people from all walks of life and interests working at places they enjoy.”

After testing the waters with a short online course in Python, Logan applied to Flatiron School’s Software Engineering program.

“I felt that I should take it seriously and make an investment into changing my career. I knew that I wanted to go all in and see how I compared to my peers in a high-paced environment.”

His Experience At Flatiron School

Logan enrolled in Flatiron School full-time and joined a cohort of other students. His classmates and the community they built together, he recalled, were his favorite part of the program.

“Hands down the best part of the Flatiron School program is the people that you spend each day with and watching them grow as programmers,” he said. “There is a real camaraderie with your cohort and you’ll be surprised at how often you’re spending late nights just talking, working, and hanging out with these people you never knew until a few weeks ago.” 

But, the accelerated course was not without challenges. The speed at which the program covered material was intimidating, Logan recalled, but manageable. 

“As long as you trust in yourself, study, and lean on your teammates and cohort instructor you will be totally fine.”

The Job Search

Logan graduated from Flatiron School’s Software Engineering course in July 2022 and jumped right into the job search. The next six months, he admitted, were difficult at times. 

“My job search [was] a rollercoaster. There will be a lot of ups, downs, hopeful moments, tragic defeats, and everything in between.”

Throughout his tumultuous job search, however, Logan had his Career Coach Tracie Mazzu to support and cheer him on.

“It’s nice to have a career coach on your side that can provide advice and a wealth of experience to help you get through everything,” he said. “I started off doubting how much I would get out of a career coach as it just seemed like an additional chore to do but once my coach helped me redo my resume it became abundantly clear that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.”

Working In Tech

Logan accepted a Lead Developer role with My.Suit in December of 2022. So far, he has only good things to say about his new field. 

“I’m loving it. It’s awesome to be working with something that you enjoy and solving problems that no one else can. There is a ton of freedom and opportunity for you to explore and learn new things each day. The pay doesn’t hurt either.”

His takeaway from his Flatiron School experience is one of self-determination.

“Nothing in life will ever be handed to you. You need to take it and put in the time and effort to make whatever goals you have a reality. Just keep pushing and have fun!”

Inspired By Logan Miller’s Story?

Ready to take charge of your future? Apply Now to join other career changers like Logan Miller in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

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

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

Hannah Kofkin: Design to Software Engineering

Hannah Kofkin, an August 2020 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, began her career in design. But, just a few years in, she decided to pivot to where her true interest lay – tech. 

She shares her journey from design to engineering, all while maintaining a focus on creativity. 

Background

Hannah Kofkin began her career pursuing her creative interests – first with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, then spending 4 years managing the creative department in an event production company. But, a few years in, the desire “for a new challenge” had her reconsidering the path she was on and returning to an early curiosity in tech.

“I’d always been interested in tech and software engineering in particular because I wanted to understand how sites and apps were built,” she explained. “I wanted to know all about what goes on under the hood and how these platforms are built.” 

What’s more, she knew her background in design would transfer well from creating events to coding applications.

“I knew I could use my design experience combined with technical skills to build and develop applications from my unique perspective,” she said. “And once I discovered coding bootcamps, it was just a matter of finding the right opportunity to leave and focus on this career shift.”

Her Bootcamp Experience

Having decided to pursue her career change by way of a coding bootcamp, the next step was for Hannah to pick one to attend. It was a decision she put a lot of thought into, making her choice based on a variety of factors and feedback. 

“I talked to several bootcamp grads prior to making any decision to apply and I gathered feedback on many different schools,” she said. “Flatiron School ultimately felt like the best match for me given the full-stack program and the sense of community I felt from the beginning.” 

Having made her selection, Hannah enrolled in Flatiron School’s Software Engineering bootcamp. The immersive format of the program required full-time study hours – a time commitment that Hannah initially found challenging. 

“There were some very late nights and long hours, especially during the milestone projects throughout the program,” she recalled. “But, the time and effort you put in is directly correlated with what you get out of it.”

