Military Vet Damita Zweiback’s Passion for Cybersecurity Led to an Amazon Role—Thanks to Boot Camp
With a professional background in public health and a stint in the military, Damita Zweiback has proven there’s little she can’t do.
Between 2015 and 2018, Damita was on active duty at the Pentagon working with the Navy Surgeon General’s office in medicine. While there, she completed an executive MBA program at the Naval Postgraduate School. Her thesis revolved around cybersecurity.
In the process of researching her thesis, Damita discovered the huge gap that exists in the cybersecurity field—that there are not enough qualified candidates to fill all the positions in such a new and increasingly important industry. She recognized this as an opportunity for her to grow.
A mentor familiar with Damita’s cybersecurity interests encouraged her to look into a data science program. She was intrigued at the prospect of going back to school yet again; her thesis work had reignited her long-dormant passions for computers, data science, and analytics.
Weighing her various boot camp options, Damita eventually decided on the GW Coding Boot Camp.
Learning across the board
As Damita and her boot camp classmates introduced themselves to each other on the first day, she was impressed at the diverse group the course attracted. Her classmates came from a variety of distinct technical backgrounds.
“I knew that the boot camp was positioned as a beginner’s course,” Damita said, “but I was almost certain that you would need some level of technological experience. I was wrong—it wasn’t like that at all.”
Damita was struck by the wide variety of topics covered in the course.
“Boot camp really painted a wide brush across a huge variety of topics,” Damita said. “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.”
Damita agrees that the boot camp’s large scope of instruction has made her a more well-rounded coder. She thanks her boot camp instructor, Dartanion Willliams, for the energy and experience he brought to the classroom.
“I have never had a more enthusiastic instructor,” Damita said. “Dartanion saturated the classroom with great passion, and he was helpful in walking us through the ins and outs of the industry.”
Connecting with coding peers
Of everything she did at boot camp, Damita was most excited by the networking opportunities the program afforded her.
In one instance, the boot camp offered a program that hosted two employees from professional tech service firm NextRev Technologies. The students were invited to meet them and discuss the range of job types in the tech sector.
“The panel was a great discussion,” said Damita. “I spoke with the two representatives after the Q&A and those conversations were just as engaging.”
As a result of participating in the workshop, Damita was invited to send her resume to NextRev for consideration and ultimately received a job offer for a data scientist position. This was a direct tie between the boot camp and the private tech sector—and it validated Damita’s conviction that boot camp was an excellent springboard for launching tech careers.
Damita also pursued an apprenticeship position at Amazon—and she landed a coveted interview. One of her boot camp peers, Chaleca Doyle, had recently interviewed there as well. When the two connected during the course, Chaleca was able to give a referral for Damita and provide helpful insights about the culture of Amazon.
Much to her delight, Damita’s interview went very well and she secured a solutions architect apprenticeship offer later that same day.
Working in a rapidly growing industry
Damita is thrilled with her role at Amazon, where her apprenticeship has the potential to extend into a full-time position. With her Amazon training and her data analytics certification, she is confident of her employment marketability in the industry.
“I feel like I’m floating on a cloud. This is what I had hoped for during the boot camp,” Damita said. “I’m grateful for the GW program and for all the boot camp staff, friends, and colleagues I met along the way.”