This Wednesday, our friends at LiquidTalent hosted a spectacular panel of women who discussed their experience at New York coding bootcamps and transitioning into their first jobs. Course Report was lucky to moderate the panel- here are 12 things we learned from this rockstar panel of lady developers!
- Sarah Michaelson, App Academy
- Corey Nilan, Dev Bootcamp
- Chelsea Guster, Flatiron School
- Tara Lerias, Fullstack Academy
- Alexandra Ackerman, General Assembly
- Rachel Shatkin, Startup Institute
Even if STEM wasn't part of your early education, coding can still be in your future!
Very few panelists were "techies" growing up, but rather found programming during or after college. Alexandra worked with programmers on a data visualization project in college before attending General Assembly and Chelsea worked her way up from a receptionist at a tech company to SCRUM Master before enrolling in Flatiron School.
Next Steps: Looking for programs to get your youngster coding from an early age? Check out these beginner resources
Find a Women-In-Tech Meetup to get Started
Most of our panelists went to a meetup or workshop specifically for women before diving into a coding bootcamp. Corey found out about Dev Bootcamp while attending a Girl Develop It workshop, which is a nonprofit organization that provides affordable programs for adult women interested in learning web and software development in a judgment-free environment. And Rachel recommends Women Who Code, which hosts free technical training and connects women with mentors.
Choose a Bootcamp that Offers the Support you Need.
Our emotional needs are all different. Sarah described her time at App Academy as all-work, all-the-time. Corey told us about addressing micro-agressions with Enginnering Empathy sessions at Dev Bootcamp, which still fuel her healthy relationships today (Dev Bootcamp also has a therapist on-hand for weekly sessions). Some of those sessions even specifically called out male privilege and get everyone on an even playing field. Chelsea described Feelings Fridays at Flatiron School. Every student needs a different level of support- and there's a bootcamp that will offer the structure you're looking for.
Look for Women in the Classroom
This means finding women in the classroom both as instructors and students. Before committing to Flatiron School, Chelsea got coffee with the then-CTO, Sarah Chipps, who was proof that a woman could be a programmer, tech authority, and role-model. If finding a female mentor during a bootcamp is important to you, make sure they exist in the classroom!
Find a Scholarship
Alexandra said that the Opportunity Fund covered ~90% of her General Assembly tuition- see more about the Opportunity Fund here. Most bootcamps have an automatic scholarship to encourage female applicants- don't miss out on these!
Self-Segregation is Real
Alexandra shared an interesting anecdote about women in her cohort naturally gravitating towards each other during group work at General Assembly. While it may feel natural to team up with the other women in your cohort, especially if your voice isn’t being heard in a co-ed team, push yourself our of your comfort zone, join the guys’ team, and speak up! Chances are, once you land your first job as a developer, you’ll be working mostly with men, so get practice during the bootcamp.
Sarah identified with Alexandra's story as she was one of two women in her App Academy cohort, and questioned whether it was the healthy choice to always pair program together. App Academy instructors saw the issue and had students draw randomly for their pairing partners.
There's a fine line between finding that supportive community at your bootcamp and missing out on an opportunity.
Email Lists are your Friend on the Job Search
We got amazing tips for the email lists you should be on to find jobs in New York and beyond. Here are a few:
- Girl Develop It sends a “Friday Jobs” email
- CrunchBase tracks which companies raise money, and chances are pretty high that a startup with a new round of funding is looking to hire developers!
Build relationships with Alumni and Instructors
Alexandra found a job after General Assembly by cold calling Content.ly (must be the former-journalist in her), but she was definitely the anomaly of the panelists. Most found their current jobs through warm introductions from their bootcamp instructors, classmates, or alumni.
Rachel was connected to her boss at Refinery29 through a Startup Institute instructor. And Tara joined Priceline after three other Fullstack Academy graduates got jobs there.
Bootcamp Grads Don’t all get Jobs as “Full-stack Developers.”
Sarah is a Dev Ops Engineer at Amplify; Rachel, a former graphic designer, is now a Web Designer at Refinery29; Tara works on the mobile team at Priceline. Just because you go to a Full-Stack Web Development bootcamp doesn’t mean you won’t land a gig in a different field.
Your Current Employer Really Might Pay for a Bootcamp!
Chelsea’s employer decided to send her to Flatiron School with the caveat that she rejoin their team if there was a job open for her. This is always worth a shot!
Further reading: Convince Your Boss to Pay for Coding Bootcamp
Freelance to Build your Portfolio
If you have a gap between graduation and a full-time developer job, freelancing can be a great way to fill the time and build your portfolio. Check out sites like Liquid Talent, which is a marketplace that provides a platform for professionals to connect in real-time, based on location to effectively match projects with the right talent.
Stay involved after a bootcamp to get other girls and women involved in tech!
Once you’ve entered the tech world, you’re well-equipped to inspire other women and girls to follow in your footsteps. Speak at conferences, sit on panels, teach or TA at local meetups and workshops, and coach at your alma mater. Sarah teaches at Railsbridge; Corey coaches at Dev Bootcamp and teaches at Girl Develop It; Rachel teaches in the Basic HTML/CSS and RampUp's part-time Web Design course at Startup Institute; and Alexandra volunteers with Coder Dojo.
Thanks to all of the panelists for talking about their experiences as women in tech and in coding bootcamps, and to Kanwal & Liquid Talent for hosting this event!