This Former Teacher’s Mission Is to Create Purpose-Driven Tech
Sarah Kinneer always wanted to do something with purpose. She was a special education teacher for 14 years—a job that demanded a great deal of emotional stamina and energy.
Having the opportunity to impact so many students made Sarah proud, but after a decade and a half, she found herself looking for something more challenging. Sarah was exposed to coding through the extracurricular activities she offered to students—and found herself really enjoying it.
“One day I realized that I had basically learned elements of Python and was having fun doing it,” she said. It was then that Sarah began looking more seriously to pursue technology as a career—and she found the Georgia Tech Coding Boot Camp.
An emotional journey
After more than a decade with her students, Sarah felt a whirl of emotions when she left her teaching job.
“The students inspired me to go after this career change,” she said. “I always tell them to reach for their dreams, and now it was my turn.”
In the beginning, Sarah couldn’t help but question whether she was good enough. Most of the learners in her program had tech backgrounds and were there to advance their learning. Sarah, on the other hand, had practically no idea what she was doing.
“I had impostor syndrome and felt like I was being someone I wasn’t,” said Sarah. “But my classmates ended up being so supportive, and now they’re some of my best friends.”
Back in the classroom
Transitioning from teaching in a classroom to learning in one was easy at times—and hard at others.
“I wasn’t great at everything, but I tried my hardest. My project group can back up that I’m not the best at front-end design or arranging everything visually,” Sarah admitted. But she loved every moment that challenged her, and she was always ready for something new.
Despite initially questioning herself, Sarah found a great peer group that encouraged her to make projects that were meaningful to her. She credits her background for igniting her passion to create purposeful technology.
“Our final project was a behavioral data tracker, which is something I wish I had as a teacher,” she said. “It was my proudest moment to create something useful and with purpose. It’s why I became a teacher, and why I want to work with technology.”
Sarah also worked with a tutor provided by the program.
“When I heard there was additional help available, I signed up immediately—it’s the teacher in me!” she said. “By the end, I was really thankful that I did seek this help, because my tutors went above and beyond to make sure I understood the material.”
Making the web a better place
Sarah worked closely with the career services team in her boot camp, attending nearly every advice session. She also took advantage of the mock interview opportunities available to learners in the program.
Her efforts paid off right away. Before she had even completed the boot camp, Sarah ended up securing a position with AudioEye, a social-good technology company that partners with organizations and institutions to make digital content accessible to those with disabilities. If a site isn’t coded correctly, individuals who rely on assistive technology, such as a screen reader, are not able to seamlessly access digital content. AudioEye’s solution removes these online barriers, opening the web to users of all abilities.
“I want to be the unicorn that does everything and leaves something positive behind wherever I go,” Sarah said. She plans to use this job as an opportunity to do just that, helping users of all abilities more easily navigate digital content.
A lifetime of learning
Sarah’s favorite aspect of technology—the thing that resonates with her most as a former teacher—is that you can never stop learning about tech. The field evolves at such a quick rate that you’re perpetually a student.
To those looking to transform their lives, Sarah has one piece of advice.
“Just know that you can make a change,” she said. “Don’t frame it as a chore, but as an exciting opportunity to learn and grow.”
Ultimately, Sarah’s experience with the boot camp was the catalyst she needed to grow.
“[The Coding Boot Camp] makes it so easy to be successful. They really empowered me every step of the way,” she said.