From ESL Teacher to Email Developer | How Amber Adamson Launched Her New Career

Pre-Dojo:

  • Worked as an ESL Teacher to students in China for 5+ years
  • Wanted a sustainable and long-term career
  • Was concerned that coding would be too strenuous for her
After Dojo:
  • Works as a Junior Email Developer at Covetrus
  • Discovered a different approach to learning and newfound collaboration skills
  • Hopes to advance to a Senior role in the future 
Program: Online Full-Time Three Full Stack Bootcamp
Testimonial:

I have told people that in the bootcamp, “I learned a different approach to learning.” Whereas in my traditional undergraduate program (I was a literature major), I worked almost completely independently on my homework assignments and papers/etc., in the bootcamp, I did quite a bit of collaborative work. It got me out of my solo work comfort zone, and I’m grateful. Having to ask others for help was often humbling but in a good way.

Tell us a little about yourself. Age, hobbies, passions, and what you were doing (professionally) before the bootcamp?

I’m 35 years old and will be 36 in October. For hobbies, I enjoy creative writing, reading books on my Kindle, and reading and participating in various forms of social media. I follow news on Twitter and I like doing different femme #Aesthetic looks on my Instagram. I’m active on other social media as well. Now that I’m going to have an income again, I hope to be able to travel and see more of the world, as this is a big interest of mine. I follow a lot of travel blogs and Instagrams, and I like pet/animal content, too.

Prior to the bootcamp, I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to students in China for five+ years.

Beyond the desire of learning how to code, why did you decide to enroll in the bootcamp? 

My former job wasn’t really sustainable in the long term due to market changes. Also, it was a gig job and there was a capped pay scale and capped growth potential. I became interested in software development because I felt like it was an industry where I could learn and grow and where there was a very viable market. For some reason, I had just always just assumed I couldn’t do tech work. But when I began thinking of it as a skill I could learn like any other skill, my attitude changed. I still have a lot to learn, but I’ve found I genuinely enjoy coding.

What fears or doubts were “holding you back” from enrolling? How did you get over them?

Before entering the bootcamp, I had only dabbled with HTML/CSS and a tiny bit of JS, so I was nervous that when I reached the more complex aspects of coding, I might find that it was too strenuous and/or that I didn’t really enjoy it. The thing is, once I decide to dedicate myself to something, I can develop my interest, so I kind of banked on being able to maintain the momentum of my enthusiasm once I’d definitely decided I was going to undertake this career change. But I definitely did have some concerns, like, what if I enroll and find it’s not for me? 

What sealed the deal on Coding Dojo? Why did you choose us over other programs?

I researched coding bootcamps and did a comparison of them. From what I could see, Coding Dojo seemed to teach more material in a shorter time than other bootcamps. It was the thoroughness of Coding Dojo that attracted me to the bootcamp.

What was it like getting ready for the bootcamp? Were you nervous, excited, etc.? How did you prepare?

I was very excited. I wouldn’t exactly say I was naïve about the challenges I’d be facing per se, but at the time, I was just kind of focusing mentally on the fun/basic coding I had dabbled in, so I didn’t know enough to be nervous. I’m a bit more weathered now (if also more professional). You could say I was a bit like a bubbly ingenue. I got the news of my acceptance when I was on a summer vacation, and I remember clutching the packet and gushing to friends as we hung out in a beachy area, so there was this aura of feeling like a new era was beginning.

Walk us through your first few weeks in the program. What were the parts you liked? Parts you struggled with? 

Programming Basics and Web Fundamentals both seem like fun romps in the park in hindsight, compared to the challenges of the full stacks. I had quite a bit of fun with the early-level stuff. The biggest struggle was just internalizing all the different things I was learning. There are things I learned in Coding Dojo that I STILL would say I need to review and develop.

How did you overcome the obstacles or struggles you faced? 

The first time I really began facing obstacles was with the Python stack. When I did not pass, I re-evaluated how I had approached the stack and made some changes. I decided to start earlier on my homework, take shorter lunches, etc. I became more proactive in reaching out to instructors, TAs, and peers. If I had a question I couldn’t solve, I was very assertive in seeking help. I became much more collaborative over time.

Do you have any fun anecdotes to share about your time in the bootcamp? Make good friends? Fond memories? 

