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.

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. 

Major League Baseball and Machine Learning | Data Science Student Project

Eric Au, an August 2022 Data Science graduate from Flatiron School, combined his love of sports and machine learning to create his capstone project. 

In his project “Stepping Up To The Plate”, Eric used machine learning to predict MLB player salaries and team wins. Watch his full presentation below:

Stepping up to the Plate – Major League Baseball and Machine Learning by Eric Au

If you’re a sports fan or a fan of the movie Moneyball, you know that an issue teams face is how they spend and allocate money when it comes to building a team.

The core subject in Moneyball was how smaller market teams such as the Oakland Athletics can compete with larger market teams like New York and Boston who can spend much more money. For my capstone project, I wanted to explore that and try to predict the MLB player salary of pitchers and batters using historical baseball data. Secondly, I wanted to better understand what statistics contributed the most to winning when it comes down to predicting team wins.

Data Set

The data set for this project consisted of historical baseball statistics and advanced statistics. 

In 2014 Major League Baseball introduced Stat Cast which allowed teams to collect more baseball data than ever before. This included detailed statistics such as how hard the ball was hit, how many revolutions per minute the ball spun, and many others.

The key takeaway here is that advanced statistics have far more features or variables to work with. 

Taking a look at the data set that I worked with, we see some of the highest-paid players in baseball. This gives you a good perspective of some of the top Echelon of stars in the game as of 2021, as some of the top players are making in the tens of millions of dollars. I considered most of these players as outliers.

However, since 2000 I noticed that the average batter and pitcher make far less than the outlier group. Batters are more recently making about $5 million on average compared to the pitcher making about a million less.

As I mentioned Major League Baseball has incorporated data analytics more. When taking a look at team salaries and wins during the 2021 season we can discern some noticeable observations. We especially see data analytics used heavily for teams like the Tampa Bay Rays who are on the far right with 100 wins and the Milwaukee Brewers directly adjacent to that with 95 wins. 

Ultimately these are two example teams that have a smaller relative payroll than some of the bigger M\market teams like the LA Dodgers or the New York Yankees.

Predictive Results

In terms of results for my predictive model, I achieved a margin of error of under $2 million. For Advanced Data the margin of error was about $2.8 million and $2.4 million for batters and pitchers respectively. The reason for the different margins of error is due to the different sizes of the data sets. When predicting team wins per season this was a fairly simple linear regression model where I was able to achieve a margin of error of one win using Advanced team data. This indicates that there’s a strong relationship between features and wins.

Model Web Application

I also want to show this application that I made. I used streamlit to develop a pair of locally run applications. They take in user input and provide a salary prediction for pitchers and batters. 

For example, this first input is $750,000, which is the average salary difference across a player’s career. This gives you a little of how that was feature engineered. Ultimately, you can shift around some of these values for batters. You can do whatever you want, you can make whatever player you’d like to make for this previous season. Then, hit submit and it gives you a predicted player salary of $3.8 million.

Hopefully, you can afford that if you’re building your team.

Comparing Model To Season Statistics

Another thing I looked at while working on this project was how it compares to this season’s statistics and how much money players this year might be making as of August 24th, which is when I loaded this data set. If you’re familiar with the game of baseball, one player that’s doing exceptionally well this year is Aaron Judge. He plays for the New York Yankees. He’s recently made $90 million this year; my model is predicting he makes $21 million as of August 24th. One could argue that’s still underpaid. But based on the season statistics alone you’ll know if a player is overvalued or undervalued.

Technology Used

In terms of the technologies that I was using, the main language was Python. It Incorporated the scikit-learn library to apply those machine learning techniques for this project. Visualizations were developed using Tableau Software and the web application was deployed through streamlit. All the data was sourced using the pybaseball library and FanGraphs.

