Erika H. was no stranger to code before enrolling in Flatiron School’s online Software Engineering program. It took some time for coding to click for Erika, but it led to a career she loves and a future she didn’t realize was possible. Now, she’s a Technical Coach Lead (TCL) in Denver where she helps support students start their own coding journeys at Flatiron School.

She says the college experience was a mismatch for her learning style. Some people need a more collaborative environment where it’s fine to feel lost and asking for help is encouraged.

“In college, I was terrified to not know something, even though I barely knew anything about what I was doing,” she says.

She was introduced to coding when she was studying game design. But, it wasn’t a perfect match from the start. “I was really terrible at it at first,” she says.

An object-oriented programming class inspired her to continue with code. “I began to understand the potential of what was there and what I could do with it,” she says. “And I just never had seen that before.”

Erika gained confidence and began her tech career working as a graphic designer at a startup. According to her, the startup’s websites were poorly designed, so she endeavored to fix them. She didn’t have web development experience, but figured to try her hand at coding a website. That piqued her curiosity and, with the help of WordPress, she built a few websites.

The experience inspired her to explore web development further and she started researching bootcamps. Flatiron School was her first choice, but she couldn’t relocate to NYC. Erika went to another bootcamp that helped her learn the basics, but she wanted a bootcamp that trained her to become a software engineer.

When she learned that Flatiron School now had an online software engineering program, she applied and received a scholarship.

“Almost right away, I said to myself, ‘OK, this is it. This is the real deal. I have to figure it out and I’m going to be so good at programming by the end of this.’”

Erika didn’t realize coding could be a career, so her coding journey was totally unexpected. “My whole life, my mom said, ‘Only weird people program,’” she said. “Well, I guess I’m a weird person.”

Coding satisfied her creativity and her love for puzzles. It was a perfect fit because she enjoyed being challenged, which is exactly what coding did — it helped her think differently. “Being able to combine my love of puzzles and challenges with this creative side of me. Coding opened the doors to my future,” she said.

After graduating from Flatiron School, she became a Flatiron School TCL and now helps students on the same journey she completed in 2017. Erika has already improved the “Ask a Question” feature to better support students. She trains Technical Coaching Fellows, the equivalent of a teacher’s aide, and makes sure they know how to help students throughout the bootcamp and foster a welcoming community.

For potential students, she says to not rush through the bootcamp. Be patient, don’t get frustrated when it’s difficult, and don’t ever think that you’re not good enough.

“Focus on how well you understand it and how good you feel about it. And, if you’re unsure, ask for help,” she says.

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