“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity,” Albert Einstein once said. And today, his words continue to ring true.
When faced with a career challenge, some people feel defeated. Others feel determined. As graduates of 2U-powered boot camps, Yulia Chilikina, Umair Khakoo, and Marc Weimer all fall into the second category.
Transforming difficulty into opportunity, these individuals enrolled in 2U-powered tech boot camps to get ahead at their current companies. In doing so, they gained the skills needed to overcome on-the-job obstacles—and achieve meaningful professional advancement.
Here are their stories.
Learning to Speak a New Language
Yulia Chilikina loved being a senior UX/UI designer at the direct-to-consumer retailer Wine Access—but without a technical background, she struggled to stay on the same page as all the software developers. “I was designing projects without understanding how they would be coded,” said Yulia. “It was a major pain point.”
For years, Yulia had actively avoided programming by telling herself, “I don’t need it! I’m an artist.” But in 2019, she had a change of heart. Eager to gain technical expertise, Yulia enrolled in Berkeley UX/UI Boot Camp. “I was ready to pick up some coding skills,” she said.
And that she certainly did. Yulia completed the boot camp in April of 2020—and already, she’s noticed a profound impact on her professional life. “Before, I struggled to be on the same page with developers,” she said. “But now, we speak the same language.”
Today, Yulia can objectively critique old designs through a new technical lens. “I look at them and say, ‘That doesn’t make sense! It can’t be coded.’ My brain works differently because of the boot camp. It’s really taken me to another professional level.”
She’s not the only one who notices the difference, either. Wine Access’s lead software developer also appreciates Yulia’s sharpened skill set—and their relationship has only improved as a result. “He’s more comfortable talking to me in technical terms now,” said Yulia. “I understand him, and he knows that.”
Sowing Change at a Tech Consultancy
As an undergraduate, Umair Khakoo loved experimenting in laboratories. Today, this former chemistry major is applying his problem-solving mindset to an entirely different industry: technology.
The idea to merge the two disciplines first struck Umair in 2018, when he accepted a technical job at the software consulting company Canidium. There, he developed an interest in data science—and began wondering how he could apply lessons from the chemistry lab to his new line of work. “I knew we could get better insights by thinking problems through from a scientific perspective,” he said.
Determined to achieve this goal, Umair enrolled in The Data Analysis and Visualization Boot Camp at Texas McCombs. Looking back, he couldn’t be more grateful for this decision. “The boot camp helped me a lot at work,” said Umair. “Now, I have more credibility explaining technical concepts to clients and new employees. My coworkers will say, ‘Umair is the API expert. Go talk to him.’”
In 2020, Canidium started brainstorming new corporate revenue streams—and thanks to his boot camp experience, Umair had just the idea. “I’m a big advocate for offering data analytics as a service,” he explained. “For instance, we could use machine learning to help clients that need to forecast sales for next quarter but don’t have enough in-house talent. Experienced consultants and architects are on board with my idea, and I’ve planted the seed with leadership too. They’re listening and paying attention.”
Finding Fintech Solutions for Bank of America Clients
At Bank of America, Marc Weimer helps large, multinational energy corporations implement cash management solutions that support their financial transformation initiatives. For many organizations, that means replacing legacy technologies with modern solutions like cloud infrastructure and machine learning.
After five years on the job, Marc wanted to learn more about the technology he talked about every day. “I began exploring tech boot camps, because I wanted to get hands-on experience,” said Marc. “I wanted to gain an in-depth understanding of emerging fintech tools beyond the talking points so I could help point clients in the right direction.”
Since completing the Rice University FinTech Boot Camp, Marc feels much more confident in his understanding of fintech—and his ability to help Bank of America clients. “My clients are some of the largest energy companies in the world, and they’re looking to us to suggest tools for their financial transformation,” said Marc. “Whether they’re looking to deploy them externally as part of their client-facing offerings or internally to help the efficiency of their own operations, it’s my job to advise them on the different solutions available for the specific problems they’re trying to solve. There’s no question that I’m better equipped to do that now.”
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