Finding the Right Fit: How Olga Levina Discovered a Career, Confidence, and Love
As the only marketer at her company, Olga Levina did it all: social media, design, print, you name it. When her employer asked her to build websites on WordPress and Wix, Olga taught herself how—and realized she loved it.
“I started reading about SEO, UI design, and how to make a website popular, and it was all really interesting,” she said. “So I started to look for a job in digital marketing.”
The only problem? Olga was missing a few key technical coding skills that many companies required. So she decided to learn them.
Time to upskill
Olga had a few options for acquiring the skills she needed. She could teach herself with the help of books and videos, she could take an online course, or she could pursue an in-person program. For Olga, the choice was easy.
“Right away, I knew I needed to go to school. I didn’t know where to start with learning. I needed someone to guide me,” she said.
When she found the University of Arizona Coding Boot Camp, she was intrigued. “I was mostly interested in front-end development. And I was really impressed with the program’s curriculum. I got really interested in learning all these new technologies,” Olga said.
She wasted no time signing up.
Finding her footing—and her beau
Before Olga even started the course, she knew it would be a challenge. “My mom is a back-end developer in Russia. She told me it would be tough,” Olga said. “At first I was actually okay. But once we got to more complex programming I started feeling imposter syndrome. Every once in a while, I would drive home crying because I felt I didn’t know anything.”
At no point, however, did Olga feel defeated. “I was just really motivated to succeed. I really needed to grow in my career because I felt stuck in my job,” she said. “It really helped that there were other people who didn’t get it and kept working at it, and I thought, Well, I can do that, too.”
The boot camp resources were there to help her, too. Olga leaned on the TAs and her classmates to work through each lesson, and she was duly impressed with how helpful they were. One person in particular made the boot camp experience special.
“I actually met my boyfriend in the boot camp! He really helped me out a lot. We studied together all the time,” Olga said.
Putting her skills to the test
After a while, all her hard work studying and practicing her coding skills started to pay off. “Things would be a huge mess in my head, but then throughout the lessons I would start to connect the dots,” she said.
When it came time to prove her skills for the course’s final project, Olga was ready. Her group created a website that allowed bartenders and servers to review restaurants they had worked at—a kind of Glassdoor for the service industry. Olga’s good friend had come up with the initial idea, and Olga was proud of the finished product.
“I want to keep working with people on our team to continue developing it,” she said. “I really like being able to create something myself that actually works from the front and back end.”
Discovering the right fit
Throughout the course, Olga had been working full-time—and commuting hours each day to work and to the program. A month before the course ended, Olga began looking for a job for which she could utilize her new skills. With the help of a boot camp friend, she landed interviews for two separate American Express jobs. She received offers for both.
When it came time to decide, Olga thought back to something her boot camp instructor taught her. “He’d tell us that it’s okay when you don’t know something. It doesn’t mean you’re dumb; it just means the job isn’t the right fit,” she said. “The second AmEx team did more of what I learned in the boot camp. I felt I could bring more to the table.”
She took the second job. Today, Olga works as a junior software engineer, using a lot of her newfound skills—and forging new ones.
For Olga, landing the AmEx job is a dream come true, and what makes it even sweeter is that her boyfriend was hired at the same company. She’s incredibly happy things how things have worked out, and she’s more confident than ever before in her abilities. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the boot camp,” she said.