College student Severa Cox worked in the restaurant industry as a general manager until the pandemic struck. That’s when Severa woke up to just how vulnerable she was in her current career. With funds provided by the CARES Act, Severa left college and enrolled at Eleven Fifty Academy where she was inspired by her instructors and felt welcomed by her diverse cohort. Only two weeks after bootcamp graduation, Severa explains how Eleven Fifty Academy helped her land her first software engineer job, plus how the online bootcamp environment gave her an advantage in her first remote job!
Severa, what inspired you to make a career change?
Before getting into tech, I was a restaurant general manager and a full-time college student majoring in Psychology and Economics. I loved being a general manager at a restaurant. I have always been a people-person and have a competitive spirit, so I started as a crew member and worked my way up through the ranks. I think everyone fears for their job in the middle of a pandemic. In 2020, I learned how quickly life changes, and it made me want a secure job that I was passionate about. Spending 12 weeks in a bootcamp where I could land a job after graduating versus 4 years in college was an enticing idea.
I knew a few friends who had gotten into the tech industry by enrolling in a coding bootcamp, and they raved about how their work/life balance was better plus they felt challenged every day and had more opportunities for growth. They taught me basic web development skills, and I realized that I have a more logical brain than a creative brain. Not only was learning to code challenging, interesting, and fun, but it was something that I was passionate about — I fell in love with coding! That’s when I decided to make the leap into tech.
Why did you choose Eleven Fifty Academy?
Initially, the idea of an intensive, 12-week course drew me in. When I looked into Eleven Fifty’s curriculum, their project-based, hands-on learning caught my attention. One of my friends graduated from The Iron Yard, and when that school closed in the middle of his cohort, Eleven Fifty jumped in to help his cohort with career services. That made a big impression on me.
What was the Eleven Fifty Academy application and interview process like?
I was super nervous about the application process, but once it was over, I realized that my stress was unnecessary! The interview process was just a conversation, and it was very relaxed. I spoke with an admissions advisor who asked me basic personality questions to decide if the tech field was a right fit for me and which path I should take. They felt that the software developer path would be better suited for me because I am more logical.
Did you have to complete any prework?
Eleven Fifty Academy also offers free, 4-hour introductory courses for people who have never coded before. These courses cover the basics, such as HTML and CSS. These courses are good for anyone who is interested in tech.
Did you receive any scholarships from Eleven Fifty Academy?
CARES Act funding paid for 100% tuition! In addition, Eleven Fifty offered me the Indy Women In Tech scholarship.
Did you complete the bootcamp entirely online?
We could not attend the bootcamp in-person due to COVID safety protocols, so I attended the bootcamp remotely. Eleven Fifty did give us the option to work from their campus if we needed a quiet workspace.
What was a typical day like in the Software Development bootcamp?
The bootcamp meets Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. We began with a morning standup and discussed our agenda. Next, the instructor would teach the lesson and have us code along with her. There were a lot of examples, and we would work as she taught us. Afterward, we were given a coding challenge. The bootcamp curriculum covered HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, and .Net framework.
Keep in mind that every day was different in the bootcamp, though, with a mixture of paired programming, group programming, and independent work. It is a badge-based structure, so every few weeks we earned a new badge. Each badge is described by the fundamentals you learned.
It's project-based learning, so after class, I practiced my fundamentals by working on my project.
Were you able to work full-time while learning to code at Eleven Fifty?
I picked up jobs on the weekends, but I could not work a full-time job while attending this full-time bootcamp. The whole point of the full-time course is to be fully immersed in the language. Eleven Fifty's part-time software development bootcamp is only two nights a week and could be a good option for those students who need to maintain full-time jobs.
What projects did you build at Eleven Fifty Academy?
During the bootcamp, we completed a few individual projects, a big group project, and an individual capstone. The front end of all of our projects was built with HTML, CSS, and BootStrap. The back-end used C# .Net Framework.
During the pre-work and first badge we created several websites using HTML and CSS. We created our first rough draft of our portfolio with the assistance of Bootstrap. We also developed several console applications independently and one console application game with a peer.
During the second badge, we completed all of our projects in groups including building an API from the ground up.
For the final badge, we were to finalize our portfolio and build our individual capstone project where I had to build a front end and a back end using MVC architecture. For my capstone project, I built a sneaker trading website using C# with some HTML, CSS and Bootstrap as the front end. I deployed the sneaker trading website on Azure, which helped me learn more about Azure deployment as well.
Did the teaching style match your learning style?
I completely support the project-based learning at Eleven Fifty Academy. It's like studying a new language while abroad: you learn better because you are immersed in the culture and hear it every day. That's exactly what Eleven Fifty does. Not only do they teach the fundamentals through projects, but you get to build your portfolio with the projects you create. Every student decides if they want to expand on the fundamentals in the lesson and take it to the next level with their project. In my own time, I did further research and development outside of class. The work we did at Eleven Fifty never felt like busy work, like my assignments in college. I was really learning something through my assignments.
