How One Student Went From Being an Athletic Trainer to a Software Engineering Coach

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Meet Flatiron School student Victoria Fluharty! She’s a rockstar networker not only at formal events but in everyday life. By leveraging this valuable job-seeking strategy, she has leaped forward toward securing a job just by talking with individuals about her newfound passion. Read Victoria’s story here:

You attended a college in West Virginia as a track athlete, double majoring in History and Athletic training, all the while working 30 hours per week.  You are certainly no stranger to hard work, how had that experience prepared you for Flatiron School?

 My time in undergrad was particularly challenging but because I persevered and accomplished what I set out to do, I finished with a better outlook on life and look back at it now with so much pride. Anytime I come across a new obstacle or challenge, like Flatiron School, I think about that time and tell myself that since I got through that, I can get through anything. While going through the program at Flatiron School, I hit quite a few road bumps, but I was able to overcome them and graduate. My time in the program and looking for a job will go down as another one of those greatest and fulfilling moments in my life. 

Where did the idea and passion for coding come up in your life?

The first time I ever coded was back during the days of MySpace, but I never really explored anything deeper than just tweaking some of the code here and there. It was after working in the healthcare field for a few years that I realized I wanted a change. My fiancé is a data engineer and he suggested that I maybe try jumping into coding and see if I liked it. I fell head over heels in love with coding very quickly! The fact that being in this profession means that I will always be learning and pushing myself to be better is what appeals to me the most about becoming a software engineer. 

Your career coach tells us your are a master of outreaches and networking. Tell us how you approach this with such great energy and intention?

Personally, I was incredibly nervous and, frankly, afraid of the networking aspect of the job search. It was the part of the Flatiron School requirements that I thought I’d have an incredibly hard time accomplishing. I decided to first focus on my personal connections before jumping into cold outreaches, which initially intimidated me. . My next step was attending meetups and career fairs, which I have found to be incredibly helpful and a ton of fun. Honestly, I think the one big factor that keeps me driven when it comes to networking is the support and positivity that my career coach has provided. Any time I am doubting myself, she is quick to tell me I’m doing a great job which keeps me moving forward. 


Tell us about how a casual conversation in Whole Foods demonstrated great networking and how that progressed for you?

One of the more unexpected things to have happened to me during my job search so far was meeting this awesome couple outside of Whole Foods. My fiancé and I grabbed a drink from the bar attached to Whole Foods and sat down at one of the tables, and ended up sharing with another couple. I eventually learned that they both work in tech and they offered to help me find meetups and would look out for opportunities for me. They have now become good friends of ours and it has been a highlight of my job search. There was a lesson to be learned there, that networking doesn’t only happen at meetups or through cold outreach emails. Always keep in mind that networking can happen at any moment, so keep yourself open to it. 

What advice would you have for those students who are reluctant to lean in to the networking piece of the job search?   

I believe the first step to warming up to the nature of networking is to start by exhausting your personal contacts. Talk to all your friends or family, because even if they aren’t in the tech industry they may know someone who is. Once you have exhausted your personal network and have had the opportunity to make new connections, you will find yourself comfortable enough to branch out and start making cold outreaches or attending meetups. Another great tool to mention, that I don't think a lot of people realize they can use to their advantage is social media. The tech twitter world has been absolutely amazing to me, and I know LinkedIn is another great tool. My advice is to start in your comfort zone and slowly ease yourself into it.  As with everything else, networking takes time to see results so it’s important to remember to not get frustrated with your efforts as they will likely pay off in time.

You’ve also really embraced blogging.  Tell us about what that’s done for your personally and professionally?

Blogging has honestly became the high point of my week. I really enjoy the process of writing about technical topics, because it helps me become more confident in my knowledge of those topics. Right after I graduated from Flatiron School, I discovered the blogging platform and it has been incredibly rewarding. The website also has a listings page for job postings which I’ve used as another job searching resource. The community there is welcoming, supportive and has been very responsive to my non-technical blog posts as well, where I discuss my personal struggles with the job search. With those posts, I do my best to create a safe space for everyone who is also going through the same thing to share their struggles as well. Sometimes while looking for a job you start to feel alone in your struggles and it is really nice to learn that you aren’t. Through all of this, I’ve gained a pretty large following and have had a top 7 post of the week on the site. It is definitely something that I am incredibly proud of and it gives me life during the stresses of the job search. Career coach Kasey Kobs reflects on why Victoria's job search is so successful:  “Victoria's approach to networking impressed me from the very start.  She is confident and humble, seeking out new connections everywhere from professional networking events to the grocery store checkout line.  I think one of the keys to her success is her curiosity/openness to possibility.”

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