Deana Stuart

By Deana Stuart

I used to think that switching careers was a bad thing. When contemplating swapping industries, worries like, “Do I want to throw away all this time to start at the bottom, again?” or “Hiring managers will think I’m wishy-washy” made me reconsider the idea. As I’ve accrued a multifaceted career history, though, I’ve come to realize that not only have I developed richer skillsets that have built upon each other, each career switch has gotten me closer to a job that I love – and has led me to Freya, a company that exemplifies the very qualities that I’ve been looking for in a job.

So how did each career switch get me closer to what I wanted?

So how did each career switch get me closer to what I wanted? Constantly asking myself “what do I like and dislike about my job?” and keeping myself open to new opportunities has led to each new position being more fulfilling.

While attending the liberal arts focused Hobart and William Smith Colleges, I took the opportunity to try lots of different classes. I loved learning about new cultures as well as dabbling in the creative arts so I ended up graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with a double minor in Theatre and Aesthetics. I decided to pursue a career with museums and archives – “I like learning so being around historical objects would be interesting!”, I figured.

Since I did like learning, going back to school to receive my Master’s Degree in Information Science was a no brainer. With that degree, I began working in archives but after a few years, I started considering the positives and negatives about my career. While handling historical records did give me the satisfaction and learning opportunities I was looking for, I found myself a bit lonely. In the end, my extrovert nature started steering me away from archival work.

When the opportunity to work on the fundraising and communications team for the historical society where I was working came up, I jumped at the chance. I loved being on a small team and strategizing on projects. I excelled at working in the donor database and enjoyed figuring out the logic of who should be on mailing lists for fundraising appeals. At this time, I realized how much I like solving problems. I ended up working in the field of nonprofit fundraising for almost six years before I starting thinking about where my career was going next.

Starting at Zip Code Wilmington

At this time, my partner had switched careers himself by attending Zip Code Wilmington – a three-month intensive coding bootcamp. I saw how he was able to put in hard work for a short amount of time and completely transform his career. Seeing him in his new role helped me realize that many jobs in the tech sector are the culmination of what I’m looking for in a job – not only are you constantly learning new things (it’s so important since technology is always evolving) you work together in teams to solve problems.

When Zip Code Wilmington started its Data Engineering program, I knew it was for me. I’ve spent both of my previous careers working with data, I understand how important it is. My experience in both library and donor databases helped in my learning and I graduated in January 2021 eager to take that next new step in my career.

Landing my Dream Job

Coming out of Zip Code Wilmington and speaking with recruiters about my previous skills and experience, I realized that my doubts about switching careers were unfounded. Not only was I reentering the workforce with brand new and relevant skills, I was bringing years of developed soft skills – communication, organization, and creativity as well a unique perspective.

Freya’s values are exactly what I was looking for in a job. Freya’s focus on learning and growing means we have the space to try new things and continue to develop. Freya’s focus on data driven solutions and collaboration means we are working together to solve problems every day. I’m so grateful that my winding career has helped me discover what makes me thrive and I’m excited to have landed in a place where I can do just that.