Notable Challenges

There were a few notable challenges I encountered when working on this project. One was narrowing down the many features to the most important features that gave me the best predictions. As I discussed, there were many features to work with. But, simpler model models are generally preferred since they are easier to interpret and understand. This is where domain knowledge about baseball especially helped in identifying those important features. Additionally, reducing the margin of error for predictions was especially difficult. This was because there are those Superstar players who are making well above the average salary. There are other factors that are not necessarily explained in baseball statistics alone that can account for a player’s salary such as basic economic demand for a player in a particular off-season.

Want To Try Your Hand At Machine Learning?

Eric Au was a civil engineer that enrolled in Flatiron School’s Data Science course to change careers. He created this project as his capstone project, using all of the skills he’d learned during the program.

Think that sounds interesting? Try your hand at Data Science with our Free Prep Work and start learning how to make a machine learning project just like Eric’s today.

Women In Tech: 4 Grad’s Stories | Women’s History Month

As of 2022, women make up only 28% of the tech industry workforce. For technical roles, that number is even lower. There are simply not enough women in tech. 

That’s why Flatiron School offers the Women Take Tech scholarship to begin closing the opportunity gap for women in tech. With this scholarship, we aim to do our part and start to help make tech equal for all.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, here are the stories of four recent female Flatiron School grads making waves in the tech industry.

Victoria LeBel: Registered Nurse to Software Engineer

Victoria LeBel began her career as a registered nurse. She spent 4 years working on a high-risk labor and delivery unit but felt that she needed to make a change.

“I was missing an element of creativity in my work,” she explained. “[But] I wanted to continue to use my critical thinking and problem-solving skills.”

Combining her acquired skills and her love of continuous learning, she determined that Software Engineering would be a great fit. To make the transition from healthcare to tech though, Victoria knew that she would need to pursue some additional schooling. It was then that she learned about Flatiron School.

Victoria enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time Software Engineering program and graduated in September 2022. After a short job search, she accepted a Software Engineer position at Econify. 

“If you set your mind and efforts toward something you can accomplish anything. So long as you have the focus and determination, you can achieve anything, no matter where you started.”

Read her full career change story.

Jenny Kreiger: Archaeologist To Data Scientist

Jenny Kreiger began her career pursuing a Ph.D. in classical art and archaeology with the hopes of working in higher education or museums. But, as she helped excavate the ruins of Pompeii for the first summer in a row – a dream archaeological opportunity – she knew she was drifting away from studying human behavior. 

“The academic job market is notoriously challenging, so from the start of my doctorate, I was always researching and preparing for alternatives. Data Science was a possibility for me because as an archaeologist I liked using data to learn about human behavior.”

After trying out some online tutorials, she decided to quit her job and enroll in Flatiron School’s Data Science course.

She graduated in early 2020 and had the unfortunate circumstance of job searching during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but ultimately accepted a role as a Data Scientist at Shopify. 

“Lots of organizations need your expertise right now, and you might be able to find a great fit in an unexpected place, so don’t give up–adapt!”

Read her full career change story.

Carla Stickler: From Broadway Star To Software Engineer

Image of Carla Stickler

By the end of 2018, Carla Stickler already had what many would consider to be a dream career. She’d found success in the arts – a difficult feat no matter the medium – and performed on Broadway stages in world-famous musicals such as Wicked, Mamma Mia!, and The Sound of Music.

But, Carla recalls knowing that she needed to make a change for a while, saying that the continuous grind and needed to reach that level of success had begun wearing on her.

Finally, a chance encounter at her 35th birthday party spurred her to act.

“A friend showed up to my party and announced, ‘I’m a software engineer now and I just got a great job making more money than I’ve ever made with health insurance and a 401k!’ I was confused, since last I checked, he was a composer writing musicals,” she mused. “I held him captive for the next 30 minutes asking him how he did it and what exactly software engineering was. He told me he went to the Flatiron School and learned to code.”

Carla graduated from Flatiron School’s Software Engineering program in the Fall of 2019 and accepted a position as a Junior Software Engineer at G2.

