Hannah Kofkin: Design to Software Engineering

Hannah Kofkin, an August 2020 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, began her career in design. But, just a few years in, she decided to pivot to where her true interest lay – tech. 

She shares her journey from design to engineering, all while maintaining a focus on creativity. 


Hannah Kofkin began her career pursuing her creative interests – first with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, then spending 4 years managing the creative department in an event production company. But, a few years in, the desire “for a new challenge” had her reconsidering the path she was on and returning to an early curiosity in tech.

“I’d always been interested in tech and software engineering in particular because I wanted to understand how sites and apps were built,” she explained. “I wanted to know all about what goes on under the hood and how these platforms are built.” 

What’s more, she knew her background in design would transfer well from creating events to coding applications.

“I knew I could use my design experience combined with technical skills to build and develop applications from my unique perspective,” she said. “And once I discovered coding bootcamps, it was just a matter of finding the right opportunity to leave and focus on this career shift.”

Her Bootcamp Experience

Having decided to pursue her career change by way of a coding bootcamp, the next step was for Hannah to pick one to attend. It was a decision she put a lot of thought into, making her choice based on a variety of factors and feedback. 

“I talked to several bootcamp grads prior to making any decision to apply and I gathered feedback on many different schools,” she said. “Flatiron School ultimately felt like the best match for me given the full-stack program and the sense of community I felt from the beginning.” 

Having made her selection, Hannah enrolled in Flatiron School’s Software Engineering bootcamp. The immersive format of the program required full-time study hours – a time commitment that Hannah initially found challenging. 

“There were some very late nights and long hours, especially during the milestone projects throughout the program,” she recalled. “But, the time and effort you put in is directly correlated with what you get out of it.”

Despite the demanding schedule, throughout the program, Hannah found topics and experiences that she enjoyed. 

“I loved the variety of languages we learned and the structure of the program as a whole,” she said. “I also loved the collaborative projects so we could gain some real team dynamic experiences to apply in future roles.”

Job Search

Hannah completed her Flatiron School program in August 2020 – beginning her job search in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, an experience she remembers as “difficult”. Despite the challenge ahead of her, Hannah relied on the support of her dedicated Flatiron School career coach to keep her moving forward. 

“My career coach played a huge role! She kept me on a good schedule, gave very constructive feedback on each element of my application materials, and also notified me of any companies (including my current employer) who were looking to hire bootcamp grads.“

Ultimately, Hannah accepted an offer from Datadog, a cloud-scale monitoring and security company. She began working as a Solutions Engineer at the company in March 2021. 

Working In The Field

When we spoke with Hannah in August 2023, she’d been with Datadog for 2.5 years and had already received 2 promotions – now working as a Senior Solutions Engineer. Her experiences in the industry, she reported, have been overwhelmingly positive. 

“I absolutely love working in this industry at Datadog. I’m a Solutions Engineer so I’m not coding full time, however, having the solid base that I gained from Flatiron School is still helpful as I better understand different technologies and can debug or simply read and understand code as necessary. Reality definitely lives up to the dream for me!”

She reported that she is also particularly proud that she was brave enough to take the leap and change careers – especially during a global pandemic. 

“I am honestly proud of the career shift in general. It’s scary and difficult to leave a steady job, especially during covid, but I worked hard and persisted to ensure I found the right fit. It was all worth it in the end!”

Reflecting On Her Journey

Looking back on her Flatiron School experience, Hannah reminisces that the experience was one of difficulty and perseverance. 

“You get what you put in. It’s a difficult, tedious, time-consuming program,” she emphasizes, “but it really is worth it in the end to have a great baseline to build from and get a foot in the door to a competitive industry.”

As for her advice to others hoping to pursue the same program, Hannah recommends to lean into the difficulty and just keep moving forward because it’ll be worth it.

“Keep pushing, ask questions, and just do your best. Everyone has a different capacity to learn and everyone has a different learning style. Try to focus on your progress rather than comparing yourself to others. At the end of the program, it’ll feel very rewarding to see how far you’ve come.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Hannah Kofkin?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Hannah Kofkin 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 can help launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

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

Tristram Jones: Retail to Software Engineering

Tristram Jones, an October 2018 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, began his career in sports retail before pivoting into tech for better opportunities. 

