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.

Tyler Luckewicz: Amazon Career Choice 2021

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

He shares his journey to Software Engineering below.

Beginning In Business IT

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

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

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

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

Pursuing A Tech Path

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

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

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

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

Applying To Amazon Career Choice

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

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

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

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

His Program Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Job In Tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflecting On The Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flatiron School Retraining Programs

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

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

Alisha Murray: Fashion To Product Design

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

She shares her journey from Fashion to Product Design below.

An Early Fixation on Fashion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pivoting To Product Design

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

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

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

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

Her Flatiron School Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pandemic Job Search

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflecting On Her Journey

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

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

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

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

Ready For A Change, Just Like Alisha Murray?

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

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

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

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

Igor Vlasenko: Air Traffic Control to Cybersecurity

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. 

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

Changing Continents and Careers

Igor was born and raised in Ukraine. Despite his interest in technology as an adult, he doesn’t recall being interested in it as a child. 

“I can’t say I was exposed to technology or computers as a kid,” he said. “I was more into sports and spent most of my time helping my dad at an auto shop.”

For university, Igor attended the National Aviation University of Ukraine to study Air Traffic Control. It was after his third year there that he had the opportunity to move to the United States. After arriving in North America, he says he moved around quite a bit. 

“I lived in Wisconsin, New York City, Buffalo, New York, and Galveston, Texas before I moved to Denver, Colorado where I have been living for the last 6 years.”

After working in the service industry as a bartender in downtown Denver for those 6 years, it was in 2022 that Igor decided that he needed a change. 

“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.”

His Flatiron School Experience

Once Igor decided to pursue Cybersecurity, his next step was gaining the skills he needed to break into the industry. To achieve that, he decided to attend a Flatiron School bootcamp.

“When I was searching for ways to proceed with getting educated in this particular discipline, bootcamps stood out for their efficiency and relevancy of information,” he explained. “Flatiron School had an outstanding reputation and provided support pre and post-education period.”

Igor applied and accepted to Flatiron School’s full-time Cybersecurity Engineering program in May 2022. He would complete hundreds of hours of coursework over the next 15 weeks.

“The curriculum was quite challenging intellectually and mentally,” he recalled. “[But] the constant support from the Flatiron community was very helpful.”
Despite the challenge of the accelerated coursework, Igor cites the community at Flatiron School and beyond as a motivating factor throughout.

“My favorite aspect of the school was the exposure to professional and social events. I found the community to be extremely welcoming, willing to help, and full of valuable resources.”

Job Searching As An Immigrant

Igor graduated from the Flatiron School Cybersecurity Engineering program in August 2022. Unfortunately, his job search initially got off to a rocky start. 

“I faced certain obstacles caused by immigration-related processes,” Igor explained. “[But] once I resolved those, the experience of finding a job was manageable.”

But, throughout his search, his dedicated Flatiron School career coach was there to support him.

“My career coach, Quianna Rodriguez, was extremely helpful throughout my entire experience of looking for a job. [She] would often put in additional effort and go the extra mile to find resources relevant to my unique situation, which made my experience of working with her absolutely incredible! I would also like to mention Scott Bowman and thank him for his constant support and valuable advice.”

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

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back on the journey he took to land his first job in tech, Igor is proud of his personal and professional growth.

“I developed my ability to connect with people, gained confidence in my skills, and got a job.”

As for his advice to other students, he recommends persistence. 

“If you have a big, scary task ahead of you, break it into multiple pieces and conquer them one by one. Seek environments where you feel like you are the most stupid person in the room and listen.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Igor Vlasenko?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Igor 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.

Matthew Thomas-Wicher: Law to Design

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

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

Pivoting From A Path To Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deciding On UX Design

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

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

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

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

Despite his doubts, Matthew was committed to changing careers. 

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

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

His Bootcamp Experience

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

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

Those new connections also led to additional challenges. 

