DeShawne Wilcox grew up on the near west side off of Tibbs and Michigan. He went to IPS Washington HS where he played basketball, which is a strong passion of his. So much so, that after graduating from Indiana University with a degree in recreational sports management, he started Fortitude Sports & Development, a nonprofit.
During college, DeShawne had an internship with Girls, Inc. where he ran the junior sports basketball leagNo matter where you started, where you come from or what your circumstances are, you can always pivot and growue. He was the one in charge on game days and oversaw the volunteers and the fundraising. DeShawne enjoyed developing the skills of the girls in the league and received a lot of positive compliments from parents confirming that the girls were learning from him. He appreciated working in the nonprofit sector and enjoyed giving back to the community. Working with these young athletes had its challenges, such as the adversity that many faced at home. Once he fully launched his own nonprofit, he found it difficult to incorporate the necessary wraparound services needed to help the girls overcome adversity.
“It’s challenging when you need to focus on everything but learning because of things going on at home,” says DeShawne, who enjoys giving back to his community.
Continuing his search for something he is passionate about, but also needing to support himself, DeShawne worked as a site supervisor with a commercial construction company. While the job was not fulfilling, a serendipitous meeting with an electrician on his team opened DeShawne’s eyes to the value of skilled labor and its essential place in the workforce. The electrician explained why he earned more money than DeShawne and emphasized the importance of increasing your value. DeShawne knew he needed to find a path towards a sustainable, successful career.
Since DeShawne was a kid, he had been interested in tech. With the nudge from the electrician, DeShawne searched for a coding bootcamp and found Eleven Fifty Academy. The cost felt like a barrier, so he started to teach himself how to code, and the pandemic hit. DeShawne was furloughed, further casting a light on how expendable he was as a manager. This served as a major wakeup call.
“I thought about what the electrician told me — a skill is something that no one can take away from you,” states DeShawne. “So I was scrolling Instagram and saw a post from Eleven Fifty advertising CARES Act funding and I was enrolled within a week.”
The virtual learning style was initially a challenge for DeShawne, but he quickly realized that he had resources to help him throughout the course to make sure he was on the right track. Before the course began, DeShawne felt really good because the pre-work was dense and he understood it all, which made him feel confident.
“The instructors say that there are ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys,” says DeShawne. “So hang on, you might feel lost at times and until that last peak when it all clicks.”
For DeShawne, that time happened about two thirds into his web development course after “blue badge”. His final project was his moment of truth, “Your confidence waivers, but it is temporary. If you constantly practice, you will keep your skills sharp. It is the most rewarding thing when you know you can do this.”
After graduation, job seeking became a full-time job. When things aligned for DeShawne, he had five recruiters reaching out to him and he landed his new job with the company that interviewed him first. It took him a few months to get there, but he landed where he wanted to be. DeShawne really likes where he is working and enjoys the teamwork. He finds solace in his contributions to the company, Wunderkind, and enjoys making a tangible impact on the company.
“No matter where you started, where you come from or what your circumstances are, you can always pivot and grow,” shares DeShawne, a Product Integrity Analyst with Wunderkind. “I found a successful path, proving what is possible in real time.”