He shares his journey from Retail to Software Engineering below. 


A Michigan native turned Utah transplant and self-professed mountain lover, Tristram’s early career reflected that of somebody who loves to be active. After earning a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science, he worked at a running specialty store for 5 years. It was there that he first started to dabble in development. 

“While I was there I used Wix to help maintain the shop’s website. I eventually left the store and took my Wix skills to work for a digital marketing company,” he said. “We built cheap websites using templates and were forbidden from using custom CSS. The work was stressful and the websites weren’t great but I got a small glimpse into web development.” 

After 2 years at the digital marketing company, Tristram decided to move on to bigger and better things. To do that though, he’d need to expand and polish his skill set. 

“I wanted to learn more, and my pay was terrible,” he explained. “So I quit and enrolled in Flatiron.”

Deciding On Flatiron School

Tristram was committed to switching into Software Engineering, drawn by several very valid factors. 

“The higher compensation, temporal flexibility, and the ability to build things were all reasons I was drawn to the field.”

As for his decision to go the bootcamp route to grow his Software Engineering skills, as opposed to a traditional university, Tristram cites the support of trusted friends. 

“I have two friends that had gone to coding bootcamps in 2013 and pushed me to do the same. I needed the confidence to commit and [they] helped me see that I could be a good Software Engineer.” 

Although Tristram applied to several bootcamp programs, he says that Flatiron School was ultimately his first choice. 

“Flatiron School’s curriculum aligned with what I wanted to learn. I knew my aptitudes and interests aligned more with front end development and I hoped to gain a good grasp of React, ” he explained. “Flatiron was my top choice and, gratefully, I was admitted.”

Bootcamp Experience

Tristram enrolled in Flatiron School’s full-time Fullstack Web Development* program in July 2018. Joined by a cohort of other learners, he committed to studying 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday, at the school’s flagship campus in New York City. The transition into full-time studies, Tristram recalled, was abrupt. 

“I didn’t have time to complete all the pre-work and only had a very small base of knowledge before starting,” he said. “That made the curriculum much harder to master at such a fast pace.”

Despite a bumpy beginning, by the end of the program Tristram had built upon his initial interest with a new suite of development skills – supported by classmates and instructors throughout the course’s 15 weeks.

“I loved the final few weeks when we built our capstone piece. I loved the freedom to build, learn, and work through problems. But, my favorite part of the program was the people,” he said. “It made all the difference to be surrounded by other individuals as motivated, bright, and desperate as I was to make such a drastic career pivot. The instructors, I often say, were more talented in the art of teaching than my professors in college.”

Job Search

Tristram graduated from Flatiron School in October 2018 and jumped straight into the job search, focusing primarily on making connections. 

“I felt like networking in my area was the best way to land a job,” he said. “I messaged software engineers on LinkedIn and asked to meet them for lunch. One engineer recommended I join a public Slack workspace for JavaScript developers.”

It was through that recommendation that Tristram ultimately landed his first professional Software Engineer position. 

“The workspace had channels for different topics including meetups and job postings. I went to those meetups and applied to all job postings. I ended up getting a job at a startup that posted on that channel. They didn’t want to deal with the hundreds of applications they would have gotten if they had posted on a big job board.”

Working In The Field

When we spoke with Tristram in July 2023, he was currently working as a Senior Software Engineer at Vizient. Almost 5 years out from graduation, he says that he is loving his new career. 

“Reality is even better than I had imagined, I love what I do. I build things all day with almost absolute autonomy and never work weekends. I work from home, have a really cool team, and feel like I make a difference in my field.”

His advice for other Flatiron School students hoping to pursue a similar path is to focus on acquiring knowledge and skills. 

“LEARN! Read the docs first, then look for answers. Be humble and question your assumptions. And when you’re looking for a job,” he added, “prove that you know more than is likely assumed.” 

Reflecting on where he began his journey, Tristram’s thoughts center on the importance of pushing yourself past what you think is possible. Much like summiting a mountain, the hardest part of the climb is often simply believing you can make it to the top.

“I’m most proud of the moments when I took on a project that seemed beyond my abilities and pushed through my doubts to find success. Those stories remind me to trust my resilience more than my doubts.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Tristram Jones?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Tristram Jones 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 can help launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

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

*Fullstack Web Development program is no longer available. For prospective students interested in this course of study, visit the Software Engineering course page to learn more.

