Nicole Klein was bored in her job and searching for something she loved. When she found coding was similar to her childhood interests (puzzles and Legos!), she knew she had to pursue it. Luckily, she found Sabio.la in Los Angeles and was able to keep working while she trained to change careers. We talk with Nicole about her experience at Sabio and how she landed a job as a web developer immediately!
What were you doing before you started at Sabio?
I went to UCLA and majored in psychology and linguistics. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do from there. I was still working at the Apple store at the time that I graduated. I left the Apple store for a small office manager job and them from there I took a position in financing at J.P. Morgan where I worked on a team of people managing private client wealth.
Did you have any technical background before you applied?
The most technical background I had was being a genius at the apple store.
What made you start researching bootcamps and look into Sabio?
I’ve always had a passion for technology- I’d been reading tech blogs since I was little. I guess I just didn't consider it as a career for whatever reason. But around January, I started to be really bored with my job and I was trying to think about things that would entertain me for 8 hours. So I thought about all the things that entertained me when I was a little kid, and they were puzzles and Legos. So I said okay, if I can find a job that involves solving puzzles and building things then I would never be bored.
So I started Googling and I found coding- I was actually considering moving up north and just quitting my job and going to a boot camp up there. But then I found Sabio so I decided to stay.
Did you apply to any of the other boot camps?
At that point it was January of this last year and I was just looking. I was looking at some of them but when I found one in L.A., I stopped even looking or applying to go up north. At the time that I looked, General Assembly hadn’t made its way to L.A. yet; it was still in New York. So I didn’t even know about it until three weeks before I started Sabio.
But it didn’t matter because my heart was already sold on Sabio after meeting with Gregorio several times. I already knew that I was in good hands.
Did you do the part-time course or the fulltime course?
I did the part-time course. I worked 80 hours a week- I did 20 hours of coding on the weekends, 20 hours during the week plus my fulltime job at J.P. Morgan
That’s a lot of hours!
It was worth it, though.
Can you tell us about the application process? Did you do a technical interview or a culture fit interview?
I contacted Sabio in January and I met Gregorio and Lilliana at a coffee shop and they interviewed me. Gregorio basically explained to me that there is a lot of course work online. I did a lot of Code Academy and sent him the badges I received when I completed lessons.
So I did course work while I was sitting at my desk at J.P. Morgan because I had nothing to do. I would send him badges all day long and by the end of February, Lilliana sent me an email saying I was accepted because I literally did all my course work super-fast.
What were your intentions going into Sabio? Did you want to quit your job at the end of the program or stay at your current company and get a different role?
I would say my plan was always to leave my company but I knew I would have this job as a backup. So I had full intention to leave J.P Morgan and to leave the corporate world in general; I wanted to enter more of a startup environment. There was really no room for growth at J.P. Morgan; there was no room for the role above me; there was nothing. Also, transitioning to do dev work for J.P. Morgan would require me to move to New York. The only solution I saw was to leave.
What was the structure of that part-time course?
In the second week of class, a startup came and pitched their idea to us and we built their website for them from the ground up, all while learning how to build that at the same time.
It was cool because the stockholders would come in and tell us things that they wanted to see or things they liked that we did.
Gregorio would make the backlog and we would have a sprint backlog and the main backlog . Every week when we broke for class on Sundays, we would have until the following Saturday to finish the sprint backlog.
How many people were in your class?
We started with 5, lost one, ended with 4.
So everyone was working together on these tasks?
Yes. On Saturdays and Sundays it was definitely more real-world than during the week but we still did standups. During the week we did standups on Trello. So instead of doing them in person we just posted ‘this is what I’m working on, this is what I’m stuck on, this is what I’m going to do tomorrow.’
Were there ever lectures at all or was it mainly learning through doing?
He lectured as needed. Sometimes there was a concept like a major computer science concept that we needed to understand. He didn’t lecture for the whole day; I just don’t feel that’s generally effective with people anyways. Most people just fall asleep and they can’t pay attention. So I feel like throwing us in the fire was probably the best way of teaching.
And then he would come around and individually help us and we had the internet as well.
What was the company that you were working with?
It was called Capital Magnet. It’s Gregorio’s wife’s startup that she runs with one of her colleagues. It’s a really easy way to find capital if you’re a nonprofit or just a company looking for capital.
The site makes it really easy to filter and search all of the government sites because our site pulls from the government sites where all the bonds and stuff are posted – the grants, too. So it’s really like a one stop shop to find capital.
Which technologies did you learn throughout Sabio?
I learned the .Net stack. So we learned MVC.Net and every updated version of every language and Bootstrap as well.
What are you up to today? Are you still at J.P. Morgan?
No, I left J.P. Morgan! I currently work for 1iota, which is an audience casting company in L.A. and kind of like a ticketing solution for events and filling the audience in a TV show like Jimmy Kimmel and also performances. I currently develop their internal software for all their employees and also for affiliate users like ABC and also their client facing website, 1iota.com
What is your job title?
I’m actually not sure to be really honest. I’m a software developer. Our internal application is a web app but it looks more like software than an actual website.
Do you work on a team? What is your responsibility like?
I work on a team of four people. There is a lead developer and then there are two senior devs. I’m the most junior person on the team.
Does the job that you’re doing now use the .Net stack or have you had to learn new technologies?
They use a .Net stack and I am learning Entity Framework. And I know they organize their code a little differently; understanding the way they organize their code and their framework. But they do use some of the same technologies I learned to use, like Knockout
Did you feel Sabio prepared you well to transition into that job in the real world?
Yeah; during the interview I had a clear understanding that I was prepared for that interview. There were a lot of interviews that were a little bit more difficult but they weren’t real world settings, I would say.
Some people think that knowing stone cold facts and being able to do stuff on a whiteboard is coding, but that’s just not a real world skill. In a real world setting you have access to the internet, you have intellisense. It’s not a real test of your skills, I don’t think. This company actually tested me on a computer with visual studio and access to the internet and they watched me program my test.
Do you find in your job now that there’s mentorship or support for you as a more junior developer?
Absolutely. My team is super supportive. That was actually why I wanted to work here. I actually got two job offers in the same day. Before I even knew they were going to pay me less, because they were super supportive and the lead dev was like, “I just wanna take you under my wing” and I was like, “I just wanna be under your wing.”
How did you get that job? Was it through Sabio or did you do your own networking?
Finding a job was the easiest part ever. The interviews were difficult but it’s not like the kind of job search for where you drop your resume in like a thousand boxes and never get one phone call. I probably dropped my resume in a couple hundred boxes and then the phone calls started and they never really stopped.
I used Sabio as a resource, where I talked to Gregorio a lot about preparation for interviews and after interviews and feedback and that kind of thing. But I didn’t need connections at all; I just put my name out there and people called. There’s such a huge demand and a small supply of developers so it’s really easy. I got three emails this morning. People are still after me!
Did Sabio put an emphasis on job placement with mock interviews, resume building etc?
Yes, definitely. It was pretty much understood from the time that you started that you were going to take a job after. So even though I hadn’t really made up my mind, from the beginning I knew this is where I was headed. They definitely helped us edit our resumes and we did interview preps for at least three weekends. We had mock interviews and then he gave us a bunch of interview questions. So every time I walked into an interview, I had kind of a study guide in my hand.