Alumni Spotlight

How a Professional Singer Got a Tech Career after Tech Elevator

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Last updated on May 30, 2023

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Lindsay Abdou is a professional singer, but as a mother of two small children, she was seeking more financial and work-life stability. Thanks to Tech Elevator’s Represent Tech Scholarship, Lindsay enrolled in the part-time bootcamp, which allowed her to continue gigging and parenting while learning full-stack development. Lindsay dishes on how she landed her first tech role as a Software QA Tester at an edtech company and what it’s like to start working a full-time tech role after years as a contract-bound artist. Plus, learn Lindsay’s favorite online resources for artists considering tech careers!

You’ve spent your career as a professional singer — what inspired you to learn how to code in 2022?

Singing is my first love but it was financially unstable — I was getting an itch to explore something new. I considered teaching elementary school full-time or becoming a nurse when I came across an article about the lack of black women in tech. This intrigued me! Tech was a field I had never considered — I was excited about the challenge and that a career in tech would offer remote work options. 

Why did you choose to enroll in Tech Elevator’s Part-Time Coding Bootcamp?

Once I knew that I wanted to join a bootcamp, I also knew that I needed to find something that was flexible because I was still performing and I have two young kids. While I researched different bootcamps, I noticed that a lot of the part-time programs still held synchronous live classes on certain nights of the week, which I knew wouldn’t work for me with rehearsals. Tech Elevator held only one live class a week on Saturday mornings, which gave me enough time to attend class and tend to the rest of my weekend schedule. I also liked that Tech Elevator’s part-time bootcamp was mostly self-paced. 

What was the part-time bootcamp application process like for you? 

Tech Elevator starts with a basic aptitude test to indicate your ability to grasp coding concepts. If you score a certain way, they invite you to an interview, where they ask scenario questions. Once you finish the interview process, there is an even more extensive aptitude test, and if you score a certain way on that, they invite you to enroll into the program. 

Did you have to complete any pre-work for the part-time program?

Once enrolled, there is a month of pre-work that covers HTML, CSS, a bit of JavaScript such as arrays. They give you information to prepare for what’s about to happen in the bootcamp. 

Did you receive any scholarships from Tech Elevator? 

I received the Represent Tech Scholarship, which was critical for me to start the program. I already had student loans from my previous education and it wasn’t an option to take more out. I specifically wanted a job in tech so I could make more money and accrue less debt. The Represent Tech scholarship was life changing — I cried when I found out because I wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise! It pays 85% of tuition, so I was able to pay the rest of it immediately out of pocket. 

What was a typical day like in the part-time bootcamp? 

Between rehearsals in the evenings and taking care of two kids without full-time childcare, there was not a typical day! There were a lot of moving parts, which is why I was grateful for the part-time program. When rehearsals became full-time, I was doing homework during breaks in the green room.

Having graduated from the program, was it actually possible to balance working and life priorities with the part-time bootcamp?

I’m grateful that my family showed up to care for my kids when my schedule was too much to handle. I put in at least 15-20 hours a week into the program. I often woke up early and worked in the mornings, in the afternoon during nap time, and in the evenings when the kids went to bed. Tech Elevator didn’t offer recordings of the Saturday lessons but we had up to three excused absences. That said, I showed up to every class. The instructor was available during office hours if you missed a class, so there was a bit of flexibility there. 

Who were your instructors for the part-time bootcamp?

Each module we had a different instructor in the part-time program, unlike the full-time where you had the same instructor for all 14 weeks. In the first module, they covered coding basics, which was taught by a Tech Elevator alum who was a back end developer for Google at the time. The second instructor was a software engineer for Relic, and our third instructor used to be a full-time instructor for the full-time program at Tech Elevator. 

Since you were in the part-time program, were you able to connect and collaborate with other Tech Elevator students?

We were a smaller cohort which made it easier for us to connect. There’s a handful of us who keep in touch today! Tech Elevator also has Academic Fellows, who are alumni that come back to tutor students if they need help on assignments.   

What kinds of projects did you work on in the part-time bootcamp?

For the part-time program we were mostly doing our own assignments. On Saturdays when we had class, we did paired programming where we would work on an assignment together. One person would write the code while the others would tell them what to write. It was pretty challenging! 

We had a final project in the third module where we put together what we learned about the front end with the back end API we created in our second module. We added those two pieces together with a strong focus on what we learned on the front end. I was more interested in the front end, so on graduation day I presented a personal project that wasn't an assignment. Since I'm a musician, I created a web-based piano app where you can click the piano keys and they play the appropriate pitch. In addition, the white keys also change colors.

