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. 


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.

Jon Brundage Jr.: TV Production to Software Engineering

Jon Brundage Jr., a June 2021 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, rethought his initial career choice during the COVID pandemic.

He shares his journey from TV Production to Software Engineering below.

Pre-Pandemic Career Path

Jon Brundage Jr. began his career with a degree in Media Studies and spent more than a decade in the field. But, like many others in the media, the 2020 pandemic threw a wrench in his plans. 

“I came from a twelve-year career in freelance television production working as a director of photography and camera operator,” Jon said when we interviewed him earlier this year. “When the pandemic hit, I had a lot of downtime to reassess what I was contributing to the world.”

While the world stood still, Jon used his time to take a tally of his current occupation. Through that contemplation, he came to the conclusion that it was time to pivot paths.

“[TV] Production is fun, but it is very physically demanding and requires a lot of time on the road. My wife was also pregnant with our son, and I knew I did not want to be a parent who was always away,” he explained. “So, between wanting to be more meaningful and intentional with my career and wanting more balance between life and work, I decided to make a change.”

Pivoting To Tech

Having decided to make a switch, Jon quickly settled on Software Engineering, citing the field’s versatility and demand. 

“I knew that software engineering would open a lot of doors to explore my next role,” he said.
“There are so many different types of companies and organizations that [need Software Engineers] and I was very attracted to the idea that my skills could be transferable to a wide swath of industries and employers.”

But, as a husband and soon-to-be father, Jon didn’t want to take the traditional 4-year degree route. To get to his goals faster, he started looking into bootcamps. 

“I asked some friends and family who worked in tech where I should go. Flatiron School [was mentioned by] my best friend who has been a software engineer for years, as well as my brother who is an accomplished graphic designer,” he said. “After some initial research, I knew it was the right choice for me to have a solid foundation to start a new career.”

Bootcamp Experience

Jon enrolled in Flatiron School’s Software Engineering Live program in March 2021, an accelerated, intensive course. Students in the program study full-time – 8 hours a day, Monday to Friday – for 15 weeks. Learning new Software Engineering skills at the break-neck pace, Jon said, was difficult to adjust to at first.  

“The most challenging part of the program was the gear switching,” he explained. “You spend two weeks learning something new, practice and test on it for another week, and then start all over. By the third phase I was used to it, but it’s overwhelming for the first few weeks.” 

What pulled Jon through the beginning difficulties of the course was the phase one instructor that helped him adapt to the material. 

“My favorite part of the program was my phase one instructor, who completely laid the foundation for my success in the program,” he said. “[He] explained this new world of Javascript in a way that was very accessible and had so much patience for all of my questions. He took this very big, intimidating process and gave me the tools to feel empowered from day one and I will be forever grateful for all his tutorage.”

Job Search

Jon graduated from Flatiron School in June 2021 and jumped straight into the job search, focusing primarily on making connections.  

“I put a lot of energy into networking. I asked friends and friends of friends if they knew any Software Engineers and if they’d have time to chat over coffee or Zoom,” he recalled. “I’ve always thought face-to-face networking is the biggest bang for your buck in job hunting, to this day.”

His original perception of Software Engineering being an in-demand skillset ultimately turned out to be true when a recruiter reached out to him with an opportunity. 

“I was extremely lucky in my job hunt. My current company actually found me and, after a few interviews, they brought me on as a part-time contractor. After a few months, I became full-time staff.”

Working In The Field

When we spoke with Jon in June 2023, he’d been working as a Creative Technologist at Schema Design for just under two years. His experience working in the field, he said, has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“I am thoroughly enjoying my new career. I work for a design firm and my role is fairly client-facing, which has a good amount of overlap of soft skills from my previous career,” he said. “My projects and stacks change every few weeks or months, so I’ve gotten my hands on a ton of technologies in the last year and a half. I’m learning new skills every day and constantly asking myself ‘How can I do this better?’.”

His position has also allowed him to expand his development skillset – building on the foundation he developed while at Flatiron School. 

“My company specializes in data visualizations so from the start of my job, I’ve learned some really cool frameworks and libraries. I’ve built sites in React, Vue, and Svelte, and some pretty cool interactive experiences with d3 and Three.js. [I rebuilt] the company website from scratch a few months back in NUXT3, which I find to be an amazing framework. It offers universal rendering so you get the flexibility of single-page applications, while also the performance and SEO of a static site. You can check it out at”

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on where he began three years ago, Jon emphasizes the importance of believing that you can actually make a change. 