I do have fond memories. I remember my cohort-mates fondly: algo-experts like Jace, Hai, and Noor, Nikhil, who was always smiling and proactive in asking questions throughout each stack, and Sing Yee and Kwasi, who stayed up late and commiserated with me near the end of the MERN stack. I fondly remember Instructor Rob’s positivity mantra and how he praised me for having “grit” in the MERN stack. The second time I took Python, I also had a great, very collaborative cohort with people like Matthew and Heather (tech wizards), Oliver, and many others. I remember the people who checked in on me, like Douglas Rokasis and Allison Chaney, and Jeremy H, to make sure I was getting all my assignments done, and people like Peter Marino and the TAs, who came through for me to Big Help with assignments. Just typing this made me very nostalgic honestly. Shout out to all of the TAs and instructors!

When your graduation date was approaching, how did you feel about your skills and job prospects?

To be perfectly honest, I struggled a lot with imposter syndrome. It was hard not to compare myself to some of the “wizards” of my cohort. I feel a lot more secure now, a few months later. The sense of imposter syndrome I struggled with was probably the one drawback to my time in Coding Dojo, although it was an internal struggle and not anything to do with the program itself.

How did the job hunt go? Where did you land a job?

I began job searching sometime in late January or early February. I spent some time fixing up my resume and developing a presence on LinkedIn, while also building my portfolio. I notice a lot of bootcamp grads mention doing 300-600 apps. I did much fewer, but I targeted them and always tried to write detailed cover letters. I landed a few interviews from job apps and some from recruiter outreach on LinkedIn.

I did well with the soft skills side of interviewing but struggled some with tech assessments when they appeared. A fellow on LinkedIn (Raymond Gan, great advice guy) recommended swerving to more QA-focused jobs and other kinds of jobs where the tech curve to entry might not be as steep. One of the job applications I did was for an email QA job at a company called Covetrus. I wasn’t sure whether I would be a good fit or whether they’d want me because it’s email QA rather than traditional coding, but the level of tech seemed appropriate for a recent bootcamp graduate looking to make an entry into the field.

I really lucked out because I just really hit it off well with everyone in the company during the interviewing process. By this point (it was May), I’d had some interviews and had been honing my interviewing skills a lot, and I was also feeling much more confident about myself, so I think that helped a lot. I went in really selling myself hard and it’s been great because everyone has been super welcoming, so the excitement is mutual.

Beyond the coding expertise, did the bootcamp give you anything else? 

I have told people that in the bootcamp, “I learned a different approach to learning.” Whereas in my traditional undergraduate program (I was a literature major), I worked almost completely independently on my homework assignments and papers/etc., in the bootcamp, I did quite a bit of collaborative work. It got me out of my solo work comfort zone, and I’m grateful. Having to ask others for help was often humbling but in a good way.

What advice do you have for others who are interested in coding bootcamps or who are just starting one?

I think prospective bootcamp students should have a realistic perspective on what a bootcamp does and doesn’t do. A bootcamp is not a four-year or a two-year degree, but it’s not nothing, either. Many people may need a few months of additional experience to land a job after graduating. So you have to be very dedicated and prepared to endure what could be a long job search, especially if the bootcamp is your only experience with tech. This means you may need resources to help you make it by until you can get that job. In my case, I have a roommate with a good income who was able to help support me for a bit, and I also got a gig job for supplemental income while waiting to land that FT job.

What are your goals/dreams for the future, say 5 or 10 years from now?

The job I am starting next week is an email development/QA job. I’m looking forward to learning all about email development and adding this to my skillset! In my downtime, I hope to continue to practice different kinds of coding and just keep honing my professional skills, as well as continuing to network on LinkedIn and rub elbows with people in the industry. Covetrus has treated me very well, so I’m looking to make a solid commitment to the company as an employee and I hope to see what advancement potential I will have with the company. I also always want to be developing my portfolio so I will have good and timely skills. One day, I hope to be able to have a tech title with the word “senior” in it.

If you are interested in learning how to code and upgrading your career, Coding Dojo bootcamp offers accelerated learning programs that can transform your life. We offer both part-time and full-time online coding courses, as well as programs training you on Data Science, Cybersecurity, and UI/UX Design. We also offer financing options, scholarships, and other tuition assistance programs to help you with financial barriers. 

If you want to invest in yourself and your future, there is no better time than the present! If you’re interested, use this link to schedule a 15-minute exploratory session with one of our Admissions representatives today.

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