- Worked as a Dental Assistant
- Desired career security in an innovative field
- Feared her lack of a technical background would hold her back
- Works as an Application Analyst for Relativity
- Motivated by the amount she learned and skills she gained
- Dreams of moving into software development or product management in the future
Program: Three Full-Stack Bootcamp in Chicago, IL
It definitely gave me a lot of motivation. Every time I would get through an obstacle or a speed bump, it was very motivational and encouraging to just keep going. I definitely feel like I gained a lot of skills. I learned how to adapt. I learned how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Tell us a little about yourself. Age, hobbies, passions, and what you were doing (professionally) before the bootcamp.
My hobbies include hiking, singing, and trying new cuisines. I also like sight-seeing, especially since I haven’t lived in Chicago for almost 20 years, so it’s nice to be back in Chicago now. I grew up here in Chicago, but I grew up in the suburbs. Since I haven’t been here in so many years, just downtown Chicago has been really beautiful to go and sight-see the bean and by the lake. Even the location where Coding Dojo was, it was in a really pretty area. So it was always nice to walk to Coding Dojo every day.
Before my time at Coding Dojo, I was enrolled full-time in college. I have a non-technical background in the dental industry, where I worked as an Orthodontic Dental Assistant for about 10 years, and doing accounting work as well.
Beyond the desire of learning to code, why did you decide to enroll in a coding bootcamp?
I just wanted a secure career path. I loved the field that I work in, but this whole process was not an easy decision to make. I was longing for something a little more. Though I was very passionate about it, I had basically reached the point where I couldn’t grow anymore because it’s a very small industry.
So I decided that I wanted something better, more financially secure, and also something equally as innovative as the dental field is. The orthodontic field is very innovative with the way that people straighten their teeth, they’re always coming up with new technology. And that was one of the things that I loved about the field and was something that I was looking for in my next career path.
What fears or doubts were holding you back from enrolling? How did you get over them?
One of the main concerns is that my lack of a technical background would hold me back. I’d heard that people who enroll in these types of bootcamps had some type of technical background, or they might’ve had a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in Computer Science. I never had any exposure to either of those things — the bachelor’s degree that I’m currently pursuing is in Business Administration — so I felt kind of intimidated by that. I also worried that I wouldn’t like this new field because I was going into a bootcamp, I was investing my money and my time into it. But what if at the end of it I didn’t like it, or it wasn’t for me? That was one of the most intimidating things that I felt before going in.
I got over these concerns by talking to people and ultimately, I decided to just go for it and try something new. I decided that I’ll never really know unless I try it. And if it didn’t work out, then at least I gained some new skills out of it, even if I didn’t use them.
What sealed the deal on Coding Dojo? Why did you choose us over other programs?
My research process wasn’t as intense as it probably should have been. I did do a lot of research and ultimately what made me decide to do Coding Dojo is I went to a few on-site intros, where they introduced me to the bootcamp and explained what it’s all about.
At that time I was still living in California in the LA area. So I joined the Coding Dojo Open House there, and I really liked the environment. I liked the instructors. It just felt like I could thrive in that kind of environment. It seemed like a very encouraging type of environment, very positive. I also met a lot of people that seem to have come from different backgrounds. So that was also really motivational to know that if I did decide to go through this process, that I wouldn’t be going through it alone because there would be other people that could actually relate to me.
What was it like getting ready for the bootcamp? How did you prepare?
I was so busy prior to enrolling or actually starting. I actually ended up moving from California to Chicago, so I could stay with family during my bootcamp. Luckily there was a Coding Dojo in Chicago. I was not fully able to prepare for the bootcamp because I went from working full-time to being in school full-time. As soon as I finished my full-time semester, within a few days of that, I started the bootcamp.
Looking back on it, I really wish I would’ve prepared more. But at that point, I was all in and there was no other choice other than to just go for it.
Walk us through your first few weeks in the program. What were parts you liked? Parts you struggled with?
I definitely went in really excited, but being that I came from a non-technical background, the first two weeks were very intense. I struggled with fully grasping a lot of the concepts in such a short period of time. But at the same time, I was learning a lot more than I gave myself credit for.
After the first week, I already knew how to build a webpage from HTML and CSS. That’s something I would have never, ever done before. I was pretty amazed with what I was learning and it was exciting to see something that I made come to life.
How did you overcome the obstacles or struggles you faced?
