Holly Burd Michael Dorsey

Holly Burd, Alumni of the Month, December 2019

Originally from Peoria, Illinois, Holly joined the military after one semester of college. She knew she wanted to gain more life skills and not spin her wheels working towards an unknown degree. 

In the military, Holly enlisted as a Marine in the Intelligence Community, specializing as an Arabic Linguist for her Iraq deployment. For deployments in Afghanistan, Holly also learned Pashto and was a lead translator. In this role, she was responsible for not only language translations but for ensuring the systems that collected our data were converting correctly. As a Corporal, Holly also did work as an intelligence analyst and general interpreter. 

After three deployments in five years, Holly left the military to settle down and experience life as a civilian. She was ready for a new challenge! She found various positions in sales, where she honed her general troubleshooting and problem solving skills but something was missing. Her roommate, Nicole Carpenter, who is a longtime Code Platoon ambassador finally talked Holly into applying for the program. 

Holly joined Code Platoon in April 2019 as part of India Platoon. Over the course of the next 14 weeks, she developed a strong foundation of software development skills. “I’ve never learned so much, so quickly, as I did at Code Platoon,“ said Holly. Holly was able to refer back to the skills she developed during her military service, especially the immersive nature of working in close proximity with a team of fellow servicemen and women to accomplish a goal. She successfully graduated in August of 2019 and is currently a software development intern at DRW. You can learn even more about Holly in her own words by watching her video below.

Congratulations Holly on being our December 2019 Alumni of the Month! 

“Holly brought passion, enthusiasm, and an ability to learn the new language of software development every day to the classroom. Her aptitude for identifying a problem and encouraging all members of the team to find a solution together is an invaluable asset to tech teams.” 

-Rod Levy, Executive Director 

Holly Burd in her own words

So I joined the Marine Corps when I was 19. I became an Arabic linguist and deployed to Iraq. Then when I came back, I learned Pashto, and I went and translated in Afghanistan as well. For me, learning a new language was … It was something that I took to really well. So I had an affinity for it in high school and middle school, and then going into the military I was in a really amazing program that was just immersive. So you were around other people learning the same things, working on the same things, all day every day. It was just a perfect situation to learn a language in, so I was able to succeed there.

I tried going back to traditional college after the military, but I found that that immersive program and the immersive approach of Code Platoon was really better for me and helped me learn more quickly.

Being in an environment with other veterans, especially in an intense environment like this, it’s nice to know that everyone has a commonality and we all kind of have been through similar programs, like intense training programs. So we all were able to take from that and kind of lean into each other when we needed help, too. Definitely my favorite part of the program is the instructors. The curriculum is designed to really push you and test you every day, so you never feel like you’re wasting a moment. You just keep learning and learning and learning. It’s super powerful.

Now that I’m an alumni of Code Platoon, I am working at DRW. I’m already able to be working on active projects and contributing. I also get to work with a handful of other Code Platoon graduates. It’s great because knowing where they come from and where they are now, seeing that roadmap is something I could kind of emulate and look forward to myself. I’m so grateful. Everything that Rod and John and you do … super life changing. But you know that.

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