Despite the demanding schedule, throughout the program, Hannah found topics and experiences that she enjoyed. 

“I loved the variety of languages we learned and the structure of the program as a whole,” she said. “I also loved the collaborative projects so we could gain some real team dynamic experiences to apply in future roles.”

Job Search

Hannah completed her Flatiron School program in August 2020 – beginning her job search in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, an experience she remembers as “difficult”. Despite the challenge ahead of her, Hannah relied on the support of her dedicated Flatiron School career coach to keep her moving forward. 

“My career coach played a huge role! She kept me on a good schedule, gave very constructive feedback on each element of my application materials, and also notified me of any companies (including my current employer) who were looking to hire bootcamp grads.“

Ultimately, Hannah accepted an offer from Datadog, a cloud-scale monitoring and security company. She began working as a Solutions Engineer at the company in March 2021. 

Working In The Field

When we spoke with Hannah in August 2023, she’d been with Datadog for 2.5 years and had already received 2 promotions – now working as a Senior Solutions Engineer. Her experiences in the industry, she reported, have been overwhelmingly positive. 

“I absolutely love working in this industry at Datadog. I’m a Solutions Engineer so I’m not coding full time, however, having the solid base that I gained from Flatiron School is still helpful as I better understand different technologies and can debug or simply read and understand code as necessary. Reality definitely lives up to the dream for me!”

She reported that she is also particularly proud that she was brave enough to take the leap and change careers – especially during a global pandemic. 

“I am honestly proud of the career shift in general. It’s scary and difficult to leave a steady job, especially during covid, but I worked hard and persisted to ensure I found the right fit. It was all worth it in the end!”

Reflecting On Her Journey

Looking back on her Flatiron School experience, Hannah reminisces that the experience was one of difficulty and perseverance. 

“You get what you put in. It’s a difficult, tedious, time-consuming program,” she emphasizes, “but it really is worth it in the end to have a great baseline to build from and get a foot in the door to a competitive industry.”

As for her advice to others hoping to pursue the same program, Hannah recommends to lean into the difficulty and just keep moving forward because it’ll be worth it.

“Keep pushing, ask questions, and just do your best. Everyone has a different capacity to learn and everyone has a different learning style. Try to focus on your progress rather than comparing yourself to others. At the end of the program, it’ll feel very rewarding to see how far you’ve come.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Hannah Kofkin?

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

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

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

Qingsong Chen: Biology to Cybersecurity

Qingsong Chen, an October 2022 Cybersecurity graduate from Flatiron School, began his career working in the biological sciences. But, a short 4 years in, he made the decision to pivot to tech.

He shares his journey of crossing continents and changing careers below.

Background

Qingsong Chen began his career in China, first earning a degree in Medical Laboratory Technology from the Hubei University of Chinese Medicine, then working for four years as a Laboratory Assistant. But, despite his burgeoning profession in the biological sciences, he felt that something had to change. 

“I wasn’t living the lifestyle I wanted and my field of interest was more in IT,” he explained. “After researching the fields of tech I found myself very interested and eager to learn more; working in tech also felt like ‘my type’ of lifestyle.”

He took his time exploring different aspects of tech, trying out coding languages and software to see what he liked most. 

“I pursued self-learning in all areas of tech including Java, front end development, python, and cybersecurity,” he said. “I found out that I was most interested in Cybersecurity. So, I decided to leave the medical field and pursue a career I would enjoy.”

Bootcamp Experience

To expedite his transition into Cybersecurity, Qingsong began looking into bootcamps that would teach him the skills he needed to land his first job in tech. Eventually, he decided to apply to the Flatiron School Cybersecurity program.

“I did a lot of research before choosing Flatiron School,” he recalled. “Ultimately, I made the decision primarily based on the feedback from some graduates and a little bit of instinct. I also hoped to network with other students entering the field.” 

