From Dead-End Job to Automation Dev at Crate & Barrel

In the interview below, Aimee discusses how she made the switch from a disappointing career to a passionate career with code.

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At Flatiron School, our success is our students’ success — when students get jobs, we achieve our mission of enabling the pursuit of a better life through education. But, students’ stories don’t end after they graduate. In this series, we chat with Flatiron School’s alumni community about their journey into code, and how that journey transformed their life.

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For most of her life, Aimee M. thought what she wanted was a career in the music industry. After school, she joined the industry, tested the waters, and gave it her best shot. Aimee started out as an assistant to a booking agent and was promoted to marketing, branding and partnerships coordinator. For a while, she stuck it out, determined to get a fair judgment of whether it was the industry for her. But even after working countless hours, she wasn’t seeing much growth, and certainly wasn’t seeing the growth she was hoping for. After making her decision to leave music, Aimee decided to enter a new industry and started a marketing position. It wasn’t ideal, but she was at least doing something different. Aimee was managing the back-end of the company’s website, which is where her coding journey began: she was introduced to HTML and CSS as part of her new job.

Curious, she asked her brother about ways to continue her coding education, at which point he referred her to Flatiron School. She enrolled in Flatiron’s Online Software Engineering Program and quickly fell in love. Now she's an Automation Developer at Crate and Barrel in Chicago, where she’s passionate about her work, her career growth, and her future.

In the interview below, Aimee discusses how she made the switch from a disappointing career to a passionate career with code. Even if your “ideal” job doesn’t work out, that does not mean there isn't an even better career out there for you.

Singin' the blues

Aimee always envisioned herself with a career in the music industry. It’s an exciting scene and you would think there’s room for growth. But Aimee’s career was on pause. “I hit a point where I was working a lot and not making a lot of money,” Aimee said.

She recognized the need for a change and started a marketing job. This would be more of a transitional step as Aimee decided what her next steps should be. Her job was to manage the back-end of the company’s website and, surprisingly, discovered she enjoyed working with code.

Aimee turned to her brother who worked at a startup, and had friends who had attended bootcamps, to continue her coding education. He highlighted Flatiron School as a reputable place to learn.

Key Takeaway → Sometimes, the job you always thought you would have turns out to be a disappointment. It happens sometimes, but it should not derail you from finding something you love. Identify what aspects of that career you liked and see if other careers have similar traits.

Turning to code

Aimee did not have any technical experience, but she was willing to give coding a try. “I started the free Coding Bootcamp Prep and I fell in love with coding and Flatiron’s curriculum,” Aimee said, noting how the curriculum's real-life problems and solutions were absorbing and relatable.

“It was good to see if coding was right for me on a full-time basis,” Aimee said. She was able to use developer tools and understand what it was like to work as a software engineer. She used Slack to talk with colleagues and Git to collaborate. Despite little coding experience, Aimee was now prepared to enter a full-time, immersive bootcamp and take her next step.

Key Takeaway → Don’t be afraid to try something new. It can be difficult. It can even be scary. But, you’ll learn new skills and meet people from different backgrounds. It’s part of the discovery process in finding a career that’s right for you.

The Flatiron School experience

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After the bootcamp prep, Aimee was ready to start her coding education. She chose the Online Software Engineering Program because it let her learn at her own pace. “I didn’t have to quit my job and could earn a full income while enrolled at Flatiron School,” Aimee said.

Even though she was enrolled in the online program, Aimee had readily available support and was always learning something new. “For example, the curriculum taught the fundamentals of Ruby before introducing Rails, which is a framework that makes it so much easier,” Aimee said. “I enjoyed that you learned the hard steps first before introducing easier ways to solve problems.” Aimee learned the “backbone” of a language and how the code worked before finding ways that helped simplify her work.

By using real tools for over 15 weeks, Aimee was ready to enter the workforce as a software engineer. She had programmed entire projects and developed a robust portfolio. She created a Dice profile before graduation and a recruiter reached out to her for a new position at Crate and Barrel. It was time to start her career as a developer.

Key Takeaway → Build fundamental skills before finding easier alternatives. You’ll gain mastery and will understand why things work and solutions when something stops working.

Becoming an automation developer

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Aimee trained to become a software developer for over 15 weeks. She was using real tools daily and was immersed in the culture. Flatiron helped train her, but also empowered her to become a successful developer.

At Flatiron School, Aimee learned JavaScript and Ruby, but the position at Crate and Barrel involved coding in Python. Even though she did not learn Python at Flatiron, she knew the steps she needed to take to master a new language. “I was able to teach myself a new language based on how I was taught at Flatiron,” Aimee said.

The role of an automation developer at Crate and Barrel is a new one. Aimee works with two other developers on a small team within the marketing team. Because it’s new, Aimee can work on a wide range of projects and there are a lot of opportunities for growth. “I love the environment and I just wrote my first customer-facing program all by myself, which I’m really proud of,” Aimee said.

Ready to start your own career change? Learn more about our in-person and online bootcamps here.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of November 27, 2018. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

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