Working as a program manager for an energy conservation company in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Natalie Dinkins suddenly found herself placed in an incredibly unfortunate situation — being laid off, with no warning or indication that it might be coming. Rather than letting this be the end of her career, or seeing it as a pause in the middle of her path as a program manager, however, she began a whole new journey.
Natalie didn’t allow the layoff to keep her held back. Instead, she turned it into an opportunity to change course and learn the skills for a totally new career.
“After I got laid off in March of 2018, it was devastating because I didn’t see it coming at all … And I was also in the process of buying a home when I got laid off … That Friday I was supposed to close on my home, and I think I got laid off that Tuesday or Wednesday, so it was really devastating. Fortunately, I was able to take some time to consider what I wanted to do next. Because I had a two-income household, I was able to take some time, but it was still stressful. Going from two incomes to one is not easy. So I was considering my next move and thought, ‘I really don’t want to ever be put in this position again, where I could be laid off from a job and not know what I’m going to do next.’ I wanted to take time to really consider it.”
It was during this period that she learned about Wyncode.
“As I was researching different career paths, my husband actually brought Wyncode to my attention, and he said ‘you know, I think this is something that you would be good at.’ I’ve always wanted a career in technology, but I was falsely under the belief that you had to have a computer engineering degree, or you had to have this mathematical background, to do something in technology. When he brought Wyncode to my attention, I was like ‘oh, this is an opportunity for me to get my foot in the door somewhere.’”
How to pay for it, though, was another question. And this is where Climb came in.
“When I found out how much it would cost, I kind of got disappointed because I didn’t have that much money to just shell out to do this. But Wyncode told me about Climb, and that’s when I decided to apply. When I applied, being that I was unemployed for such a long time, some of my bills had gotten behind, so I didn’t get approved the first time around on my own. But what I did like was — a lot of lenders, when you apply somewhere, they’ll just say whether they approve or deny you — and in this case with Climb, they offered an alternative for me to apply with a co-borrower.
“I appreciated that because I knew it wasn’t the end of the road just because I got a denial on my own … I appreciated the fact that another option was presented to me, so I was able to go to my mom and say “hey, this is what I want to do, this is my plan for this,” and I could present it to her in a way that she could make an educated decision on whether or not she wanted to co-sign. I had that conversation with her, and she was 100% supportive … I was able to get the loan, and from there it was pretty seamless. So I would say it was one of the least stressful times I’ve had applying for credit.”
Now she was able to learn the skills necessary for a career in tech — and in far more ways than just “how to code.”
“I would say [one of the most valuable skills I learned was] working on a development team. I had experience working in project management roles, but at Wyncode, everything we approached in the work that we did there was from a development team standpoint. So I was able to build on my project management skills, but also know how it feels to work with developers, which is what I do now. That was the most important thing in hindsight that I learned — how to work with developers, how to manage a development team…
“When I went I was like ‘yeah, I’m going to learn how to code,’ and I thought that was it. I’m going to be a developer, be an engineer, but I didn’t take that route. I didn’t know that there were other options besides being a developer when I decided to take this step, and completing the program opened my mind up to ‘hey, there are other career paths you can take here.’ That made me feel even better about the investment that I made because now I know I’m not limited to one thing I can do. I can do so many different things in this industry.”
Even more important, though? What her time at Wyncode showed Natalie about herself, what she’s capable of, and the support she has from the people in her life.
“I would say that this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, to complete the Wyncode program. I’m married and I have a son, so I had responsibilities with my family life and my son’s school. I was really pushed to my limits in every area of my life at one time because of my decision to complete this program, so what stood out to me is that I came out of it knowing two things:
“That I can really do anything I put my mind to. It was so hard, and there were times I wanted to quit. I honestly considered quitting, or I asked myself, ‘why am I doing this to myself?’ It was so hard, but I learned that I can do anything that I put my mind to. The second thing I learned is that I have a really great support system, because I didn’t do it alone. My mom helped me with a lot of things — she helped make dinner for my family because I would have to work late, my brother’s girlfriend would walk my dog for me, little things you don’t think of that you need help with to be able to commit yourself to something like this. So those are the two things that I learned about myself through this whole process: that I can do anything I put my mind to, and that I have a really great support system which allows me to be able to do anything I put my mind to.”
With the program completed, and equipped with everything she’s learned, it now was time to start her career in tech.
“A couple months after I graduated, Wyncode had the opportunity to do an all-women bootcamp called CareerSource — they got funding to be able to create this bootcamp that would teach women from underserved areas to learn how to code. So they asked me to manage that program, and I was very happy to do it because I know how it feels to be a woman trying to break into a male-dominated industry. Then you have family, you have other responsibilities that you have to consider, so I was like definitely, I want to do that. I did that for about three months, and after that I went back to Wyncode through their Wyntalent program, where they help you get placed at jobs. I was able to find a job right after that program, so I worked there for a year … as I was coming up on my year there I said ‘you know, I really want to take the next step,’ because I made a promise to myself that I’ll never get complacent and always be striving to make myself better, to contribute more, to do more.”
Because Wyncode remains a resource for their students even well after they leave the program, Natalie was able to reach back out for resources as she advanced in her career.
“[I] told them I was back in the market and what I was interested in, and they helped me land my current job at EveryMundo, which is a fair marketing airline technology company. Now I’m doing project management there. So for me, the job search process has been a lot easier than what I’ve experienced in the past, before i went to Wyncode. They’ve helped me a whole lot, and I give them a lot of credit because the job hunting thing can be so stressful, and I feel like they helped me a lot through two jobs now … It’s like having a network at your fingertips.”
These days, Natalie not only feels secure in her career, but she also feels a passion for it.
“The most important thing is I enjoy it. My previous job before Wyncode, it was okay, but it was just a job. And this one, I actually enjoy coming to work. I enjoy the challenge that it poses. I feel like I’m in the right place, and I also feel like the things I’m learning here will serve me well in the future. I don’t have that fear of, god forbid I get laid off or I lose my job, that I won’t be able to translate somewhere else. So I feel blessed to be able to work at a place where I’m gaining skills every day that give me a sense of security, in the way of knowing the skills that I’m building are useful to a lot of different companies, a lot of different roles.”
Now, looking back at her time before and during Wyncode, there are only two pieces of advice she would give her former self.
“I would definitely tell myself to do it sooner, and I would tell myself to just enjoy it. I think I was so stressed about doing well and completing it because I had a lot riding on it, you know? I would tell myself that it’s going to be okay, you can enjoy it — it’s still going to be hard, but just enjoy it in the process as well. Everything is going to work out. When I first came across the program and once I met with the admissions staff, I was like ‘yes, so this is definitely what I want to do.’ And then I came across the hurdle of paying for it, and I was stressed out about that. But that worked out, and then while completing the course I had all these moments of anxiety where I would just tell myself ‘hey, it’s gonna work out, you’re gonna be good, just enjoy it.’”
Natalie is a client of Climb’s. However, she was not paid or otherwise compensated for this testimonial. This testimonial reflects the real-life experiences and opinions of Natalie; however, it should not be assumed that all users will have the same experiences. Individual results may vary.
The quoted statements appear verbatim as given by the user, except for the correction of grammar and typing errors. Some testimonials may have been shortened or rearranged for the sake of clarity.