Qingsong enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time online Cybersecurity Engineering Live program. An accelerated course, it is designed to equip students with the foundational skills needed to break into the Cybersecurity industry. While he recalls initially finding it difficult to adjust to the “entry-level knowledge gap,” he appreciated the labs that equipped him with real-world skills. 

“My favorite part of the program was the hands-on labs,” he said. “Only by getting your hands dirty can you validate and truly understand what you have learned.”

The Job Search

Upon graduation in October 2022, Qingsong entered a tech job market that had recently been shaken by layoffs at big-name companies. But, despite the “hard” job search, Qingsong’s Flatiron School career coach supported him throughout. 

“My career coach helped a lot with my resume and my LinkedIn profile,” he said, “and we communicated regularly to discuss what I could improve in my job search.”

Ultimately, Qingsong accepted a tech-adjacent role at a technology company in Fremont, California. Though not the Cybersecurity role he’d initially set his sights on, he is confident that his current position will set him up for success moving forward.

“Though I was not yet able to land a job in Cybersecurity, I got an offer as a Server Repair Technician in a big company. In only 4 months I’ve become widely recognized as a reliable and capable person,” he said. “I’m hopeful I’ll be able to take the next step in my Cybersecurity career soon.”

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on where he began – a continent and a career ago – Qingsong’s takeaway is the importance of leaning into the challenge to get valuable experience. 

“I was able to complete tasks that were a bit over my experience level, as I learned a lot each time I got stuck. There were challenging tasks that took tons of time, but every minute was worth it. I am proud that I was able to hang in there and overcome the problems I’ve encountered.”

As for his advice to other upcoming graduates, he recommends considering a tech-adjacent job as a stepping stone.

“Breaking into the field of Cybersecurity is hard especially if you don’t have related experience,” he explained. “I would advise current students to consider other tech-related jobs to start with and build a way towards Cybersecurity. For example, if you’re offered a Network Engineer role but not a Cybersecurity role, consider taking it to start with.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Qingsong Chen?

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

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

Terry Threatt: Event Management to Software Engineering

Terry Threatt, a December 2020 graduate of Flatiron School’s Software Engineering program, began his career in sports event management, but a life-long interest in coding ultimately led him to tech. 

He shares his journey from planning events to writing code below.

Background

Terry Threatt began his career in the world of sports, first as a college athlete and then as an event manager for athletic events. But, despite his fledgling career in athletics, Terry had a secret – he loved coding, and his interest in Software Engineering was drawing him in. 

“I’d been experimenting with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript since I was 14,” he said. “The allure of coding never left me, it felt like a calling that combined my love for problem-solving and a desire to make a big impact.”

It was in 2017, just short three years after earning an MBA in Sports Business, that Terry’s passion for the field was “reignited through an Angular book” and he decided to seriously pursue a career change. 

“The field of tech drew me in because of its boundless opportunities to engage in new problems and the chance to make lives easier,” he explained. “I realized that with coding I could craft tools that streamline processes and create efficiencies in many areas and industries. It felt like a canvas where I could continually create, innovate, and learn.”

He started learning on his own, but eventually hit a wall. He recognized he’d need external guidance and support to progress to a professional level. 

“After years of self-study, I recognized some knowledge gaps and realized I needed a structured approach to take my skills to the next level,” he explained. “Flatiron School offered exactly what I needed to streamline my learning and prepare me for the ever-evolving tech world.”

Bootcamp Experience

To break through his learning plateau, Terry enrolled in Flatiron School’s Part-Time Online Software Engineering program. While the program’s format allowed him the flexibility to learn at his own pace while continuing to work, balancing existing responsibilities while adapting to the course is a challenge for even the most organized students. 

“Juggling the part-time program while working a full-time job was no small feat. Long nights of debugging and intense focus were required,” he said. “The time commitment was challenging, but it taught me resilience and discipline—skills that now define my approach to my work and growth.”

Despite those long nights, Terry thoroughly enjoyed both his coursework and his classmate’s company. 

