Sydnee Sampson-Blackwell was juggling multiple jobs as a Certified Nurse Assistant and a DoorDash delivery driver to make ends meet. But after getting introduced into the tech world via Career Karma, they were able to rediscover their interest in engineering and pave a new career path. Soon enough, their tech dream became a reality after they graduated from Flatiron School.
Now, Sydnee is a thriving Custom Software Engineer for Accenture. They share, “This is the first time that I actually have a job that I love doing. I am motivated to keep going and learn the ropes so I can have my own tech company one day.”
Check out their story.
Please give us a quick overview of your work experience before Flatiron School.
Before I started at Flatiron School, I worked as a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) in several nursing and rehabilitation centers. I collected samples and analyzed data for the different departments of nurses. I also delivered for DoorDash in the Bay Area for up to 14+ hours a day when I wasn’t working in the nursing home.
Why did you pursue a new career or upskill in your field? What inspired you to choose Flatiron School?
I was ready for something new, and I’ve wanted to work in software engineering since I was in high school. I was inspired to go to Flatiron School’s Software Engineering program because they had great career results, the pre-work was easy to follow, and I had a squad of friends who wanted to do the bootcamp with me.
Once I joined Career Karma and started my Young N Ambitious Squad (YNA), we all began Flatiron School’s pre-work together. Through our group study sessions, we were motivated to enroll in Flatiron School together.
What did you like about Flatiron School’s Software Engineering program? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?
I really liked that Flatiron School gave me access to the best career coach, Dyana King, who helped me piece together a plan to build my personal brand and land my first software engineering role. Flatiron School was also very flexible around my working schedule since I was working 50+ hours a week.
How did you fit the program into your schedule?
The part-time program required me to commit 20 to 25 hours per week to coursework and an additional 10 to 15 hours per week to studying. Since I was also working full-time, I had to tailor my working schedule to my school schedule. By the time I started Flatiron School, I was a Career Coach at Career Karma, where I mentored new students to help them get into coding bootcamps. On top of that, I would still deliver for DoorDash whenever free.
Could you share some examples of the projects you completed during the program?
I created a few projects during my program such as a social media app for Black people called “I Love Being Black”. I built this during the rise of Black Lives Matter, and I thought it would be a good place for individuals to come and lift each other up. Users can share positive messages to bring our community together.
I created another project, “A Poet Diary”, for writers and artists to [digitally store] their poems and pieces. All their work could be accessed via their personal account on the Poet Diary website. Users can search and view other people’s work samples as well.
Do you have any advice for someone considering Flatiron School and enrolling in the Software Engineering program?
I advise them to take the program seriously. Join as many study groups, and take as many notes as possible. When building your projects, take your time and complete them as thoroughly as you can. Your projects will be showcased in your final portfolio, which is critical to your job search.
Did the job search post-bootcamp turn out as expected? How did the job search process differ from your expectations?
The job search was super intense as it was during the COVID-19 pandemic. I applied to over 100 roles and got many rejection letters.
How many interviews did you have? How did you choose which company to work for?
I interviewed with about 30 different companies before I landed my first role at Accenture. I chose this company because I felt the job could expose me to different tools, technologies, and other tech companies that I would have never considered working with.
Accenture is a global consulting company that allows me to learn so much. I’m on the front line of innovation as the tech industry migrates and progresses.
How did the program support you in finding a job? Did you find a job after the bootcamp?
Flatiron School gave me a career coach and led me to most of my prospective job leads. I actually landed my role at Accenture through an email lead from the bootcamp’s Careers team.
Have the skills you acquired in the bootcamp been beneficial to your current position, and if so, how?
All the skills I acquired from the bootcamp have been beneficial to my current position, like being able to work and communicate with different teams and stakeholders. I also learned how to build robust Ruby and Rails API applications.
What are the most satisfying aspects of your job? What motivates you to keep doing it?
The most satisfying aspect of my job is getting paid to do what I love. This is the first time that I actually have a job where I am motivated to keep going and learn the ropes because I want to have my own tech company one day.
How does your current company align with your values and goals? Are there any benefits or perks that make working for this company enjoyable?
My current company has many employee resource groups where I can always express myself and be authentic. I also enjoy that I can continue building my personal brand as a consultant.
In what ways has your life changed since attending the bootcamp? Can you describe any notable differences in your life pre- and post-bootcamp?
I went from not having a career or a life plan to finally starting a life where I can find my purpose. Coming from a low-income family and living in poverty my entire life, I never expected to have a career in an industry with uncapped commissions.
I didn’t know where life would take me after enrolling in computer science [in college] as I was not motivated to stick with it. But starting the bootcamp years later motivated me to keep going. They made me feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I felt like I achieved one of the biggest milestones in my life and I would continue my career as far as my bootcamp certificate would take me.
If I aspire to be in your line of work, what would you say are the most crucial skills I should be working on right now?
The most crucial skills you should be working on are data science, Python, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning. AI is taking over and if you get on board now, you will not get left behind!