A Flatiron School alumna finds a connected community in West Palm Beach, FL

Posted by Flatiron School  /  February 26, 2020

Meet Jenna F., one of our online software engineering grads, living and working in Palm Beach! After graduating from college with a degree in economics and business studies, plus a finance internship under her belt, Jenna turned to Flatiron School to pair her business experience and communication skills with a career in code. 

Jenna Francis (OSE)

What inspired you to want to make a change and begin a tech career? Why Flatiron School?

I wasn’t excited about the work I was doing and the speed at which things changed in the heavily regulated finance industry. I had interned at a tech company before and wanted to get back to that environment where they were constantly pushing the boundaries of what was possible. Two friends of mine from college got into engineering through coding bootcamps, so I saw it was possible and decided to make the leap. I chose Flatiron School because of the awesome proven job placement stats from previous years.

Where were you working and what were you doing before Flatiron School?

Before I attended Flatiron School I was studying economics at NYU and interning in investment banking.

How did you first become interested in tech and code?

I first became interested in coding when I interned at a commercial real estate (CRE) tech startup, Compstak, as a data analyst. Once a week, our managers would get the interns together and teach us basic programming skills to help automate our data processing. In addition, there were weekly “Show & Share” sessions where the developers would demo new features coming soon to the company’s products. It was incredible to see products being built and learning how to use the tools to build them. 

Today, Compstak is making huge strides to bring transparency to the CRE business – check them out!

Did you struggle with impostor syndrome? If so, what helped you overcome it? 

Absolutely! The biggest thing that helped me overcome it was working closely with my cohort and problem solving together. I quickly realized that even the more senior engineers don’t necessarily know “everything” either, and that we’re all just continuously learning together. 

Tell me about the community at Flatiron School. 

The community at Flatiron school was helpful, positive, and welcoming. Every time I reached out for help, an instructor or coach was eager to chat, develop my understanding, and keep me moving along.

What was your favorite moment during the course?

My favorite moment of the course was completing my Ruby on Rails with Javascript project. It was so cool to see everything I learned coming together in a dynamic site I built 100% on my own.

What’s your favorite thing about software engineering/web development?

I love coming up with and building solutions to complex problems. There is always a new challenge and endless room to grow.

Did you find your previous experience has helped you excel? If so, how?

100%, yes. I have a lot of experience crunching numbers, managing projects, and communicating with stakeholders from my previous roles. All of these skills come in handy, as there’s always a business initiative behind every tech project. Bridging the gap for both technical and non-technical stakeholders is truly key to mutual understanding and long term success. Communication is my secret weapon.

What was the most unexpected thing you learned during the program? 

The most unexpected thing I learned were new patterns of thinking. Learning to code retrained my brain to approach problems in new ways.

What advice would you give to people who are considering switching to a career in software engineering?

Trust and believe in yourself. Pursuing a career in engineering can feel intimidating. It takes hard work, but it’s highly accessible through programs like Flatiron School as long as you commit and follow through.

What makes West Palm Beach unique to you as a software developer? What’s the tech community like?

The tech community in West Palm Beach is unique because it’s super connected. Palm Beach Tech does an awesome job bringing people together across the county. I regularly run into people I know at coffee shops downtown.

What’s your advice to someone who is looking to start their tech career in West Palm Beach or the Miami area?

The best thing you can do is get out there and meet people face to face, whether it’s going to a tech talk through Palm Beach Tech or Refresh Miami or a casual meetup for all things code. Building relationships in the community helps you get your name out there and you never know who might be hiring!