Alumni Spotlight


Coding on a Budget: How Christine Broke Into Tech with Codecademy Pro

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By Liz Eggleston
Last Updated April 22, 2021

Christine Maynard took two years off after college to decide exactly what she wanted in a career. When she developed an interest in Python, Christine enrolled in a Codecademy Career Path, and over seven months, she learned everything she needed to score a Software Engineering Internship at CVent! It wasn’t easy – Codecademy is far less expensive than a traditional bootcamp, but Christine had to put in the extra time to find a mentor and accountability partner to stay on track while learning JavaScript. Christine shares her tips to get the most out of the self-paced coding resource and the importance of mentor and peer support.

What inspired you to learn software engineering? 

I majored in Healthcare Administration in college and after graduating, I fully intended to pursue a career in healthcare administration. My first job was at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, but I decided to take two years off to figure out what I wanted to pursue long-term (under my college professor’s advice). I considered some master’s degree programs, including a Master of Public Health and a Master of Business Administration, but I didn’t want to study for the GRE or GMAT. When I begrudgingly began studying for the GRE, I found that I was able to think in a more methodological and problem-solving way. 

Around this time, I began working with a doctor who was conducting research. He was interested in helping my skills in data collection and analytics skills to more effectively support his research. He would invite me to lab meetings, but I couldn’t contribute to the discussions in the way I wanted to because my background was in qualitative research. This experience sparked my interest in learning about data analytics. After some research, I eventually found Python, which led me to find web development and software engineering.

With so many coding resources out there now, why did you choose Codecademy?

I was coming to the end of my two-year exploratory break, and I began to reach out to colleagues that were engineers. One of those friends was a Cloud Engineer at Amazon, and he recommended Codecademy because he had used it. I considered other coding resources, but decided to use Codecademy Pro because it was more affordable. Codecademy has free programs, but the Codecademy Pro subscription provides you with access to more in-depth content and a greater variety of courses. I subscribed to Codecademy Pro for ~$40/month, and it was still more affordable than other coding bootcamps and resources by a long shot.

Which Codecademy Pro Career Path did you complete?

I went to Codecademy’s website and found a sorting quiz that pairs you with careers, languages, and courses based on your interest. The quiz paired me with the Web Development Career Path course, and that is what I decided to pursue! I was drawn to this course because it was an entire front end and back end engineering course that would set me up for a career in web development. I said to myself, “You’re going to learn a lot through this bootcamp – let’s do this!” 

Note: Codecademy no longer offers the Web Development Career Path, but now offers the Full-Stack Engineer, Front-End Engineer, and Back-End Engineer Career Paths.

So what is the difference between Codecademy Pro and a typical coding bootcamp? 

I also didn’t feel as though I was getting any less in terms of coursework or curriculum by choosing Codecademy over coding bootcamps with higher price tags. I found that Codecademy offered many of the same curriculum as other bootcamps. In my opinion, Codecademy is the most accessible and affordable coding resource available. 

However, in Codecademy, you’re responsible for finding your own mentor, holding yourself accountable, and finding your own answers to questions. There are no formal cohorts at Codecademy, so when I started, I learned everything independently. While this was difficult in the beginning, through networking, I was able to learn alongside others. I had to learn to reach out to others who were on the same journey as me. 

Was there an application process to get into Codecademy Pro or can anyone enroll? 

There isn’t an application or screening process to enroll in Codecademy. Since Codecademy isn’t selectively filtering out students and preventing them from pursuing a program, this makes Codecademy more accessible. 

How did you receive support and hold yourself accountable during the bootcamp when you needed it? 

Early on in the process, I did find that I needed both a mentor and an accountability partner to succeed in Codecademy. I was able to find both through the networking connections I made online. When looking for an accountability partner, I was interested in finding someone who knew me and wouldn’t find me intimidating. I asked one of my friends to be my accountability buddy. We set up a weekly to-do list on Microsoft Teams, and she would check in at the end of the week if I missed completing a milestone on my list. My to-do list identified items I needed to work on, things that I was interested in, and topics I wanted to explore. 

Codecademy also offers some accountability through its progress tracker, as you cannot move forward without completing each part of the course.