“My biggest takeaway from Flatiron School was that I am capable of learning new tricks. I’d been in my former career for over a decade and worried that I wouldn’t be able to adapt to a new setting,” he recalled. “It took a while to believe in myself and get over impostor syndrome, but eventually, you do eventually feel like a real Software Engineer.”

His advice for current and future Software Engineering students is to lean into the uncomfortable nature of change. 

“Learn to be comfortable with not knowing. So much of software engineering is getting a problem or task you haven’t solved before and figuring out how to tackle it. Be confident in your ability to learn new skills, and know that this feeling of not knowing exactly what you’re doing means you’re on the right track. It isn’t forever and you will see tangible growth in even a few months from where you’re at right now.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Jon Brundage Jr.?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Jon Brundage Jr. 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.

Maxwell Wolfe: DJ to Cybersecurity

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 shares his journey to becoming a Cybersecurity business owner below, and all of the winding turns along the way.

Blue-Collar Background

Maxwell describes his background as “diverse.” A college dropout, he remembers having difficulty in the traditional education system. 

“My best learning occurs through doing and tinkering; I’ve never been one for memorization or traditional testing,” he said. “Grasping complex information requires a hands-on approach for me. In summary, I’m a kinesthetic learner.” 

This educational tendency led him to hold a string of unrelated jobs that all had one thing in common – he was able to work with his hands. 

“My career trajectory has been anything but conventional. I’ve worked in kitchens, bars, construction, and even nightclubs as a DJ and tech support.” 

In early 2020, Maxwell was working in nightclubs in the DC area as tech support and an opening DJ for headliners. But, due to his eclectic collection of hands-on job experiences, the declaration of the pandemic struck a death blow to his occupation. 

“When COVID-19 arrived, social life came to a standstill, and work dried up. I lost everything and was forced to start anew,” he explained. “It was then that I decided to pivot towards something sustainable, never wanting to find myself in such a precarious situation again.”

Pivoting Into Tech

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.”

His Bootcamp Experience

Having settled on a career in Cybersecurity, Maxwell cast about looking for ways to acquire the necessary skills to enter the field – a search that eventually led him to apply to Flatiron School. 

“My decision to join Flatiron School was primarily based on the school’s reputation,” he recalled. “And the fact that its instructors have real-world industry experience.”

Maxwell enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time Cybersecurity program, an intensive, accelerated course designed to equip students with the foundational skills needed to break into the Cybersecurity industry in just 15 weeks. He began his learning on a rigorous schedule – 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday – a time-commitment that he said took time to adjust to.

“Balancing this program with three other jobs was undoubtedly challenging. However, the toughest part was realizing that in tech, you’re often your own support system. The transition from an outsider to the go-to tech person can be overwhelming at first.”

Despite the oftentimes grueling task of balancing education and work, Maxwell thrived in the communal environment fostered by the course. 

“I appreciated the collaborative environment of the program, where we were encouraged to work in teams, brainstorm, and devise solutions for our projects.”

As for what brought him the most pride from his time at Flatiron School, Maxwell told us about how he used his new skills to help a friend.

“I managed to track down a cyberstalker for one of my friends. This experience was incredibly fulfilling and demonstrated the real-world impact of my new skills.”

Working In The Field

Maxwell Wolfe graduated from Flatiron School in May 2021. Coming from a career of hands-on roles where a handshake landed a position, executing a purely-online search for a white-collar job (while the pandemic slowly petered out) presented some initial difficulties. 

“The job search was challenging, but my coach was instrumental in keeping me motivated,” Maxwell recalled. “She guided me in finding job platforms, writing blogs, and understanding LinkedIn. Even now, she remains a strong pillar of support, cheering me on whenever possible. Thanks, Sarah 🙂.”

Ultimately, his efforts paid off, and he worked as a SOC Analyst at a technology company for over a year. When we spoke with him in July 2023, he’d taken time between contracts to earn additional certifications, enhance his skills, open his own company, and – most importantly of all – recuperate from burnout. 

“The transition [to tech] in less than six months was undoubtedly tough. The initial stages were overwhelming, and I won’t deny that I experienced burnout,” he said. “But things are much better now, and I’ve even launched my own freelance work and registered an LLC. I also joined the HackerOne platform as an ethical hacker, hunting for bug bounties to build my experience across various legal hacker platforms.”

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.

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on the long road he took to Cybersecurity and his time at Flatiron School, Maxwell’s main takeaway is the necessity of adopting a learner’s growth mindset – especially in a rapidly evolving field like tech.

“Learning never ends in the tech industry. To stay relevant, one must commit to being a lifelong learner in this ever-evolving field.”

His advice for current students follows the same vein – encouraging learning while maintaining healthy habits and realistic expectations of exactly how much you can take on. 

