When Lauren Weber was laid off from her job as a franchise business consultant due to the pandemic, she decided to make a career-change into tech. Within three months, Lauren was hired as a Software Test Engineer at CyberGRX. How did she switch industries so quickly with zero experience in tech? It all started when she decided to enroll in Coding Temple. Learn how Coding Temple’s 10-week Full Stack Development Course quickly got Lauren job-ready, plus how their extensive career services gave Lauren the job support she needed.
What inspired you to make a career-change into tech this year?
My undergrad is in psychology, but I decided that I didn't want to go for my master's degree or move forward in that career. Instead I went back to restaurant management, working as a franchise business consultant. I was laid-off in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If I was honest with myself, I wasn't really enjoying my job, and I knew the restaurant industry needed time to recover from the pandemic's economic impact. That’s when I decided to change my industry and choose a coding bootcamp.
What was your research process like? Why did you choose Coding Temple?
While looking for highly-rated coding bootcamps, I came across Coding Temple on Course Report. What stood out for me about Coding Temple was their commitment to each student. They keep their cohort sizes small, with a maximum of six students per cohort. I appreciate the dedication and attention that Coding Temple gives to each person to ensure their individual success in the program. Coding Temple also includes extensive career services to prepare students to land a job; that training was instrumental for me!
What was the Coding Temple application and interview process like for you?
I spoke on the phone with a rep from Coding Temple for 15 minutes, discussing my background and if Coding Temple was a good fit. After that, I took a 20-minute assessment on basic HTML.
Did you have any coding experience before applying to the bootcamp?
No, I came into the bootcamp knowing nothing about the tech industry. I wrote my first line of code during the Coding Temple prework! Coding Temple’s prework helps students determine if a coding bootcamp is the right choice for them by offering a basic foundation of concepts.
How did you pay for the Coding Temple tuition?
Coding Temple has many financing options. After reviewing all my options, I decided to pay for the tuition in full, out of pocket.
What was a typical day like at Coding Temple?
On Monday through Thursday, class was held from 9:30am to 4:30pm Central time. We had lectures, one hour for lunch, and then we would receive a homework assignment. On Fridays, we worked on a project instead of having normal class. Some of the projects were individual projects, but quite a few were group projects. Coding Temple did their best to teach us the Agile Methodology process. We worked in groups over the weekends to complete our projects.
What did you learn in the 10-Week Full-Stack Development Course curriculum?
What kind of projects did you work on at Coding Temple?
Every weekly project summarized the concepts we learned that week. We learned about SQL databases and then had to build a database for a business such as a movie theater. We built cloud applications where we built a user interface on the front end, which connected to a database on the back end. Most of our projects were done in groups to encourage collaboration and virtual communication. Coding Temple prepares their students to enter the remote workforce by incorporating the skills we need into the curriculum.
My interest was in machine learning, so for my capstone project, I taught myself some of those concepts to complete my project. My capstone was a Bread Quality Evaluation tool. It would help employees at my previous company learn to recognize how their bread measured up to company standards. It would benefit restaurants because employees would be better trained to bake good bread, meaning they could serve better product.
Did the overall teaching style match your learning style?
I feel that the virtual aspect of my remote bootcamp at Coding Temple was better than being enrolled at an in-person bootcamp. Class was held via a Zoom conference, and our instructor shared his screen. While our instructor taught us, we would build the project along with him. If one of us had errors in our code, he would connect to our computer and help us fix it. Sharing our screens and seeing what was going on helped us to problem-solve more efficiently.
Since you did a remote bootcamp, how did you keep in touch and collaborate with your cohort?
We were fully remote, but I know everyone in my cohort so well even though we have never met in person! When I enrolled, they added me to my cohort’s private Slack channel. We used this every day to ask questions, share links for class, and collaborate. I still visit that channel daily.
How did Coding Temple prepare you for the job hunt?
Starting in our sixth week, we had career service sessions in the evenings. We virtually met with a recruiter from Tesla and an engineer from Google. Various speakers and Coding Temple staff assisted us in creating cover letters, resumes, and coached us about interview questions. There was comprehensive interview prep with Ripal Patel (Coding Temple Co-Founder) who worked hard to touch on every aspect of the interview process and even did mock interviews with us.
What roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating from Coding Temple?
After graduating from Coding Temple, I applied for positions as a data analyst, back end engineer, testing engineer, business analyst, and anything else that required up to 3 years of experience. Coding Temple’s curriculum was so comprehensive, I had a basic understanding of everything I needed to be successful in a vast array of positions. My only limitation was that I was fresh out of bootcamp.
What remote job search strategies worked best for you and how did Coding Temple continue to help you in your job search?
The job search process is frustrating, especially now with COVID-19. I started out submitting cover letters and resumes to jobs I was extremely interested in, but towards the end, I became a little more creative when I reached out to a company. I used my cover letter to explain my personality traits that would make me an asset to the companies I applied for. That kind of creative cover letter helped me to land an interview with the job I have now!
