Woodinville resident Christina McCormick had been tempted to shift her career trajectory toward the fast-growing tech sector for years. But as a single mother with degrees in Russian and literature, she felt like her options in the industry were limited to non-existent.
“I just didn’t think it was the kind of thing I could succeed at,” McCormick said.
But after working for nearly eight years for Amazon as an executive assistant, she decided to utilize the company’s Technical Academy “upskilling program” to study to be a software engineer.
McCormick completed the nine-month program at the end of May and is now working as an entry level software engineer.
The 43-year-old said it’s sometimes still hard to believe. She had never seen herself entering the computer coding sphere before.
“It makes me sad to think about that now,” she said. “… For whatever reason when I got to college, I just didn’t see myself as quote-unquote 'smart enough.' I just didn’t think it was the kind of thing I could succeed at.”
Through the program, she was able to leave her responsibilities of her previous position while maintaining status as a company employee. She worked full-time on her classes and was part of the first class of students to do so fully remotely.
McCormick juggled helping her 9-year-old son, who was also at home doing remote learning.
Despite the challenges, she said, she found out that she liked coding right away. She also soon learned that the job wasn’t exactly what she expected, and it didn’t necessarily require an extensive background in science and math.
“I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what it takes to be a software engineer,” she said. “… I certainly had them.”
She found that her most valuable asset was a desire to continually learn. She hopes that the program – which allows people like her, who wouldn’t normally be able to enter the field – will allow for greater diversity in the industry.
During her approximately eight years as an executive assistant at the company, she said, she’d reached the end of advancement options.
“I have so many choices now,” McCormick said. “I didn’t really have that many before, and frankly, the ones I did, I wasn’t really that interested in. With this one, the sky’s the limit.”