“My favorite part of Flatiron School was the project/assessment period and the people. The assessments allowed me to gauge my progress and set reachable goals, while my cohort mates and instructor made the learning process enriching and enjoyable. We grew together, and the bonds forged will last a lifetime.”

Job Search

After 10 months of study, Terry graduated in late 2020, right into the height of the COVID pandemic. Despite the circumstances, he says his job search “went well” and was supported by his dedicated Flatiron School career coach. 

“My career coach was instrumental in my job search. She provided endless resources and motivation, guiding me toward landing my first role. Her support made the transition into tech smooth and inspiring,” he said. “It was a challenging job market at the time but I was still able to land a role as a software engineer for a commercial real estate company.”

When we spoke with him in August 2023, Terry reported that he was thriving in his new career field.

“Working in tech has been everything I hoped for and more. As a Software Engineer, I’m continually learning and have the opportunity to develop software that enhances people’s work. It’s a field where my creativity and drive can flourish.”

To see what Terry is up to now, visit his LinkedIn and his blog

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on the path he’s taken, Terry’s takeaway is that of embracing the possibility of transformation.  

“The biggest lesson I learned is that change is within our grasp. My decision to attend Flatiron School created a profound change in my life. It reinforced my belief that with determination and the right choices, we can shape our destiny.”

As for his advice to others just beginning their Flatiron School programs, he recommends trusting the process and staying the course. 

“The journey may be tough, but the rewards are immeasurable. Believe in your goals, and you’ll find that everything falls into place. Your dreams are reachable, and Flatiron School is a stepping stone towards realizing them.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Terry Threatt?

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

Need more time to be ready to apply? Try out our Free Software Engineering Prep. Or, review the Software Engineering course Syllabus that will set you up for success and can help launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

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

Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023

2023 is the 20th anniversary of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. All October long, while Halloween candy fills stores, government agencies and private industry organizations collaborate to ensure every American has the resources to stay safe and secure online.

So, in honor of the Cybersecurity industry keeping individuals, companies, and governments safe on the web (and your yearly reminder that ‘Password’ should never be your actual password), we’re featuring 5 recent Cybersecurity grads and their reasons for pursuing a career in the field.

Usman Sikander: Mechanical Engineer to Cybersecurity Analyst

Usman Sikander

Usman Sikander, a May 2021 Cybersecurity Analytics* graduate from Flatiron School, began his career in mechanical engineering. Eventually, an interest in the digital world of cybersecurity led him to tech.

“I was drawn to the field […] due to its dynamic nature and the ever-growing importance of securing digital assets in our increasingly connected world,” he explained. “The constant evolution of technology presents both opportunities and challenges. I was captivated by the idea of playing a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive information and defending against cyber threats.”

When we spoke with Usman in June 2023, he’d been working as a Cybersecurity Analyst and White Hat Hacker at Warehouse Services, Inc. for just under 2 years. He has only good things to say about his new career.

“Working in cybersecurity has been a fulfilling and exciting experience. The opportunity to protect organizations and individuals from cyber threats, analyze vulnerabilities, and develop robust security strategies is deeply satisfying. The reality of the field certainly lives up to the initial allure and expectations.”

Read his full career change story

Igor Vlasenko: Air Traffic Control to Cybersecurity

Igor Vlasenko

Igor Vlasenko, an August 2022 Cybersecurity Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, grew up in Ukraine and went to university to be an air traffic controller. After moving to the USA as an adult, he decided to pursue Cybersecurity for a technical challenge.

“I didn’t feel challenged. When I asked myself if doing what I was doing every day at work helped me get where I want to be, I did not get a satisfactory answer,” he explained. “That was the primary reason I decided that I had to do something about it.”

As to why he settled on Cybersecurity, Igor cites a “curiosity” about the field. 