After joining the Codecademy Facebook group, I wondered what other resources were out there and found the Black Web Developers, Programmers, Engineers & Techs (WPT) Group on Facebook, where I found my mentor. Black WPT’s Facebook Group includes both senior, mid-level, and beginner engineers.Their mission is to improve representation black and brown engineers in tech through mentorship and learning. My mentor is a retired Chief Technology Officer. Along with the other Senior Engineers in this Facebook group, he offers mentorship to both low-income and Black and Brown students early in their careers.

What did the Career Path bootcamp curriculum cover?

I completed a basic intro to HTML and CSS. After that, we jumped into JavaScript, DOM manipulation, React, Github, and deployment. 

How did you get support when you ran into a roadblock or technical challenge?

I also found support through Stack Overflow, W3 Resource, YouTube, and the Codecademy forums. On these platforms, you can post questions about issues you’re having trouble solving. Many of the problems I ran into were already listed and resolved on the forum, which was helpful. 

How long did it take you to graduate from the Codecademy Career Path?

It took me about seven months to complete the program. I began in January 2020 and finished up in the summer. The program is structured so that each section takes one week to complete, but specific topics like JavaScript took me longer to complete. I made a goal to allocate a minimum of 20 hours a week to my learning. 

How did you stay motivated throughout Codecademy? Do you have any tips for other students who are learning asynchronously?

I had to figure out what motivated me, tap into those motivations, and understand that those motivations may change. In the beginning, my motivation was just to find a career. Towards the end of the bootcamp, my motivation was to make an impact. I started Codecademy in January 2020, and when the COVID-19 pandemic began to ramp up, I found myself thinking of different platforms that could support people through the pandemic. My motivations shifted at this point, and I was interested in figuring out how I could use what I was learning at Codecademy to help my community. 

I also recommend that you take time to care for yourself. Allow yourself the space to stop when you’re frustrated and tap back into your motivations. There were times when I took a two-week break, but that was where my accountability partner came in.

What kind of projects did you build at Codecademy?

Codecademy has many mini-projects distributed throughout the coursework. I would log those projects in Git and push that to GitHub. One project I worked on was object-oriented programming, where we created a library by using classes  menu of classes with JavaScript, and also a menu project, called Meal Maker. These projects were critical in my portfolio and valuable in future job interviews. 

Congratulations on your new internship at Cvent! How did you get this role? 

Cvent is an event management company that offers event planners and marketers software solutions for event management and planning. I was connected to this Cvent opportunity through a colleague — this is why networking is essential! The position was posted on LinkedIn, and I followed up with my contact about it. He encouraged me to apply, and I was able to land the interview.

How did Codecademy help prepare you for the job interview?

Part of the Codecademy Career Path includes a series of algorithms to code the answer for using JavaScript. One of those algorithm questions actually showed up in my interview at CVent! Because I was a better functional programmer, I was able to recall what I did when I saw the question at Codecademy and solve it in my interview. 

What kinds of projects will you work on at Cvent?

I will be working with one of Cvent’s clients that needs a platform to facilitate internal communication between their employees. My role will involve using cloud engineering  and Node.js working with nosql databases. 

Did you attend remote networking events during your job search? 

You have to! I went to every remote event offered by Codecademy that I could make. Microsoft also had a series of meet-ups in the summer and fall. Through those meet-ups, I was able to connect to an even broader network.

Reflecting on this past year, was Codecademy worth the time/money investment? 

Absolutely! Codecademy’s structure makes it easy to understand the syntax. It is practical and hands-on compared to other online resources. Additionally, the way the program’s terminal is set up, you don’t answer “correctly” unless your syntax is correct. However, if you use a third-party app, you will find that you don’t necessarily have to write the correct syntax because it fills it in for you. Codecademy ensures that you have a strong programming foundation solidified before you set off on your career path.

Do you have any advice for other students about to start Codecademy?

My advice: when you get to JavaScript, understand that everybody has a learning curve. Those who came before you were where you are now. Do not give up! And find a coding buddy early on! 

Find out more and read Codecademy reviews on Course Report. This article was produced by the Course Report team in partnership with Codecademy.

About The Author

Liz pic

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!

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