Putting in extra time, talking to my peers, Googling things, or just reaching out to people that could relate to my similar experience. I found comfort in that. I also had my family that was morally supporting me. So, I just pushed through it. I thought to myself, “you’re already in it, so you have to get through it. There’s no other way.” Just having that kind of positive mindset and that determination to keep going were some of the things that helped me get through the obstacles. It was definitely very exhausting. I did put in a lot of extra time, but it was definitely worth it.
Do you have any fun anecdotes to share about your time in the bootcamp? Make good friends? Fond memories?
Looking back, I think C# was probably my favorite stack. It was the one that I disliked the most when we started, but it turned out to be my favorite one. I really enjoyed it due to the organization of it. I was actually able to build a project with the team with that particular stack. I made a project with Python with another team but I just feel like I contributed more to the C# project. And I felt like even the test for that exam was a lot easier for me than the other two.
I definitely made a few friends that I still talk to now. I also made some friends from the previous graduating classes that I reached out to through LinkedIn after my graduation. That has been very beneficial for me. I really enjoyed watching everyone’s projects during graduation and project day. It was always really cool to see how everyone used their creativity and the different technologies they learned to build awesome projects. That was probably the most exciting thing.
When your graduation date was approaching, how did you feel about your skills and job prospects?
As my graduation day was approaching, I was definitely very excited. I was done and I made it through! But I was also very nervous because I felt like I wasn’t competent enough to land a job. I wasn’t really in it for the money. I was more in it for the change. So I felt really nervous about everything.
But I was reminded by technical professionals that I connected with that I also had a lot of good work experience behind me. So that was also very valuable and helped me not feel as intimidated. That was one of the things that I leveraged while interviewing for my current job. And I really believe that it worked in my favor.
How did the job hunt go? Where did you land a job?
For me, it was really tough. I graduated right when the COVID pandemic started. My graduation date was January 31, 2020. And we spent the first couple of weeks in February working with Career Services. That was during the time when the pandemic was evolving.
On top of the previously-mentioned intimidation factor, a lot of the tech companies had frozen hiring for a few months. So that was like a double whammy for me.
So I decided to use that time to take a lot of courses on Udemy and really solidify my foundational skills and brush up on things that I felt like I didn’t really grasp that well. I also built four more projects, got a few more certifications, and tried to stay busy as much as I could.
Eventually, I did land my first job! My current role is at an e-discovery technology company that works very closely with Coding Dojo called Relativity. As I mentioned before, I always try to stay in touch with people. So on LinkedIn, I always would reach out to former bootcamp grads that currently work at the company I was applying for. It just so happened that one day out of the blue, I got a message on LinkedIn saying that their company was hiring again. I put in an application and everything kind of went from there!
What advice do you have for others who are interested in coding bootcamps or who are just starting one?
Based on my experience, I would tell them to study for a good amount of time before joining, or at least be somewhat familiar with technology. I just think that if you do that, it would make the whole process a lot smoother. Because I remember feeling really overwhelmed and stressed out during my experience. I didn’t have a bad experience because I gained a lot of knowledge and I learned a lot of great things. It was just that I felt like I should have prepared better prior. That was probably the main thing that I would advise others just prepare so that your process goes smoothly.
Beyond the coding expertise, did the bootcamp give you anything else? Soft skills? Motivation/confidence?
It definitely gave me a lot of motivation. Every time that I would get through an obstacle or a speed bump, it was very motivational and encouraging to just keep going. So I definitely feel like I gained a lot of skills. I learned how to adapt. I learned how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The whole time you’re very uncomfortable because it’s so overwhelming, but you just have to get used to it. And one of the good things that I learned was problem solving, which is really important in anything that you do in life.
What are your goals or dreams for the future, say 5 or 10 years from now?
I’m highly interested in both product management and software development. So in about five to 10 years, I see myself doing one of those roles. I want to see where my career takes me from here. As I keep building upon my technological career, I want to see which is the best path for me and what would be better for me and my skills. That’s where I see myself in five to 10 years. And I’m really excited about it.
If you are interested in learning how to code and starting the path to land your dream job, Coding Dojo bootcamp offers accelerated learning programs that can transform your life. We offer both part-time and full-time online courses, as well as onsite (post COVID-19) programs. We also offer financing options, scholarships, and other tuition assistance programs to help you with financial barriers.
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