Jillian Short: From The Arts To Tech

Jillian Short began her career in the arts. But, like many others, the pandemic forced her to pivot. Since graduating from Flatiron School’s Software Engineering Program in May 2021, she is now thriving in tech.

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Jillian Short, a May 2021 Software Engineering Flatiron School graduate and an Associate Customer Solutions Engineer at Rocket Software, had a career in the arts until the COVID-19 pandemic short-circuited the industry and forced her to pivot.

She shares her journey from the arts to tech by way of Flatiron School below.

What is your background and why did you choose to attend Flatiron?

My background is in the arts. I started in theatre as a stage manager and worked as a production assistant for small film projects and music venues. I was a barista at a high-end coffee house (we’re talking real coffee pros here), and a bartender for a couple of years. Then I moved into an executive assistant role. I’ve done lots of different things in life. 

When the pandemic hit, live events weren’t happening, and my executive assistant job was wearing on me pretty intensely. I took a trip with my partner to visit his family, and his sibling recommended giving coding a try. 

A cheap Udemy course turned into looking at Bootcamps, and then I started at Flatiron. 

The hope was to find a remote job that was more fulfilling, paid what I knew I was worth making and had more security (30 is right around the corner and I’d love to buy a house and be able to retire someday!)

How do you like working as an engineer?

I love it! I was honestly really nervous when I started. I struggled with imposter syndrome endlessly while I was attending Flatiron, especially when I started my job search. I never felt like I could be good enough to do this professionally, but here I am! 

I love the team I’m on, being able to work remotely, and the learning opportunities. It’s been a great transition and I couldn’t be more grateful that I found some courage and just went for it.

Walk me through a “day in the life” of your job.

Every morning we have a meeting with the entire team to go over what we’re working on/any questions folks have about something they’re working on. Then I jump into my edits with the flow being something like this:

New or updated requirements are sent in and assigned. 

When something is assigned to me, I read through those requirements and estimate how long coding will take me (and ask for a meeting if I need clarification on anything). 

Then I get coding! And usually, somewhere in here, I’ll ask someone else on my team for help if I bump into problems or questions.

Once I feel like my code is running well in the tool we build in, I’ll take it to our testing platform and run a test. Then I read the report, and if I see issues I fix them and test again. Once I don’t see any problems in the report, I send the information to the lead and wait for feedback. 

I’ll update and repeat the above testing steps if more changes are needed. Otherwise, we test for about a week, and then the code is added to production. 

How does the reality of working as a software engineer contrast to what you thought it would be like?

It’s way more fun than I thought it would be, honestly. I have a handful of friends who work as engineers in varying capacities, and they also love their jobs, but I wasn’t sure if I would feel the same way. I’m happy to report that it’s been two months and I’m still having a great time. 

What do you wish you’d known before getting started in your field post-Flatiron School?

I wish I’d had more practice with Github. We used it, but I would have loved to practice with it more, and have scenarios where we can practice using Github as if we were contributing on a team.

Any advice for current students?

Pair program all the time. I wish I had done that a lot more. 

Talk through your code always. I’m terrible at talking through code and it’s because I didn’t say what I was doing out loud enough. 

Network more than you think you need to. In the end, that’s probably what will give you the job.

Inspired by Jillian Short’s story?

Ready to take charge of your future? Apply Now to join other career changers like Jillian Short in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Software Engineering Prep. Or, review the Software Engineering Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of December 9, 2022. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Anna Van Deusen

Anna Van Deusen is the Marketing Content Manager at Flatiron School. When not writing about tech and Flatiron School students, she can be found hanging out with her dogs on a beach…

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