“I would read news articles about recent cybersecurity breaches throughout various industries around the world,” he said. “And I often found myself not understanding the specifics of adversary techniques and defense mechanisms. I wanted to understand it better and be able to protect myself and others.”

After graduating, Igor accepted a Senior Information Security Analyst position with Western Union, based in his new hometown of Denver, Colorado.

Read his full career change story.

Maxwell Wolfe: DJ to Cybersecurity

Maxwell Wolfe

Maxwell Wolfe, a May 2021 Cybersecurity graduate, says that he could easily fill the pages of a book to explain the winding career path he’s taken to get where he is today. He held a string of unrelated, hands-on positions until the pandemic left him without an income and casting about for his next move. 

But, in his search for a new career, Maxwell didn’t have to go far. He went back to his early curiosity in “gadgets,” renewing his interest in a tech career he’d long ago discounted as unrealistic. 

“Tech and video games always intrigued me,” he recalled. “But I never thought I was cut out for a career in tech until I stumbled upon some free online resources.” 

His decision to pursue Cybersecurity specifically, however, was driven by a more recent experience.  

“The TV show Mr. Robot was a significant catalyst, inspiring me to dive into tech and, more specifically, ethical hacking. The idea of protecting individuals or non-profit organizations sparked my desire to contribute positively to society and prompted me to embark on this new career path.”

After graduating, he worked as a SOC Analyst at a technology company for over a year. After taking some time off to earn additional certifications and enhance his skills, Maxwell opened Wolfhart IT, an IT service provider and consulting firm, in mid-2023. In early July he shared on LinkedIn that his company had signed its first contract.

Read his full career change story.

Roger Brown: Amazon Career Choice 2021

Roger Brown

Roger Brown, an October 2021 graduate of the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity Engineering program, transitioned into tech by way of Amazon’s Career Choice program. He began his career in hospitality, working in the field for several years before transitioning into tech.

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

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

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

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

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

Read his full career change story.

Travon Bryant: Amazon Career Choice 2022

Travon Bryant title card

Travon Bryant, an October 2022 graduate of the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity Engineering program, began his career by earning an Associate of Science degree and spent the next 11 years as a pharmacy technician. But, a decade in, Travon’s priorities had changed, and he decided it was time to pivot. 

“I chose to make the switch because the pharmacy wasn’t paying the bills,” he explained. “I wanted to get a good-paying job to be able to take care of my family.” 

It was while working for Pillpack – a pharmaceutical management service acquired by Amazon in 2018 – that Travon learned about the Amazon Career Choice program. The program allows Amazon employees to receive technical training from partner institutions to pursue higher-paying career paths. While exploring the program, Travon settled on applying for the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity Bootcamp taught by Flatiron School. 

“I was always interested in securing networks and the tools that were involved,” he said.  “I needed a change, so when presented with the opportunity [to change careers], I took it.”

Upon graduating in October 2022 with a brand new Cybersecurity skillset, Travon quickly secured his first opportunity. When we spoke with him in June 2023, he had only good things to say about working in his industry. 

“My job search was brief. I had 3 interviews before getting a job at a bank in a rotational program where I rotate every 8 months to a new cybersecurity team. I love my new field, it definitely lives up to my dream. I’m proud I’m in the field at a good company.”

Read his full career change story.

Secure The World With Cybersecurity

Has a career in cybersecurity always fascinated you? Do you often try to convince your family and friends to update their passwords? Then a career in cybersecurity might be the perfect fit for you!

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

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

*The Cybersecurity Analytics program is no longer available. For prospective students interested in this course of study, visit the Cybersecurity course page to learn more.

Ilolo Izu: Medicine to Software Engineering

Ilolo Izu, an April 2022 graduate of Flatiron School’s Software Engineering program, began his career on the “right” path. But, shortly after enrolling in graduate school, had a change of heart. 

He shares his journey from pursuing medicine to becoming a Software Engineer below.

