A stay-at-home mom, a graphic designer, a project manager and sales professional share what motivated them to transition to a career in tech

[San Luis Obispo, CA, June 30, 2020] SLO Partners, one of the leading providers of apprenticeship programs in California, and Fullstack Academy, an immersive software engineering coding bootcamp, today announced they have awarded part-scholarships to four women for the Ticket into Tech program. Despite the fact that a woman was the first person to publish an algorithm, more than a century later women are still very much the minority in the tech world. In an effort to restore the balance and encourage more women to code, SLO Partners has consistently offered scholarships to women. In many cases, zero tech experience is needed, so applicants vary from students right out of high school to women looking for a career change, or to get back into the workforce after raising children. The four most recent scholarship recipients for the ‘Ticket into Tech’ program, share their backgrounds and what motivated them to take the leap to pursue a career in tech.  

Eileen Ratcliff

Eileen Ratcliff was raising her daughter and volunteering prior to starting the bootcamp. Before that, Eileen had a career spanning 15 years, working in many different fields including admin support, bookkeeping, inventory and events, for various companies including banks and hospitals. She’s also taken art courses and studied graphic design and business administration. She became interested in coding right out of high school. “I’ve always had a strong interest in computers and took classes early on to understand how they worked. I’ve also worked very closely with a lot of software systems tailored to different businesses and always rose to the occasion when it came to figuring them out and making them function properly. Having such varied experience gave me a lot of knowledge and skills, which I think will be valuable to bring to the coding world. Eileen’s interest in coding grew exponentially after completing her graphic design degree. I was searching all over to figure out where I could master this and then six months or so ago I came across a coding bootcamp and I was so excited. It seemed like the perfect springboard for me to get started in the coding industry so I applied. I look forward to being able to use my skills to serve the community and serve local businesses.” 

Christen Spencer

Christen Spencer was working in a sales development role at a software company before pursuing a career in tech. She first became interested in coding during a previous job where she was responsible for updating the website. “I liked that I could design and communicate something to a large audience.” Christen studied Graphic Communication at college which she thinks will be an asset to coding. “Having an idea of how important interfaces and appearances are can be valuable when planning the end product.” To see if coding was right for her, Christen enrolled in an introduction to Javascript and HTML class. “I wanted to see if I was any good and whether it’d enjoy doing it full time. Both of these proved to be true so when I heard about the coding bootcamp I signed up. I liked that the program was condensed and focused. There are a lot of great ways to learn to code but this was particularly appealing to me. “It’s going to give me the tools I need to transfer to a role in software development and a solid foundation for a career. I’m  excited about what the future holds, what I’m going to learn and how I’m going to apply it.” 

Tilly Wright

Tilly Wright was a stay-at-home mom before applying to the Ticket into Tech program and prior to that she worked for a software company as an account and implementation manager. “It involved a lot of teamwork, training and helping others, which I think will be a valuable skill to bring to the tech world.” She’s always had an interest in coding and became more curious about it working alongside developers. “I was working with a lot of software engineers to get work done and wished I could learn the coding that took place behind the scenes. I like finding solutions to problems and creating something people will benefit from.” Tilly came across the coding bootcamp online. “I already had a bachelor’s degree so I didn’t want to do another one. The bootcamp offered all the hands-on experience I needed, in weeks as opposed to years.”  Tilly believes that learning to code will have a significant impact on her future. “It’s definitely going to change my life, and family’s life quite dramatically. I’ve been a stay at home mom for seven years now, so getting back into the workforce will hopefully mean my husband can work less overtime. On being a scholarship recipient, Tilly said: “I’m really grateful for it and makes me want to really maximise my potential during these next six months. I’m ready to code every day and start a new chapter.” 


Laurence Reeds

Laurence Reeds had been doing project management for about ten years before applying to the coding bootcamp. “I was spending so much time with developers and saw how they had the freedom to build something and create interfaces for the user. I wanted to do the same and use my creativity to build websites and software. Knowing I could work anywhere in the world was also a big draw for me.” Laurence thinks the skills she gained from her project management work will be valuable to future employers. “Being able to understand customer needs as well as knowing how to build a project will give me a broader perspective as a coder.” On being a scholarship recipient, Laurence said: “I’ve never had a scholarship before so being chosen made me realize that my skills are valuable. I think the program will impact my future in amazing ways so I’m very grateful for the opportunity. The possibilities are endless in this field. Building software and websites is a beautiful thing to do and will bring a great sense of satisfaction to me. I was never truly fulfilled in my previous jobs and now when I’m coding, I feel like I belong.” 


About Ticket into Tech

The Ticket into Tech Apprenticeship Program is designed to help hands-on problem solvers, who may or may not have previous tech experience, enter a new career path through an accelerated training bootcamp, connect with growing companies and receive post-hire support.

The program is provided through a partnership between SLO Partners and Cal Poly Extended Education Coding Bootcamp. The program’s goal is to create head of household careers in the tech industry through apprenticeship in the local community.

About SLO Partners

SLO Partners’ mission is to engage business partners and educators in aligning workforce needs with career and college pathways that provide work experience opportunities to ensure that students have the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the workplace and businesses have the skilled workers required for a sound growing economy. SLO Partners was formed in 2014 as an initiative of the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education to address college and career readiness among the county’s population. SLO Partners has over 100 apprentices working in SLO County in tech and manufacturing with a $4M annual impact to the local economy.