Coding Bootcamp Grad Combines Social Sciences and Art Background with Tech to Become a Front-end Developer
Sharon was working several small jobs and in graduate school when she found out about We Can Code IT. With her passion for helping others, she wanted to learn to code so she could make an even stronger impact. Last June, we shared Sharon’s experience at the 4th Annual LGBTQ Tech and Innovation Summit + Fellowship at Google in Washington D.C. After working in consulting for a few months after graduation, Sharon landed a new job as a UX/Front-end Developer at Findaway!
What were you up to before We Can Code IT?
I got my B.A. from Adrian College in 2008. I majored in History with a minor in Sociology and a Cultural Anthropology concentration. I worked a ton of random jobs while trying to figure out my life purpose. I was a baker, I did office jobs and I worked in social service amongst other things. I ended up going back to school because that felt like a safe way to explore career options and finish with some type of credential that would allow me to secure a job.
What made you decide on We Can Code IT?
It was the people. I was in graduate school studying Social Work with a focus in Health Literacy. I wanted to leverage the power of information to empower people to protect and take care of themselves. I realized the most effective way for me to do this, in the new digital age, was to learn strong technical skills so that I could make a direct impact. There was also the allure of job security in the technology industry.
Coding only seemed like an option after I heard Mel McGee speak at a diversity in tech event. Her mission statement and her personal story made programming seem possible for a woman like me who spent most of her life studying social sciences. On top of that, another staff member took the time to listen to my story, 1 on 1. She addressed my concerns and worked out a way for me to attend the program when I didn’t think I could. Attending events where I saw representation made coding seem possible. We Can Code IT actually provided a way for me to act on that realization.
What do you like about We Can Code IT?
The full-stack curriculum has been particularly beneficial since it’s given me the opportunity to apply for full-stack, front-end and back-end positions. The foundation makes learning new languages much easier which is a plus when applying to jobs where they use multiple languages or ones that you haven’t learned.
They offer a viable education at a cost considerably lower than having to pay for a college degree and flexible payment plans. They also have options available for working students.
I don’t know of any other coding bootcamp that has the conversation of culture and identity ingrained in the curriculum and atmosphere. Through career coaching, life coaching and peer support, the program became more than just a bootcamp. It was an environment where you were encouraged and supported to imagine the best version of your life possible and given tools to make that vision come true.
Tell me about your job search, and your eventual choice. Did We Can Code IT make it easier?
Yes! It was much easier. I got all my contracting jobs and my current job by using the self-marketing techniques I learned from We Can Code IT’s career services. I started the conversation with my current company through LinkedIn and not their company website. This is something I would never have done before.
I chose a different path than my bootcamp peers. I wanted to combine my backgrounds in social sciences and art with my new tech knowledge base. We Can Code IT staff supported me while I explored different career options and I eventually resolved to pursue a career in User Experience. A large part of this exploration occurred through the connections I made at a fellowship summit in D.C. which I was able to attend because We Can Code IT sponsored my trip.
After graduating I put coding aside for a bit to focus on building a UX consulting business. Leveraging my volunteer and fellowship experiences with the networking tips I learned from We Can Code IT, I was able to rely on consulting full-time after only four months of working.
Two months later, after aggressively applying to entry-level UX developer/designer positions and apprenticeships, I accepted a full-time UX/Front-end developer position with Findaway and I couldn’t be happier!