“I cannot begin to tell you the number of things I’ve learned in the past year and the amount of confidence I’ve gained as a developer. I love my job and couldn’t be more grateful for the life that attending Flatiron and learning to code has provided for me.”

Read her full career change story.

Wendolyne Barrios: Food Industry to Freelance Designer

Image of Wendolyne Barrios

Wendolyne Barrios spent the first 10 years of her career in the food service industry. She began helping in her family’s business, then pursued her own career in the field. But a decade in, Wendolyne knew she needed a change.

“Working in the food service industry is tough on the mind and body,” she said. “The field took more from me than I got back, so I knew I had to make a change if I wanted to live a healthy, enjoyable, and sustainable life.”

Fueled on by a lifelong love of the arts and her desire to live the life she’d imagined, Wendolyne applied and was accepted to Flatiron School’s accelerated 15-week UX / UI Product Design program.

Wendolyne graduated from Flatiron School in August of 2022 and began a career as a freelance product designer. In January 2023, she founded, which specializes in brand design, web design, and mobile app design.

“I pushed myself harder than I thought I could. I pushed myself mentally and emotionally to come out of the other side of it and feel like I was finally going somewhere. It was worth it, for me to feel the way I do now.”

Read her full career change story.

Women Take Tech Scholarship

Studies show that companies with a diverse workforce are more innovative, creative, and productive, and earn more revenue. 

But, with 39% of women in tech saying that they see gender bias as an obstacle to getting a promotion, it is not enough to simply hire more women. There needs to be an industry-wide shift towards working environments that embrace and promote diversity. That starts with creating more opportunities for women. 

Flatiron School’s Women Take Tech scholarship does just that, granting up to $1,000 to eligible female students to get started toward a career in tech.

See if you qualify. 

Doug Lu: Keep Your Job Search Options Open

This article about Flatiron School graduate Doug Lu is part of the Coaching Collective series. The series features tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School. 

Doug Lu, a September 2021 Data Science graduate from Flatiron School, began his job search with the goal of working at one specific company. But, over the course of his search, he found out why it’s important to always keep your options open. 

Single-Minded Focus Leads To A Stalled Job Search

Doug Lu began his career working in finance and wealth management. 

When he enrolled in Flatiron School’s Data Science program, he knew he could succeed with the technical skills he already had in Python, SQL, and Visualizations. And, upon his graduation 15 weeks later, Doug was confident that he would land a good job at the company of his choice. 

When Doug graduated, he had one particular company that he wanted to work at in the Financial Tech (FinTech) industry. He constantly checked the company’s web page for open roles and applied to very few openings at different companies. 

In an attempt to appeal as a strong candidate, he meticulously spent a lot of time reading the company’s blog to try to come up with a perfect project to showcase to the company. Fast forward a few months after graduation, and Doug had not had any interviews yet and despite many great project ideas, he had executed on putting together a demo to showcase.

After months of not making any progress and feeling like he would never land a position at the company of his dreams, Doug hit a low point in his search. 

Learning To Keep His Options Open

Frustrated after months of single-minded persistence, Doug needed a mindset shift. We evaluated his job search thus far and recommended that he consider other companies in the FinTech industry, not just his dream company.

With a reframed mindset and renewed motivation, Doug shifted to focus on the type of role he wanted to obtain, not just the company. He started networking with professionals already working in the industry, sharing that chatting with other Data Analyst and Data Science professionals informed what it was like to work in the industry, helped him to optimize his search better, and increased his chances of landing an interview and passing the technical round. 

“You can leverage past experience, know the role you want and chase down the role you want.”

Doug also shared that when he came out of the bootcamp he felt overwhelmed, thinking he had to try to show off his technical skills. It was only when he started networking  with other Data Scientists that he realized “the problems that start-ups and tech companies aim to solve revolve around creating structured insights to solve actual business problems, versus just showing technical expertise.”