Consumer FAQs

Choosing to change careers is a big decision. Acquiring skills, building a network, and landing a job, it’s hard work! That’s why – when you’re ready to make the leap – Flatiron School is here to support you in all stages of your journey.

If you’re wondering whether a Flatiron School bootcamp is the right choice for you to pursue your career change dreams, take a look at some of the common FAQs below. If you like what you see, we’ll be here when you’re ready to get started.

What is the difference between the On-campus and online Live and online Flex experience?

On-campus programs are 15 weeks long and are held full-time. Students are expected to be on campus for each day of class from 9 am – 6 pm local time. The Live program is also 15 weeks, but rather than going to a campus, you’ll be logged on and learning remotely full-time. Both on-campus and Live programs monitor attendance daily. 

The Flex program gives students up to 60 weeks to complete the curriculum and offers the most flexibility day to day. Students enrolled in Flex programs must attend at least 10 check-ins to be eligible for graduation, but are not otherwise required to attend live instructional activities.

Are bootcamps worth it?

Bootcamps offer a lot of things. They offer an opportunity to learn the skills you need to launch a career at a relatively affordable and fast pace.

What’s required of you is to find the right bootcamp. Find a place that teaches in a way that fits your learning style, meets your price point and schedule, and focuses on the languages and skills that align with your career ambitions. If you do your research and find the right place for you, then attending the right bootcamp is the right choice.

Do bootcamps work?

Employers value people who can do the job and who can learn and adapt quickly on the job. By successfully completing a bootcamp, you’re demonstrating that you can “do” as evidenced by your projects and that you can “learn” as evidenced by completing the program. 

At Flatiron School, you’ll be able to demonstrate both. You’ll learn how to learn because new technologies appear on the market every day. Our approach enables graduates to learn and apply new tools when needed. In other words, it’s not just the skills themselves that are important to hiring managers, but how you go about acquiring skills to complete a job that sets you apart. 

In many ways, bootcamps definitely do work, and there’s a lot of proof behind that statement.

But it’s better to first ask yourself, “What do I want to get out of attending a bootcamp?” Asking yourself what your goals and ambitions are is how you’ll know if a bootcamp would work for you.

Some people want to just become acquainted with the basics of a skill, which is great, but a full-time bootcamp might not be the best route if you’re looking for a basic understanding of something – whether it’s coding, data science, cybersecurity, or product design.

If your goal is to learn the skills you need to pursue a new career, then yes, bootcamps do work.

What is an online bootcamp?

While they vary with each course and each school, typical online bootcamps are short-term and often rigorous training programs to help students learn the knowledge and skills they need to be eligible for an entry-level position in a related field (aka, change careers).

What experience or requirements do you need to join Flatiron School programs?

We don’t require you to have prior relevant experience to apply for any of the Flatiron School programs. Our admissions requirements are being at least 18 years old, having a high school diploma, a GED or equivalent credential, having a native or highly proficient fluency in English, and completing the admissions process.

Before joining your cohort on Day 1, you will have to complete around 40 hours of coursework called Prep to learn the basics of your program and prepare you for success in the course. 

What’s the application process like?

The first step is to fill out a written application. Once submitted, you will receive prompts from the admissions team to schedule an interview and take a 15 min aptitude assessment. During the interview, a member of the admissions team will learn about your learning needs, career goals, and help you decide whether the program is the right fit for you. If you passed your assessment, we will give you the admissions decision after your interview.

What does job search support look like?

The Flatiron School Career Services team exists to help you find a job. You’ll receive guidance on how to:

  • Build and Optimize your LinkedIn Profile and Resume
  • Ace your behavioral and technical interviews
  • Grow your network of tech professionals
  • Connect with Flatiron School employer partners 
  • Negotiate your salary
  • Optimize your job search using AI
  • Track job search activity using Huntr

You’ll partner with a dedicated Career Coach regularly to make forward progress each week, with up to six months of one-on-one support after graduation.

Am I guaranteed employment upon graduation from the program?

Flatiron School does not guarantee employment upon completing any of our programs. However, our technical curriculum combined with hands-on, one-on-one career coaching support has helped launch 7,000+ grads into new careers. While launching a new career is hard work, it is absolutely possible with consistency and commitment.

