Zip Code alumnus, Armard Bellamy, finds dream job through a path of constant personal evolution.
A “dream job” –– that’s the elusive goal for which many people are striving. Although the specific details of the job are cloudy for most, this final dream destination will fulfill their passions while filling their bank accounts. Or so they hope.
But what exactly is a dream job? Is it when you have a flexible schedule? Is it a salary that allows for monthly island-hopping vacations?
Armard Bellamy, Software Engineering Manager and Zip Code Wilmington alumnus, seems to have cracked the code in choosing a career that involves consistent evolution.
Only two years after joining Guru, a Philadelphia-based internet start-up, Armard was promoted from a back-end software engineer into a managerial role. He lights up when he explains his new position and the ways it allows him to pursue personal goals while also investing in the lives of others.
His regular tasks include staffing his team, creating project estimates, and enriching relationships with community partners. Guru’s culture promotes early exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education for underserved populations, which affords Armard the opportunity to teach Philadelphia high school students foundational coding skills and interview techniques through the nonprofit Coded By Kids. While none of these new tasks were ones that Armard expected, he appreciates that the role challenges him to expand his skill set.
“This position was really tailored to my skills and strengths,” says Armard. “After completing Zip Code, I was laser-focused on the technical side of the work. It wasn’t until after I got involved with the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion program that I really started to see my strengths and what I can add to the company outside of developing.”
Now back to the idea of a dream job.
Armard faced a winding journey before landing at Guru and figuring out what a dream job meant to him. Armard tried various industries, changed cities, and explored bouts of entrepreneurship, while pivoting his focus every few years. After all, finding a dream job is no easy feat. Throughout his journey, Armard learned to take risks, collect lessons from every misstep, and to never be afraid to change course.
Post high school, Armard completed a year of college with an expectation of studying computer science. He was met by a professor who told him that he “didn’t have what it takes” to succeed in the program.
Feeling defeated, Armard pivoted.
Next, he earned an associate degree in electrical system design and became an electrical draftsman in Chicago. “I worked closely with these engineers who seemed to have so much passion and excitement for their work, where I didn’t find that in my projects,” says Armard. The job was “fine” but he felt like there was something else for him, so he began looking for a new position.
But his next pivot would be for family.
“Around this time I got a phone call from an aunt who let me know that my father had been quietly battling cancer, and his condition was worsening,” says Armard. He packed up his life in Chicago and moved to Georgia to be a caretaker for his ailing father.
Armard wanted to build a strong relationship with his father through this rough time of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. He was committed to making sure his father had the best care — and who better to care for his father than Armard? He did so for eight months before his father passed away from his illness in what Armard calls the “toughest emotional period of my life.”
“It was good for both of us to be together, and for us to grow our bond,” says Armard. “I knew that time would be something we can never get back. The whole experience reminded me that life is brief.”
With a close view of the sometimes inconsistent care cancer patients receive, Armard decided that his next career would focus on healthcare.
So, Armard pivoted.
He became a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
He had firsthand knowledge of how the healthcare industry worked and felt he could make a difference in people’s lives as a physician assistant. Becoming a CNA was step one. Except, now in his late-20s, Armard realized that the 100 hours of internship on top of classes and low wages were too much to bear.
Next, Armard earned his bachelor’s in psychology from Columbus State University.
“I needed to complete something for myself,” says Armard about his degree. “Time kept passing and I wanted a degree that was flexible enough that I can use in different areas.”
Along the way, Armard worked as a personal trainer, valet, insurance salesman, customer service representative, and car salesman — just to name a few.
Eventually, Armard learned about Zip Code Wilmington while applying for jobs online in 2016.
“Zip Code was right for me because it was a quality curriculum in an affordable setting, when all of the other boot camps were located in New York or Los Angeles, at the time,” says Armard. “I had never heard of Wilmington, Delaware a day in my life but I figured that it couldn’t be that bad.”
After a 13-hour drive from Georgia, he arrived in a rental car to a city where he knew no one — his only solace was a small room rental he found on Craigslist.
Armard admits that bootcamp was mentally tough, but worth it. After some time, he grew a tight-knit community with his cohort members in the new area.
Zip Code Wilmington became a turning point in his ever-changing career search. He found something that he loved.
Although Zip Code provided him with the foundational coding skills, Armard also found the skills he gained from his varied educational and professional background helpful in his new position.
“I can pull from customer service and psychology and sales to really be an effective leader,” says Armard. “I talked about my 5-year plan with the company CEO which truly allows me to grow.”
With the many ups and downs, twists and turns, Armard refuses to put himself in a box. It took a long road to get to this dream job, but he expects it will continue to evolve as he finds more meaning in his work.
Today, he concludes that the dream job is now a tangible part of daily life.
“I have to keep pushing, and learning. I have to keep searching for different points of view.” reflects Armard.