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Success Stories

Olivia Cunningham Headshot

Olivia Cunningham

I had just gotten off a call with a screaming client, thinking to myself, "I'm really not sure this is worth anymore".

About an hour later, I'm on the phone with SDG being asked if I had ever considered a career in web development. I was working in advertising and graphic design at the time, clearly feeling less than enthusiastic about it. I had always worked with creative content for websites, but I was really interested in learning web development as a whole. The call to join the Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild was a blessing at truly the right time. And far away from advertising I ran.

Liv now works as a Junior Developer at PROforma. She loves knowing that she's creating something that users will rely on everyday that will increase the efficiency of their businesses. She believes it makes you want to try harder and learn more everyday.


Keri Spencer

Years ago, Keri worked as an insurance agent. She was never passionate about insurance but if she left, she would take a dip in salary and wasn't sure where to go. At that point, she and her husband moved to Florida and she found herself in several remote positions piecing together a decent income. She dabbled in programming on her own and had spent quite a bit of time building small applications. At that point, she knew it was time to jump in with both feet and went through code school. Since graduating, she has been working remotely for Vector Solutions for just over a year continuing to learn and grow in her role. She gets to enjoy travel and the flexibility that remote work provides.


Derek Dyer

Derek started out bartending while living on the east coast of Florida. He decided to leave and go back to college to study technical writing at the University of South Florida. Right after graduating in 2011, he got a job at a software company as a junior technical writer.

For four years, Derek moved around to other positions like QA, client support, and marketing where he made motion graphic videos and managed company websites writing basic jQuery, HTML, and CSS. During that time, he did a lot of self-studying on coding tutorial sites. Web development caught his eye. He also was feeling like his career was stagnant because he wasn't learning any marketable skills. Ultimately, Derek was worried about his and his family's future.

Around late 2014, Derek started seeing ads and articles about immersive code schools and was elated to discover a code school in his city. So, he got a second job as a waiter and started saving money to cover family expenses while he went through the program.

In May/June of 2015, he quit his "day job" at the software company and kickstarted his code career by enrolling in Cohort III. Now, Derek works as a software engineer at Requis and also runs a Meetup in Fort Myers called SWFL Coders.


Justin Linn

Justin's interest in web development began when he was working as an intern at The Dali Museum for the Innovation Labs department. This is where he found himself solving problems internally, using technology. One problem led to another and he eventually found himself maintaining HTML and CSS. Hungry for more, Justin quickly started attending Meetups where he fell in love with web development and the community around it. At this point, attending code school was the next logical step to launch this passion into a career.

All the time you invest learning development tooling, patterns, and technology has a 1:1 return on investment ratio which is hard to come by in many industries. You also aren't limited by anything besides your own time which is empowering. You know that you can build pretty much anything you can imagine as long as you are willing to put in the time.

Justin is currently working as a front-end developer at Gooee which which is a startup company that builds analytics solutions for large-scale businesses. Outside of work, he's bootstrapping a startup called Hyve which is an email security and spam company. On top of all of that, he also volunteers for BarCamp on the side. He's helping them build an app to help attendees find talks they want to go to during the event.


Silvana Rojas

Silvana Rojas

Silvana was a software developer in Peru for four years before she and her family obtained their visa to come to the United States. When she moved here, Silvana had the opportunity to work at a local supermarket which allowed her to improve her communication skills and go to school. However, her heart was in programming. Silvana turned to resources, such as HackerRank and SoloLearn, to learn how to code. She also went to local networking events and Meetups. It was at one of these events where she discovered Suncoast Developers Guild.

Silvana ended up getting the Diversity Scholarship from SDG, but still didn't have the funds to pay for the full-time program. She was so eager and the wait for funding felt like an eternity for her. One day, she received a call from Toni (the President of Suncoast Developers Guild). She told Silvana about an opportunity to get a full scholarship from Experian. She was ecstatic! Finally, with the help of SDG and Experian, Silvana could attend the full-time bootcamp. Without hesitation, she quit her job at the supermarket and leaped into her new career and passion for web development. Silvana is now working as a production support engineer at Experian and also volunteers in the community and at SDG.


