Freelancing Without Fear: How This Data Analyst Gained Skills and Confidence Through Berkeley Boot Camps


Melissa Wright was at a crossroads. As a military veteran and military spouse, she had moved around a lot over the years. New to the Bay Area, she struggled with her job search; without any local connections, networking proved to be exceptionally difficult. 

That’s when Melissa decided to continue her education. She initially checked out an adult learning center, but it wasn’t exactly what she was looking for. The class was crowded and everyone had a different level of experience. Additionally, many of the courses were exclusively online, very expensive, or both. 

She began searching for alternative educational opportunities, which eventually led her to Berkeley Data Analytics Boot Camp

A well-rounded learning experience 

On the first day of the boot camp, Melissa knew it was a good fit. The instructors gave students an overview of what to expect in terms of curriculum, workload and collaborations with classmates.

“They warn you that it will feel like you’re drinking out of a firehose,” said Melissa. “We were told the boot camp could be overwhelming, but they gave us tips for managing our time and told us where to go for extra help.”

At one point, Melissa started feeling overwhelmed and filled out a weekly evaluation to express her concerns. Shortly after submitting the evaluation, she got a call from someone at the boot camp who had read her answers and wanted to check in. From there, she was connected to a tutor who could provide more help. 

Melissa developed a great connection with her tutor and began to feel more comfortable. “I got caught up on the work and used the resources that were available to me,” she said. “I started to feel really confident.”

This confidence helped Melissa complete projects she was proud of, including a 3D, interactive globe that incorporated JavaScript to sort through the worldwide impacts of various pandemics including COVID-19, Swine flu and Ebola.

The class watched as the globe spun around, indicating the number of deaths in certain areas caused by each pandemic. “I was impressed by my ability to make something like that, and I was reassured that I was learning skills applicable to real-world problems,” said Melissa. “Using pandemic data in real time was really powerful.”

Finding freedom with freelancing

After the boot camp, Melissa started getting job interviews, which built up her confidence even more. Despite several companies’ interest in her work, she decided to get back into freelancing. “I love working for myself,” said Melissa. “But before the boot camp, I wasn’t confident enough in my skills to be comfortable doing some of the things I was asked to do.”

She felt the time she spent applying to jobs and preparing for interviews could be better spent freelancing, honing her skills, and helping businesses. The added normalcy of working from home in the era of COVID also made things easier. “If it weren’t for COVID, I might be applying to other places, but the normalization of remote work has changed my perspective and opened the door to more freelancing opportunities,” Melissa said. 

Now, Melissa is sure of her skills. She can develop websites more easily and is no longer intimidated by doing things that aren’t exactly in her skill set. “I never think completing certain tasks will be a problem anymore,” she said. “This course taught me that even if I don’t know how to do something, it doesn’t mean I can’t do it.”

Reading technical documentation is one skill that has proven useful for Melissa. When one of her clients needed help solving website performance issues that were causing delays in website interaction, Melissa read through tons of pages of JavaScript documents to figure out how to move forward. After that, she taught the server to show the website first and then read the JavaScript to enable customer interaction. “We weren’t taught how to do that in class, but I was able to learn how to read and understand documentation, which is an incredible skill,” said Melissa.

The boot camp’s career services, interview training and networking opportunities gave Melissa the tools to someday be hired by a big corporation in a post-COVID world — but for now, she’s thriving in the freelance sector. 

“If you’re a developer who’s currently out of work and you’re not freelancing right now, you’re not trying hard enough,” she said. “There’s no better time to get started.” 

Interested in building or improving your tech skills? Check out Berkeley Boot Camps in Data Analytics, Coding, Cybersecurity and more.


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