Caterer to software developer: Pandemic pressuring some to change careers

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As college graduation nears, a major chosen pre-pandemic may not be the most secure in the changing workplace.

We've been tracking how many have lost their jobs as part of Building A Better Bay Area. Those with the best prospects may credit a re-examination of their skills. ABC7 News Reporter David Louie shows us how risk-taking can lead to a better future.

Sasha Dooley was working as a university catering manager after receiving her degree in biomedical sciences. Then the pandemic hit, and so did reality.

"Well, I'm service industry," said Dooley. "I'm not going to be able to work from home. I'm just going to be let go."

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She now has a secure job as a software developer, working from home in Palo Alto. But it required her to change careers. She signed up for a boot camp at Coding Dojo. She was surrounded by others facing a similar challenge because of disruption in the workplace.

"Yeah, I was pretty scared almost every step of the way, but it was nice to see so many people around me," said Dooley.

Even Coding Dojo, with learning centers across the country, had to switch to remote instruction. Enrollment soared as many young and mid-career workers sought new skills.

"We do get a lot of folks coming out of the service industry," said Coding Dojo Career Services Manager Ben Greene. "We get a lot of folks coming out of restaurants and hospitality, but we also have tons of folks that are coming out of the finance world and the business world in general. And teachers."

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He emphasizes that we must look ahead to get ahead.

"People are looking for stability. People are looking for skills that will carry them into the future," said Greene.

The shock wave also reached college campuses where students nearing graduation began having doubts. San Jose State's career center saw an increase in students taking technical and data analytics courses to broaden their skills.

"It's easier and easier, I think, for people to upskill quickly without necessarily feeling like they made the wrong choice that they can adapt to the needs of the marketplace," said Anita Manuel of the San Jose State Career Center.

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The tech sector was well suited for remote work and adapted quickly to the pandemic.

"Being nimble and being decisive is really important? Very important," said Dooley.

For Sasha Dooley, the path forward appears more possible, more stable.
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