From Front Page to Back End: A Journalist’s Journey Into the Tech Industry
Marshall Doig has always been drawn to behind-the-scenes jobs. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he started working as a copyeditor. “When you read an article, you think about who wrote it,” said Marshall, “not who edited it.” Though it wasn’t the conventional path, copyediting suited his passions perfectly. “I wanted to be the one at the desk, adhering to style guides and making sure everything was clean,” said Marshall. “I like the underdog roles.”
Seven years into his career, Marshall began reconsidering his path. While he enjoyed his copyediting job in Austin, Texas, career advancement felt unattainable. “There were flashes of opportunities,” said Marshall, but they never amounted to anything.
Suddenly, a memory popped into Marshall’s head. “Before moving to Austin, my wife had asked if I could see myself working there in journalism long-term. I said, ‘If worst comes to worst, Austin is a tech hub. I could go into technology.’”
Today, he’s done just that. Read on to discover how Marshall pivoted his career through The Data Analysis and Visualization Boot Camp at Texas McCombs and landed his dream role as a Quality Assurance Analyst at the Austin-based software company Social Solutions.
Transitioning from journalism to technology is a big leap. What kind of support did you find at The Data Analysis and Visualization Boot Camp at Texas McCombs?
The instructors were great, and there were always TAs available to answer my questions. The TAs had full-time industry jobs — they were people with real, ongoing experience they could share. Some of them were even boot camp grads themselves. They were living proof of what we could do if we worked hard and took advantage of resources.
In coding, there are many different ways to arrive at the same result — so it’s helpful to see how others approach the same project. Trilogy’s collaborative learning model was directly applicable to my new job, where we work as a team in what’s essentially an ongoing group project.
How did you develop an interest in quality assurance and discover your new job at Social Solutions?
In March of 2019, I attended a local networking event in Austin. That’s where I first met recruiters from Social Solutions, a company that makes case management software for nonprofits and government agencies. Building a product people use to help others really spoke to me. I’ve always wanted to help people — some way, somehow. I left that event knowing Social Solutions was my top-choice company.
Last September, I attended another networking event. Social Solutions was there again, and this time they were hiring for a Quality Assurance Analyst role. I told them I’d just completed a data boot camp but didn’t have software testing experience. They said to apply anyway — so I went through the interview process, furiously familiarizing myself with software testing terms. And suddenly, I realized, “Quality assurance is kind of like copyediting!” Some of the skills are directly applicable. In copyediting and in software testing, you’re constantly asking: Is this clear? Will the reader understand it? The farther I advanced in the interview process, the more excited I got. When I received my offer from Social Solutions, I happily accepted.
Congratulations on the new role! How are you enjoying it so far?
I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in a job. Going into the tech industry was undoubtedly the right choice for me. Here, I have many more opportunities for career advancement — that’s why I sought out the boot camp in the first place. Social Solutions consistently devotes attention to my career goals, then shows support by saying, “We can help you get there.”
How is the community at Social Solutions?
I couldn’t have asked for a better team. Everyone works so well together, and nobody’s afraid to ask questions. During one meeting, the team lead asked, “Everybody understand?” and I responded, “Not quite.” He was happy to whiteboard the problem, which was great, since it turned out another coworker needed clarity, too. Social Solutions very quickly showed me that I do have value to offer, even though I’m new to the industry.
What advice would you give others considering a career change?
Evaluate your situation, and remember: what’s right for others may not be right for you. You know what you want, and what works for you. Nobody can decide your path — you get to do that. If you’ve ever been curious about exploring another career, definitely look into it. I always had a fascination with computers. There was a seed there, so I gave it a chance. You’ll never know whether you can do it if you don’t try.
Looking back, what’s one lasting impact the boot camp had on your life?
Throughout the boot camp, I always told myself: “Once I get my foot in the door somewhere, I’m going to start helping people.” I’m so happy that’s finally my reality. Already, I’ve referred multiple people for positions at Social Solutions. I got the job for myself, but helping others start down this path often feels even more rewarding.