“Before committing to a bootcamp, do extensive research. Ensure you balance your work with relaxation to avoid burnout. Don’t try to cram all the information at once.”

Post-Flatiron School, he has some practical career advice as well – keep learning and attaining qualifications!

“Consider following the CompTIA career path, and don’t limit yourself to just the Security+ certification. The A+ and Network+ certifications are also beneficial. Additionally, consider Google’s Security and Support Specialist programs for their certifications.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Maxwell Wolfe?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Maxwell Wolfe 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.

Eric Saber: Professional Organizer to Product Designer

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

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

Beginning In Business

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

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

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

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

Pivoting Into Product Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bootcamp Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job Search Journey

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

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

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

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

Working In Tech

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

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

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

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

Reflecting On His Journey

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

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

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

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

Itching For A Change, Just Like Eric Saber?

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

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

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

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

Naftali Kulik: Rabbi to Software Engineer

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

He shares his journey from Rabbi to Software Engineer below. 

A Foundation In Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Coding Bootcamp Experience

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

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

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

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

The Job Search

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

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

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

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

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

Working In Tech

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

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

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

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

Reflecting On His Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready For A Change, Just Like Naftali Kulik?

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

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

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

Anthony Ofoegbu: Amazon Career Choice 2021

Anthony Ofoegbu, an October 2021 graduate of the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity Engineering program, had a two-decade career in Nigeria before emigrating to the United States.

He shares his journey of immigrating to the USA and finding his way to Cybersecurity Engineering below.

A Nigerian Origin Story

Anthony spent his formative years in Nigeria. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Literary Studies, citing his desire to work in several liberal arts fields. 

“I wanted to do several things which include authoring books, bank work, teaching, journalism, and public speaking.”

Over the next two decades, he worked in public relations, corporate communications, business management, and sales. In early 2019, he relocated to America and found work at Amazon as a Fulfillment Center Associate. It was there that he learned about the Amazon Career Choice Program. The program gives Amazon employees the opportunity to receive technical training from partner institutions to pursue higher-paying career paths. Anthony cites his wife as being his main motivation for joining the Cybersecurity training program. 

“She was clear about going into cybersecurity and since I had worked with tech companies back home I decided to give it a try.”

His Bootcamp Experience

Anthony was accepted into the Amazon Career Choice program and matriculated with a cohort of fellow students from Amazon. The program ran for 32 weeks from February through October with the curriculum delivered online via live lectures. While unsure of what the program would entail, Anthony said he was optimistic after completing the required prework material.

“I did not know what to expect but I was excited especially after passing the pre-program training and studying about hypervisors and virtual machines.”

Students completed about 15 hours of classwork each week while working full-time, a challenge in time management for anybody, but Anthony adapted and took advantage of his program’s resources. 

“There were great teachers, great office hours, and great coursemates as well,” he said. “Teamwork and my personal commitment contributed to my success [in the program].”

He recalled finding Python Programming and IP Address Configuration challenging but had a positive experience overall. 

“I loved every part of the program but System Admin, Wireshark, Hunt, GRC, and SIEM were my favorite.” 

Job Search Journey

Anthony graduated from the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity program in October 2021 after completing 480 curriculum hours over 9 months. He began his job search shortly after graduation, supported by his dedicated Flatiron School career coach. 

“[My career] coach helped me build my resume, reviewed it, and taught me step-by-step job search techniques.” 

He also took advantage of job fairs hosted by Flatiron School to gain exposure to hiring companies. 

“We were able to meet employers and many of us were employed right away immediately after graduation.”

Ultimately, Anthony accepted a role as an Associate Business Analyst at Infosys, based in Los Angeles, California. 

Reflecting On His Journey

Fast forward to 2023, Anthony is enjoying his new job and pursuing a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity from the University of San Diego. Looking back, he values the hands-on nature of the technical education he received as part of the Amazon Career Choice program.

“[This] is a great place to start because you learn exactly what you are supposed to be doing in your daily office work.” 

His advice for other students looking to transition careers is to embrace the hard work needed to reach a goal.

“You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it and work towards it.”

Flatiron School Retraining Programs

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

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

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

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

Mike Roth: Fine Arts to Data Science

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

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

A Foundation In Fine Arts

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Bootcamp Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job Search Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflecting On His Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Advice For Other Students

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready For A Change, Just Like Mike Roth?

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

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

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

Zachary Greenberg: Musician To Data Scientist

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

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

Bit By The Music Bug

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

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

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

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

His Bootcamp Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working In Tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready For A Change, Just Like Zachary Greenberg?

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

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