Networking with various tech professionals ended up being key to Doug landing a job in the industry as each conversation helped him understand the fundamental challenges that FinTechs faced, with each conversation compounding his knowledge. 

While attending a FinTech virtual conference, he speed networked and met FinTech professionals. Finally, after 5 months of searching, and within 10 days after the FinTech conference, Doug obtained two offers and stood out from other candidates by having a deep understanding of how he could provide value to immediately solve business problems, which he learned from all the conversations he’s had with many FinTech professionals.

Reflecting On His Job Search Experience

Doug Lu ultimately accepted a role as Data Analyst at Self Financial. Looking back, he stressed the importance of networking with a purpose. 

“Time chatting with people uses up a lot of energy,” he explained. “It’s an investment of your time and at the end of the day, it only works when you have a good [process] as not every conversation will be helpful.” 

His advice for other job seekers is the lesson he had to learn for himself.

“Don’t be so tied to one company. A lot of factors are out of your hands, so it’s better to focus on competitors and not put all your eggs in one basket. The dream company may come later after you have some experience in the industry.”

About Laura Nicolaisen

Laura Nicolaisen is a Career Coach with Flatiron School. She has 15-plus years of experience as a career coach collaborating with recent graduates, professionals, and executives.  In addition, Laura has over 15 years of experience working in the university and bootcamp setting, in such areas as admissions, student advising, coaching, and as an executive team member.

Black History Month | POC in Tech: Five Graduate’s Stories

For people of color, a tech career can often feel out of reach. A lack of representation can make them feel like there is no place for them in the industry. 

The five POC graduates from Flation School featured in this blog prove that this is not the case. Their stories are those of determination and resilience, of overcoming naysayers and self-doubts to go after the life they wanted. 

Their stories prove that POC belong in tech. 

Micah and Colin: Oil Fields To Software Engineers

Twin brothers Colin Mosley and Micah Mosley began their careers as Petroleum Engineers. Citing long working hours and a bad cultural fit, they knew they needed to make a change.

When they were laid off like many others at the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Micah and Colin decided to transition into tech. After weighing their education options – self-taught, university, or bootcamp – they committed to Flatiron School to accelerate their path into the industry. 

“Flatiron School does a good job of giving you a cohort and resources that make it easy for you to learn as much as you are willing to learn, and there is plenty to learn if [you are] willing to put in the time.”

After graduating from Flatiron School’s Software Engineering program, Micah and Colin landed twin Software Engineering roles at CitiBank.

Read about their journey into tech here: Micah and Colin Mosley.

Chuck Pryor, Jr.: Acting To Data Scientist

Chuck Pryor, Jr. had a long and varied career before joining Flatiron School. He’d been an actor, teacher, writer, mid-level manager, outreach counselor, landlord, and a full-time caregiver for his ill parents. After all of his previous experiences and career paths, he felt a pull toward tech.

While evaluating his options to break into the tech industry, he ultimately selected Flatiron School’s Data Science program. He cites the program’s reputation, cost-effectiveness when compared to a traditional university, and Flatiron School’s career services that work with learners to get their first job post-graduation. 

“Had I tried to do this program on my own time without the structure of an on-campus program, I would have failed miserably and not completed the program. Every project applied what I learned to real-world problems that ended up impressing my interviewers.”

Chuck credits his previous careers for building the networking skills that ultimately landed him his first job in tech as a Data Engineer. His advice for others considering a career in tech are simple and concise – Go For It! 

Read about his journey into tech here: Chuck Pryor, Jr

Deka Ambia: TSA Agent to Software Engineer

Over the summer of 5th grade, a young Deka Ambia fell in love with coding. But after being told not to pursue it, years later she was working as a TSA Agent. It was during a government shutdown that Deka used the limbo state to pick up coding again and pursue her original dream of working in tech.