Ripal checked in with my cohort on a weekly basis to ask how many jobs we had applied for, if we had interviews, how they went, and how we could improve. Coding Temple has partner companies, which offer bootcamp students from Coding Temple job opportunities.
Congrats on your new job at CyberGRX! What is your role there?
I am a Software Test Engineer and I work on a team of developers. CyberGRX is a cybersecurity exchange that allows companies to gather security data about vendors and other third parties that they work with. The team I work with is currently working to make feature improvements to the exchange platform. It's my job to assess the risks with the software features we are developing. I think of what could go wrong and the usefulness of the features. I do not write code as a Test Engineer; instead I work alongside people who write code. As a team, we work together to build high quality software for our customers.
How did you get the job?
I found the job post on LinkedIn. When I looked at CyberGRX’s website and saw that they had an amazing culture, I wanted to work for them. CyberGRX is a small company of about 130 employees that just hit its 5-year anniversary. I applied for every available position that I was even remotely qualified for! Test Engineer is the position they offered me.
What was the remote interview process like?
Their interview process was fast! I finished the entire interview process in under a week. I had an initial interview, followed by a test exercise that involved breaking the user interface of a website. After getting through that 30-minute interview, I went through an intimidating 2-hour audition interview with the entire test team over Zoom. They asked me questions, and I had to tell them if I thought the software we were using was worthy of our consideration for business purposes. The most rewarding aspect of the interview process with CyberGRX is that it gave me confidence in my decision to work for them.
Do you have any tips for recent bootcamp grads who are just starting to work remotely in their first tech job?
Advocate for yourself. Ask questions and don't be afraid to be wrong. In the food industry, it's all about execution and being right the first time, but in the tech industry, especially at my workplace, they encourage failure because even in failure we learn things. Don't be afraid to say you don’t know something. It's easy to fall through the cracks when working remotely because you are not sitting next to the person training you.
Are you using the skills that you learned at Coding Temple in your new job as a Test Engineer?
The fundamental concepts of the development process help immensely in my job as a Test Engineer. We also touched on Agile and Scrum in bootcamp, which I use at CyberGRX. My knowledge of how code works gives me the understanding necessary to figure out what could go wrong with software we build.
I’ve also had to learn a lot on the job at CyberGRX and that relates back to the importance of asking questions. Not only is this my first job in tech, but I'm also new to working remotely and new to cybersecurity! Working at a startup is also not something I'm familiar with. Every aspect of this position is uncharted territory, which is scary but still a fun learning experience.
So far, is this the career that you expected?
I didn’t know what to expect when I got into Coding Temple. Everything was so new to me, and the technology industry is so huge. Most people know what an engineer does, but there are so many more career paths that you can take from a coding bootcamp that doesn't include writing code. With my background, I could have pivoted my experience in the restaurant industry and made a good product manager. Knowing how many options there were, I didn't have set expectations, but I'm definitely not disappointed where I have landed!
Looking back, was Coding Temple worth it for you?
Honestly, Coding Temple was the best investment I ever made for myself. I don't know if I would have been able to change my career in less than three months doing anything different.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career-change journey?
Imposter syndrome — I knew nothing about code or the tech industry before beginning the bootcamp, and it's hard to believe that after 10 weeks, I was prepared to accept a job that would pay me more than any job I've had in my life. How am I qualified for this? It's intimidating looking at the job descriptions because all of them say that they require experience. Imposter syndrome is still something that I'm dealing with as I continue to learn in my current position. I've been told that it is something that never goes away.
What skills from your background as a franchise business consultant do you still rely on in your new tech career?
My 10+ years of customer service experience has translated to my role at CyberGRX because it makes it easy for me to consider how customers of CyberGRX might be impacted by the features we're building. Will the customers use it? Is the workflow going to be user-friendly? What type of user scenarios do we need to take into consideration? For my test engineer role, when I think about risk, I ask myself, "Is it going to work for CyberGRX the business?" My role on the team is to bring ideas and risks to the table that developers may not think of when they write their code. My business background helps me immensely in that area.
What do you wish you knew before enrolling in Coding Temple?
I wish I knew that having a bachelor's degree doesn't guarantee you a job, and that companies are looking for specific skills. There is a lot of demand in the tech industry, and a coding bootcamp is an excellent investment because the return is so much faster than a four-year degree. I still don't have my investment returned on my four-year degree and I graduated almost 7 years ago! I wish I had discovered the possibilities earlier. I’m not sure if coding bootcamps were around when I was 18, but if they were and if I knew what enrolling in one could do for my career, I definitely would have done one then.
Jess is the Content Manager for Course Report as well as a writer and poet. As a lifelong learner, Jess is passionate about education, and loves learning and sharing content about tech bootcamps. Jess received a M.F.A. in Writing from the University of New Hampshire, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.
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