Amanda Leaders Headshot

Amanda Leaders

Amanda was working part-time at a bookstore (which was amazing) while working full time in a lab (which was not so amazing) and decided to change careers after working on coding tutorials online. When going from an empty screen to a working game was the best part of her week, Amanda realized taking the leap was the right choice. Luckily, she found the immersive coding program at SDG which was the perfect fit. Amanda is excited about the prospect of getting into the local tech community. She's also passionate about building on what she's learned at SDG through her new job as a full-stack developer at Proforma.


Dawn Ribeiro Headshots

Dawn Ribeiro

Dawn was faced with the desire for a new challenge in her life after working as a massage therapist for over a decade-16 years to be exact. Her husband, Dino, attended Cohort X and through his experience, she was able to get a close look into what the full-time program was really like on a day-to-day basis. Seeing the learning and challenges that her husband was tackling captured her attention and left her feeling inspired.

After careful consideration, Dawn decided to join SDG's Cohort XIV. Her biggest challenge so far has been learning React, but as testing as it was, she had so much fun with it. She's still currently enrolled and is wrapping up her time in Cohort XIV. With graduation right around the corner, she looks forward to growing as a full-stack developer and to continue learning new programming languages as well.


Colin Fendrick

Before joining code school, Colin worked crunching numbers at a giant company. The job itself had little to no demands on his creativity or intelligence, and he hated wearing collared shirts. After a friend went through the bootcamp, he recommended it to Colin. He decided to attend the Iron Yard and began a career as a developer. Colin now works as a software developer at Exzeo and still stays involved with the SDG team (previously known as TIY team) by helping out with the React Meetup. His favorite thing about web development is, of course, the dress code.


Robby Bourne

Robby graduated from USF with a degree in business management and went on to doing sales/recruiting in Tampa for a few years after. That road ultimately led him to working in IT recruitment for a local company in Tampa. Within this position, he was able to learn about the diverse backgrounds that many IT professionals had. He really wasn't enjoying his work life in the recruiting industry and figured it was time to jump to something else. This inspired Robby to start looking into different avenues to begin his own career in IT. He stumbled upon the idea of code school when he interviewed a few developers from The Iron Yard who were interviewing for the junior roles that his company had available. He was really impressed by their experience so he decided to attend Demo Day. Demo day was the day that sealed Robby's decision to become a part of the next cohort. He thought the support and turnout that this event had was amazing. The next week he called, applied, got accepted, and quit his job. He started in Cohort 8 (The Ocho) the next Monday and has not looked back since.

"Jumping into the world of software development has opened numerous opportunities for myself and other members of my cohort. It has been a fun journey and can't wait to see where else it takes me." -Robby Bourne


Dino Ribiero

Dino has always had passion for computers and how video games work. In college, he wanted to study computer science but struggled in school as his hearing progressively had gotten worse. His struggles with the ability to fully comprehend conversations resulted in him finishing the semester but he never signed up for the next one. He eventually purchased hearing aids but quickly discovered that it really didn't improve much and that socially, he still struggled to understand people conversing.

Dino's interest in coding began after talking with his brother, Bruno, who was attending code school. The more he researched, the more he felt like he found his calling.

After undergoing a life-changing cochlear surgery, Dino was still learning to hear conversations at a normal level. He didn't let this stop him from pursuing his dream career. He took the leap and decided to join SDG's first cohort: Cohort X.

"SDG was the most difficult thing that I had to go through in life. It was really fast paced but I'm so glad I did. The instructors were awesome, as Mark is really passionate about teaching. Jason and Gavin are the masters of Ruby and to this day, I don't think I've ever gotten a response back with "I don't know the answer to that" from either one of those two. Catherine and Toni were invaluable in my success in becoming a full stack developer. Overall, the SDG staff were crucial in Cohort X success." -Dino Ribeiro


Caleb Frost Sanderson

Caleb has a degree in music and worked for several years as a performing musician and educator. Most recently, he worked for a small, non-profit organization as the creative director which included managing a cumbersome website. His frustrations with that website mixed with a passion for creating quality digital experiences led him to Suncoast Developers Guild. SDG was instrumental in meeting his career change goals. Since graduating, he has been using his new found skills as a product designer for Spatial Networks Inc. Fun fact: Caleb is a Boston Marathon qualifier!


