Hacking Barriers Spotlight: Sydnie Gandy (she/her), Python Development

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“For everyone, I recommend lovingkindness meditation. Everyone could use more love, especially in hard times.”

What prompted you to explore a career in tech?

I’ve grown up with tech my entire life as result of the people before me making it possible. After seeing the culture; the way so many people in tech are leading fulfilling lives and careers, I think it would be a great opportunity for me to take part.

What is your ideal tech job?

Network/Information Security

Tell us a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you.

My day often consists of practicing programming, digital art, writing, studying Japanese, reading, meditating, and doing yoga. I don’t always manage to fit them all in one day, but I do my best.

How do you stay motivated to get your tech degree work done?

I’m a naturally curious person. And between me and you guys, we have a leaderboard and I’m trying to stay in the top two. #TeamGina It’s beneficial for me to think about everyone having to start somewhere. It puts things in perspective, giving a more helpful view.

Who are your biggest fans and cheerleaders as you pursue this certificate?

My mother is the same, she’s taking on a programming course too. I couldn’t be more proud.

What’s your favorite study snack?

Pretzel sticks

What’s your trick to destress?

Practicing mindful awareness, taking nice long salt baths, going on walks. And, of course, doing yoga!

Are there any apps, software, or tools you cannot live without?

Youtube, Spotify, Google Maps, Google Calendar, notepad, and InsightTimer.

Do you volunteer or have any charitable work you want us to know about?

I’d been selected and volunteered as a panelist, evaluating artist applications for the PA Council on the Arts $10K STEAM grant in 2019 as well as a youth discussion panelist for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council for an event hosted at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown, Pittsburgh, PA.

It’s beneficial for me to think about everyone having to start somewhere. It puts things in perspective, giving a more helpful view.

If you’ve ever had to face obstacles because of perceived identity, can you give advice on how you overcame them for those reading who may be going through something similar?

I haven’t recognized many instances of it, I still feel new to the world. But I know I’ve been affected by racism indirectly for sure. This can be a very complicated issue. For everyone, I recommend lovingkindness meditation. Everyone could use more love, especially in hard times.

What’s your favorite thing about being a part of the Hacking Barriers cohort?

#Black Excellence #Inclusion #Progress #Coding

If you had to pick an intersection of tech what would it be? And Why? (Ex: TechXArt, TechXFashion, TechXSocial Good)

Most likely TechXSocial Good. There’s a lot of great local organizations that utilize both categories. 412 Food Rescue and their app, for example.

What is a piece of advice you would give to others who want to apply for a tech Bootcamp or something you wish you could tell your past self?

Take things one day at a time.

Tell us about a time you felt extremely accomplished in the past couple years.

Before joining the boot camp, I’ve tinkered with Unity’s game engine. I took tutorials on creating a simple side scrolling game using C#, figuring out ways to make the player run, jump, and attack. In Photoshop, I designed the background, characters, and animations to go alongside my code. The outdated tutorials presented a barrier, sure. But after a while, it ran perfectly smooth.

Another recent victory deals with my anxiety. Since early childhood, I’ve struggled with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and OCD. I’ve got attention to detail and crippling anxiety, mhmm. It showed very clearly in the way I acted around others, and even in the way I acted when I was alone. They saw how thorough I was, and how much I shook like a chihuahua. I’m still nervous about my smile. I’m sweaty. My therapist says it’s a physiological response. But lately, I’m doing much better – I’m using antiperspirant.

Favorite Motivational Song?

Sia, The Greatest

How can readers support you

Readers can donate to Steel Smiling. A charity that bridges the gap between Black people and mental health support through education, advocacy and awareness. Hiring or referring me for job opportunities would also be very helpful.

Favorite quote?

“Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness.” – The Dalai Lama

Where can we find you?


Hacking Barriers is a remote learning collaboration to decrease barriers of entry into the tech industry by  WITPGH  in partnership with Team Treehouse + The Center On Interracial Relationships + Neighborhood Allies.  The cohort features an entirely remote learning and support program for BIPOC women that employs a multi-pronged approach to the popular bootcamp method of learning programming and design related technical skills. The program includes local networking and work-life balance resiliency workshops with a structured 6 month online technical bootcamp featuring tracks for Python, Front-End Web Development, Full-Stack Development, User Experience, and PHP.