Lindsey Myrick spent the last three years of her career working for Genesys Works, a nonprofit organization that provides pathways to professional success for high schoolers in underrepresented communities. Starting as a Program Coordinator and then transitioning to a Student Recruitment Specialist, Myrick’s job was very communication focused and people oriented. It was a job she really enjoyed, but one she decided to leave.

For the last four months, Myrick has taken part in Prime Digital Academy’s accelerated and immersive program in pursuit of her Full Stack Software Engineering certification. How does someone decide after several years in one field to change their career path? For Myrick, one job inspired the other.

“My time at Genesys Works exposed me to the tech world in a way I had never experienced before,” Myrick said. “I realized that a lot of the things that I loved doing professionally—in particular, solving complex problems using data—made me a great fit for some of the roles I was encouraging students to explore. One of the great things about working with students is you’re often giving them advice that you should really be taking yourself; in my case, it was to actually explore software development, and to not let preconceived notions of ‘who gets to be a coder’ stand in the way.”

Taking her epiphany to heart, Myrick started with a few online coding classes. After an introduction to HTML, CSS and JavaScript, Myrick said, “I realized that I absolutely loved it,” leading her to enroll as a full-time student with Prime Digital Academy.

Prime Digital Academy
“Prime is an immersive learning community dedicated to transforming lives by helping people build meaningful tech careers,” explained Mark Hurlburt, President of Prime Digital Academy. “We see our role in the Minnesota tech ecosystem as an on-ramp for people who might otherwise see tech as inaccessible to them. We want to humanize technology in our community by bringing diverse and driven problem-solvers to the challenge of creating a better tomorrow.”

Prime Digital achieves this through a three-tier program, focusing on:

  • pre-work programming concepts and web technologies,
  • 9-to-5 full stack software development classes,
  • and project-based learning.

“When they call it ‘accelerated’ learning, they’re not kidding!” Myrick explained, “We move very quickly but I think that in it of itself is such a gift for new developers. For me personally, it’s taught me how to have the right mindset when going through the growing pains of learning a new skill.”

Code and Communication
Myrick’s time at Prime Digital has helped her develop and refine her software and programming abilities, but one thing she wasn’t expecting to learn was the importance of people-skills for her future as a developer.

“Although it may come down to 1s and 0s eventually, so much of developing a project is being able to communicate and work with other people,” Myrick said. “I’ve been really happy to see that I can combine a lot of different things I love in this role! I’m working really hard at Prime but I’m also having a lot of fun, and I feel really grateful that I stumbled into a career that feels like a passion. Not everyone gets that!”

This career path is unconventional, but thanks to programs like Prime Digital and Dream Corps Tech, opportunities like this are becoming more common, as was the case with Samrawit Mekonnen.

A student for life
Mekonnen’s path includes a series of intersections. Having worked as an Administrative Assistant at the University of Minnesota and a Claims Adjuster at Auto Owners Insurance before branching into tech roles within the banking and medtech industries, Mekonnen’s portfolio is impressively diverse. And at the start of this year, Mekonnen added ‘Student’ to the top of her resume.

“I always find myself learning about something new,” Mekonnen said. “To quote my father, ‘learning doesn’t end after earning a degree, we are students for life.’”

Mekonnen’s pursuit for learning led her to become part of Dream Corps Tech’s cohort in Minneapolis. The eight-week program is dedicated to getting people of color into tech jobs. From skills training to helping their students secure a job in their industry, Dream Corps Tech stays with you every step of the way.

Mekonnen’s Java classes met over Zoom daily and observed weekly one-on-one check-ins with mentors and student success leads.

“It’s one of a kind community at Dream Corps!” Mekonnen said. “The curriculum is intensive, but it is very much focused on the success of each student. Everyone from the leadership team, lecturer, mentors and presenters want each of us to succeed as engineers as well as individuals.”

Looking forward and reaching back
Reflecting on her coding training, Mekonnen said, “I didn’t expect I was going to be as pleased as I am now, because I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into besides learning how to program. Now that I am almost done, I am so glad I trusted the process and have gained so much knowledge as well as meaningful relationships.”

With her classes coming to a close, Mekonnen and her cohort will soon start work on a project with Optum, thanks to a partnership with Dream Corps Tech.

We are providing companies with well-trained (soft-skills and technical) diverse tech talent from the Twin Cities area,” said Jonathan Meeks, National Director at Dream Corps Tech, “ample amount of engagement opportunities to really get to know the Dreamers, and a strong value proposition when it comes to partnering with Dream Corps Tech.”

After this experience and the opportunities she’s received, it’s Mekonnen’s wish to connect with the tech industry as a whole, to make career pathways like hers more available to people within her community.

“If I could sit down with industry experts, I would ask what they are doing to diversify the tech field,” Mekonnen said. “What kind of mentorships would benefit to bring more women and people of color to the tech field? How we can work together to make the tech ecosystem friendly for people like me?”

“Our program not only helps provide tech careers for Blacks and LatinX Twin Cities residents but it also helps change the narrative of how we as African-Americans are perceived in America,” Meeks added. “To ensure the longevity and success of our program, we need partners, advocates, past and present participants and the Twin Cities to amplify our program within their respective networks, broadcast participant success stories and for companies to truly commit to diversifying their tech departments by providing more people of color tech roles.”

Get involved
The Minnesota Technology Association is pleased to highlight trailblazers like Myrick and Mekonnen through our Tech Career 1.0 community, but there’s always more that can be done.

If you’re interested in supporting opportunities for a more diverse tech workforce, reach out to MnTech’s Director of Community Engagement Jade Denson at