What types of companies hire Flatiron School graduates?

Our graduates have and continue to make lasting impacts in a range of companies from small startups to Fortune 500 companies. 

Companies who have hired our grads include:

  • Google
  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • Facebook
  • Shopify
  • VOX
  • BuzzFeed
  • Spotify
  • Accenture
  • Intel
  • Kickstarter
  • The New York Times
  • Thought Works
  • Goldman Sachs
  • PWC
  • Citi Bank
  • Dow Jones
  • Akamai

What financing options are available?

You have a few options in terms of financing your enrollment in one of Flatiron School’s courses. See all of your options on our Tuition & Financing page.

We also offer initiatives that can help to offset the cost of tuition on our Scholarships and Diversity Initiatives page.

What is Flatiron School’s job placement rate?

You can view our latest job placement rates in our Jobs Report.

We’ve issued a third-party examined Jobs Report each year since 2014 and remain committed to honesty and transparency with student outcomes.

I would like to talk to a Flatiron School team member, what should I do?

If you would like to connect with a member of our team, please simply schedule a chat with one of our Admissions representatives.

Get Ready To Upgrade Your Life

Flatiron School’s 10+ years of training expertise, seasoned career service coaches, and 10,000+ alumni network all play a role in helping you change careers. In a market that rewards ambition and dedication, our graduates have that in spades and go on to live the lives they’ve dreamed of.

Ready to get started? Apply Today.

If you need more time, why not visit our program pages, or hear from other grads that were once in your shoes? 

Neda Jabbari, Ph.D.: Academic To Data Scientist

Neda Jabbari, Ph.D., spent more than a decade in academia building a data science skillset before transitioning into a private-sector biotech role. 

She shares her journey from academic to Data Scientist below. 

A Background in Academia

Neda Jabbari spent the first decade of her career in academia doing what academics do – namely, acquiring degrees and research experience. Accumulating a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, Neda followed all that school up with three years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Systems Biology. 15 years in, however, she decided to transition into the private sector by way of Flatiron School.

“I built a career in data science [in academic],” Neda said. “After completing my postdoctoral research, I [wanted to join] the data science bootcamp to explore broader topics.”

Despite leaving academia behind, Neda brought her acquired scientist’s skillset with her and planned to put it to use. 

“I wanted to apply my skills in experimentation and problem-solving to broader tech.” 

Her Bootcamp Experience

Regarding her decision to join Flatiron School, Neda cites word-of-mouth and the program’s transparency as being primary drivers. 

“I had heard about the campus in New York and its reputation,” she explained. “I liked that it provided statistics on student success outcomes.” 

But, going from learning in years and semesters to days and weeks presented different challenges in approaching material. Where academia allows researchers to go deep into a single problem, the accelerated bootcamp experience demands that students learn a new skill and then move on to the next phase.

“It was a very compact program, as expected,” she recalled. “This made it challenging at times to fully explore the course material.”

Despite the expedited learning schedule, Neda, like many students, found support and camaraderie in her instructors and classmates.

“Interacting with other students in my cohort and instructors with different backgrounds was my favorite part [of the bootcamp].”

Working In Tech

Neda graduated from the Flatiron School Data Science program in October 2019, later accepting a Data Scientist position at Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp. Working in the private sector, she said, has been enjoyable. 

“I perform analytics and data pipeline development to support product and operations,” she explained when we spoke with her in March 2023. “I have always liked working with data and optimizing processes.”

Advice For Current Students

Neda’s advice for current Flatiron School Data Science students is two-pronged. The first is purely practical. 

“Track your code. Practice using Github.”

Her second bit of advice is more foundational to the career change journey, delivered in a numbered, methodical way that marks her as still being an academic at heart. 

“1. plan, 2. try, 3. look back at your progress, 4. evaluate and modify if needed, 5. repeat this cycle as many times as you need while enjoying the process and learning from others who made it work. You will get there.”

Ready To Dig Deeper Into Data, Just Like Neda Jabbari, Ph.D.?

Apply Now to join other students like Neda Jabbari, Ph.D. in a program that sets you apart from the competition. 

Not ready to apply? Try out our Free Data Science Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. Or, review the Data Science Course Syllabus that will set you up for success and help launch your new career.

