High demand for tech jobs creates new career opportunities in Omaha

Shannon Sokolik spent the majority of her career in graphic design, working her way to a senior designer role before joining the Midland University Code Academy this March. She’s realized her strength and passion is pairing her design background and newfound coding skills making her confident in her career pivot. In fact, Sokolik interviewed with a major local employer during week eight of the twelve week program, confirming her decision to enroll.

April 1, 2020

As published in the Omaha World Herald

During lunch every day over the past seven weeks, Shannon Sokolik has conversed with classmates, decompressing and discussing a variety of topics. This week, she was the topic of choice.

As the eighth week of Midland University’s Code Academy began, Sokolik was the center of discussion after completing an interview for a Junior User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) position with a major local employer, and receiving a follow-up, in-person interview later that week.

“The interview I had, I don’t think they would have even considered my resume without the Code Academy,” Sokolik said. “Even though I knew a little bit about web development, if I didn’t have that as part of my schooling, I don’t know that they would have even recognized that as enough experience.”

Sokolik spent the majority of her career in graphic design, working her way to a senior designer role before joining the Code Academy. Throughout this time, much of her work included outsourcing to programmers and developers — and at times there seemed to be a language barrier when communicating with technical programmers.

“I was leaving a really good job. People thought I was crazy,” she said. “I worked my way up to a senior designer before deciding to pivot my career. Going back to school and transitioning to a new career was a big decision for me.”

Before joining Midland’s Code Academy, Shannon tried to teach herself. She bought several books on HTML and CSS, and even took a course locally, but wasn’t able to learn and retain the information.

After attending a free Saturday Coding 101 event at Midland University Omaha, which focuses on foundational web development skills, she decided enrolling in the Academy was the right decision. Being in a classroom and immersing herself in learning alongside peers with an experienced instructor who could break down complex concepts was going to be vital to her success.

Entering the full-time, 12-week program, Sokolik saw two possible outcomes: be able to combine her design background and skills with coding, or find a love for coding and become a full-time developer.

After completing her very first code project build-out, she realized her strength and passion was really around the visual concepts of the build — and that pairing design and code felt like the right path to pursue.

Her success in the class thus far, along with receiving her first interview, helped reaffirm her decision to join. This followed the trend of previous Code Academy graduate Amy Sand, who was hired as a front-end developer at a local medical staffing company during the eighth week of the program.

Of those who have successfully completed the program, nearly 85% are employed in a tech role and are using their newfound skills within 30 days of completing the program.

“I wouldn’t have received a call without the program, so that’s encouraging to me that I made the right decision,” Sokolik said. “I feel I have a strong understanding of programming, and to get called back right away for a second interview confirms that I made the right decision.”