Meet Samantha, Digital Marketer Turned Developer

Sam doing yoga pose while working on laptop

 Sam Mazzola with laptop covered in stickersCurrently at United Shore as a Software Developer I, Samantha Mazzola enrolled in Grand Circus after working in the marketing field. Samantha has a bright and infectious warm personality, which made her stand out at Grand Circus, even earning her the DEVELOP(her) scholarship. Samantha encountered and overcame many obstacles during bootcamp, through her perseverance and willingness to learn. Samantha is passionate, focused, warm and a pleasure to have in the GC community. We’re excited to share her story with you! 

Meet Samantha, Digital Marketer Turned Developer

What were you doing before your Grand Circus Bootcamp?

Prior to my GC bootcamp, I was working as a Senior Digital Marketer focusing on paid social campaigns for automotive OEMs. I graduated from MSU with a Advertising degree, and explored different facets of my degree in employment. But regardless of company, client or role, I was unfulfilled and so unhappy. I regretted my major, feeling stuck with no other options and could never leave my line of work.

How has your transition been into your career?  How did GC help you?

My transition into my career was pretty smooth for the most part. I was lucky to find employment right after graduation of my bootcamp and had GC as a big name to help me validate my programming certification despite having a non-CS degree. One of the greatest things about Grand Circus is their network of both companies and alum. I found so many people on LinkedIn and asked for advice on how to move forward with my career.Sam working on laptop while doing yoga pose

What attracted you to tech, specifically being a developer?

I have always been interested in STEM and learning. But a few years ago, a job as a website assistant inspired my aggressive career change into tech. I was working with a CMS system and had to hard code in a few lines of code for a client. I ran it and it worked, and it was the most amazing feeling I’d ever had. I knew I wanted a job that made me feel like that all of the time, and the true quest into a career change blossomed from there. I considered a degree in Computer Science Degree, but didn’t have the money or time for another four-year degree. In my quest, I found a local fast track option at GC. I enrolled in and attended almost every workshop and free online course I could to try and learn on my own. I found it extremely difficult to juggle learning (something I loved) with my daytime job where I often worked ~60 hours a week. I knew that an in-person option would be the best way for me to truly learn. After much persistence, I was awarded a once in a lifetime opportunity, as a recipient of the DEVELOP(her) scholarship sponsored by TekSystems and I am forever grateful.

What was the most unexpected part of bootcamp?

I knew that I would struggle in bootcamp, but I never imagined how intense and quick the program would be. But, the most unexpected part of bootcamp was that for three months I was challenged over and over again. No matter how often I failed, I had never been happier and still loved every second, which is something that I had never felt or experienced before in my career. It solidified that this is line of work is where I’m meant to be. Something that also surprised me was the amount of faith that GC employees had in me. My program manager, Charlene, talked me off of the ledge a few times in my bootcamp. Her reiteration of confidence that she and GC had in my success was comforting to know that I just need to believe in myself. And lastly, I’d also never met such an amazing, intellectual group of individuals, who allowed me to be my truest self and bring out the best in me. I never expected to connect with people like I did and find people to share like interests with. I think GC did an excellent job in selections for my class. We were all on the same wavelength or complementary in focus, personality and passion, and that is so rare to find.

Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell yourself to do either before or during bootcamp?

It’s going to be okay; you’re being too hard on yourself. You’ve put in the work, and you’ve come so far already. Relax. Believe in yourself, and you’ll be fine. 🙂

What resources are the most helpful / were the most helpful in your coding journey?

The most helpful resources we’re tools/tests like W3Schools, HackerRank and SoloLearn (also in app form) that I put on my phone to study and practice while I was just sitting around.

Sam posing next to pillar

What is your favorite part and what excites you about United Shore?

My favorite part is the close-knit training cohort I’m a part of. I was lucky enough to have eight people from my C# .NET bootcamp in my new hire class, so I was already very comfortable and had a built in friend group. But what excites me the most about United Shore, is the possibilities to grow within the company and the new technologies that we’ll be working on first hand for deployment, even as new devs.  There is a such a positive vibe here, and even a simple “hello” or smile from everyone in the hall is contagious. It’s cool to see the CEO Mat Ishbia in the lunchroom just sitting with random employees. He often trains with people to truly understand their roles; he really seems to care about his employees, their happiness, and making sure he knows how his business is running at every level.