Jasmine Frantz

Jasmine had been working as a 3D animator for over a decade, producing marketing materials and simulations for real-estate developments and golf courses. After having her first child, Jasmine took a little time off to try something new and coding came into picture. She enjoyed it but it was extremely difficult to study while taking care of a toddler while also working as a freelancer. After her second child was on the way, it dawned on her that it was now or never to take the plunge... She joined code school and now is working as a front-end developer for Ned Davis Research.


Portrait of Julius

Julius Bzozowski

While searching for opportunities to expand on his background in graphic design & photography, Julius, explored the idea of learning to code. It seemed like the perfect complement to his existing technology toolbox; an in demand skill; and a challenge that would prove to be both formidable and mentally stimulating.

After a month of researching information on various bootcamps and completing a few coding tutorials online, he interviewed, was accepted, quit his full-time job, moved closer to St. Pete, worked tirelessly, and became a graduate of Cohort 8, affectionately dubbed “The Ocho” by a fellow classmate.

Despite the risks and challenges, Julius, now works for a premier, web design services company in Tampa. Having accomplished the personal goals he set for himself one year ago, he looks forward to the continued growth and development of his coding skills and to one day be combined with his love of golf.


James Enoch

James started to teach himself how to code via online tutorials. Through some networking with the community and local developers, he ended up attending SDG. He is now gets to enjoy a brand new career as a developer for Proforma in Tampa! Offline, you can find James outside, taking pictures, and always learning new things.


Portrait of Venel

Venel Rene

From youth development to software development...

Meet Venel, a Juvenile Supervision Counselor studying human development turned Software Developer. Venel spent countless hours attempting to figure out ways to maximize his gaming experience to level the playing field against the youth he was supervising. While doing so, he found himself falling in love with everything he was learning about software so much that he decided to switch careers.

After graduating and several months of dedicated job hunting, he landed his first tech job at a local startup, Net Synergy Virtual Solutions, where he was able to gain knowledge, experience, and additional skills in data aggregation. In an effort to grow and expand his skillset even more, Venel recently took on an exciting new role as an Engineer at Salesforce.


Christa Hegedus

As Christa was working in retail management, she came to a realization on her 24th birthday that she wanted more for her life. She knew the technical route would be most fulfilling and figured she should attend a coding school to gain the basic technical skills. Christa decided to stay in her home town, right here in St. Petersburg, so that she could take advantage of the connections she had already made throughout college. She found that a lot of individuals in the tech community were very open to helping and connecting her with other leaders in the area.

Post code school, Christa gets to enjoy working for Cigna as a Software Engineer and Full Stack Developer. Her job focuses on React/Redux and Java/SQL on the back-end. Her favorite thing about being a developer is having the ability to create beauty from the keyboard.


Portrait of Brandyn

Brandyn Sullins

After college, Brandyn bounced between legal jobs while entertaining the idea of law school. After a large amount of soul searching, he decided a change needed to be made and performed a hard pivot; taking a leap of faith to attend SDG. Brandyn is a conscientious developer that cares about making programming enjoyable for everyone and solving challenges in pragmatic ways. In his spare time, he's a swim instructor and enjoys writing.


Portrait of Dat

Dat Tran

After having worked in corporate America for a couple years as a middle-manager, Dat went through a quarter life crisis. If this is how he is to spend 8-12 hours of his day, he needed to see what else was out there. After listening to the song Motto by Drake, he decided to leave his job and enroll with SDG. After 3 fantastic months of education, and 2 months of unemployment, he was hired at Operation PAR as an application developer. After a successful year there, he recently started working at Protect My Car as a Software Engineer II.


Portrait of Taylor Cox

Taylor Cox

Hailing from Indiana, Taylor is a digital designer turned front-end developer by way of The Iron Yard and stealing her parents' ThinkPad as a child to write CSS for her Neopets profile page.

As a student in the final cohort of The Iron Yard in Tampa Bay, Taylor became ingrained in the community through the staff's encouragement to participate in local hackathons, meetups, and conferences.

