As a new generation of students hit the books in pursuit of a future tech career, one DC local was selected for a national coding opportunity.
Tech Elevator, a bootcamp for aspiring technologists, selected DC’s Zawadi Kirksey-Lamb for its Represent Tech scholarship. It covers $13,175, which is about 80% of tuition costs, and is designed for aspiring technologists from underrepresented backgrounds.
Kirksey-Lamb, a technical artist, moved to DC in 2021. She was looking to increase her earning potential after her partner became disabled following a car accident, she said, and wanted to be able to fully support her family.
As a technical artist, Kirksey-Lamb worked as a liaison between the art team and the development needs, as well as dabbled in 3D software.
“I had gotten a little taste for learning how to do some minor stuff in Python and some of the other proprietary languages for the 3D software,” Kirksey-Lamb told Technical.ly. “I was thinking that it was something I could do and was interested in and maybe I would move more to the full tech side in the future for my career.”
Kirksey-Lamb said she had some experience with programming courses in college but opted not to get a full computer science degree because she struggled with math. She was attracted to tech in part because of its flexible options for working from home or in a hybrid setting. As she looked at finding a new career, a bootcamp was more attractive than going back to school because of the part-time option, which allowed her to keep working. She’ll be starting the program in December and graduate next fall.
Tech Elevator is a national bootcamp but opened a DC campus at Mindspace in 2022; however, a spokesperson reached out after this story was published to note that the org would not be renewing its coworking lease after this year due to underuse.
Tech Elevator started its Represent Tech program in 2020 and has given out 141 scholarships in total. Elizabeth Brake, director of revenue operations at Tech Elevator, said that Kirksey-Lamb embodied what the organization looks for in future technologists who could be scholarship recipients.
“She has real motivation for a career change as well as to be a developer specifically,” Brake said. “She embodies the characteristics we want to see in someone who has leadership potential, she is really learning-oriented, is interested in taking control of her own destiny, doing what she can and really being action-oriented.”
After completing Tech Elevator, Kirksey-Lamb said she hopes to find a job as a junior developer and eventually move up to a senior full-stack developer role. But in the meantime, she’s grateful to have a little bit of financial stress lightened while she completes the program.
“Getting the scholarship means that I won’t have to struggle and worry about our finances while I’m taking my course and I’ll be able to focus on that more,” Kirksey-Lamb said. “It puts me in a good position to start my future career and tech and coding.”
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