Linda Haviv was weighing several career options – from music to law to TV production – when she started exploring the world of code in 2015. After learning how to build a website, Linda wanted to learn more, but fitting in self-teaching while working a demanding TV job wasn’t enough. Six years after making her career change into tech, Linda shares why enrolling at Flatiron School was worth the investment and how she’s still relying on the lessons she learned at bootcamp every day as a Site Reliability Engineer at FOX Corporation. Plus, hear Linda’s tips for climbing the career ladder as a bootcamp grad!
What inspired you to make a career pivot from working in TV to software engineering?
I was born into a musical family in NYC. I thought I might follow that path, since I’d been performing since age four and loved it, but I knew it was a tough industry and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit to that struggle. My parents wanted me to be a lawyer, so I decided to follow their dream to law school. I loved learning and I explored a lot of options that I thought would be suitable for pre-law. I was a philosophy major at a liberal arts college, and my favorite philosophy class was logic because I loved the strategy involved.
I worked in TV while I studied for the LSATs, and during that time, I started second-guessing the timeline and the potential debt I'd go into by going into law. Meanwhile, working in TV was exciting but the schedule and financial upside didn’t seem sustainable with my goals of a family in the long run. My role varied from social media to production to wardrobe. I even built a simple website for a boss who was releasing a book. That was the first time I ever touched code, and I wondered why I'd never looked into computer science! I started exploring the world of tech and coding through some meetups. The more I explored, the more I fell in love with the concept of coding. I loved building something from scratch. As a production assistant in TV, though, I was working odd long hours and didn't have the capacity to build on the technical concepts consistently with an ever-changing TV schedule. That’s when I knew I needed structure and began to look at coding bootcamps.
Coding bootcamps were just becoming popular when you enrolled in 2015 – Why did you choose Flatiron School?
I sought the structure of an organized program, so I looked into part-time classes at first. At the time, Flatiron School offered an Intro to Front End course* that was two days a week after work. During the Intro to Front End course and attending the open houses allowed me to get to know Flatiron School and find out if it was the right place for me. There was also a sense of urgency in my timeline to get the technical education I needed to advance my career before starting a family. After the Intro course, I realized I needed to quit my job, take out a loan, and go to Flatiron School full-time.
*This course is no longer offered at Flatiron School.
Is there one tip you would pass onto anyone trying to decide which coding bootcamp is best for them?
It's so important to attend a coding bootcamp’s open houses and meetups, whether virtual or in-person, so you can see the style of teaching and identify how you learn. In tech, you're not just learning from your instructors, you're also learning from your peers and solving problems together. Flatiron's use of collaboration stood out to me. I knew I needed in-person instruction and community, and I found that in Flatiron School.
What did you actually learn in the Flatiron School curriculum?
Which roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating from Flatiron School?
When I was choosing which tech niche to go into even pre bootcamp, I looked into mobile development as well but ultimately chose web development after researching the job market and attended the web development focused program at Flatiron School. Many corporations at the time were looking for web developers, which felt like the lowest barrier to entry. Because time was of the essence to me, I was strategic about my entry to tech: get into tech first then shift within the field. I also kept in mind that it’s hard to know what you like most without actually doing it.
Are you still in touch with any of your cohort/classmates? Did they become your network?
For years after the bootcamp, I was still building projects with people from my cohort. Two people from my cohort even got married! I feel like I could call upon anyone from my cohort at any point.
The biggest factor for me at Flatiron School was the community, as in the people I was learning with. What I loved about my cohort was that Flatiron School really vets their incoming students to make sure they can commit to the program. This matters because if you're surrounded by people who are not as determined as you are to make a career change, you are affected by the dropout rate. When you're surrounded by motivated people, it’s inspiring! Even if you’re all stuck on the same thing, figuring it out together makes the process feel less lonely.
In my cohort, people came from different backgrounds. Some had been computer science majors who didn't feel like they had on-the-job ready skills and wanted to attend bootcamp; others were math teachers, consultants, musicians. The diversity of background and age differences brought a lot to the table to be able to build together. Every person there was so determined to learn.
You wrote about your Flatiron School experience on Medium – why is it important for new technologists to share with the larger community online?