Now, she serves as a co-organizer for SDG Jr. to promote the importance of learning technology and problem solving skills to a younger generation. Taylor is a coordinator and in for the SDG Jr's kids coding classes and has spoken at development conferences.


Allan Seitz

Allan's journey started with his desire to join the air force and support his family. Due to not finishing high school, he had to earn 21 college credits to join. After taking a few college courses in C# and basic I.T. he did, in fact, join the air force and became an Air Traffic Controller. The funny thing is, he loved the little coding experience he had received as much as he loved controlling traffic! After the air force, he attempted to go back and finish his degree. After two semesters, he realized he did not have four years and $100k+ to achieve that goal. After scurrying back into construction for more than 2 years, he found SDG!

"Thanks to SDG I get to live my dream of being a full stack developer here in downtown St. Petersburg and could not be happier!" -Allan Seitz


Amanda Porto

Amanda currently works as a front-end developer at KnowBe4, but this is far from what she thought she would be doing. Originally from Brazil, Amanda's initial career was in business. She initially pursued and obtained her MBA. After working in a multitude of departments within businesses - from purchasing to international security trading - she decided she was never passionate or eager to get out of bed every morning. This spoke volumes to her and she realized that she needed a career switch. Amanda stumbled upon the SDG team and was completely enchanted with them as well as the opportunities available in the web development industry.


Gustavo Kemenyfy

Until recently, Gus was running a daycare center. As much as Gus loved the kids, he was looking for a change and it needed to be something that involved a challenge. Gus had always been passionate about computers. One day, during a trip to the beach, a close friend told him about SDG. He knew without a doubt that this was what he wanted to pursue. He decided to apply on the spot! Gus now works as a Software Developer at Insurity, volunteers at Code for America, and runs Code Katas every month.


Kenia Valladarez

In 2016, Kenia was working in the accounting field. She was tired of her everyday work which led to her taking code classes online. Eventually, she ended up going to a couple of code and tech related meetups in the Tampa Bay area. Through these meetups, she met TIY alumni and Toni Warren and formed a valuable connection that then led to her enrolling into code school. Now, Kenia works for Cloudreach as a Cloud Software Engineer. Her main focus revolves around front-end development with React Js.


Crystal McGowan

After years of being a customer service and marketing guru, Crystal found herself to be a textbook example of someone that needed a life and career pivot. While she had taken an interest in coding, she made every excuse in the book to not invest in it professionally.

Thankfully, the SDG team and her stellar support system echoed every day: “You can’t afford NOT to invest in yourself, and you’re going to be great!” Crystal never looked back. The hours were studious and the caffeine ran rampant, but it’s one of the decisions she’s most proud of making.

After embracing the opportunity to work for a killer start-up company, she moved onto Raymond James Financial where she is an Associate Interactive Specialist. When she’s not dabbling in a CMS for Financial Advisors, you can catch her assisting with SDG Jr's kids coding classes and geeking out at development conferences.


Portrait of Kristen

Kristen Swan-Grashel

When I first thought about going to a code school to change I knew it I knew it would be hard, especially with three young children to care for. I also knew it would be worth it in the end. The Iron Yard experience turned out to be just as hard as I ever imagined, but also just as worth it. I accomplished what I set out to do. And really, there are few things better in life than that. Achieving a goal you've worked hard for.


Portrait of Val

Valeria Benetti

Of all the choices I have ever made, coming to this has to be one of the greatest choices that my brain came up with. Not one day goes by since graduating have I been extremely grateful to the school for teaching me the valuable skill sets that I now know.


Portrait of Shaun Hailey

Shaun Hailey

I came to into this with zero programming background whatsoever. After over a decade in finance, a layoff put me into a position where I could explore a new career. This finally allowed me to do what I had wanted to do for many years--learn how to code.


Portrait of Mark Lombardi

Mark Lombardi-Nelson

I can't begin to express the gratitude and impact learning to code has made on our business, as well as my life. We built Shoot To Thrill Media, and I made the conscious decision to dive deep and learn to code soon after. This skillset has empowered me to provide for my family, impact my community, and grow my business in a way that would have not been possible without you. Thank you for empowering me to have the confidence and ability to follow my dreams.


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