Alumni Success Stories: How Taking a Bet on Yourself Can Transform Your Present Moment


Change can sometimes feel like skydiving. Scary for some yet exhilarating for others. A leap of faith is only enjoyable if you have envisioned or experienced the infinite possibilities before taking the jump. That means a mental and emotional preparation for the rush, the highs, and potential lows. Transitioning to a career in tech can be scary, especially if you come from a non-traditional background.

We sat down with Career Impact Bond graduates Anthony Pegues and Malika Johnson from General Assembly’s Sofware Engineering Immersive Program to share their stories on how embracing change and believing in themselves transformed their present moment.

The Career Impact Bond Program helps people across U.S cities gain in-demand coding skills to become ready for long-term careers in the tech industry and supports improved economic mobility.

The Power of Transformation: Uncover How Their Stories Unfold

1. What job did you have before joining GA, and where are you currently located? 

Anthony – Currently I’m in New Jersey. Before GA, I was a custodian and then worked for habitat for humanity.

Malika – I’m currently located in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Before joining GA, I was a Business Manager. Before the pandemic, I worked for a marketing company in New York, and during the pandemic, I decided to move to CT to be with my family. While in CT, I helped my younger sister open and managed a dance studio in the Bridgeport are. a.

2. What motivated this career change?

Anthony – I was working a deaden job. I didn’t feel respected at my job. I depended on my mother for food and a home and knew I was better than that. Before GA, I participated in a leadership program in Africa, and that program empowered me to make a change in my life.

Malika I think the biggest motivation for my career change was feeling stuck in terms of growth. I have always had a more entrepreneurial mindset and knew my previous role was just a stepping stone for my ultimate goals. I began to feel bored if I wasn’t juggling a bunch of different projects, and when brainstorming side project ideas with family, coding came up. My favorite cousin told me that I couldn’t do it. It was boring, tedious, and ultimately out of my depth. I took that as a personal challenge and signed up for a full-stack course through Codecademy. After three months, I fell in love with coding and all its complexities which led me to sign up for GA to accelerate my learning to be better equipped for the job market…

3. If it were five years ago today, what would a work week look like in five words?

  • Anthony – Not productive, stressful, labor intensive, and draining.
  • Malika – Hectic, Spontaneous, Long, Unbalanced, Romanticized.

Five years later – are these words still present? If so, in what ways? If not, how have they evolved?

  • Anthony – Definitely not labor intensive anymore, lol. I now have a clear career path. I feel empowered and respected in my position. My career now has also altered my perspective on entrepreneurship, and that’s something I want to work toward in the near future.
  • Malika – These words are almost the opposite of what I would describe my work week presently. Hectic and spontaneous could easily be replaced by organized or scheduled. Also, I would use research and independence instead of being unbalanced and romanticized, so much of my week involves learning something new.

4. In your own words and through your lived experiences, how would you imagine your present moment if you didn’t believe in yourself to become who you are today?

Anthony – I would be closed-minded and scared of change. I’d still be working a dead-end job or trying to work towards a city job. Overall I would have discovered my true potential because I would not have pushed myself to be better.

Malika – I think I have instilled in myself a way to get things done even if I didn’t believe in myself at that present moment. So even if I find myself doubting if I can do something, I just take it as I don’t know enough about that subject. Knowledge naturally inspires more confidence. So knowing the only difference between me and the person I aspire to be is knowledge and application makes it so much easier to focus and execute. And now, I don’t have the option to second guess myself because I have a trusted system in place.

5. If you could have one superpower, what would it be? How has this gift manifested itself into your reality? 

Has GA played a role in discovering or strengthening this power? If so, in what ways?

Anthony – My superpower would be to access other people’s superpowers. I think this ability has manifested itself through my ability to collaborate. Sometimes I am not able to do certain things, but I can identify other people’s superpowers and leverage their power to complete my goal. – GA has played a huge role in discovering this strength. During my cohort at GA, I was able to work with my classmates and understand people’s strengths and weaknesses. Even if I was not good at something, I always knew I could work with a classmate to achieve the task at hand

Malika – If I could have one superpower, I always thought it would be to control things with my mind. It’s funny my job actually asked me this question during my second week – I realized that GA played a role in making this a reality. I learned new languages that allow me to build something exactly how I pictured it in my mind, and now people literally think I’m a wizard for talking to computers. Not per se the same thing, but it’s the closest I’ve felt to having a special power in real life.

6. What advice or tools would you give your younger self to embrace fear and doubt through optimism and imagination? Essentially, to take a bet on yourself.

Anthony – If you don’t take a step towards embracing change, you will never discover your true potential. 

Malika – Some advice or tools I would give my younger self to embrace fear and doubt would be to continue being curious and follow that. If something doesn’t make you ask questions anymore or get excited, find something else that does. You are allowed to have more than one passion, and sometimes the most incredible things are just beyond fear. And most importantly, FAILING is the ONLY option; it’s how you learn, so drop the heavy baggage of perfection straight out the gate. 

Change doesn’t have to feel daunting with the right support system. To be ready to invest in yourself and transform your future means taking that first step.

Explore our various career pathways to join a community of career changers and risk takers who choose to take a bet on themselves daily.

Disclaimer: General Assembly referred to their Bootcamps and Short Courses as “Immersive” and “Part-time” courses respectfully and you may see that reference in posts prior to 2023.