Mallory Bory was a talented Graphic Designer working in print when she decided she should be able to design- and build- a website. She enrolled in the Web Development Intensive at New York Code + Design Academy to to expand her skillset, and now answers all of our questions about deciding on a bootcamp, her final Rails project, and her new job as a Lead Designer at a tech startup.  


What were you up to before you started at New York Code and Design Academy?

After graduating college with a BFA in Studio Art, I became a graphic designer, working mostly in print. My last position prior to NYCDA was as a Senior Graphic Designer with a consumer electronics manufacturer.


Did you have a technical background before you applied? 

I had some knowledge of HTML and CSS, but that’s where my technical experience ended. I had no backend programming skills whatsoever. I’d tried a few online Ruby tutorials, read some articles, but I felt like a always hit a wall and nothing seemed to stick.


What was your goal in doing a bootcamp? To get a job, to start your own business, etc?

I wanted to shift my career from print design to web design and development. My goal was to have the ability to not only design a dynamic site, but to build it, frontend and backend.


Why did you choose New York Code and Design Academy? What factors did you consider? 

After looking into traditional CS and web design programs, online courses, part-time courses, and bootcamps, I decided that a full-time, immersive bootcamp would be the most beneficial for me. NYC has so many great options in terms of code schools and I looked at a few different programs, but ultimately chose NYCDA. From the start, I could see how supportive and invested in their students the crew at New York Code and Design Academy was. They understood that I was a complete beginner and they were as excited to help me get going on my new career path as I was. Another big factor in my decision was the small class size.


What was the NYCDA application like for you? 

After submitting my application, Jeremy from the New York Code and Design Academy team reached out to me within a week to set up the first of two phone interviews. Both calls were more culture-fit interview than technical. NYCDA places more emphasis on whether or not you have the desire and drive to learn, than what you've already learned.


How many people were in your cohort? Did you think it was a diverse cohort in terms of age, gender, and race, and technical skill? 

There were 16 people in my cohort. Not only was the class diverse in age, gender and race, but also background. Everyone came from a different area of expertise….sales, construction, fashion, scientific research. As far as technical background, we all started out on pretty even footing, and before class began we all completed roughly a month of pre-work to prep us for the course ahead.


Who were your instructors? What was the teaching style like and how did it work with your learning style? 

We had two instructors; Al Olsen handled our first two weeks of front-end course work (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) and Brian Fountain took over the last ten weeks of Ruby and backend development. Class was broken up into a 5-6 hour lecture at the beginning of the day and then coding tasks, solo or with a partner, for the remainder of class. At the end of the week, we would pair up or form a small group to complete a project that used everything we'd learned throughout the week. The project-driven curriculum was perfect for me. Being able to put my newly acquired skills to work on a real world example really solidified the concepts from lecture.


Were you satisfied with the curriculum/actual material taught in the courses? 

I was definitely satisfied with the curriculum. It's impossible to become an expert programmer in 12 weeks, but the WDI course gave me the solid foundation necessary to continue to grow as a developer. 


What technologies did you learn in your course? Were you able to learn it all in the short time you were in your program? 

We learned so much...HTML, CSS, jQuery, JavaScript, Ruby, Sinatra, Rails, database theory, Git, ActiveRecord to name a few. Obviously, with so much ground to cover in such a short time, some topics were covered more in-depth than others, but that's really where the time you put in outside of class counts; you takes what's covered in class and expand upon it on your own.


How many hours per week did you spend on New York Code and Design Academy?

Outside of the 8 classroom hours, I would put in an extra 1-3 hours on weeknights and around 4-8 hours on the weekend. As class progressed, and the projects got more involved, I would spend more time than earlier in the course.


Are there things you didn’t expect or that you would change? What was the feedback loop like?

It was a little more of an emotional roller coaster than I expected. I mean, I knew going into the course it was going to be a challenge, and that it was definitely going to get tough at times, but I didn’t quite expect to feel like everything was clicking one day and then be completely lost the next. When I hit the spots where it felt like it would never click, my instructors, and the rest of the NYCDA team, were always there to help get me over the wall. The feedback loop at NYCDA is awesome. They’re always listening and constantly taking in the student’s thoughts and suggestions to help improve the course and the experience.


Can you tell us about a project you worked on?

My final project was an e-commerce site that allows users to create an address book of contacts and then set up personalized greeting cards to be professionally printed and automatically mailed out to the intended recipients. For instance, you could log in today and set up all of the birthday cards you would send in an entire year, all at once. Once set up, the cards will automatically be sent out according to the delivery date you set. It was a solo project built in Rails and utilized a gem to help generate print-ready PDF files for each greeting card, an AWS S3 bucket for card storage, and a connection to Lob, a company that prints and sends physical mail, via their API. It took about two weeks to get the MVP built, and although it's not currently live, I'm hoping to get it running in the near future!


Did New York Code and Design Academy do job prep with your class- interview practice, resume building etc?

NYCDA provided several job prep activities. They set up Q&A sessions with technical recruiters, provided resume review, and even scheduled mock technical interviews at different tech companies throughout the city.


What are you doing now- did you move up in your career or get a new job?

After graduating, I focused on finding a position as a UI/UX designer. Currently, I'm the Lead Designer at a start-up tech company here in NYC. Working as part of the dev team, I’m responsible for our platform’s UI/UX design and have a chance to dig into some frontend code here and there. The knowledge I gained from taking the WDI course has really helped me to design more effective websites, and allows me to speak intelligently with other members of the dev team about how to tackle website functionality.


How did you get the job? 

I found my current position through my own search.


Did NYCDA help with your job search once you graduated?

 Yes. After graduation, New York Code and Design Academy continued to help throughout my job search. Their door was always open and Jeremy, Zach and the rest of the staff was always ready to lend a helping hand whenever they could. Whenever an opportunity arose that matched my skills, and what I was looking for, they would set up an introduction. Even now, 8 months after completing my course, I'm still part of the NYCDA community. 


How long did it take to get a job?

I think it was about three weeks after graduating that I received my job offer.


Do you feel supported at your new company?

Totally, I love where I’m at. There are two more experienced developers and although I’m mainly working on the design-side, it’s great being able to ask them coding questions and discuss the back-end workings of our product.


Was New York Code and Design Academy worth the money? 

I completely believe my time at New York Code & Design Academy was worth the money, and I would definitely recommend it. The skills and experience gained from the WDI course definitely opened a whole new set of opportunities for me as a web designer.


Want to learn more about New York Code and Design Academy? Check out their School Page on Course Report or the NYCDA website here. 

About The Author

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Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!