In college, Camryn Swedick pursued a career in communications, and managed to graduate a whole two years early.
If all this fast movement sounds exciting, there is, unfortunately, a catch: Camryn’s graduation happened to coincide with the COVID-19 outbreak. “Graduating in the middle of a pandemic made finding a job very difficult,” explained Camryn.
Growing up, Camryn had briefly entertained the idea of gaining a technical background — but these thoughts always passed as quickly as they came. “Tech isn’t necessarily known for being a very creative field, so I opted out of taking that path,” she explained.
However, the pandemic inspired Camryn to revisit the idea of pursuing a career in technology. “Once I discovered the different avenues within computer science after college, I realized there is so much more to tech than just coding,” she said. “I was confident that I could find a position that allowed me to exercise all of my skills.”
Pivoting to start something new
Camryn’s friend recommended she try The Cybersecurity Boot Camp at UNC Charlotte, powered by Trilogy Education Services, a 2U Inc. brand, as her coworkers often hired graduates of the program. This boot camp merged Camryn’s interests in criminal justice, internet safety, and computer science, making it an ideal next step.
From the start, the boot camp’s market-driven curriculum and hands-on activities made for a highly engaging virtual classroom experience. To get ahead, Camryn took advantage of her instructors’ office hours at the beginning of every class. Each week, she studied and applied different coding concepts — actively gaining new skills and preparing for her upcoming career pivot.
Jumping right in
“I was never an auditory learner, nor was I a visual learner,” explained Camryn. “I had to dive right in and take advantage of the opportunity to go hands-on with each lesson to actually learn the material.”
Thanks to a hands-on, highly collaborative curriculum, Camryn felt the freedom to get creative when completing classwork. “We all had the freedom to exercise complete control over our own education, which was so great,” she said.
But Camryn is well aware that information is only as good as how you use it. Critically, the boot camp encouraged her to internalize the learning material through project assignments.
For one of her favorite projects, the entire class played different cybersecurity roles in a mock attack. “We would play as the red [team] and blue team, and we would have to attack a system, patch it, and then take a step back to assess the situation. It was incredible,” recalled Camryn. Her instructors were very hands-off for these projects, giving Camryn creative autonomy and confidence. “It’s not often that you get the opportunity to play around in a virtual environment and steal information legally,” she said.
Shaping soft skills for success
Before joining the boot camp, Camryn didn’t have much corporate experience and hadn’t yet grasped the true importance of teamwork. Through a series of team assignments, that immediately changed in the boot camp. “I’m very grateful that I was paired with such great classmates who were easy to work with,” said Camryn. Her critical thinking skills also expanded throughout the boot camp, enhancing her interviewing abilities and even applying directly to her current position.
Looking back, it’s clear that the boot camp paid massive career dividends for Camryn — but getting where she wanted to be still required a lot of hard work and perseverance. Even with her wealth of experience in communications and her new cybersecurity training courtesy of the boot camp, the early pandemic job market was still a major hurdle.
Overcoming obstacles to start a new career
Never losing hope, Camryn eventually found a light at the end of the tunnel. “I began chatting with people in informational interviews, who had so many valuable tips and tricks to share about breaking into the field of cybersecurity,” she explained. Ultimately, one of these interviews led to a job offer for Camryn’s current position as an Information Security Associate at the corporate headquarters of Lowe’s, a national home improvement retailer.
“I really could not have imagined a better position. Working in cybersecurity communications utilizes a combination of my communications degree and my boot camp certificate,” said Camryn.
That final push to land her current position was only made possible by her personalized Career Coach provided through the boot camp. “She helped me with career coaching, honing in with me on what I wanted to be doing and ridding me of my interview anxieties I’d gotten mostly due to misinformation,” Camryn explained. “My resume got a huge makeover too, which I think is a big reason why I landed my current job. It all was made possible thanks to Trilogy.”
Want to kickstart an exciting new career in tech? Explore UNC Charlotte Boot Camps in coding, data analytics, cybersecurity, and fintech today.