Alumni Spotlight

From Biology Student to Python Developer after Springboard

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Last updated on April 7, 2023

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Anna Fuenmayor knew the basics of web development but she wanted to learn back end programming from an established coding bootcamp to pivot her career from healthcare. She chose the online, self-paced Software Engineering Career Track at Springboard and graduated in seven months, while working a part-time job! Anna shares how her bootcamp projects helped her land a Junior Python Developer position at iNDEMAND just three months after graduation. 

What inspired you to pivot from biology to software engineering?

I majored in biology and worked in healthcare while completing my undergraduate degree, which was a convenient industry to work in during that time because I was able to work nights and go to school during the day. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work in healthcare long-term, though, so I was introduced to programming in my last year of my degree program when I took a couple of game programming classes as electives. Once I started programming I knew I wanted to do it professionally but I wasn't sure how, since I was in my last year of college. I knew I wanted to finish my degree, and I figured I’d do that and then find some way into the industry, whether that was through a master’s degree, bootcamp, or self-teaching. 

I started looking at bootcamps at the time of the initial lockdown in 2020, when I started doing freelance work. When businesses needed an online presence due to the pandemic, I supported them in choosing a CMS platform, then plugged in their templates, and set up their desired applications. The most development I did was minor edits on HTML and CSS. 

Why did you choose Springboard?

I knew I wanted a deeper understanding of back end development and I worried that self-teaching would take too long, so I looked into accelerated learning options. There are so many coding bootcamps to choose from! Springboard stood out because they already had an established, effective online learning system in place at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, plus they were half the price of competing coding bootcamps!

What was the Springboard application process like for you? 

Springboard offers two choices for admissions: you can take an entry level class to learn the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript or you can pass an assessment test. Since I had some experience, I decided to do the assessment test, which I passed. 

Note: Springboard offers Foundations, a preparatory resource for beginners with no tech experience to help them through the course.

Did you receive any scholarships through Springboard? 

Springboard offered me a $700 Women in Tech scholarship.

What was a typical day like in the Software Engineering Career Track

Springboard gives students nine months to finish the entire bootcamp. I treated the bootcamp like a full-time, 9-5 job. I would get up in the morning, go through the curriculum, do what I needed to do, talk to my mentor, talk to TAs, and finish my projects. It was a lot to do while working part-time and I did have to take some breaks, but thankfully Springboard offers that as an option. Still, I managed to finish the bootcamp in seven months! I was lucky enough to be able to work part-time while I attended the bootcamp, but if I was working full time, I don't know if nine months would have been enough time. 

Did the online teaching style match your learning style?

For me personally, absolutely. Another selling point for me about Springboard was that the curriculum was self-paced and the video lectures were available anytime. They were also taught by Colt Steele, who is a very talented teacher.

What kinds of projects did you work on in the Software Engineering bootcamp?

At Springboard, we completed two capstone projects as well as many smaller intermediary projects. 

  • My first capstone was a real estate application that took data from real estate listings and mapped it out on Google Maps with information about each of the listings. I worked briefly for a real estate company that did everything on an Excel sheet. I had this application in my head the entire time that I worked there and knew it’d be my first capstone project. Completing this project gave me a huge boost in confidence because I had never worked with the back end before! I had never integrated an application with an API or anything like that, so this project helped me turn a corner in my skill set.
  • For my second capstone, I built a COVID-19 dashboard, since there are tons of APIs that offer free daily data. I was really curious about a certain JavaScript library called D3 which helps with data visualization. It seemed like that was a good use case for me to get familiar with the library. I made several charts and graphs that updated every day with daily Covid information.

Since this was an online bootcamp, did you feel connected to your classmates and instructors?

The extent that a student interacts with others is really up to them. I was so busy with the course and work that I didn’t do much community engagement, but I wish I had done more. Springboard doesn't force you to interact with other students, either. There aren’t any required demos or community interaction. I did practice demos of my projects for my friends, though. 

What was the mentorship component of the program like for you?

My mentor was a Senior Front End Engineer! Mentors were assigned to each of us and I got along great with mine. We would meet once a week to talk about my progress, the industry, and the projects I had been working on. For me, the lack of sort of community engagement on my part was absolutely made up by my weekly interactions with my mentor. 

How did Springboard prepare you for the job hunt? 

Springboard dedicates an entire section in the curriculum to career services, which includes updating your LinkedIn profile and resume, and talking with career coaches. When you finish the bootcamp, they assign a career coach to check in biweekly. I still had to put in the work, but it was so supportive to have a career coach to help me be accountable to my job search. If I ever had questions, I knew I could email her and she would get back to me as soon as possible.

Which tech roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating?

After graduating from Springboard, I felt prepared to apply for any Junior Web Development position, whether in back end, front end, or full stack. I ended up landing a full stack job, which is what I really wanted!

How long did it take you to find your first tech job?

It took me three months to land a job after graduating from Springboard. Hunting for a job is it’s own full-time job. It takes work to apply for jobs, then once you do there’s a delay where you won’t hear back for months, then suddenly everyone reaches out for interviews at the same time.

Congratulations on your new job at iNDEMAND! What was the interview process like for you? 

iNDEMAND is a media company that packages and delivers content for different service providers to different platforms. You could think of it like logistics for movie and television content.

My interviewer (who is now my boss) was just a cool guy and we had a good conversation. We did a tech interview with a whiteboarding question that went really well. 

Was iNDEMAND interested in your Springboard bootcamp experience?

They were interested in what technology I was familiar with, since we mostly work with Python. The projects I built with Python at the bootcamp were definitely a reason for getting the job.

Which team and what kinds of projects are you working on as a Junior Python Developer? 

I'm on a pretty new team. The first application we worked on was a straightforward CRUD application (create, read, update, delete). We're now moving into projects that operate outside of standard CRUD operations. 

Are you already using what you learned at the bootcamp? 

When I was at Springboard, we learned Flask as our first back end web framework, which we don't use in my job — we use Django. My experience with Flask was sufficient enough to satisfy their requirements, but it was still a learning curve from Flask to Django. 

At this point in your tech career, was Springboard worth it for you? 

Absolutely. The only thing I would tell someone that's thinking about attending Springboard is that it’s going to be tough to finish in nine months if you work full-time as well. It also depends what experience you’re coming to the bootcamp with. If you have no experience with coding, it's going to be tough to do it in nine months.

Note: Springboard now offers Foundations to make it easier for beginners to learn tech basics! 

Are you happy that you went down this route and became a remote software engineer? 

Before this job, I was able to earn what I'm earning now but it was much harder. Now I can work a normal, 40-hour week for an acceptable entry-level salary. Plus, there are also many more career prospects in this industry! There are countless paths to take with endless potential to increase my salary. That kind of freedom is a good feeling. 

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

About The Author

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman

Jess Feldman is an accomplished writer and the Content Manager at Course Report, the leading platform for career changers who are exploring coding bootcamps. With a background in writing, teaching, and social media management, Jess plays a pivotal role in helping Course Report readers make informed decisions about their educational journey.

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