A Background In Medicine

If you Google Ilolo Izu, one of the first things you’ll find – right below his LinkedIn profile – is his Wikipedia page. The fact that it exists is a testament to his hard work and the fairly substantial list of achievements he’d already earned before coming to Flatiron School. He studied Allied Health as an undergrad at Texas A&M University, where he competed as a student-athlete in track and field, setting a world record time for the 4×400 meters relay indoor in March 2018. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science, a minor in business administration, and a long list of student activities and awards. But, a few semesters into his graduate studies to become a Physician Assistant, Ilolo realized something – he wasn’t on the right path. 

“Living in a small west Texas town and studying 16+ hours a day made me reconsider what was important to me. I chose medicine initially because I knew it was a stereotypical good career,” he explained, “something that would gain some respect. Rather than finding something I was passionate about, I chose something I knew would give me a relatively good life.” 

Deciding On Tech

Following this revelation, Ilolo stepped off the path that would have led him to a career in medicine. In the search for his next career, Ilolo’s thoughts returned to an early childhood interest – technology. 

“I always have been a techie—whether modding video games like Minecraft growing up or even keeping up with the latest OS updates for all my devices or even trying to code my own game when I was in 7th grade from YouTube tutorials.” 

But, what made him finally pull the trigger on the significant life change, was jealousy. 

“I heard in a podcast that if a particular lifestyle or job makes you jealous, it’s a good inclination that it’s something you should try to pursue. After hearing those words, I took a big leap of faith into dropping out of grad school and pursuing learning to code.”

Bootcamp Experience

Having set his sights on pursuing a tech career, Ilolo enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time online Software Engineering Live program. He chose the program primarily based on the testimony of previous graduates.

“Flatiron School had a solid reputation. I first heard of Flatiron when my friend working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft told me she had some coworkers who went through the bootcamp. This was really important to me as I knew that it wasn’t only about the skills that mattered, but also about the professionalism of each individual.” 

Joined by a cohort of other learners, he committed to studying 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday. Ilolo says that, while he “loved the technical projects” during his program, his favorite part was making connections with other students. 

“As an online student, it was especially important to me to connect with my cohort and build a sense of community. We worked closely together on a daily basis and held each other accountable for producing our best work.”

Despite being an online student, the cohort got to connect in person towards the tail end of the course. 

“I was thrilled to meet everyone in person during our final days in NYC, and we still keep in touch to this day. The bonds I formed with my cohort members have been invaluable in my career journey, and I’m grateful to have had such a supportive and motivating group of people by my side during the program.”

Job Search

Ilolo graduated from Flatiron School in April 2022 with a plan: to land his first role “within 3 months of leaving the program.” To achieve his goal, he started the job search early. 

“I began applying to positions during phase 2 of the program to gain experience and learn how to handle failures quickly. The hardest part was the technical interviews. You always hear they are hard, but you never really understand it until you take one. Once I became strict with my schedule, consistency was the only thing that I needed for everything to fall into place.” 

Ultimately, that persistence paid off. Within weeks of graduating, Ilolo landed his first tech job as an Associate Software Engineer at RippleMatch. 

“I was able to [land a role] within the first month. Consistency and dedication to my schedule played a big role in my success during the job search process.”

Working In The Field

When we spoke to Ilolo in March 2023, he had only good things to say about his new career. 

“As a Full Stack Software Engineer, I have the unique opportunity to dive deep into both the frontend and backend processes, enabling me to develop a comprehensive understanding of how everything fits together. Overall, the tech industry’s fast-paced and dynamic nature keeps me excited and motivated to continue learning and growing as a professional.”

And, if you’re wondering whether he ever thinks about his previous career path, Ilolo says that at their foundation, both fields actually serve the same purpose.  

“Being a software engineer [allows] me to still help people through the projects I’m building, similarly to how I was helping people in medicine.”

Ilolo also has enjoyed the constant pursuit of knowledge inherent to the field. 

