Alumni Spotlight

How Turing School’s Back-End Bootcamp Helped Caroline Land a Full-Stack Job

Jess Feldman

Written By Jess Feldman

Liz Eggleston

Edited By Liz Eggleston

Last updated on October 25, 2023

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Caroline Peri dedicated a decade to urban planning, but was ready to develop deeper technical skills in her career. She knew she wanted to build solutions with technology and sought out a coding bootcamp that would equip her with the skills necessary to start a software development career. Drawn to their carefully-crafted curriculum and commitment to their teaching style, Caroline chose the Back End Development Bootcamp at Turing School of Software & Design because she loved working with Ruby. Find out how Turing School prepared her for a career in  software engineering in just seven months, and what she’s working on now as a Full Stack Software Engineer at Direct!

👩‍💻 Turing School of Software & Design is now accepting applications for its November cohorts — Apply here!

What inspired you to pivot from urban planning to software engineering this year?

I loved working as an urban planner for nearly a decade, but as I progressed in the field I realized that I wanted to be working in a role where I could better utilize and evolve my technical capacity. I didn't see as many avenues for that in planning, as my work was being directed towards project and people management. I was exposed to coding in graduate school and loved it! As I considered what I wanted to do for the remainder of my career, I kept coming back to solving business problems with technology.

What resources helped you learn how to code before you applied for a coding bootcamp?

I used the open source curriculum from The Odin Project (TOP) and spent some time making sure I really enjoyed the work of coding before diving into a full bootcamp. 

When you were researching coding bootcamps, what stood out about Turing School?

Two things stood out to me about Turing School:

  1. The length and depth of the program. Turing School is an accredited nonprofit organization that offers a seven-month coding bootcamp. I was impressed with the comprehensive curriculum and felt confident that Turing School would be worth the investment of time and money to secure my skills.
  2. Focused curriculum of either back end or front end. Personally, I felt like full stack was too much to cover in a short period of time. I wanted to dive into learning one side or the other of the stack. 

How did you choose between focusing on Front End Development or Back End Development at Turing School?

I had some exposure to Ruby and the Rails framework, and I really liked both technologies. I worked with data as an urban planner and was interested in the structure of how we store, manipulate, and use data, and setting up the logic on the back end of the application. Back end clicked with my personality and fit with the type of work I like to do and Turing matched up with the language that I already liked working in! 

Plus, the Ruby community was really welcoming to newcomers and I thought it was a bonus to be able to continue that path in a bootcamp.

Did you feel like you had to know basic coding in order to apply to the Back End Development bootcamp at Turing School?

The Turing School admissions staff was explicit that we did not need to know how to code to get in, but we needed to be able to think through problems logically and be strong at approaching problem-solving collaboratively. I kept that in mind as I prepared for my interview and the logic questions, but I didn’t have to draw from previous coding experience to get in. 

Did you have to complete any prework?

All accepted students go through a program called Mod 0. I took mine in a flexible format because I was still working at the time. Over the course of a few weeks, it covered an intro to the language of Ruby, basic coding concepts, and the Turing style of learning to get you prepared for that first day. Even though I was familiar with the language, it helped me get back into the mindset of learning in a classroom and the bootcamp-style learning. 

Did you quit your job to attend the bootcamp or did you juggle both?

I stepped away from a full-time job and devoted seven months to the bootcamp! The whole career change felt like a big leap of faith, but once I decided that I was going to do it, I was grateful I could take the time. At Turing, it seems like the best outcomes come from being able to set that time aside and focus fully on the program.

How did you pay for the tuition? Did you receive any scholarships or financing through Turing School? 

Turing offered some interesting scholarship opportunities and I did apply for an inclusion scholarship. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of the selected recipients, but I know that it did provide funding for a number of really deserving students. I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I could put myself through the program with savings from my previous career.

What was a typical day like in the Back End Development bootcamp? 

A typical day was fairly structured. Turing is a remote program set on Mountain time, with most of my cohort-mates in Colorado. I was on the East coast, so I had some extra time in the morning to prepare for the day and review the previous day’s material. Generally, coursework ran for the full day -- three hours before lunch, three hours after lunch. In the first couple of months, there was more classroom learning, then it moved towards independent or collaborative time with teammates to build final projects. We were in that structured time for the majority of the day, then the evening time was spent completing either daily homework assignments or working on larger group and individual projects. 

On average, I spent more than 60 hours a week on the bootcamp lessons and projects, which is one of the reasons why I chose to step away from my job when I went to Turing. It is pretty all-encompassing for a pretty long period of time, but the preparation felt worth it to me.

What did you actually learn in the back end development bootcamp curriculum?

The back end program is structured into four modules: 

  1. The first module focuses on the basics of software development and specifically Ruby — learning how to write a method, structure your classes and objects, and work with different data structures. 
  2. The second module teaches you the Rails framework, which is used to build web applications. 
  3. The third module incorporates working with APIs. This is something distinct to the Turing program that I didn't see in the curriculum of other bootcamps. You're both learning how to build and consume APIs, which is a tremendous part of the real world job in web development! 
  4. In the fourth module, we worked with a full stack team of students from the front end and back end programs, where we used some stretch technologies and I got to try a bit of Python development.

I used the front end curriculum from Turing to learn the basics of React and JavaScript,  and talked to some of my cohort in the Front End Development Bootcamp about their projects. While it wasn't formally introduced, there were definitely opportunities to get exposure to the other side of the stack. In my last couple of projects with a team, there were some chances to do traditional front end development work and get a little bit more exposure there. By the time I started interviewing, I felt familiar enough with some of the modern front end technologies to apply to full stack jobs. 