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

Matthew sums up the outcome of his bootcamp experience succinctly: 

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

Job Searching During The Pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

Working In The Field

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

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

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

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

To see Matthew’s work, visit his portfolio.

Reflecting On His Journey

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

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

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

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

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

“It was such a great experience.”

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

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

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

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

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

Dane Brown: Amazon Career Choice 2021

Dane Brown, a 2021 graduate from the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity Analytics program, was working as an Amazon Warehouse Associate when he took advantage of the opportunity to pivot into Cybersecurity. 

He shares his winding journey into tech below.

A Collection Of Careers

Dane spent the first decade of his career working in a variety of fields including retail, mental health, security, and nursing home housekeeping. 

“I chose those fields just so I could afford to buy my own stuff, and pay bills,” he said. “But I wanted to do something that paid more and would be fulfilling.”

While unsure of what exactly that field would be, Dane felt drawn toward a career in technology based on an early affinity. 

“I’ve had an obsession with video games and computers since I was 3,” he recalled.  “I’ve always been fascinated by the seemingly limitless applications of tech, the convenience it brings, and how fun it is to learn about.”

It was while working as a Warehouse Associate at Amazon in 2021 that an opportunity to break into the industry presented itself. Dane applied to the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity Analytics program and was accepted. 

“I knew that this program would allow me to expand my tech knowledge, challenge myself, and have a new way to help others,” he said. “And I had heard years ago that Flatiron was one of the best tech schools in the industry.”

His Program Experience

The Amazon Career Choice program Dane participated in ran for 32 weeks from February through October. The curriculum was delivered online via live lectures. Students completed about 15 hours a week of classwork while continuing to work full-time. 

“It was challenging ensuring that my assignments were completed on time, and making it to all of the live lectures,” Dane said. “Thankfully my instructors and faculty were patient, kind, and informative, plus my cohort loved helping each other. We never left people behind!”

Despite the time pressures of tackling an education while continuing to work, Dane persevered throughout the course and found that he enjoyed the material.

“My favorite part of the program was learning about a wide range of Computer Science & Cybersecurity concepts [and] engaging my classmates and instructors in the community,” he said. “Also, I loved the System Administration class because I learned how to set up an organization’s computer systems from the ground up!”

Dane graduated from the Amazon Career Choice Cybersecurity Analytics program in October 2021, after completing 480 curriculum hours. 

Jumping Into The Job Search

With his new Cybersecurity skills, Dane began looking for the right opportunity while continuing to work at Amazon. Unfortunately, at first, he had difficulty finding the right fit. 

“My job search was brutal,” he recalled. “Most companies didn’t give me a response or interview when I first started applying for positions.”

But through working with his Career Coach, he refined his strategy and started to make headway.  

“Flatiron has one of the best Career Development and job search programs I’ve ever seen,” he said. “My career coach gave me great pointers on how to refine my resume which set me up for success.”

Reflecting On His Journey

Two years on from his graduation, Dane is working in Cybersecurity and supporting organizations he is passionate about. 

“I’m extremely proud to say that I provided IT/Cybersecurity services on behalf of two organizations – Zinc Collective’s DigiDems, and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, which supported the successful elections of Lieutenant Governor-elect Austin Davis, Senator John Fetterman, and Governor-elect Josh Shapiro!”

Looking back at his journey, Dane’s main takeaway from the experience is a positive one.

“Always be kind, and never be afraid to ask for or receive help.”

Dane’s advice for students is similar, emphasizing the importance of kindness and camaraderie. 

“Always carry yourself with humility and grace, think before you speak, and manage your time wisely,” he advised. “Always offer to help others, and don’t be afraid to ask for help whenever you need it. I’m rooting for all of you, so never give up!” 

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.

Zach Zazueta: From Financial Analyst to Data Analyst

Zach Zazueta, a 2020 Data Science graduate from Flatiron School, spent half a decade in the finance department of educational institutions before an interest in data-driven problem-solving led him down a different path. 

