Work Like Your Career is Going Out of Fashion, Literally. Meet Burbank Graduate Margot Tien.

My intention is not to make clothes. My head would be too restricted if I only thought about making clothes.
Rei Kawakubo

Coding Dojo Burbank alumni Margot Tien didn’t come from a technical background. In her heart she is a creator: She worked in the fashion design industry while pursuing hobbies like pottery, quilting, and other “old lady craft stuff.”

After a decade in the fashion design industry, Margot’s creative passions had continued to evolve and broaden outside of it — and she began to wonder whether or not she wanted to stay in the industry. She knew she didn’t want to formally go back to school or university, so she researched other accelerated training programs. Thanks to exposure by her user-experience friends, she then began exploring options with digital creation, which appealed to her design background. 

But her desire to build things from scratch took priority, so computer programming inevitably came onto her radar. She’d dabbled with basic HTML and CSS before, but never took a deeper dive into the core aspects of coding. She did her due diligence and looked at every coding bootcamp that was available to her. 

Ironically, Coding Dojo was near the bottom of her list, but after considering several other options she decided to attend an Open House. That’s when she was first introduced to the “Dojo vibe” and the innovative three-full-stack curriculum. Needless to say, it resonated with her. 

I liked the people who were there, the instructors, just the general vibe. I really liked the curriculum too. I was trying to find somewhere where I would be comfortable as a newbie and just being able to learn and have that compassion and patience, but I also wanted the curriculum to be rigorous enough that it would be competitive when I went to go look for a job. I knew the market was pretty saturated and a lot of people would be looking for jobs. I just had to find that sweet spot for me based on my needs and my background. Yeah, I got that at Coding Dojo.

Enrollment was a breeze, and then began the preparation phase. Margot read a ton of online articles about being a developer, the lifestyle, and what the current environment was like. She knew it would be difficult, so she also completed all the Dojo pre-course work, which she found helpful to get her feet wet. 

Margot’s preparation paid off as she jumped into the bootcamp. She immediately liked the collaborative environment and diversity of her cohort. Everyone came from different backgrounds and worked together, which made the long hours a bit more bearable. 

I loved all the instructors. I loved everyone who was in the building. It made everything so much better. It didn’t make me feel like, “Oh my God, I have to stay late, and this really sucks.

Then came the first roadblock: Python. Looking back, Margot considers it the easiest of the three stacks. But in the heat of the moment it was a lot to be thrown at her, and she struggled trying to understand everything all at once. Her moment of clarity soon came as she worked with her instructor to break each concept and problem down into more manageable pieces. Once she did, the curriculum was still challenging, but doable.

Java was not much easier, and Margot felt like she was back “in the dark.” But with her struggles came success: She applied the same tactic of breaking down each problem and was soon able to make sense of the Java stack. And while Margot admits Java was a struggle, she acknowledged it was useful to get a solid background for object-oriented programming.

One constant anchor through Margot’s experience was the comradery of her cohort. Her cohort-mates made the struggles more bearable and the frustration less maddening. As she progressed through the MEAN stack and graduation day approached, Margot felt bittersweet. 

I was actually kind of sad. I was like, “Oh my gosh, we spent so many hours together, and now, this is it. Now, we’re going to separate.” But part of me was glad too because I was like, “I’m exhausted, I’m tired. My brain literally cannot absorb anything else.” I think I pushed it to the max and beyond so that was kind of nice to just be able to have a break and let my mind rest for a little bit.

After graduation Margot took a much-deserved, month-long break before starting her job hunt. She spent time relaxing, finishing her projects and polishing her resume. With her professional assets in place, the job applications started to fly out the door. Soon the responses started to roll in. 

They all kind of just started coming in at once. It was starting to get, it was a little overwhelming because I was like, “Okay, this week, I have two interviews. Next week, I’ll have one. Then I have to follow up. Then I have to study for that and this and that.

The job Margot ultimately landed used Java, and thanks to her mastering her previous challenges with the language, she thoroughly enjoys her new role as a Software Engineer at the enterprise data company Cloudera. She learns something new every day and loves the team she works with what more can you ask for?

Looking back, Margot has some advice for others considering a coding bootcamp:

I’m speaking from someone who doesn’t come from a tech background, who doesn’t have that experience. But if they’re looking at it, thinking about it, I think it’s a great idea. It seems scary and daunting, and it is. But it’s one of those things, I think anybody can learn programming. They just want to want to do it. Because once you want to do something, you’ll stick to it.

Are you interested in changing careers or industries and learning how to program? Get in touch with a Coding Dojo rep to learn how we can get you there. 

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