From Boot Camp to Boot Camp Developer: How This Comedian Transitioned to Data Analytics

Photo of Dominica Corless

When asked to tell something about herself, Dominica Corless simply responds, “It’s such a loaded question!”

By the time she decided to take part in Berkeley Data Analytics Boot Camp, she had already accomplished so much in her career. Originally from Australia — where she received a BS in internet computing and a graduate diploma in media production — Dominica has worn many professional hats: from web developer, to publisher. She even founded her own improv business in 2016.

“I had children young and we moved to Malaysia fairly early on, where I did stand-up comedy,” said Dominica. “Then we moved here to the San Francisco Bay Area and I got into performing improv instead, which was a lot more enjoyable for me.”

But when the pandemic hit, not only did shows halt, but Dominica also lost her tour guide job which was her primary source of income — forcing her to transition to a more remote-friendly line of work. “I had to figure out how to financially support myself and my children,” she explained. That’s when she decided to try out the boot camp.

From laughs to logarithms

For Dominica, the transition to something completely new came naturally since she already had a lot of experience juggling multiple responsibilities. Thanks to her prior technical knowledge, she smoothly learned the new data analytics material with the help of her instructors.

“It had been a very, very long time since I’d done any programming, but my degree in internet computing definitely helped me succeed because I already had the foundation,” recounted Dominica. “So in a way, joining the boot camp was more about refreshing and updating my skills.”

Since she wasn’t working at the time, Dominica was able to devote a good portion of her days toward the boot camp classes and course work. As a parent, she felt fortunate that the program’s flexibility empowered her to succeed on assignments and projects. 

“I tended to prefer working on homework assignments in long stretches, especially when I was really into the code,” she explained.

From punchlines to Pokédexes

By leveraging her prior technical background, Dominica quickly internalized a large amount of difficult material which enabled her to make her mark on group projects. “During one of my favorite projects, my classmate and I pulled data on something like 800 Pokémon and made a website Pokédex database displaying them,” she explained. 

After fulfilling the basic requirements to pass the project, Dominica used her boot camp learnings to take things even further. “I wound up implementing an entire battle page where you could input the Pokémon you’re fighting against to determine which Pokémon is best to choose based on different elements like strengths and weaknesses,” she explained.

Dominica and her group gave presentations to other students in the boot camp for the Pokémon project, among others. Being forced to talk through complicated data sets and code samples in a clear and understandable way was a new and invaluable experience for her. “It had been a long time since I’d had to do any sort of presentation for work, especially about data analysis, so it was good to have that experience under my belt.”

From comedy to coding 

Of course, landing a job requires more than great education; how your experience and credentials are presented to employers can be just as important. 

So, from day one of the boot camp, Dominica made sure to take advantage of all the available career services offerings. “I worked with my career director regularly to improve my GitHub and LinkedIn accounts, as well as my resume based on their feedback and also signed up for numerous webinars to hear other peoples’ perspectives,” she said. “It’s possible I could have taught myself the material, but alone I wouldn’t have had access to those kinds of services.”

Her edifying boot camp journey paid off. In July 2021, Dominica accepted a part-time position at 2U as a curriculum engineer for data. Her team uses large quantities of data to improve boot camp curriculums provided by Trilogy’s university partners — including the very same program she had completed earlier that year.

“As a single parent having to deal with children transitioning back into in-person learning, I feel like the flexibility I’m provided by being able to work part-time has been invaluable,” she said. “I’m still fresh in the role, but it’s going well so far. I’m really excited to be here.”

Looking to amplify a current career in tech, or start a new one? Embark upon Berkeley Boot Camps in coding, data analytics, UX/UI, cybersecurity, digital marketing, fintech and tech project management.

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