What kinds of career services did you receive in the part-time bootcamp?

I want to give a huge shout out to Audra McLaughlin, my Career Services Director! She was persistent in encouraging us to put in the work to submit applications and network. Applying for jobs is a full-time job and she was always super available to help me get through the process. When I finally did get an offer, she was fundamental to negotiating that offer to get the best deal for me. 

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

While my imposter syndrome was telling me I wasn’t qualified for any of them, I was leaning towards front end developer roles and full stack roles. I was open to back end, but I wasn’t as interested in it. I was also applying for developer-adjacent roles, like QA and product manager roles.  

You’re now a Software QA Tester job at the edtech company, Avela! What was the interview process like for you? 

For that particular job posting, they were looking for someone with an education background. Since I used to teach music in elementary schools, I felt qualified to apply. The interview process included a lot of behavioral interviews and the technical interview portion was more about my style of exploring their product and how I would test around different cases. I enjoyed the interview process. 

Was Avela interested in your Tech Elevator experience?

They were looking for someone who was tech savvy, so they loved that I had bootcamp experience! I think my bootcamp experience was a major reason I got the job. It proved that I had promise to grow and develop technically with them. 

What team do you work on now at Avela? 

We have a small but mighty QA team here — I'm technically their first full-time QA hire! The current QA team is made up of designers and product managers, but they're hoping to make us a little more independent. 

What kinds of projects are you working on now? Are you using what you learned at the bootcamp? 

Right now, it's a manual QA role. There are certain things I get to manipulate, like JSONs, in order for the data to work. I’m using a lot of the dev tools I learned in bootcamp, like looking at console errors. Luckily, I have familiarity with JSON, SDKs (software development kits), and visual studio code. I’m hoping that as I get more familiar with my role, I’ll be able to add on more responsibilities and use more of what I learned from bootcamp. 

Are you already seeing a better work-life balance (and paycheck!) since starting your new tech career?

I’m at the end of my fourth week in my new QA job and I’ve already gotten two steady paychecks! This is my first time ever having a full-time job, so I was terrified I wasn’t going to like it. The job is fast-paced — it’s a startup and there's a lot going on, but that is exciting for me and I enjoy the challenge. I also love the flexible remote schedule, so if I need to step away and do something with my kids, I'm able to do that. I'm in love with the stability — it’s a whole new world! 

Are you aiming to eventually become a software engineer or do you want to go further in QA testing?

I'm open to it all! I'm grateful for this role because engineering to me is still a little scary. I feel confident coding for myself, but it’s different when you're on the job in the real world, so I’m glad to ease into it this way. I'm open to seeing where my career goes with QA, but my dream is still to work on front-end development. Avela has a learning and development budget for each employee, so I’ll definitely take advantage of that and continue to build my skills in that area. I’m grateful for this position to ease into the software development world without too much pressure right away.

Looking back on your career change, was Tech Elevator worth it for you? 

Absolutely. It felt serendipitous as soon as I found it. I wouldn't have had the confidence that I do now to apply for the type of position that I currently have. Plus, with the potential to move on and have even more responsibilities in the software development and tech world, enrolling in Tech Elevator was absolutely worth it for me! 

I met great people and learned really valuable skills that I never thought possible. Learning how to code was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I definitely cried a lot, but I did it! I'm so grateful to Tech Elevator for being so patient and having such great staff to help us out. 

What is your advice for other artists who are parents considering a career in tech?

Don’t let the patriarchy tell you that you aren’t an artist, a coder or a mom if you’re not doing that one thing full-time! You can do anything that’s meaningful to you in whatever capacity feels good to you. I’m grateful that I don’t have to do my art full-time anymore just to make a living. I’m supported by a lucrative tech job and I can still take art gigs as they feel good to me. 

Do you recommend any resources or groups to other artists or people of color working in tech?

It’s so important to find a supportive community! One of my singer friends who is Black is a senior engineer and an opera singer — they inspired me to continue on in this software engineering process. She introduced me to a Slack channel called Artists Who Code, for people who come from an arts background and are now either in tech or trying to get into tech. I’ve been in the group for a few years and they’ve been crucial to feeling supported in this journey. Part of the reason why I chose Tech Elevator was because one of the violinists in that group graduated from Tech Elevator! Now she works as a software engineer for Kohl's. 

I am also subscribed to Blacks in Technology and I follow a lot of Black Instagram artists and people who are in tech, but Artists Who Code was pivotal for me as I start this new job and balance my life as an artist and mom. It’s helped me visualize what that life can actually look like.

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

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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