How This Mom of Two Did A Career-180 To Achieve Her Dream Job

Jennifer Culumber was pretty tech-savvy and knew her way around a computer. She was also a great communicator, having spent over 12 years as a speech language pathologist for Florida’s Orange County School district.

But when she got an itch to change her career, she wasn’t sure what new jobs she could even qualify for.

With her existing skills in mind, Jenn came across information on the UCF Coding Boot Camp and knew this was it. She enrolled in a six-month program right away, eager to enhance her experience by gaining a new skill set.

Committing to change

After a decade of consistency and routine, Jenn was used to her daily life prior to the boot camp.

In contrast, the program was highly intensive, with 10 hours per week of classes—and 20 hours of homework on top of that. “You’re learning a year’s worth of material in 6 months,” Jenn said. “I have two young children, and I couldn’t be with my family on nights or weekends,” she added.

The adjustment wasn’t always easy, and the work was incredibly hard. But Jenn was motivated, knowing the time spent away from her family would get her closer to her career goals.

When new challenges become familiar

From the beginning, Jenn could tell she was in for a new kind of challenge. “I had never coded prior to class, so the whole concept was entirely new to me,” she said.

Jenn and her fellow students were constantly absorbing unfamiliar material, to a point that sometimes felt overwhelming. “During my program, someone made this comparison to me: ‘It’s like trying to drink water from a firehose,’” she recalled.

Learning curves aside, Jenn was able to learn new tools quickly, thanks to the collaborative environment. It provided a familiar home base, reminding her of experiences she has had throughout much of her communication-based career.  

Building and creating

Jenn’s experience included group projects that challenged her to work with others. The teams would build applications using JavaScript and other programming languages.

Over the six months, Jenn worked on two large-scale projects and a final project. One of her favorites was a restaurant-generating app, a team project that helped sharpen her front-end UI/UX design skills—and enabled her to focus on building a clean and crisp user experience.

Jenn’s final project delved into back-end developing, rounding out her new skill set. She and a partner worked closely to build a group scheduling app, with a goal to create software that functioned seamlessly. The finished product was a professional-quality program—something she couldn’t have imagined at the start.

Staying a perpetual student

Jenn took advantage of the career services offered by the UCF Coding Boot Camp. She worked with an advisor to polish her portfolio and build a tech-focused resume. She even received interview help.

The department referred her to an interview with global consulting firm Deloitte—and she wowed the team. Jenn started as a solutions analyst at Deloitte last September. She is constantly taking online classes and brushing up on the languages she already knows (as well as learning new ones), because the coding world never stops.

Her one piece of advice to aspiring coders who may be in her shoes? “Don’t give up. It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of dedication. If coding is something you really want to do, it will be worth it in the end,” she said.

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