Alumni Spotlight: Why Ada Safak Chose the Bootcamp for Hands-on Experience

Ada Safak quote

Tech Elevator graduate Ada Safak was earning a Ph.D. in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), when she felt a pull toward tech, specifically. She wanted practical, hands-on experience that she didn’t feel like she was getting in her Ph.D. program, so she decided to press pause on her Ph.D. to attend our coding bootcamp.

In this Q&A, read about Ada’s bootcamp experience, what she’s doing now as a Data Enablement Analyst at Worthington Enterprises in Ohio, and why she’s so passionate about women and girls pursuing STEM education and careers.

Q: How did your interest in software development begin?

A: I think it was always in me. It just took time for me to recognize that it was there. I was getting my Ph.D. in STEM, and I came from a background of being a mathematics teacher. In my Ph.D. program, I was looking to dig into technology more. I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the traditional educational system, and if I wanted to explore going into the engineering field, it was going to take another four years.
I had friends who had joined Tech Elevator, and after 14 weeks, they got a job, and I could see their enthusiasm. Their stories gave me the thought of, why not me?

Q: How did you manage both a Ph.D. and the bootcamp?

A: I didn’t do both at the same time. I took time off from my Ph.D. program. I decided just to do one and it helped me to focus on the bootcamp.

At that time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in academia after graduation. For people with Ph.D.s, 90% of the time they work in academia afterward and become professors. I think around 10% go into industry jobs after graduating. I was thinking I wanted to go into industry, so that’s why I took one semester off to do the bootcamp.

Q: What happened after the bootcamp?

A: I got a Product Engineering internship at a company called Immuta. After experiencing an engineering role (for the first time in my life) for those three months, I decided to finish my Ph.D.

Then, I got this job offer from Worthington Enterprises, where I work now. I didn’t apply for the job myself. I was recruited by Burtch Works. They were looking for someone who had both teaching experience and technical experience, which is hard to find. So when they found me, it felt like a great fit. I wanted to be a software developer, but I also wanted to utilize my teaching background because I had 10 years of that experience.

Q: What is your current role at Worthington Enterprises like?

A: My title is Data Enablement Analyst. In my role, I teach all employees such as data analysts and software developers about data literacy in our company. We’re trying to make the company data literate because everybody touches data. Software developers are using data, HR is using data. With my technical background from the bootcamp, I know what software developers are doing, so I know how they’re utilizing the data.

Each day, what I learned in the bootcamp gives me the context I need when I’m teaching, which is very important. This education is crucial for anyone in the company. I’m lucky my company found me. I’m really enjoying it. I didn’t know such a position existed in the world. I’m teaching and doing some technical stuff, too. I’m doing both, which makes me happy.

Q: You also did work with Youth for STEM Equity. Can you share a bit about that?

A: Back when I was still writing my dissertation, I got an email from Ohio State about this initiative run by undergraduate students. Their goal was to support women and girls in STEM, especially in K-12.

I was fascinated with the objective. This job was unpaid, and I was applying for paid jobs at the time. I had finished the bootcamp and I was almost done with my Ph.D., so when I saw this opportunity, I thought, why not?

That’s a piece of advice that I can give to people who are applying for tech jobs. Take what comes into your path. Even though this was volunteer, it gave me different insight and I was able to utilize my background to help people while I was learning.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time for it right now because of my job, but it was something I enjoyed being a part of. I encourage people to get involved in these types of nonprofit organizations if they can.

Q: Do you have any other advice to share? And as we celebrate Women’s History Month, any particular advice for women interested in tech?

A: On women’s day at my company, we did an exercise where you moved one step forward if the case applied to you, and one step backward if it did not apply to you.

They asked about leadership and representation in the tech industry, and I was moving a step backward most of the time. At the end of the exercise, at the front of the line, we had more men than women, and we talked about that – we talked about why it was this way and how we all felt about it.

There are people, and there are companies around the world and around the United States that are aware that women are not getting enough opportunities. I’m happy to be working in an environment, at this company, where we can talk about this. So I’d just say, don’t give up, because I’m optimistic things are getting better.

Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to other women in the company or industry. It’s not just you, more people are feeling the same way and are trying to move a step forward, not backward.

Are you interested in a career change?

Like Ada, many Tech Elevator graduates started their coding journeys with the question: why not me? No matter your background, if you’re interested in a career in software development, now is a great time to get started. To begin, take our free Aptitude Test.