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

Eric Saber: Professional Organizer to Product Designer

Eric Saber, a March 2020 UX/UI* graduate from Flatiron School, followed a self-defined winding road to get to Design. But, by following his need for a change throughout his career, he’s now thriving in tech.

He shares his journey from professional organizing to product design below.

Beginning In Business

The route Eric Saber took to becoming a Product Designer was, in his words, a “winding journey”. Eric began his career in sales as an Account Executive working with non-profit arts organizations. But, a decade into his first profession, he was ready for a change.  

“I felt an itch to strike out on my own. So, I made a bit of a left-turn and started my own professional organizing company (a la Marie Kondo). I’ve always been an organized person and I love creating order and efficiency,” he explained, “so it was a natural fit for me.”

Eric had his organizing business, Outer Calm, for just under 3 years. But eventually, the itch came back that told him he needed something different.

“While I loved organizing and helping my clients, I preferred a more structured work life vs. being a freelancer.”

Pivoting Into Product Design

As he contemplated his next move, a chance encounter with a family member put him on the path toward tech.

“I was talking with my father-in-law who was redesigning an app he built. He was asking my opinion on the interface since he knew I was pretty well-versed in tech, and that was the lightbulb moment when I knew I wanted to be a designer. Shortly thereafter I found Flatiron School.”

Looking back, Eric’s eventual decision to pursue a career in Product Design was a long time coming. 

“I’ve always been a bit of a tech nerd, but I’m also a guitarist and songwriter, so for the longest time I was looking to have some form of creativity be a part of my work life,” he said. “I thought that that ship might have sailed until I learned more about product design as a career.”

His decision to apply to Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design program was informed by the testimonials of peers who’d previously attended the Software Engineering program and had a positive experience.

“All the alumni I spoke with said that it was a really difficult program but worth it if you put in the hard work […] Flatiron had one of the more robust design programs and I also got the impression that, of all the bootcamps out there, Flatiron had some name recognition that was respected (which would help with the eventual job search).”

Bootcamp Experience

Eric enrolled in Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design program on the NYC Campus in late 2019. Eric, like many students, initially struggled with the accelerated pace of learning. 

“Soaking everything in and putting it into practice at such a breakneck pace to meet deadlines was not easy. As a brand new designer and student, it felt like learning to build a plane while flying it,” he recalled. “That said, in hindsight, it was super valuable to learn that way because it mimics the real-world deadlines designers face on the job.” 

What’s more, after spending over a decade in careers where he worked independently, learning to work cooperatively with the other students in his cohort presented a learning curve that he appreciates looking back.

“The group work was invaluable since so much of the work you do in the real world is going to be collaborative and cross-functional.”

Even with the demanding schedule and rapid learning, Eric found that he thoroughly enjoyed his coursework.

“My favorite part of the program was the initial education around design thinking and the overall process that goes into solving some of these big problems. It takes so much work to make things work. When you’re using a great website or app, it’s easy to forget that a lot of people did a lot of hard work to make that experience a good one for you.”

Job Search Journey

Eric graduated from Flatiron School’s UX/UI Design program in March 2020, right into the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

“As you might imagine, the job search was tricky, though I’m sure it would have been even without a pandemic. It was hard getting my foot in the door and convincing hiring managers to give me a phone screen, having no prior design experience,” he explained. “Even though I knew all my other experiences and soft skills were extremely valuable to the work, many hiring managers just wanted to see your past work in design.”

Despite the rough launch post-graduation, Eric’s dedicated Career Coach supported him throughout the job search.

“[My Career Coach] helped to focus me and frame my applications in a way that allowed me to stand out not despite my unconventional background, but because of it.”

Working In Tech

When we talked with Eric in early 2023, he’d been working as a Product Designer at FCB Health in New York City for almost 2 years.

“I love being a designer and I am so grateful for my experience at Flatiron. I really feel like I have found my calling and I owe so much of that to you guys. The reality is even better than the dream, and I think the way that the program is set up allows for designers to be well-prepared for real-world work.”

The overlap between his previous and current work, he says, is more than one might expect. 

“It has been a perfect marriage of my skills and experience in sales (where I learned how to present work and help clients) and the time I spent running my own company (where I had a direct impact on people’s lives by creating order out of chaos). Add in the creative aspect and you couldn’t draw a better Venn diagram of the things I’m passionate about.”

