“I think that’s the main thing about me, I’ve always wanted something challenging and engaging.”
This is how Jocelyn Jeriah describes her reason for seeking a career in tech. The recent Coding Dojo graduate landed an implementation engineering role at Adams Morgan-based AI startup Sorcero last month.
Despite not knowing technology was her niche, Jeriah leaned into opportunities to learn about jobs in the growing sector as they were presented to her. She worked in a variety of industries and roles including real estate, accounts payable, logistics, and even shipping and receiving before she eventually ventured into engineering. But years ago, when a colleague asked her to help him build a website, she felt like she couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“That was when I kind of really started delving into development,” Jeriah told Technical.ly. “I knew a little bit about HTML and CSS already, but nothing more than that. I helped him built out a WordPress website, so that’s when I really started getting interested in tech.”
It was around the time Jeriah was working in logistics when she decided she wanted to try out a career in the technology field. She started to test the waters by attending some tech-focused DMV meetup groups back in 2015. She learned about General Assembly at a meetup, which at the time was a new coding school in the region, and she eventually participated in its 12-week web development intensive.
Jeriah said she didn’t have the best learning experience there due to a lack of personalized attention, but even so, she landed an application development role at Academic Composition after graduation. After her short tenure there, she learned Ruby and Python, and ventured into quality assurance automation engineering. She held this role at MBO Partners and ID.me for a few years before deciding it was time for another change.
“I didn’t know at the time that apparently once you get stuck in the QA role, it’s really hard to get out of that as an engineer,” she said. “I wanted to be developing and doing that full-stack kind of thing.”
After a couple QA automation engineering roles, Jeriah felt stuck. So when her ill mother asked for her support, she moved to Bolivia for a year and worked in property management. This hiatus from tech inspired her to chase the career she really wanted.
“Coming back to the country, I had the urgency to get back into the tech field,” she said. “I knew that if I wanted to get back into the field and get a role that I really wanted, I had to really improve my skills.”
This is what prompted Jeriah to attend Coding Dojo, which she calls the best decision she ever made. Even though the immersive software development program was difficult, she said, the coding school taught her three full stacks and prepared her for the job market, despite the onset of the coronavirus pandemic at the time.
“I was doing a lot of networking, even online, even through LinkedIn,” Jeriah shared. “Through that I got a lead for a bunch of virtual job fairs. These virtual job fairs are a little bit like speed dating where you get to talk to a bunch of companies for a few minutes.”
Jeriah said she actually landed her current role with Sorcero after attending one of these many virtual job fairs. Sorcero, the #5 honoree on Technical.ly’s 2021 RealLIST Startups, manages a language intelligence platform to make it easier for a company’s team members to find information within internal documents.
Reflecting on her childhood, Jeriah said she never envisioned a career in engineering since it was never presented as an option for her — but also, that there is no perfect road to get to where she is today. If you’re looking to venture into a career in tech, she suggests you connect with some meetup groups, do some deep research on the role you want to obtain and never stop learning, as there is always room to improve your skills.
Knowledge is power!
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