What kinds of projects did you work on in the Back End Development bootcamp?

Many project ideas are pitched by students! In each module there was a mix of project types: 1-2 individual projects, a few paired projects, and some small group projects. Through projects like a retail inventory management application, I started to see how I might professionally use some of the skills I was learning. 

Towards the end of the bootcamp, students complete two larger projects: one is a consultancy project, which is a full stack application in Ruby on Rails with a back end-only team. For that one, my team and I built an application that used Philadelphia city rental data as the basis for a platform to help prospective renters to identify a place to live, which was really exciting! It was great to see how the Turing School approach mimicked life on a real software tech team. We had to talk upfront about what each member of the group would need to complete their portion of work, and stay in-sync as we built the project. 

For my last project, a mobile application for pilots to log training hours, I worked on a team with students from both the Front End and Back End programs. We were both using some technologies that were new to us, so it was an interesting chance to watch what they were learning as well.

How did Turing School prepare you for the job hunt? 

One of the things I loved about my time at Turing School is that the professional development is woven into the curriculum. Professional development goals and lessons start in module one, and they're designed to guide you towards being ready for the job search towards the end of the program. We worked on strong resumes and cover letters, improving our LinkedIn profiles, and building our professional portfolios. In the latter half of the program we practiced interview preparation with technical and behavioral questions, and had the chance to think intentionally about what type of story we wanted to tell during our job search. Having focused time for career development during the program was very productive for me.

What roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating? 

I was looking at a mix of back end and full stack roles. I was looking primarily at jobs that used Ruby and Rails because I fell in love with the language and framework at Turing, but I was open to new technologies as well. While I did conduct a broad search with many different types and sizes of companies, I was most interested in starting at a smaller startup because I thought I could learn and grow relatively quickly in that environment.

Were you looking for a company that could apply your experience in urban planning?

I definitely had a strong interest in working in a field related to urban planning, and I feel very lucky to work in the property technology space, which is related to some of the commercial real estate work I had done previously It was most important to work for a company where I could hone my technical skills and learn how to build software with a professional team before being choosy about working specifically in urban planning.

Do you have any tips for others on the tech job hunt right now?

Try to stay positive and understand that while the market is difficult there are opportunities out there, possibly in places that you might not consider. One of the strongest pieces of advice that Turing School gave us was to look at companies that aren’t traditionally technology companies. What are the industries that are growing? As we modernize and embrace technology as a society, those companies probably have tech roles that are worth applying to.

Congratulations on your new job as a Full Stack Software Engineer at Direct! What problems does Direct solve?

Direct is a platform for short-term rental property operators,  and helps management companies synthesize many aspects of their operations into one application. The platform handles reservation management, guest communication, staff coordination, accounting, payment processing, and much more! It's been really interesting to see how the industry works as well as how we're using technology to solve some problems that these operators faced in the past.

Was Direct interested in your Turing real estate project?

Part of the reason I reached out to Direct when I saw the position available was because of the work that they were doing in the property technology space. I have a strong interest and background in real estate and analytics, so felt that there was a match there. 

Was Direct interested in your Turing School experience? 

What I learned at Turing School aligned really well with my new role. Direct’s platform is built with Ruby on Rails and React, both of which I had gotten exposure to through Turing. The engineering team is led by another bootcamp grad from a different bootcamp, and there are other bootcamp grads on the team! There is an understanding of what career changers are capable of and an interest in embracing those skills on the team. 

Did your employer have any concerns about you graduating from a back end development bootcamp vs a full stack program?

The role aligned well in that it was focused primarily on work with Ruby on Rails, with the understanding that it’s a small startup team and that I would have a hand in a bit of everything and would also learn as I progressed in the job. We have a few really talented senior front end folks who are able to help out on that side if I need it. It works out well that I am familiar enough with the front end to handle full stack work from Day 1, and have had significant exposure to more complicated topics on the back end through Turing’s curriculum bootcamp projects.

What kinds of projects are you working on now? 

I'm working on adding new features for payment processing as well as helping improve  analytics and financial reporting for our customers. 

Are you using what you learned at the bootcamp now on the job? 

I am definitely using what I've learned at Turing, both the specific technologies and also the ability to take a set of requirements and determine what I need to program to solve that problem. Turing equipped me to tackle problems that I don't immediately know how to solve, by using technical resources and team collaboration to evaluate and implement the best possible solution for the given scenario. 

Are there any skills or tools you were using in urban planning that you use today in your tech job?

Absolutely. A general knowledge of real estate accounting and analytics has been helpful in understanding the product side of my work and the needs of our users. Some of the quantitative research and reporting that I did as a planner is coming in handy as we think about building reports and other tools to display information.

At this point in your tech career, was Turing School’s Back End Development bootcamp worth it for you?

I feel really lucky to have been able to start a professional software role so soon after graduation and in that way, definitely believe it was worth it. It's a competitive tech job market right now and Turing School gave me the skills I needed, as well as positioned me well in the market to apply for and eventually obtain a job. I am already engaged and excited by the technical challenges I am working on day-to-day, and finding the professional satisfaction I was looking for when I started the bootcamp program.

What is your advice for making the most out of the Turing School experience?

Push yourself to learn and grow! You can do more than you think you can when you allow yourself to experiment with your projects and stretch your comfort zone to try new tools, technologies, and approaches. It’s equally as important to practice learning how to best work with your teammates. It seems like the strongest software engineers are capable not only of doing exceptional technical work, but of collaborating on a team — whether it's across the stack or with a peer. I was grateful that Turing School gave us so many opportunities to practice pair programming, communicating, and problem solving with other people, because it’s something we'll be doing for the rest of our careers. 

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

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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