Reflecting On His Journey

Eric’s advice for other Product Design students is to lean into the hard work required to thrive in the course. 

“You really do get from the program whatever you put into it. If you’re willing to hit the ground running and realize that it won’t be easy, that there might be some nights where you don’t get much sleep, you will get so much in return. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the structure and support of Flatiron. I feel very lucky to be an alumn!”

Looking back on where he started, Eric’s biggest takeaway is that hard work pays off.

“If you have the right mindset, a good eye, and a strong desire to learn, you can make your design dreams come true. I pinch myself every day that I get to do this for a living!”

Itching For A Change, Just Like Eric Saber?

Apply Now to join other career changers like Eric in a program that’ll teach you the design skills you need to land your first job in tech.

Not quite ready to apply? Try out our Free Product Design Prep Work and test-run the material we teach in the course. 

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

*UI/UX Design course is no longer available. For students interested in this course of study, visit the Product Design course page to learn more.

Carla Stickler: From Broadway Star To Software Engineer

Carla Stickler, a Fall 2019 Software Engineering graduate from Flatiron School, describes herself as a professional multi-hyphenate. After spending more than 10 years performing in Broadway musicals such as Wicked, Mamma Mia!, and The Sound of Music, her desire for stability, a better work-life balance, and a chance encounter with an old friend led her to tech.

She shares her journey from Broadway Star to Software Engineer below.

A Burned Out Broadway Star

By the end of 2018, Carla Stickler had already had what many would consider to be a dream career. She’d found success in the arts – a difficult feat no matter the medium – and performed on Broadway stages in world-famous musicals such as Wicked, Mamma Mia!, and The Sound of Music. 

But, Carla said, the continuous grind needed to reach that level of success had begun wearing on her.

“From the outside, it looked like I was living it up. However, after performing eight shows a week almost non-stop for about a decade, I was burned out,” she said. “I was spending more time managing injuries than having any sort of a life, missing weddings, birthdays, holidays with my family, and weekend BBQs. I struggled to maintain friendships outside of work as I basically lived at the theater.”

 To take a break from the stage (and dancing and four-inch heels), Carla earned a Master’s Degree in Education and worked as a voice teacher while moonlighting at the Wicked Broadway company to fill in for vacancies. The grind, however, didn’t slow down.

“I was hustling to get enough actor weeks to qualify for health insurance through the union and to find enough voice students to pay my bills,” Carla said. “All I wanted was a steady paycheck, a social life, and my body to stop hurting all the time. I couldn’t figure out why that was so hard to achieve in the arts.”

The Inciting Incident

Carla recalls knowing that she needed to make a change for a while, but a chance encounter at her 35th birthday party finally spurred her to act. 

“A friend showed up to my party and announced, ‘I’m a software engineer now and I just got a great job making more money than I’ve ever made with health insurance and a 401k!’ I was confused, since last I checked, he was a composer writing musicals,” she mused. “I held him captive for the next 30 minutes asking him how he did it and what exactly software engineering was. He told me he went to the Flatiron School and learned to code.”

Several weeks and a few google searches later, Carla enrolled in a twice-weekly front-end development course* at Flatiron School.

“I wanted to see if I really enjoyed [Software Engineering],” Carla explained. “I got hooked and decided to attend Flatiron’s Immersive Software Engineering Bootcamp at their [New York City campus] the next summer and to change my life with code!”

Scene Change: Flatiron School

For Carla, Flatiron School’s community was a critical part of the experience.

“Flatiron was reminiscent of my time at performing arts summer camp. It was intense and overwhelming, but we were all in it together, with a common goal to learn a new skill set so we could change our lives,” she explained. “The folks in my cohort quickly became life-long friends. We supported each other by celebrating our wins and providing encouragement for those struggling to keep up.”

Her cohort supported one another throughout their time in the program and participated in a weekly tradition known as “Feelings Friday” to recognize and cheer one another on. 