“I love that technology is constantly evolving, and there’s always something new to learn and improve upon. I really love to learn and challenge myself. [Software Engineering] allows me to be a life-long learner.”

Curious to see what Ilolo Izu is up to now? Visit his portfolio website or his YouTube channel

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on his student experience, Ilolo’s biggest takeaway was the importance of “enjoying the process” and making the most of one’s time in the program. 

“During my time at Flatiron School, I learned that the journey is just as important as the destination. I realized that immersing yourself in the process and enjoying every step can make you a better engineer, designer, data analyst, or whatever you aspire to be. Utilizing the resources provided by Flatiron, such as the career coach, technical coaches, and fellow cohort-mates is crucial in achieving success. I found that everyone in the program is striving for the same goal, so working together and supporting each other is the best way to make it happen.”

As for his advice to other students hoping to transition into tech, he stresses the importance of making connections. 

“Make the most out of LinkedIn. Posting regular blog articles, setting up coffee chats, sharing technical insights, and growing your network can all lead to great opportunities,” he said. “Strong communication skills are just as important as technical skills, and building connections can often lead to unexpected successes. At the end of the day, people hire people, to work with people!”

As for what’s next, Ilolo looks forward to continued growth.

“Learning to code has been a challenging but rewarding journey. It’s allowed me to combine my love for problem-solving with my tech-savvy skills to create something tangible. Looking back, I’m grateful for the experiences that led me to where I am today, and I’m excited for what the future holds as a developer.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Ilolo Izu?

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

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

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

Tristram Jones: Retail to Software Engineering

Tristram Jones, an October 2018 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, began his career in sports retail before pivoting into tech for better opportunities. 

He shares his journey from Retail to Software Engineering below. 

Background

A Michigan native turned Utah transplant and self-professed mountain lover, Tristram’s early career reflected that of somebody who loves to be active. After earning a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science, he worked at a running specialty store for 5 years. It was there that he first started to dabble in development. 

“While I was there I used Wix to help maintain the shop’s website. I eventually left the store and took my Wix skills to work for a digital marketing company,” he said. “We built cheap websites using templates and were forbidden from using custom CSS. The work was stressful and the websites weren’t great but I got a small glimpse into web development.” 

After 2 years at the digital marketing company, Tristram decided to move on to bigger and better things. To do that though, he’d need to expand and polish his skill set. 

“I wanted to learn more, and my pay was terrible,” he explained. “So I quit and enrolled in Flatiron.”

Deciding On Flatiron School

Tristram was committed to switching into Software Engineering, drawn by several very valid factors. 

“The higher compensation, temporal flexibility, and the ability to build things were all reasons I was drawn to the field.”

As for his decision to go the bootcamp route to grow his Software Engineering skills, as opposed to a traditional university, Tristram cites the support of trusted friends. 

“I have two friends that had gone to coding bootcamps in 2013 and pushed me to do the same. I needed the confidence to commit and [they] helped me see that I could be a good Software Engineer.” 

Although Tristram applied to several bootcamp programs, he says that Flatiron School was ultimately his first choice. 

“Flatiron School’s curriculum aligned with what I wanted to learn. I knew my aptitudes and interests aligned more with front end development and I hoped to gain a good grasp of React, ” he explained. “Flatiron was my top choice and, gratefully, I was admitted.”

Bootcamp Experience

Tristram enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time Fullstack Web Development* program in July 2018. Joined by a cohort of other learners, he committed to studying 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday, at the school’s flagship campus in New York City. The transition into full-time studies, Tristram recalled, was abrupt. 

“I didn’t have time to complete all the pre-work and only had a very small base of knowledge before starting,” he said. “That made the curriculum much harder to master at such a fast pace.”

Despite a bumpy beginning, by the end of the program Tristram had built upon his initial interest with a new suite of development skills – supported by classmates and instructors throughout the course’s 15 weeks.

