Switching Gears: How GW Boot Camps Helped These Women Reroute Their Careers

If your current career isn’t quite what you envisioned, it may be time for a change. But once you decide on your next move, how do you make it happen without years of experience to get your foot in the door?

With help from GW Boot Camps in coding and data analytics, Damita ZweibackMeg Rydzewski, and Emily Burnaman transitioned to the tech industry from previous jobs in public health, investing, and human resources, respectively. Here’s how the boot camp helped them follow their passions for coding and data. 

Damita Zweiback: From Navy vet to Amazon solutions architect

Damita Zweiback isn’t one to shy away from challenges — or a demanding schedule. While on active duty at the Pentagon, Damita found time to pursue an executive MBA at the Naval Postgraduate School. Undeterred, she plunged into the program, centering her thesis around cybersecurity.

While writing her thesis, Damita realized the field of cybersecurity lacked qualified candidates. Sensing opportunity and encouraged by a mentor to pursue her interest, Damita joined GW Data Analytics Boot Camp. There, she made valuable connections with her peers and instructors, and explored a wide range of coding material. 

“[The] boot camp really painted a wide brush across a huge variety of topics,” said Damita. “There was a lot to learn, but it really allowed us to explore so many facets of the industry we otherwise might not have experienced.”

After she completed her studies, Damita leveraged her experience and a networking connection she made at the boot camp to secure an apprenticeship at one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the world: Amazon. Now, she works as a solutions architect associate with Amazon Web Services. 

“I feel like I’m floating on a cloud,” said Damita. “This is what I had hoped for during the boot camp.”  

Meg Rydzewski: A long-awaited transition to tech 

Meg Rydzewski used her skills from GW Coding Boot Camp to make a similarly drastic career pivot. Before becoming a full-time mom, Meg launched a successful career in luxury goods marketing and investment management — but it was time for a change. 

She was always interested in entering the tech industry, so Meg dove into the boot camp full-time. Afterward, she emerged with a new position at Attain, LLC, a digital consulting firm where she works as a federal services developer and consultant. 

“I’m working in languages outside of the full stack curriculum, but the boot camp taught me to quickly pick up any new skills I need,” said Meg. “I’m now incredibly comfortable and confident starting from scratch and learning new technologies from the ground up.”

Meg loves her new position at Attain and looks forward to working alongside her teammates every day. She credits the boot camp with allowing her to transition industries — something she never thought possible before. 

“The boot camp completely changed my life,” said Meg. “After decades of being interested in this field, I am now living it every day. The program allowed me to enter a space that I never thought I’d be able to without completely starting over.” 

Emily Burnaman: Giving back through newfound tech skills 

Emily Burnaman started her career in human resources, but felt drawn toward a specific aspect of her job: Erecruit, a staffing solutions software. After training employees on Erecruit, Emily wanted to enter the tech space herself. She decided to enroll in GW Coding Boot Camp

“I see the beauty in technology: its ability to help people work more efficiently, more effectively, and more collaboratively,” said Emily. “The boot camp definitely helped expedite and focus this realization for me.” 

After the boot camp, Emily secured a position at Synergy Corporate Technologies. While there, she and a colleague started Coding Literacy, a meet-up group that helps developers, programmers, and new coders grow their skills. Emily also stays busy by participating in Women Who Code events and donating her time to local nonprofits, building them new websites that they couldn’t otherwise afford. 

“Creating websites for nonprofits and organizations that are doing such good things but don’t have budgets for their websites is something I do in my free time,” said Emily. “I love front end development, and it can make a big difference for them.” 

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