When Mubashira Qari started the Rutgers Data Science Bootcamp online in March 2021, she had been out of the workforce for a while, focused on the important job of raising her three children. “I had earned my bachelor’s degree in computer systems, but right after my first six months of training, I got married and moved to the United States,” she shared.
While taking care of her family became a full-time job, Mubashira was still very passionate about continuing her education. “I love my field and stayed up to date by taking courses on the side,” she explained. “I was continuously doing something other than raising my kids."
Meanwhile, Mubashira also worked as a substitute teacher and administrative assistant at the school her children were attending. She wanted to be closer to her kids, supporting them in their primary education until they graduated.
Chasing her dreams
When Mubashira’s youngest child left the house for college, Mubashira knew that it was time to get back to her career — and her family supported her every step of the way. “My husband and kids all wanted me to go for it, because they always saw me dreaming about my career,” she shared.
As Mubashira searched for a course that would help her refresh her skills, her husband recommended the data science bootcamp at Rutgers. “My husband and I have lived close to Rutgers since 1994, and he’s also in the IT field,” explained Mubashira. “He’d heard great things about this program.”
Still, Mubashira was having trouble believing that she could get through such an intense program. “I wasn’t trusting myself the way that my husband trusted me,” she said. “He trusted that I could do it — and in the end, I did.”
Back to school
Once Mubashira was certain she wanted to take a course, she checked out all of her options. “I researched a lot of other programs, but Rutgers was offering something that others couldn’t — and they proved it,” she said.
In particular, Mubashira appreciated the program’s fast-paced nature and supportive environment which she felt would aid in her success.
“So that’s how I got started,” she shared. “As for the experience after that, I can tell you — the bootcamp is honestly the perfect place for a person like me.”
Learning how to learn
From day one of the bootcamp, Mubashira had plenty of questions — but she always felt confident in asking them due to her strong support system. “I never felt like anyone was unwilling to answer my questions, whether they were simple or hard,” she shared. “ There wasn’t just one person helping me either. There were a lot of resources. I had an excellent instructor, and the TAs and tutors were great as well.”
By the end of bootcamp, Mubashira was excelling so much that she volunteered to do two group projects totally on her own. She credits much of her success to the sense of confidence instilled in her by her instructor, TAs, and tutors. “When I asked a question, they wouldn’t just give me the solution,” she recalled. “Instead, they pointed me to the resources where I could find the solutions. That prepared me so well for the real-world working environment. No one is sitting there to give you answers in the real world. You have to find the answers on your own without panicking.”
Looking back, Mubashira is also grateful for the course’s comprehensive nature. “I’m appreciating it more now than ever because of how much I learned in six months,” she shared.
Since completing the bootcamp, Mubashira has often found herself reaching for her notes to continue learning. “The knowledge is all still with me, and I can easily go through lessons again and again,” she said. “I have that knowledge for life.”
Facing the future
After completing the program, Mubashira worked closely with the career center and took advantage of the full slate of resources provided by the workforce engagement team. “I had a career services session every week,” she shared. “There was an amazing expert who offered help with my resume and interviews.”
From there, Mubashira connected with one of Rutgers’ IT staffing partners at Brooksource, recently accepting an offer to become a contract data analyst with Johnson & Johnson. She’s also pursuing her master’s degree in data science on a part-time basis through CUNY School of Professional Studies.
“The bootcamp changed my expectations for myself,” said Mubashira. “I wasn’t expecting that I would be able to work so confidently with my skills, and to start my career so easily. The program wasn’t easy. It was the toughest six months of my life. But it was worth it. The boot camp prepared me really well. Now at work, I’m confident that I can handle anything. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.”
Mubashira is able to approach her master’s program with a similar level of confidence, too. “I saw their syllabus, and felt like I’d already done what’s on there,” she said. “The bootcamp taught me so well.”
Reflecting on her journey
Mubashira is grateful to be back at work — but looking back at all her past choices, she wouldn’t change a thing.
“I feel very good about the decision I made to raise my children first,” she explained. My daughter is a graduate of Princeton, one son is a medical student at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, and my other son is at Temple University with a double major in computer science and neuroscience. I’m proud of my choices — and I really do believe that if there’s a will, there’s a way.”
Moving forward, Mubashira hopes to finish her master’s, continuously sharpening her skills, and apply machine learning to current technology. As for her time in bootcamp, she says that it was life-changing. “Everyone at Rutgers does an amazing job,” she said. “I took advantage of it, and I’m appreciating the payoff so much.”
Paying it forward
Now, Mubashira recommends the bootcamp to everyone she knows. “Whether my friends are looking to advance their careers or start a new one, I advise them that this bootcamp is where they can make it happen,” she said.