How One Alum Left Finance and Became a Developer at a Blockchain Startup

By Flatiron SchoolJanuary 18, 2019

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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  Karla R. entered the rapidly evolving world of FinTech right after graduating university. She rotated through Strategy, Product Management, Sales and Innovation roles with Visa and was later hired as a Product Manager in London. Karla found success early on in her career, but felt she was ready to take on a new challenge.She saw the potential of the larger tech industry and decided she needed new skills to complement her business experience. She wanted to go beyond finance, explore her creativity, and join a dynamic startup. Her desire led her to Flatiron School, and a career as Systems Consultant for a blockchain technology startup. Below, Karla, a Flatiron School London graduate, discusses how she made the leap from finance to software engineering. Remember: By identifying potential areas for greater growth, you can find a career that you’ll love.

Starting off in FinTech

Financial technology, or FinTech, is a rapidly growing field that’s combining modern skills and century-old institutions. Karla found success early with a world-renowned company. As part of a leadership development program, Karla worked in San Francisco, Dubai, and New York. She was soon offered a role as a Product Manager in London. She accepted and spent close to a year as a Project Manager for Visa.

As Karla was learning new skills and seeing the world, she was also seeing the potential for a career outside of the finance industry.“I realized the value of technical skills in my work environment and decided that I wanted to acquire greater technical literacy to supplement business acumen,” Karla said.She wanted to go beyond the finance sector and find a more creative career in a startup. In order to do that, she decided to learn to code and become a software engineer. Key takeaway →  A perfectly fine job does not have to become your career. Spend the time developing your skills while also identifying any areas for growth or potential outside your current role.

From finance to code

Karla was already familiar with coding, having taken classes with Code First Girls and taking online intro courses for web development and Python. “Attending these part-time classes solidified my decision to go down the developer route as I realized that I would be able to contribute more value to the work I was doing full-time if I knew how to code,” Karla said.While she wanted to enter more technical roles in the finance sector, Karla said she felt restricted because she did not have the necessary skills. She decided to change that and enrolled in Flatiron School. Choosing Flatiron School was easy for her. Flatiron School stood out in her research and her colleagues who graduated from an immersive also had strong praise for the bootcamp. “By attending Flatiron School, I was excited by the possibilities that could come from it and that it could be a game-changer for me,” Karla said. Key takeaway →  Don’t let a perceived “weakness” hold you back from something you want. Identify ways to make it a strength or find a way to sharpen the skills you need for a new opportunity.

The Flatiron School experience

Karla quickly found Flatiron School to be a rigorous, immersive, and rewarding experience. She always found support whenever she faced a challenge. She credits the Learn.co platform and instructors for helping her. “I really appreciated the teaching methods of the Learn.co environment as I worked through Bootcamp Prep. My instructors were almost always available to support via message or video chat,” Karla said. Flatiron’s unique approach to the curriculum was also vital to her success. “The test-driven labs were effective and fun because I treated them like games,” she said. “I appreciated the code challenges and enjoyed the discipline of preparing for them. It was incredibly satisfying when I passed them — and heart-breaking and stressful too — but, that’s what I was looking for in an immersive environment.” Karla knew she could always turn to a community of students and instructors whenever she faced a coding challenge. “I hugely appreciated the community, specifically the support structure from instructors who helped me get through the tougher times, and get out of my own head! I would not have made it through Flatiron School if it had not been for the dedicated and caring student and staff community,” Karla said. The curriculum and support system helped her dive deep into her projects. By spending up to three weeks on a single project, Karla was able to fully understand the entire programming process. Key takeaway →  Working on something new can be difficult. But, know that you’re not alone. You have a community and support system that are there to support you and help you when you’re stuck.

A part of the community

Karla no longer feels restricted after Flatiron School. In fact, she’s a contributing and active member of London’s burgeoning tech scene. “I feel equipped with the resources necessary to continue developing skills in the languages and frameworks I learned at Flatiron School as well as learn any new languages and frameworks that interest me,” Karla said. She’s able to apply the skills she currently has and can learn new skills in the future. She’s also taking on consulting projects and has helped others turn their passion into a reality. A woman who approached me at Science Fair was interested in game development, which is what my project was based on and asked for my support in helping her build her own children’s game,” Karla said. “I supported her in turning her JQuery app into React, which was a cool consulting project I had the privilege of working on after I graduated. That was a pretty proud moment for me.” As for advice for future students, Karla says to find the potential to grow in any moment. “Even if the moment I’m in doesn’t feel good, if I see growth and opportunity for me to learn in the future, I’ll stick it out,” Karla said. After Flatiron School, Karla has found a job at a dynamic startup. She is a Systems Consultant for ConsenSys, a blockchain technology solutions company.

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