“We would sit in a circle and everyone would get a chance to talk about what we had struggled through that week, or talk about a win we’d had. We would all snap our fingers when someone was finished as if to say, ‘You are not alone. I am right there with you, feeling the same imposter syndrome, terrified about whether or not I’ve made the right decision. But we can do this crazy thing’”, Carla explained. “Flatiron had a way of building a community that made our struggles seem manageable. We were all going through this journey together and knew that for this thing to succeed, we all needed to succeed.”

Pulled Back By Broadway

When the Wicked production company reached out for an emergency backfill for a sick actor halfway through the JavaScript portion of the course, Carla managed to fulfill both obligations. 

“I spent three weeks coding from 9-5 while also performing on Broadway evenings and weekends. I was so excited about learning to code that I’d spend intermission and the time between scenes, in the dressing room, coding. It was an intense few weeks,” she said. “But if I could pass my javascript tests while also doing Wicked, I could do anything.”

Through the course, Carla learned something about coding that she hadn’t expected – it was creative. 

“No one ever tells you, or at least no one ever told me, that software engineering is creative. It’s complex and requires the ability to imagine something that doesn’t yet exist and create it using code. The similarities between coding and art amazed and inspired me.”

In addition to her enjoyment of the material, the successes of others in the school assured her that she had made the right choice in attending Flatiron School.

“Our teachers were an inspiration, as many of them had gone through the program and already seemed light years ahead of us. When we heard about friends finishing the program and quickly landing a new job, we knew we had chosen the right path.”

Job Searching During The Pandemic

Carla graduated from Flatiron School at the end of 2019, just a few short months before the beginning of the COVID pandemic. She credits Career Services with keeping her moving forward in her job search, even in the face of an unprecedented year like 2020.

“While everyone was on a hiring freeze, I worked with my career coach and continued learning on my own and taking classes online to keep my skills fresh,” she said. “Having a structure for how to proceed helped remove some of the unknowns about getting a job. The weekly blog posts, continued self-learning, and spreadsheet that tracked all the people I was reaching out to could be overwhelming at times, but I look back on all the hard work I did and I see how it paid off.”

Despite all of the hard work Carla put in with her career coach after graduating, the pandemic raged on, severely limiting her prospects as the world shut down and companies did damage control. 

“I had a few interviews that ended with being told how much they wished they could hire me, but unfortunately, they couldn’t take on junior devs at that moment.”

Pursuing A Tech-Adjacent Role

Determined to break into tech one way or another, Carla pivoted into searching for tech-adjacent roles.

“Learning to code proved that I could pick up skills fast and that having a job in tech was better than not having a job in tech,” she said. “I started looking at customer success and solutions engineering roles where I could flex my soft skills and build up my experience in the field.” 

This time, she found success and in mid-2020 took a job as a Customer Success Associate at a startup in NYC. Looking back, she does not lament the fact that her first post-Flatiron job was tech-adjacent and instead highlights that it actually checked most of the boxes that were empty in her previous career field. 

“It’s important for folks getting into a new field to really think about what’s most valuable to them when they finish a bootcamp,” she said. “Spending a year as a Success Associate allowed me the comfort of having a stable income, health insurance, and remote work so my husband and I could leave New York and buy a house in Chicago. This job, while not what I had intended, gave me a lot of what I was looking for.”

Carla also stresses the importance of stepping stones, and not putting too much pressure on finding the perfect first job.

“Your first job does not have to be your forever job. It doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to love it,” she said. “The first job is to get your foot in the door, start building your resume, have experience working in an agile environment, learn how to communicate over Slack, and just exist in this new industry.”

Landing Her First Engineering Gig

After moving to Chicago, Carla resumed her search for a software engineering position and accepted a position as a Junior Software Engineer at G2. The difference the past years have made, she said, is almost indescribable. 

“I cannot begin to tell you the number of things I’ve learned in the past year and the amount of confidence I’ve gained as a developer. The imposter syndrome never really goes away, but I’m better suited now to quiet the voices that tell me I can’t or I shouldn’t, because I’ve proved that I can and I did.”

Despite the grind it took to get her to her current position and the hurdles along the way, Carla is thriving. 

“It might’ve taken me longer than expected, but I love my job and couldn’t be more grateful for the life that attending Flatiron and learning to code has provided for me.”

Ready For A Change, Just Like Carla Stickler?

Ready to take charge of your future? Apply Now to join other career changers like Carla Stickler 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 can help launch you into a new and fulfilling career.

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

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