Deka attended Flatiron School’s Software Engineering course and graduated in 15 weeks while working full-time. She distills her determination in building a new life for herself into a single word: freedom. 

“The freedom to be able to work wherever I want, whether that is at an office, at home, or on the beach somewhere. The freedom to look however I want. The freedom that a skillset can be used in almost any industry is filled with endless opportunity.”

After graduating from Flatiron School, Deka landed a Software Engineer position at PopMenu. As for her advice for others beginning the program, her advice is to “take it extremely seriously,” because “it has a real possibility of changing [your] life and mindset forever.”

Read about her journey into tech here: Deka Ambia

Fredrick Williams: Sales To UX / UI Product Design

Frederick Williams spent more than 20 years in sales and marketing before deciding that he needed to make a change. He’d worked with Product Designers over his career and was interested in the research aspect of the role, but worried that he’d “aged out” of tech at 40 years old.

Despite his doubts, he enrolled in a Flatiron School course for UX/UI design. While he entered the program with an open mind and a strong desire to learn, Williams found that his background and personality made UX design a surprisingly good fit.

“I fell in love with UX and I found that UX is for everyone, no matter their age, and the community is incredibly supportive.”

After graduating from Flatiron School, Frederick noted that his job search was a smooth process, with hiring managers immediately interested in him. He ultimately accepted a position as a Senior Analyst US Designer at Avanade. 

As for advice for those considering a career transition, Williams was quick to point to the power of perspective.

“It’s not an age thing, it’s a mindset thing,” he said. “If you can dream it, you can make it happen. You have to put it out there, you can’t operate out of fear. I’m black, I’m queer, and I got a job in tech at 43.”

Read about his journey into tech here: Frederick Williams.

Cybersecurity Guest Experts

Flatiron School regularly invites guest experts so that students can hear about their field experiences and learn from industry leaders. 

Here are some examples of Cybersecurity guest experts that visited recent cohorts:

Jessica Robinson, Founder & CEO at PurePoint International

Jessica Robinson is the Founder and Executive Officer of PurePoint International, a cybersecurity firm.

Headquartered in New York City, PurePoint helps CEOs prevent data breaches by bridging the gap between data security, cyber risk, and privacy. The company provides training and outsourced Principal Information Security Officer (PISO) consulting services, and cyber technology solutions, and conducts risk assessments and employee training on cyber and physical security, privacy, information protection, and threat prevention.

She is also the Head Visionary of the brand Consciously Secure Living (CSL), a subsidiary of PurePoint aimed at supporting leaders and helping create security for vulnerable and underrepresented populations, including people of color, women, and Black communities.

Phillip Wylie, Senior Penetration Tester at US Bank

Phillip Wylie is a published author, keynote speaker, and an “offensive security professional” with over 25 years of information technology and cybersecurity experience. 

He is currently a Hacker In Residence at CyCognito, a Member of the Board of Advisors for WEBGAP, and The Hacker Factory Podcast Host at ITSP Magazine.

His specialties include penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, application security, threat, and vulnerability management. 

Seema Kathuria, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Duo Security

Seema Kathuria, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Duo Security, has been marketing IT Cybersecurity, Identity and Access Management, and Compliance solutions for 15+ years. 

Her work entails partnering “with Product Management, Go-To-Market, Business Development, Sales, and Customer Success teams to bring solutions to market” and understanding customers’ business objectives and security challenges. 

Seema regularly takes courses to refresh her marketing and cybersecurity knowledge and has five cybersecurity and computer science-related degrees, including a Certificate from Harvard University. 

Ruchira Pokhriyal, Security Specialist at Amazon Web Services

Ruchira Pokhriyal is a Security Specialist at Amazon Web Services, focusing on threat detection and incident response. She also serves as an Advisory Board Member for BBWIC Foundation and Community Speaker for the Virtually Testing Foundation. 

