In June of 2020, when Elizabeth was 58 years old, she was diagnosed with cancer — right after the pandemic began. She was forced to slow down and reevaluate every aspect of her life. Being forced to stay at home and needing a way to distract herself, Elizabeth took that opportunity to go back to school for Cybersecurity at City College of San Francisco (CCSF). When asked why she chose CCSF, she stated that when she started looking around at different universities she found that they were cost-prohibitive. After doing significant research, her assessment was that it wasn’t worth the money. She learned that CCSF’s Cybersecurity program had a solid reputation, and the cost was manageable.
Cybersecurity was not an entirely new field for her. Elizabeth started her career in technology in the late 80’s, by launching a consulting company in the early days of tech. The user interface didn’t quite exist as we know it today and Elizabeth was able to develop that interface for her clients.
She left her tech consulting business in 2000 and took her tech experience into the restaurant space. Here Elizabeth played a key role in the development and emergence of digital menus and linking point of sales (POS) systems to kitchens, which greatly streamlined the workflow for restaurants and served as a technical model for the restaurant industry.
In 2015 Elizabeth moved away from the work that she was doing in the restaurant business and started doing consultancy work again. It was here that her work focused on the value of the virtual office. Remote work was not embraced in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. As we know, it took a global pandemic to manifest it. Companies were reluctant to embrace remote work. It was about control, they did not trust employees to deliver work from home.
As mentioned above, Elizabeth joined CCSF at the onset of the pandemic. It was time to codify past experience and delve into the world of cybersecurity. Elizabeth recognized that she was gaining a substantial amount of theoretical knowledge, but what she really was looking for was a hands-on experience. She shared that need by applying and joining a cohort from Techtonica which was invaluable in her ability to find a job. It was here that she honed in on both hard and soft skills. During her six-month intensive bootcamp at Techtonica, she learned that having mentors was key. Techtonica walks the talk in terms of anti-ageism and diversity. A poignant takeaway for Elizabeth from this experience is the value of advocating for yourself, for being able to express yourself without reservation.
She took most of the technical courses offered at CCSF and is graduating this month! Elizabeth is happy to report, “that as I am about to turn 60, I am receiving my AS degree in CNIT with a focus on CyberSecurity and I am starting my new job with the Identity Platform team at Indeed as a SWE1.”
Elizabeth’s hope is that by sharing her story she will encourage others that becoming an engineer is VERY possible, both as a woman and as a person ‘long in the tooth.’
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