Sara Pena

You can teach someone how to code, but you cannot teach passion or drive, and that is what my Per Scholas colleagues and I have.
Per Scholas Graduate Headshot for Sara Pena

Software Developer


Boston, MA

Software Engineering

When it came to her career and future, Sara Pena might not have seemed like she would ever pursue a career in software development.  However, after the pandemic hit, Sara knew she had to make a career change that would not be impacted.  With her skills learned from Per Scholas Greater Boston and the inaugural Software Development cohort, Sara was able to change the trajectory of her career in a matter of a few short months.  

With a music background and time spent in school at Berklee College of Music, Sara began her career in sales at Bose.  After a few years there, she started working for a music software company that exposed her to technology and piqued her interest in the IT world.  Fast forward to a few years ago and Sara became a manager at a nonprofit coffee house, a position that fulfilled her passion for helping others and bringing the Boston community together.  Once COVID-19 hit, she knew she had to reassess her employment and find a career that could withstand such an event.  A friend mentioned she should look into coding, something Sara had once mentioned in passing her interest, so she began researching different boot camps.  There, she came across Per Scholas and knew she had to apply.  With no income, losing her job, and an insurmountable amount of student loans, it was time to take control of her career and pivot to technology.  On finding Per Scholas, Sara mentioned, “I came across Per Scholas and I read up on their mission and their offerings and I thought like anyone else, this can’t be real.”  

During her admissions process, Sara found the Per Scholas team to be supportive and pushing her to better herself.  She remembered a moment from her admissions interview that surprised herself as she said, “I’m going to pursue this with my whole heart. I am passionate about technology. I know if I don’t get this opportunity with Per Scholas, I am going to make something of it no matter what.” That inspiration propelled her throughout her training, even when she felt moments of doubt. Sara noted that the training was difficult and at times she considered quitting, but she always came back to the idea that, “even moments, where I thought, ‘I can’t, I don’t think this is for me, it’s just too much, it’s too hard, it’s overwhelming, am I ever going to get through this?’ and you know I think part of it was just that I remembered in my heart of hearts, this is what I wanted to do and this opportunity was given to me.  It was something that I didn’t want to put to waste.”  She didn’t put her training to waste at all as she started interviewing for a job post-graduation.  

Sara interviewed with her current employer and knew she was on the right path.  She felt a sense of community, something she found standard with software developers and at Per Scholas, and that the team she interviewed with was helpful and encouraging.  She found that her learner mindset led her to this opportunity where she got the job as a Software Developer.  Now, she attributes her experience at Per Scholas to why she was able to succeed. “You can teach someone how to code, but you cannot teach passion or drive, and that is what my Per Scholas colleagues and I have.” 

Sara was able to graduate from Per Scholas Greater Boston and pursue a career in technology with a thriving wage with her software developer knowledge.  Our software engineering training is provided to our learners free of charge so many of our learners are able to make a career change in technology like Sara.

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