She has two master’s degrees, one in Cybersecurity and one in Computer science, and is an AccessData Certified Forensic Examiner (ACE V6) and a certified AWS Solutions Architect. 

Ruchira advocates for Diversity and Inclusion-specifically, LGBTQ+ visibility, Gender Parity, Neurodiversity & Women of Color in STEM.

Learn From The Best

If you want a career in Cybersecurity just like these guest experts, consider an accelerated Cybersecurity program to get your career started. 

Flatiron School programs are taught by industry professionals with hands-on experience in the topics that they teach, so Cybersecurity learners develop real-world, in-demand skill sets that set them up for success.

Don’t wait to change your life – Apply Now

Oscar Oré: From Sales Rep To Solutions Engineer

Oscar Oré, a Software Engineering Flatiron School graduate, started his career as a sales rep. After working in several different industries, a job at an IT firm sent him on a new path in life.

He shares his journey from sales rep to solutions engineer below. 

What is your background and why did you choose to attend Flatiron?

Before I attended Flatiron, I was a Sales rep. I was involved in many industries from manufacturing to tech, but I always had an interest in tech.

When I was working for an IT reseller it really sparked my curiosity to learn how to code. 

I did a ton of research before I joined Flatiron. After a ton of positive reviews and outcomes, I decided to enroll in the program and try to land a programming role in Tech!

How does the reality of working as a software engineer contrast to what you thought it would be like?

It has been a dream come true! 

One thing that has really stood out to me is how the soft skills that I have learned in my previous career have helped me in my current role. Communication is key when you are working on a team.

Have you worked on any cool projects?

Since my time at Rocket Software, I have been assigned to two ongoing projects for one of our clients involving their mainframes and process automation. 

The experience has been great and I have gained a ton of knowledge from these projects! 

Walk me through a “day in the life” of your job.

I typically start my day by completing customer requirements to build process automation requests. These process automation requests or “robots” navigate through the mainframe and complete a task based on the customer’s needs. 

Besides coding, I am also in meetings with analysts to discuss the upcoming processes, deadlines that need to happen, and what projects will be deployed for the week.

What do you wish you’d known before getting started in your field post-Flatiron School?

Remain curious about your new role! You can always learn new technical skills. Embrace the challenge! 

Any advice for current students?

Network as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Believe in yourself and remember to keep learning. Reach out to Flatiron Alumni to see how they are liking their role, and how they approached their job hunt.

Inspired by Oscar Oré’s story?

Ready to take charge of your future? Apply Now to join other career changers like Oscar Oré 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 in a new and fulfilling career.

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

Authenticity In The Job Search

This article on authenticity is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School. 

Before working in the tech sector, I spent over a decade helping high school students who were not interested in and/or able to attend college to enter the workforce. 

These job seekers often had the following in common: 

1) They were between 18 and 25 years old

2) They did not have a college degree or a postsecondary/professional credential

3) Their work experience often came from low-skilled, low-paying jobs

4) They were predominantly men and women of color

For many of these students, job searching was an uphill battle. Authenticity played a big role, in the struggle to craft resumes and cover letters that truly articulated their experiences and preparedness for jobs they applied for, along with a lack of confidence throughout the interview process. 

Now, as a Career Coach at Flatiron School, I guide recent graduates through the job search process. Though the struggle for authenticity is less critical for my current students – race still plays an important role when breaking into the tech industry, an industry that employs notably fewer people of color

For this reason, I find it necessary to highlight race in this blog to help job seekers forge strong authentic relationships that set them up for success during and after the job search. 

Why Authenticity Can Be A Struggle

Job seekers of color struggle with being authentic through the job search, more so than their white peers. 

This is different from imposter syndrome, which many tech bootcamps grads struggle with, regardless of race, gender, or professional experience. This is about job seekers feeling they don’t belong because of a lack of representation, resulting in them altering their behavior to fit the white male dominant culture of the field. 

