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Coding Bootcamp: The Best (Most Calculated) Risk I’ve Ever Taken

MAY 31, 2017

I’m not usually the type to take huge risks, that is, until I quit my job last year in pursuit of a drastic career change. I was working in customer support, taking phone calls and tweaking already existing HTML and CSS when I found out about coding bootcamp. I applied in April of that year just to see what would happen, and that ended up snowballing into giving my two weeks and eagerly sitting in a classroom in the middle of June.

How I found myself here was more of a calculated risk: I’d done research, talked to a few people at my last job who had gone to bootcamps, and got that last push to just do it from my partner. Long before I realized it, I was setting myself up to think like a developer.

“Long before I realized it, I was setting myself up to think like a developer.”

FROM LAW SCHOOL TO CODING CAMP

My career path was never straightforward—I graduated with a degree in Communication and had law school in mind, but decided it wasn’t for me after working at a law firm for a grand total of two weeks after college. Not following my plan of becoming a lawyer ended up being the best miss of my life. I found myself working in customer support after my stint in the law office, and didn’t even know what coding was until I needed to learn HTML and CSS for my role.

I found myself dedicating more and more time to learning the ins and outs of these simple languages and grabbing tickets that let me dive into any sort of code. Eventually, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue full time, so I started looking into coding bootcamp options. Starting a coding bootcamp seemed like such a gamble financially and time-wise, but I knew it was right. Once I was ready, I decided take the risk. After day one at bootcamp, I knew I had made the right decision.

THINKING LIKE A DEVELOPER

Taking this risk has helped me be a better developer by giving me a real life example of the lifecycle of an issue: You have a vague understanding of what the problem is, you do more research and talk to other people to get a better grasp on it, and sometimes you get a little push to try something and see what happens (there’s a pattern here!).

Since joining Square Root in December, I’ve lived out this cycle many times—from my first ticket of updating our product notifications to users, to my last Hackathon project creating more readable filter results in our product.

The most notable example was revamping one of our APIs to help improve our product speed. To do this, I paired with another developer and we spent a good three weeks making changes that we hoped would allow for a snappier page load time. We could only minimally test our changes before they were deployed, but I was told that as long as the app doesn’t load more slowly, it would be considered a success. That mindset gave us some freedom, and we actually sped up the load time from 12 seconds to about 4 seconds!

While bootcamp didn’t give me all the skills I needed, the experience was a great springboard to start my new career. Software development involves taking calculated risks, and sometimes a leap of faith, and Square Root has continually helped me find the next channel of learning.

Are you a developer looking to join Kate and our engineering team in solving interesting challenges for our clients? Or, are you thinking Square Root might be the place for you? Check out our open positions, or send us your stuff via our Let’s Keep in Touch application.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kate is a software developer on our engineering team. With more than five years experience working in customer support, she always keeps our users in mind and is continually asking herself, “Will they actually use this?” Professionally, she is inspired by creating solutions that users didn’t even know they needed, i.e. wowing them before they even knew they wanted to be wowed! Outside of Square Root, Kate is the most zen on a motorcycle ride and claims cats and rainy days are her lifeblood. She’s also the least knowledgeable whiskey snob there ever was and loves camping, slam poetry, and Ruby on Rails. Kate holds a bachelor’s of arts degree in Communication from Regis University and a backend development certificate from The Iron Yard.