In April, Latasha Watson joined the Bank of America team as an Applications Programmer – a job offer that came in just weeks after completing the 12-week immersive bootcamp, Zip Code Wilmington. She says those three months changed her and her daughter’s life for the better.

In her new role, Watson writes code to generate web pages, accesses databases and business logic servers, modifies and debugs software for web sites, just to name a few tasks. It’s a far cry from the years she spent with multiple jobs to make a good life for her and her daughter.

Watson’s story is an important tale of how determination and opportunity can help anyone overcome their odds.

Watson could have been considered “counted out” when she gave birth to her daughter at 16. Or when she earned her degree in a field she felt was too competitive. Or when she chose to join the male-dominated tech industry as an under-represented woman of color. But instead, her story is one of commitment to better her life and the community around her. 

Did you know?

According to the 2016 Bureau of Labor, in 2015, women made up 25 percent of computing-related occupations. The breakdown of participation is even more concerning for women of color with only five percent Asian, three percent African American, and one percent Latina women being represented in the industry.

 “My big plan was to design books and focus on social art,” says Watson, who focused her college studies on graphic design and photography.

A professor who saw Watson’s potential introduced her to a colleague at Vogue. She was elated to accept an internship with the esteemed magazine. Watson made the trek from Plainfield, New Jersey to Manhattan, New York every day for a little less than a year. The would-be 45-minute drive, turned into a 3-hour, one-way commute due to constant city traffic.

As much as Watson loved the position, she admits the commute took away valuable time with her daughter and she wasn’t making enough to move into the city. Not to mention, she felt the art career she dreamt of wasn’t a suit for her.

“It became extremely competitive,” says Watson. “I saw the successful photographers working crazy hours to build and network… I just couldn’t imagine sacrificing any more time with my child.”   

However, something great came from her time at Vogue. Watson grew more and more interested in the complex technologies she saw behind the scene at the magazine’s headquarters. She made it a goal to learn to code.

“I always said I would teach myself,” says Watson. “I began classes on Coursera but would get lost along the way.” She attempted to learn code for years, but life’s demands continued to disrupt her focus.

In 2016, she moved to Delaware to be closer to family to build a strong support network around her now 14-year-old daughter as she approached high school years.

Watson says, “The plan was to change my career by going back to college.”

That’s until she heard of Zip Code Wilmington. The 12-week timeframe was a huge draw for her because it was faster than the full computer science degree she planned to earn.

In just three months, Watson was able to make a full career change and provide for her family in a way she was never able to do before. Her new career still allows her the space to be creative and design, which has been her goal from the beginning.

Today, Watson shares her love of code with any woman who will listen as she acknowledges the need for more women in the field. 

“Yes, it’s a male-dominated field but women have the ability to attack code from a different mindset that can transform the industry.”

“Yes, it’s a male-dominated field but women have the ability to attack code from a different mindset,” says Watson. “We can transform the industry.” She jokes that she sometimes sees an overly complex code by a colleague and tells them, “it needs a woman’s touch” to make it simpler and easier to use.

She is also sharing her love for coding with her daughter. The duo enjoy changing code from their favorite game, Minecraft, to understand the power of Java.

“I have so many ideas that I can bring to life now that I have this skill,” says Watson. She plans to go back to her social art roots with a few fun projects to bridge her two worlds.