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Photo courtesy Alicia Waide, Photo illustration: Axios Visuals

Alicia Waide was two decades out of college when she started thinking about a tech job. She'd worked at Procter & Gamble for three years, then as a biology teacher in Baltimore high schools for another 16.

  • She often brought tech workers into her classroom to inspire students — and eventually fell under the spell herself. She was looking for a job that would let her spend more time with her family and pay better than teaching.
  • One speaker told her about an online assessment from a company called Catalyte, for people who want to get into tech but don't have a technical background.

Waide took the test in late 2017 and was accepted. The training program was hard— "unlike anything I'd ever done before," she tells Axios. She took an accelerated course: five days a week, seven hours a day, for 16 weeks.

  • She studied another two-plus hours a night, catching up to classmates with software backgrounds.
  • It proved a significant financial burden, too. "Basically, there's no salary for four or five months," Waide says. Without savings from her teaching career and support from her husband, it would have been impossible.

Waide graduated last year and is now approaching the halfway mark of her two-year apprenticeship.

  • Her salary is still low. "I'm making half of what I was making as a teacher," she says. But watching her colleagues, she's confident that will change after the apprenticeship.
  • She's on a project for a big-name consumer products company — she couldn't tell me which — creating a web application. She learned two programming languages during training, and she has picked up two more since.
  • Waide says that as an African-American woman over 35, she feels like a unicorn in the software industry. But at Catalyte, "I'm never reminded that I'm a unicorn."

"I didn't think there was a clear pathway for someone like me who's a mid-career changer," Waide tells Axios.

Go deeper

Institutionalizing Trumpism

Protesters supporting Donald Trump march down Fifth Avenue in March. Photo: John Minchillo/AP

Republican officials are rendering an unequivocal verdict: They want to cement former President Trump's politics and policies into the foundation of the GOP for many years to come.

Why it matters: The debate over Trump's post-election hold on the GOP is over — it has gotten stronger since the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Epic's long game against Apple

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Epic's Apple lawsuit is costing the company dearly, but the game developer has its eye on a valuable long-term goal: prying tomorrow's virtual worlds loose from the grip of app store proprietors like Apple.

Between the lines: Epic isn't spending a fortune in legal fees and foregoing a ton of revenue just to shave some costs off in-app purchases on today's phones. Rather, it's planning for a future of creating virtual universes via augmented and virtual reality — without having to send a big chunk of their economies to Apple or Google.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Slow global COVID-19 vaccination rates are raising concerns that worse variants of the coronavirus could be percolating, ready to rip into the world before herd immunity can diminish their impact.

Why it matters: The U.S. aims to at least partially vaccinate 70% of adults by July 4, a move expected to accelerate the current drop of new infections here. But variants are the wild card, and in a global pandemic where only about 8% of all people have received one dose, the virus will continue mutating unabated.