Written by Jocelyn Caster on 20th January 2017, 12:03 PM
Jocelyn: Hi Sara! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. I see you have an extensive background in PR and marketing. What made you decide to make a career change? Why coding?
Sara: It wasn’t exactly a career change; it was a career upgrade.
I led the digital marketing department at an agency in Colombia for several years. This position got me very interested in Product Management and web analytics. For some time, I had been reading about Growth Hacking, which is a hybrid role between marketing, product, data science, and web development. Their mission is to grow user bases by hacking the product with code and data. Growth Hackers are widely known in Silicon Valley. It is an up and coming role in tech companies; Uber, Dropbox, Facebook, and others have achieved exponential growth by employing product hacks.
After obsessively reading all sorts of blogs and publications about it I started to learn my firsts lines of code using Codecademy and FreeCodeCamp and slowly started implementing growth hacking techniques in my digital marketing role. Due to limited online resources, I knew I had to take that next step and learn how to code in the quickest way possible.
Jocelyn: Being from Colombia, what brought you to Miami? Why is Miami a place you chose to build your life and career, especially as a woman in tech?
Sara: In 2015, my husband and I relocated to Miami. Almost immediately after we made the decision to move I started looking for an immersive coding school.
Miami is the U.S. capital city of Latin America and I knew that my experience and language skills were pluses that would help me land a good role. Miami is also home to several exciting tech companies, big and small, that were looking for growth hackers. I made sure to look at indeed.com to see if there was a market for my desired job, and to my surprise there were many opportunities.
But it wasn’t until I had an admission interview with Johanna [Mikkola], a Wyncode co-founder, that I knew it was the perfect place for me. She was very passionate about her mission of teaching code and gave very positive reviews of the tech scene in the city. She also gave me great insight about the women in tech movement and what it would take for me to achieve the best results in the program.
Jocelyn: What was your favorite part of Wyncode? What was the hardest?
Sara: My favorite part of Wyncode was the support I got. Not only did we have an amazing genius as our lead teacher [Ed Toro], but Wyncode made sure we had available at least two teaching assistants, senior developers, and Wyncode alumni at all times, including weekends. Another great addition is the friendships you make. We spent 15 to 18 hours per day together and we all supported each other. To this day, I still keep in contact with many of the friends I made during the program. Lastly, I mastered how to properly learn and this is something I apply every day. Learning how to code helps you become more logical and approach problems differently. This is one of the many invaluable skills you acquire by attending Wyncode.
“Due to limited online resources, I knew I had to take that next step and learn how to code in the quickest way possible.”
Jocelyn: How have you grown as a developer since graduating from Wyncode?
Sara: I was lucky enough to be hired by a startup the day after Pitch Day as a growth hacker. My background in digital marketing and my new skills as a web developer were very desirable for companies and got me quite a lot of interviews.
This year I learned some Python and SQL to further my skills as a Growth Hacker and automate my job using scripts and bots. As I mentioned before, one of the best things about Wyncode was learning how to learn and it wasn’t very difficult to pick up new languages. Currently I work as a Growth Hacker at Skyscanner.com, one of the biggest travel meta searchers in the world. I love what I do!
“I would say that coding can open many doors. You don’t necessarily need to be a web developer, you can become a product manager, growth hacker or UX designer.”
Jocelyn: What advice would you give to those thinking about going to a coding boot camp? How about to those who have just completed a coding boot camp?
Sara: I would say that coding can open many doors. You don’t necessarily need to be a web developer, you can become a product manager, growth hacker or UX designer. There are many job openings in these areas, and you’ll get ahead just by knowing how to code.
My other advice is to just do it. I had a background in journalism and hated math. Although I was always enticed by computers and technology I never considered to be a web developer because I thought I wasn’t good at it. Now I work with data and logic for a living. You’ll be amazed at what you can do.
Lastly, if you are a woman, please learn how to code! In my cohort, we were only 3 girls of 30 and we did even better than the guys. Women need to be a part of the tech scene.
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Want to see more student bios? Check out the story of a hustler who willed herself into being one of the first hired Wyncoders out of her class.