How has the transition into tech been as a woman? Were there other women in your cohort?
In the beginning, I was nervous that I wouldn't be offered the same opportunities as everyone else because I am a woman, but I was pleasantly surprised at how diverse my cohort was at Eleven Fifty. There were a few women in my cohort, and my instructor was a woman, which was super encouraging. It was amazing to learn from someone I could relate to! I honestly forgot that the tech industry was a male-dominated field because Eleven Fifty Academy gave me natural confidence and reassurance within tech.
How did the Eleven Fifty Academy’s career services prepare you for the job hunt?
I was in touch with career services throughout the bootcamp. They helped me optimize my resume and LinkedIn account. I presented my projects in front of the class to practice discussing code. At the very end of the bootcamp, Eleven Fifty uses their connections in the tech industry to bring employers in that will give us mock interviews. Although they are not real interviews, it offers students an opportunity to expand their network.
What software developer roles did you feel qualified to apply for after graduating?
I had an enormous boost of confidence from Eleven Fifty Academy because it’s the culture that they have created. Even if a job listing for a junior developer role required a bachelor’s degree that didn't scare me because I had put so much effort into my bootcamp projects. I technically never had a job in the field before, but my projects showed my hours of experience. I targeted jobs that were more focused on back end, such as Software Engineer, Software Developer, and Back End Developer.
What is the Indianapolis tech scene like in 2021?
The Midwest is a booming tech hub! New employment opportunities are popping up every day. The tech industry is thriving remotely because people are more efficient at their jobs when working from home. It's just a matter of preparing yourself mentally and physically because you will land a job.
Congratulations on your new job at SecondSight! How did you get the job?
I landed this role through Eleven Fifty Academy’s career services! SecondSight is a startup company that identifies the data that carries the greatest risk and alerts companies on the action required to reduce exposure and safeguard your digital assets. Their main purpose is to help businesses identify risks and act with certainty. Two weeks after I graduated from the bootcamp, career services told me that SecondSight was a good fit for me and they shared my resume with the SecondSight team. I went to the interview and got the job!
What was SecondSight’s remote interview process like?
Most of the interviewing process was a conversation that flowed naturally and didn't make me feel like a series of questions was being thrown at me. I didn't have a whiteboarding challenge, although I prepared for one just in case. To test my technical abilities, SecondSight examined the projects in my portfolio and asked me technical questions. They would look at a project, ask me how I developed it, and what I thought about the coding organization.
Have you had to learn any new technologies or languages on the job?
Another Eleven Fifty Academy graduate and I are now working together on identity resolution. We work on research and development of new products and features as well as the upkeep of our current product Reveles. We code a lot with C#, so I didn't have to learn an entirely new language thanks to what I learned at Eleven Fifty.
In my own time, I am learning Python. Once you dip your toes into an object orientated programming language, the other languages come relatively easy. It's like once you learn the romance languages like Spanish, French, or Italian, the others are much easier to pick up because they go hand-in-hand. Coding languages are very similar – the only actual difference is the syntax.
Did you feel prepared to work remotely after graduating from a remote bootcamp?
Absolutely! Starting my job at SecondSight was just like another day at Eleven Fifty Academy. The bootcamp helped me to maintain a healthy work schedule and eliminate distractions. I already was prepared to help find a solution to any problem that I could encounter at SecondSight through my time with Eleven Fifty Academy.
Do you have any tips for other bootcampers on the remote job hunt right now?
Communication is key. Find the employer’s best line of communication, and practice video presentation skills. Virtual learning with Eleven Fifty offered a lot of experience in front of a webcam. Build out a schedule for yourself and keep active while you search for job opportunities.
What inspired you to begin teaching at Eleven Fifty Academy?
I wanted the opportunity to give back to Eleven Fifty Academy because they helped me to discover my passion and prepared me for my career. Currently, I'm a part-time instructor trainee, and I'm assisting my former instructor.
As an instructor and recent bootcamp grad, what is your advice for making the most out of the Eleven Fifty Academy experience?
Do you have advice for other college students who are considering leaving to enroll into a coding bootcamp like Eleven Fifty Academy?
I’m happy with my own decision to leave college because I was able to graduate from Eleven Fifty Academy and immediately land a job!
The biggest factors that contributed to my leaving college and enrolling in the Software Development course at Eleven Fifty Academy was the ability to learn updated materials, cover specializations, and be hands-on. Colleges take longer to update their material, and you will have to commit 4-8 years to learn something specialized. A coding bootcamp is constantly keeping up with current trends and can take you through what you need to know to specialize in a field in only a few weeks. Bootcamps walk you through coding, and you can choose to use your time outside of class to learn the hows and whys that colleges teach.
With Eleven Fifty Academy, I established so many skills, gained a mentor, expanded and established a professional network, and made new friends during such a brief span of time. It's tremendous! I may return to college someday to finish my degree, but right now, I'm happy with my decision.
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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