He details his path from finance to data science below.

A Foundation In Finance

When Zach Zazueta graduated from college in 2015, he knew that he wanted to combine his interest in math and economics with his degree in Political Science to work for a mission-driven organization. The mission he chose? Addressing unequal access to quality public education for inner-city minority students coming from low-income homes. 

“I was on a finance team in the education field working for a network of charter schools supporting 50 elementary, middle, and high schools in the NYC metro area,” Zach explained when we interviewed him in early 2023.

A few years in, he found himself working with data in Talent Analytics designing evaluation systems. It was during these exercises that Zach’s interest in data took hold and he began to consider a different career path.

“Eventually, the interest and enjoyment I was getting from the problem-solving outweighed the satisfaction I got from the organization’s mission,” he said. “It was time to enter a new environment with new business challenges that would push my learning.”

Pivoting To Data Science

Once Zach made the decision to switch from his current role, the decision to pursue Data Science seemed like an obvious one. 

“I always had a draw toward numbers-focused work. In my [early career] I found designing logic behind Excel formulas compelling. Mapping out data to tell a story and bring clarity was rewarding,” he recalled. “And after working with SQL and Tableau [designing evaluation systems], I knew they were areas I wanted to grow in.”

After dabbling in open-source materials and learning on his own for a time, Zach ultimately decided to apply to Flatiron School’s Data Science program to accelerate his learning.

“I was having difficulty making sustained, targeted progress in my learning. I saw Flatiron School as a unique opportunity to boost the nascent skills I had already developed and learn how to code quickly,” he explained. “And a bootcamp was a faster and less expensive avenue than a traditional master’s degree program.”

His Bootcamp Experience

Zach enrolled in Flatiron School’s online part-time Data Science program in 2019. Like many other students choosing to pursue a career change while maintaining their current employment, he initially found the added time requirements difficult to adjust to. 

“While I appreciated the flexibility that this option allowed me to have as I was able to continue working and earning income while enrolled, it was a big time commitment to tack onto regular life.”

But, throughout the course, he developed skills that proved invaluable once he entered the job market. 

“The module wrap-up projects were quite helpful as a practice to become an authority on a data project I owned,” he explained. “I’ve often had to present and explain findings to non-technical stakeholders [in my career], laying out the ‘so what?’ business impact of my analysis. It was also helpful to take a project from raw data to visualized findings – end-to-end projects can be the most rewarding.”

Working In Tech

Zach graduated from Flatiron School in 2020. Since then, he has been enjoying working in Data Science, mentioning that he uses the skills he learned during his bootcamp almost every day.

“[Working as a Data Scientist] absolutely lives up to the dream,” he said. “I am applying the skills I learned in Flatiron on a daily basis. 90%+ of what I do in my everyday job is coding, writing queries, and making data tell a story.”

The data that first piqued his interest and the data he uses now differ greatly in size and scope, a change that ties back to his early fascination with economics. 

“Shifting into tech has afforded me the opportunity to work with truly big data.  Working with data tables that are petabytes in size has been a vastly different experience than my time in non-profits,” he said. “I also now work for a global company instead of focusing on just one city; seeing how global markets impact the data has been a really exciting change.”

Reflecting On His Journey

Looking back at the beginning of his career change, Zach’s main takeaway was the necessity of a growth mindset. 

“The data community appreciates the learning journey. No one will expect you to know everything at once. They just want to see that you are equally passionate about solving the same types of problems they are,” he explained. “Because of that mindset, it is a terrifically collaborative space that allows learning to flourish.”

His advice for current students is to lean into the discomfort of that growth mindset and embrace the process. 

“Try and hold tight to the fact that this is a career change – and careers are measured in years, if not decades. If the first few years start slow, that’s okay; the growth becomes exponential once you have a foothold.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Zach Zazueta?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Zach 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.