“I loved the final few weeks when we built our capstone piece. I loved the freedom to build, learn, and work through problems. But, my favorite part of the program was the people,” he said. “It made all the difference to be surrounded by other individuals as motivated, bright, and desperate as I was to make such a drastic career pivot. The instructors, I often say, were more talented in the art of teaching than my professors in college.”

Job Search

Tristram graduated from Flatiron School in October 2018 and jumped straight into the job search, focusing primarily on making connections. 

“I felt like networking in my area was the best way to land a job,” he said. “I messaged software engineers on LinkedIn and asked to meet them for lunch. One engineer recommended I join a public Slack workspace for JavaScript developers.”

It was through that recommendation that Tristram ultimately landed his first professional Software Engineer position. 

“The workspace had channels for different topics including meetups and job postings. I went to those meetups and applied to all job postings. I ended up getting a job at a startup that posted on that channel. They didn’t want to deal with the hundreds of applications they would have gotten if they had posted on a big job board.”

Working In The Field

When we spoke with Tristram in July 2023, he was currently working as a Senior Software Engineer at Vizient. Almost 5 years out from graduation, he says that he is loving his new career. 

“Reality is even better than I had imagined, I love what I do. I build things all day with almost absolute autonomy and never work weekends. I work from home, have a really cool team, and feel like I make a difference in my field.”

His advice for other Flatiron School students hoping to pursue a similar path is to focus on acquiring knowledge and skills. 

“LEARN! Read the docs first, then look for answers. Be humble and question your assumptions. And when you’re looking for a job,” he added, “prove that you know more than is likely assumed.” 

Reflecting on where he began his journey, Tristram’s thoughts center on the importance of pushing yourself past what you think is possible. Much like summiting a mountain, the hardest part of the climb is often simply believing you can make it to the top.

“I’m most proud of the moments when I took on a project that seemed beyond my abilities and pushed through my doubts to find success. Those stories remind me to trust my resilience more than my doubts.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Tristram Jones?

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

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

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

*Fullstack Web Development program is no longer available. For prospective students interested in this course of study, visit the Software Engineering course page to learn more.

Travon Bryant: Amazon Career Choice 2022

Travon Bryant, an October 2022 graduate of the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity Engineering program, chose to change careers to improve his financial prospects. 

He shares his student journey from Pharmacy Tech to Cybersecurity professional below.

Pharmaceutical Background

Travon began his career by earning an Associate of Science degree and spent the next 11 years as a pharmacy technician. But, a decade in, Travon’s priorities had changed, and he decided it was time to pivot. 

“I chose to make the switch because the pharmacy wasn’t paying the bills,” he explained. “I wanted to get a good-paying job to be able to take care of my family.” 

It was while working for Pillpack – a pharmaceutical management service acquired by Amazon in 2018 – that Travon learned about the Amazon Career Choice program. The program allows Amazon employees to receive technical training from partner institutions to pursue higher-paying career paths. While exploring the program, Travon settled on applying for the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity Bootcamp taught by Flatiron School. 

“I was always interested in securing networks and the tools that were involved,” he said.  “I needed a change, so when presented with the opportunity [to change careers], I took it.” 

Bootcamp Experience

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

“My favorite part [of the program] was the SIEM part,” he recalled. “It amazed me how the information could give us so much insight, which came in handy, as my current role utilizes Splunk for every case.”

Working In Cybersecurity

Upon graduating in October 2022 with a brand new Cybersecurity skillset, Travon quickly secured his first opportunity. 

“My job search was brief. I had 3 interviews before getting a job at a bank in a rotational program where I rotate every 8 months to a new cybersecurity team.”

When we spoke with him in June 2023, he had only good things to say about working in his industry. 

“I love my new field, it definitely lives up to my dream. I’m proud I’m in the field at a good company.”

As for his advice for other students, Travon recommends holding onto everything you learn while in class. 

“Take lots of notes, you never know what you’ll learn in this bootcamp that your future cybersecurity job will utilize.”

Flatiron School Retraining Programs

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

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

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