One of the first things Flatiron School tells students to do is write a technical piece for Medium. At first it seemed implausible that we'd be able to write a technical piece in our first few weeks of learning, but the beauty is that when you have to write about a topic, you have to learn it better than just a basic understanding. It put me in a place where I understood it was okay that I was still learning because in tech we're always learning! In tech, you’re not expected to know everything but you are expected to always learn and grow, read documentation, regurgitate it, and teach it to others.
Writing technical pieces for Medium took me out of my comfort zone, but I did this for several reasons:
I create Tech content online till this day mainly on Instagram, TikTok, and other outlets due to all the reasons mentioned above and have been able to connect with so many incredible people in the industry through this work as well.
What was your first job after graduating from Flatiron School?
Flatiron School hosted a Career Day where companies came in and we went through a rapid interview process with them. I had a few interviews because of Flatiron School. I did have other interviews (some were take-home, some were in-person) and the mock interviews were very helpful.
You now work as a Site Reliability Engineer at FOX — How did you go from Software Developer to Site Reliability Engineer?
Over time, you either climb up the career ladder or move to another end of the tech stack. My junior-level role at FOX naturally transitioned to full stack development and was promoted to Mid-Level Engineer. When our company did a big cloud migration, I was interested in this work, so I got certified in AWS. I fell in love with cloud computing, and I started leading internal AWS Lunch & Learns so I could teach what I was trying to learn.
From there, I transitioned to a Site Reliability Engineering role at FOX Corp. My role as a site reliability engineer is more on the DevOps spectrum. I work primarily on the back end with a shared stack. Working on Infrastructure has been much more challenging to me, which is what I wanted. The beauty with tech is that it evolves so quickly and it's part of the job to evolve and keep educating yourself which I find to be super fun.
What is your advice for bootcamp grads about how to make the transition into different tech teams at your company?
There isn't always a right answer in navigating transitioning within the same company, but there is a leverage when you have exposure to internal tools, especially now virtually. If you want to try working on a different project or stack, make an opening for yourself to network with people from other teams. That would start with shadowing, but then start a Lunch and Learn! Find something you don't need permission for that actually looks good for the company. It's a win-win for both.
Are you using what you learned at Flatiron School in your job today?
Absolutely! The main thing you learn in a bootcamp is how to learn. What I loved about Flatiron School was that it was fast-paced yet safe. You had to meet deadlines but you had support. I developed those skills and still use them on the job today. Flatiron School taught me when to ask questions, especially going in as a junior developer.
As a senior developer, are you now seeing more bootcamp graduates working alongside you?
Yes, I definitely see more bootcamp grads working alongside me, and many from more untraditional journeys, whether through self-study or bootcamps. When I joined FOX, two people out of six at the time were bootcamp grads. It's definitely increasing. At FOX, we removed the “number of years of experience” requirement for tech roles. We know it’s more about the candidate and how they learn – not just having a CS degree.
What is your advice for other bootcamp grads about how to grow their tech career over time?
If you need something or want to move up your career, be direct. People often don't understand subtleties. People are busy. I probably could have transitioned earlier if I'd been less subtle. I stayed at FOX because they have been supportive career champions. When I was upfront with them about my career goals, they wanted to see me succeed in my career. They can't do the work for me or make the transition for me, but if I'm direct about it, if I give them the insight of my desires and ask for advice, they can and want to help me succeed.
Be upfront with your desired timeline. When sharing your career goals with yourself and your manager, set goals like, “I'd like to be in this position in two years.”
Be open to advice from your managers and team. This will help you build your network and connect to the right people who can get you where you want to go.
Looking back on the past 6 years, was attending Flatiron School worth it for you?
It was the best decision I ever made in my life, and it was worth every single penny. When I enrolled at Flatiron School, I did not have the money, I took out a loan, I wasn't working even though I needed to, and I was still able to make that money back very easily. Of course it's stressful to quit your job, but spending 3-4 months in a coding bootcamp is really not that long.
I was strategic about the type of debt I took on. I can't even put a price on the life-changing lessons I had at Flatiron School and the path and the guidance and the community. There's a value to having a deadline. Self-study is a great route, but I knew, based on my life and living in NYC, I had no time to waste. For me, it was worth putting in the investment to invest in myself. It's a price, but compared to the career you're opening up for yourself, and if time is of essence for you, Flatiron School is worth it.
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