From School Teacher to Disney Developer: Marie Nabors Finds Her Dream Career Path

Marie Nabors loved teaching at her two daughters’ private school. But after the bills were paid each month, there wasn’t much money left over. And things like vacations or new cars were out of the question. Even making ends meet was questionable at times.

“The financial struggle was taking a toll on my family. We just weren’t happy, and I didn’t want to live my whole life that way. I wanted to make sure we could buy a house someday. I was ready to make some of our life goals happen,” said Marie.

She had always loved using technology in the classroom. And at a recent education conference, a workshop on teaching kids the fundamentals of computer science sparked her interest in coding and web development. When a Facebook ad for the University of Central Florida Coding Boot Camp caught Marie’s eye, she applied.

A few months later, she was in.

Juggling it all—and asking for help

Once she was enrolled in boot camp, however, the pace of the course was more challenging than Marie had bargained for. Between teaching, caring for her kids, attending evening and weekend classes, and completing weekly homework assignments, keeping up with the material wasn’t easy. But she didn’t give up.

“A big part of coding is figuring out how to do something by yourself when you don’t really know how to do it,” Marie said. “That’s a huge skill to have, and the boot camp did a really good job of preparing me for that in the workplace.”

And she didn’t have to acquire that skill alone. The instructor and TAs were always available to point Marie in the right direction when she felt overwhelmed—and the boot camp tutoring sessions proved to be priceless. “I got to a point in the class where I was really struggling. Things started piling on so fast, and the class had gone so far ahead of where I was, that I was really lost,” she said.

She reached out to Ricky, the boot camp’s Student Success Manager, who offered extra support to help her catch up. “That was a really nice thing that they did for me,” said Marie. “And it really helped.”

The teacher learns some important lessons

Besides HTML and CSS, one of the biggest lessons Marie learned from boot camp was not to procrastinate. “I thought things would take less time than they actually did,” she said. “On every project, things didn’t go the way I planned. In web development, anything can throw something off. Things come up, and you don’t want that to happen the day of your deadline.”

The boot camp taught her to start on things right away and not put them off. “Once you get into a project, things usually start coming together pretty quickly, but getting the ball rolling can be hard. It can take a while to get things started,” Marie explained.

Another thing boot camp taught Marie was how to be patient with herself. “It’s really important to give yourself grace,” she said. “I always want things to be perfect, and I can get frustrated and down on myself if I’m struggling to learn something. I think a lot of women are that way. We tend to be hard on ourselves.”

She learned that when she gets overwhelmed, taking a step back is often the best way forward. Whether it’s going for a walk, talking to a friend, or just stopping to relax for a few minutes, taking a break is like pushing the reset button on your brain—letting you come back to your task with renewed energy and a new perspective.

Disney comes calling, and a dream is fulfilled

After successfully graduating from boot camp, Marie took on her job search as if it were a full-time job in itself. She started attending meet-ups for Orlando developers, redid her online portfolio, and made a brand-new LinkedIn profile. “I made my online presence very strong,” she said.

Living in Orlando, Marie had always wanted to work for Disney. “I have kids, and they thought that would be really cool,” she said. So she searched LinkedIn for current Disney employees in the tech sector, in hopes of making a connection.

Within days, her strategy worked. A manager at Disney reached out to her, and she landed a job there without even having to apply. “One thing led to another, and I got hired. The job was never even posted online,” she said.

Now working full-time as a UI Software Engineer at Disney Resort Technology, Marie is able to pay the bills and have money left over—enough that she’s bought a new car, and is about to go on vacation with her family for the first time ever.

A call for more women in coding

Marie encourages more women to pursue careers in coding. “I work with very few women. It’s not very balanced. We need more women in the field,” she said. But she’s optimistic that there’s space for women in the industry. When she came into boot camp, she didn’t even know what an HTML page was. “If someone like me who knew nothing can do it, anyone can do it,” Marie said.

For anyone who might be on the fence about whether boot camp is right for them, Marie offered this advice: “Don’t overthink it—just do it.” And if a student gets overwhelmed, as she did? “Just keep at it,” Marie said. “You will get lost. It’s going to be hard. But it’s a really awesome community. They’ll help you with whatever you need help with.”

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