Dana needed a change of career, and with her STEM background, coding was just the sort of thing she was looking for. But the surprise costs of attending coding school landed her in a tough spot, putting her newfound dreams at risk.
“I wanted to do genetics,” she says of her early career aspirations.
For Dana, coding may have eventually become the logical choice, but it wasn’t the immediate one.
She’d been a math major in college, and she quickly translated that experience into a genetics job at UNC.
It was exactly what she had wanted up to this point.
There was just one problem: it turned out that she actually hated it.
"I love the science,” she says, but later on, realized “I don't like the lifestyle.”
Later, Dana decided that she might like to run a business, so she started working for bakeries and other food service locations in order to get the kind of experience she would need to open a restaurant or a food truck.
But this new dream ended up only ended up bringing more stress and new problems.
“The reality was coming down that, since the recession, banks like Wells Fargo were just not willing to give loans,” says Dana. “Especially for starting up businesses.”
So she decided once more to re-evaluate. That was when she heard about the Iron Yard.
The Iron Yard was a Durham, NC-based coding academy with the same value proposition of pretty much every other coding academy -- hand them $10,000 (give or take), go through their 12-week course, and you’ll come out the other side with the kind of skills that nearly every company on the market is looking for.
Given Dana’s undergraduate math major and background in science, coding seemed like a natural evolution of her skillset.
But there was an abrupt snag on Dana’s road to a new career path -- an unexpected $1000 bill.
“They needed a thousand dollar deposit that couldn't be wrapped up into the student loan,” Dana says, “and I didn’t know where to go.”
That was where we showed up.
It just so happened that LoanWell CEO and co-founder Bernard Worthy had been an Iron Yard student himself, and Dana had previously reached out to him for advice about classes.
Thinking that he might also have a lead on where to find a quick loan, Dana reached out again.
Bernard had made it through coding school himself and knew how tough it could be to get the ball rolling.
Both he and LoanWell cofounder Justin Straight felt obligated to help the next generation of students find the success that they had, hoping to do as much as they could to alleviate some of the same stress they’d once felt when it came to funding their educations.
So they offered Dana the chance to be one of the first users of LoanWell’s platform. Then they offered to loan her the money themselves.
Dana accepted the offer; with her deposit secured, she began attending the Iron Yard in February of 2017, graduating in May of the same year.
First, her new coding skills landed her an internship at the Cactus Group in Durham. Then, in March of 2018, she found a position at Red Hat.
“I've been with RedHat ever since then,” says Dana. “I love it. Now I'm finally able to start paying down debt and having savings and looking forward instead of constantly just struggling to stay afloat.”
Across the industry, people who make it through coding school receive a 25% bump in salary. Dana has since paid back her loan to Bernard and Justin in full.
“They've done a good job,” Dana says, “not just with the service, which is phenomenal, but they've done a good job on the site as far as the user experience. It is very easy to use. It is very approachable and welcoming and diverse.”
The position changed a lot of things for Dana. The new job came with a level of security she hadn’t had in a long time.
“It is my first time having insurance in the better part of a decade,” says Dana. “This is the first time a company that I have worked for [has provided] insurance.”
Since finding a job herself, Dana has talked about her willingness to help others in similar positions using LoanWell’s system.
She sees Bernard and Justin’s lending assistance as them “paying it forward” to the next generation of coding students, and wants to do so herself now that she’s in a position to help.
“I think this is gonna help a lot of people.”