How Elizabeth Cottrell went from archaeologist to coder - Technical.ly Delaware

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Oct. 27, 2016 10:48 am

How Elizabeth Cottrell went from archaeologist to coder

Cottrell became an intern at The Archer Group when she was 30. Now she's a front end developer at the Wilmington design agency.
GDI panelists from the event earlier this year, left to right: Aiyani Martin, Elizabeth Cottrell and Joni Trythall. Moderator Megan Anthony is on the far left.

GDI panelists from the event earlier this year, left to right: Aiyani Martin, Elizabeth Cottrell and Joni Trythall. Moderator Megan Anthony is on the far left.

(Courtesy photo)

We covered a number of women who have transitioned into tech like Joni Trythall and Aiyani Martin. We also covered a number that are working on transitioning into tech like Dany Bourjolly and Gillian Reynolds. It’s not quite an easy transition to make — it’s learning a new language, literally. But these women have shown us that it is possible. Now we’d like you to meet Elizabeth Cottrell, front end developer at The Archer Group, a design agency in Wilmington.

Cottrell spoke on a panel of women who transitioned into tech at a Girl Develop It meetup last month. She was an archaeologist for a decade, working in the field on academic excavations and managing labs. Cottrell also worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Archeology seemed like an obvious career choice when she graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in anthropology, but after a few years, she began to long for something different.

“The jobs are fun, the people are great and you really get to travel and gain authentic experiences most people don’t see, but I grew frustrated after having put so many years into a career without much gain in quality of life or pay,” she said. “I saw the avenues for advancement were limited, extremely competitive and required many more years of expensive schooling with no guarantees. I also found myself longing for something more stable, both in advancement opportunities and geographic location, so I started looking for a way out.”

She taught herself how to use Adobe’s Creative Suite and that was when she transitioned into a graphic design position at Hunter Research, Inc., an archeology firm in Trenton. It was her first tech job.

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“I now regard this as one of the better decisions I’ve made,” she said. “Initially, there was so much risk starting something I knew zero about, but there were meetups and online courses available that made self-educating and networking so easy.”

The real turning point for Cottrell was when she got an internship at The Archer Group. Yep, she was a 30-year-old intern who had already established herself in a different field. But she didn’t let that stop her. Archer Group, she said, is a company that emphasizes education and career development, which is what she was looking for.

As a front end developer, Cottrell says she has now finally found the quality of life she had been seeking through her career in tech.

Are you looking for a transition into tech? We’d love to hear from you.

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