Being authentic is not only important in preparing cover letters and resumes but throughout the interview process when employers are assessing for “fit”, which is more about the person’s soft skills, including their ability to develop strong relationships while on the job, according to Harver, a hiring solution for tech talent. 

This results in prolonged job searchers, full of anxiety and lack of self-confidence. Hence, the importance of helping job seekers of color bring their whole selves to the job search, and below are some tips for job seekers to bring their authentic selves to the process. 

Tips for Bringing Your Authentic Self To The Job Search

Bring ALL of yourself to the interview.

Do not be afraid to speak about the experiences, personal and professional, that make you who you are, if they’re relevant to the job search. 

This is especially important when they ask you “tell me about yourself” in the job interview. 

For instance, perhaps you’re interviewing during the Holidays, and to try to build rapport, the employer asks for your Holiday plans. You may want to talk about foods that are unique to your family and/or culture; or perhaps you may want to share the tradition of celebrating the Three Kings Day in your family, using this as an opportunity to show off your story-telling skills. 

Being authentic in the interview will help you relax, giving you a platform to highlight your unique talents and experiences, and set yourself apart from the rest of the candidates. 

Practice and develop self-awareness.

Being authentic as a person of color does not mean you have to overshare or serve as a token of your ethnic or cultural background. You alone know best what to share or not, and how to best carry yourself, as there is not a “right” way to be authentic. 

However, it’s to your benefit to be approachable, demonstrate vulnerability, and be able to connect with others at a very basic human level. And, a great way to find that balance is by practicing self-awareness, which is described as the habit of paying close attention to the way you think, feel and behave in certain situations

Increasing your self-awareness will make you less self-conscious about how others perceive you, and help you carry yourself more authentically. 

Do not code-switch.

I know! You may have learned that you need to speak or behave “white” in certain situations, which is different from speaking or behaving professionally. 

Adaptability and professionalism are important soft skills, and you can lean on these, and your emotional intelligence when you’re not sure how to behave or speak in certain situations. But, do take and display pride in the things that are unique and important to you, i.e., the way you do your hair, the things you do with your family and friends, where you were born or grew up, etc. 

Those are things that make you special. After all, you are a multi-dimensional individual with many interests and experiences. 

Build your brand around your authentic inner voice.

Consistency yields results, and it’s really difficult to be consistent across the job search – in your cover letters and resumes, in your elevator pitch when networking, during interviews – if you’re not being authentic.

Recognize that the job search is time for rediscovery and transformation.

You must rely on what you know well about yourself – your values, your personal story, your background – to help you craft a strong brand identity that highlights what’s unique about you and helps you get the job you want.

Ask your coach for help

While a good coach will develop a safe space for you to be yourself, feel free to ask your coach for guidance if you’re not sure how to behave in certain situations. 

For instance, perhaps you’d like to mention your passion for Black Lives Matter in your elevator pitch because it’s relevant to the role you’re applying to but you think it’s a sensitive topic. Not only should you ask your coach, but also take and practice using their feedback during your coaching sessions. 

Your coaching sessions are the ideal place to bring your whole self and practice authenticity and ask for help when you need it.

Remember – Bring Your True Self With You

Authenticity helps job seekers find purpose and clarity in their job search, keeping them motivated and present, and helping them accomplish their short and long-term goals. 

For people of color, however, this is not an easy task given the lack of representation of people of color and the white dominant culture in the tech industry. 

In addition to serving as a resource for job seekers, I hope this blog sparks conversations about creating safe coaching spaces and relationships for job seekers of color to bring their whole selves into the job search, shortening the time they spend in this process, overall, helping them land higher-paying, more satisfying jobs. 

About Junior Manon

Junior Manon is a College Access and Success and Career Development professional with over fifteen years of experience. He currently works as an independent consultant and career coach, helping organizations develop opportunities and support for people of color to break into, and succeed, in tech industries.