Alumni Journey: Inci A.
Spending time on the shores of Izmir, Turkey, often means separating momentarily from buzzing devices and flashing screens.
That was true in the 1970s when young Inci played on its stone streets and within its ancient walls. She remembers those “magical” days— when families looked Westward into the Aegean Sea instead of at their primitive black and white TVs.
This happy childhood meant Inci had almost no concept of technology. She wouldn’t get her first cellphone until decades later. Even then, she hardly knew how to use it. When Inci’s loving husband bought her an iPhone, their daughter half-joked that it would be wasted on her mother.
Instead of pushing paper behind a desk or crunching numbers on a screen, Inci got into the hospitality business and opened up a small hotel in Foca, not far from Izmir. The company was booming in the 2000s. Her husband did all the technical stuff, while Inci preferred to deal with people, design rooms, and market the business.
Soon, the family dreamed of moving abroad to the United States, where Inci’s husband got a job offer and where their academically gifted daughter could pursue limitless opportunities. So they eventually took a leap of faith to chase the American Dream. A decade of success followed, with extensive Turkish and international media coverage.
Not long after they left, Turkey’s economy ran into trouble. The Lira grew weaker and weaker, damaging Inci’s savings. She hoped her well-kept hotel was enough to fund life in America. Then the pandemic arrived and devastated tourism markets.
Do I have to look for a new job? What would I even do? Who would pay for everything? Maybe a cashier? Drive an Uber?
The family had no choice but to dig deep into their savings.
Then, one night, the unexpected happened. A friend came over for dinner and talked non-stop about his and his wife’s new interest in coding and computers. He talked about how coding helped his wife get work and how the whole experience changed their lives.
Inci couldn’t help. She couldn’t use her iPhone. She never owned a laptop. I never used a word processor. This guy chatting about coding might be speaking Greek.
He must be getting scammed, she thought. It all sounds too easy! God help him and his wife!
But the friend wouldn’t shut up. He started explaining his journey: an educational tech company prepped and taught him all he and his wife knew about the world of coding and infotech. Inci didn’t pay much attention at first but eventually listened as it became clear that this friend wasn’t lying about their new careers.
Meanwhile, the hotel business in Turkey was dead. Someone had to pay the bills. People lost a lot of money, and Inci was stressing out. So she thought, what the hell, whatever this “coding thing” is, if my middle-aged friends can do it, maybe I can too.
Inci, then nearing 50—a woman who avoided all technology—finally picked up the phone and called her friend.
“What’s this company you were talking about again?” she asked.
“Cydeo,” was the answer. “It’s called Cydeo.”
Inci took a deep breath and fished out her credit card. She enrolled in the 7-month program that her friend took, which included everything from Java programming to testing tools like TestNG, Junit, Selenium WebDriver, JDBC, and REST Assured. Then there were the test automation frameworks and team projects.
Inci had zero ideas what any of it meant.
She eyed her credit card and thought this better work.
Inci then told her husband to buy her a laptop, which had to be set up by their daughter since she had never owned one. And from then on, little by little, Inci’s relationship with Cydeo began to take shape. She had zero coding experience but was willing to learn. She attended all the classes and took diligent notes. Day after day, she kept doing the work.
Her family members were shocked. They thought she was utterly out of her depth. This was their relative who hardly knew how to use a smartphone. Who rarely touched a computer. Some thought she was going nuts, chasing a dream by giving money to a scam company. Her younger brother told her to stop wasting her time.
If you get a job doing this stuff, I’ll dress up like a belly dancer and dance in the streets! He said.
Inci ignored them. She kept pushing forward. Whatever happened, she wanted to give this thing her best shot. Step by step, things started making sense. First, it was Java, then the testing tools. Bit by bit, she started building her foundation of knowledge.
Then, after the third month, Inci was shocked.
She wasn’t scared anymore. She was operating computers just fine, and she was getting fantastic feedback from her mentors. Soon, she started a study group with three other women. All finished Cydeo’s program successfully and became “early birds” in its placement of students in the booming job markets of coding, AI, and infotech.
Inci couldn’t believe it. Her life was changing. She could hardly keep up. She had to pinch herself, and her jaw was on the floor. As Cydeo started telling companies about her, Inci began getting job offers from major companies. Or. She hardly knew what to do after turning on a computer not long ago.
Later, after working in several tech spaces, Inci saw the opportunity of a lifetime: a significant company pioneering AI products as business solutions were looking for an automation engineer.
It was a scary title, but Inci was used to taking risks by now. She applied, got an interview, and was offered the job. She was shocked. She was about to design automation frameworks for one of the country’s leading AI companies. Her time at Cydeo was paying off. Big time.
The ex-hotelier wasn’t the only one shocked at her new career. Her family and friends couldn’t believe it either. Inci is doing it all. Her work is rewarding, pays well, and her life has changed. She could now afford to send her teenage daughter into a gifted program in Maryland. Her husband, witnessing her success, also enrolled in the Cydeo program.
Even her younger brother, who urged her to quit in those early days, eventually started the Cydeo program. Inci gets regular calls from him asking for tips and answers on coding.
This brother has yet to fulfill his promise by wearing a belly dancing dress and revolving in the streets.