Alumni Spotlight - V. Evans

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After working on a very Help Desk focused job, V. Evans wanted a change. An opportunity to learn about a new field, where the chances to grow are endless, sounded like the perfect choice. That is why after doing an internet search for Coding Camps in San Diego she chose to apply for SoftStack Factory next cohort.

Now, after completing our camp, she took some time to tell us about how was the SSF experience, the job search and current work! Want to know more about SoftStack Factory? Check out the whole interview!

V. at  2016 Comic Con

V. at 2016 Comic Con



What were you doing before starting the SSF Camp?

I was in between jobs before starting the program. Previously, I worked as an ITO Service Delivery Consultant supporting Department of Defense in Europe and lived in Germany for 2 years before returning to the States. Though the title sounded glamorous and there were perks such as international travel, the position was very Help Desk focused with no opportunities for growth on the contract. I worked with a small team with colleagues who were new to their careers or the more tenured remained in the same position for decades with no exposure to new technologies.  I needed to move into another position of Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) that was more challenging like Software Coding.

Did you apply to other camps? What made you choose SSF?

I did not apply to other boot camps since I was accepted into SoftStack Factory.  The technology stack and the affordability were the main reasons why I chose the Academy in addition to the location as I lived near the training facility.  Also, the founder Harold contacted applicants via phone, which is very admirable and personable.

Did you try to learn to code on your own before researching coding bootcamps?

I did some coding in college and worked with SQL databases some during my career but no heavy exposure prior to the class.

When did you realize you were ready to learn at a coding bootcamp?

There was a lot of preliminary work involved with the application to SoftStack such as completing a JavaScript course and turning in assignments in addition to writing an essay.  When I decided to dedicate my time to completing this, even during family illness, I knew that I was ready to learn coding.

What was your cohort like? Did you make friends there?

Very fast paced, very hard, and diverse backgrounds.  Each day seemed like a new lesson and it wasn’t long before our personal midterm project was due.  We worked with each other, our instructor and with Google searches to find answers to the problems encountered.  Though it was intense, and at times we literally wanted to kill each other, it was a great experience.  I made friends with most and we even keep in touch on social media and forward jobs and technology articles to one another.

What were you most excited to learn about?

I was most excited to learn about APIs and how to call and post data from different services.

What did you most enjoy of the learning experience?

The pacing.  It is a condensed curriculum that is facilitated so you have to learn quickly and be able to research problems even quicker.  The answers are not given to you or neatly cataloged so you have a good researcher.  This is very different from my previous job.

What was your favorite part of the SSF camp?

To me the SoftStack staff was the best part of the camp. The patience and compassion provided by founder Harold, instructor John, teaching assistant Robert Schmalz, and sponsor Matt Herron.   Even when your code is not the best, Harold provide feedback without tearing you apart and offered resources to help bring you up to speed on your weaker subjects.  Our instructor was an Eagle Scout and brought maturity, leadership and encouragement to the classroom and he understands coding with his few apps under his belt.  Matt provided invaluable life and career advice in addition to treating us to food and outings to relieve stress.  Robert was a senior developer with nearly 30 years experience and would provide videos, articles and detailed explanations and context on unfamiliar topics.  The SoftStack staff also asked questions and requested feedback on how to improve the experience.

How was your job search after the camp was over?

I was able to land a 2-month internship 3 weeks after camp completion. At first prospects seemed dismal as I interviewed with several companies and received rejections but I actually had multiple offers at the end, which was a confidence booster.

What are you working with now?

I am currently working as a Software Developer Intern for a startup in Solana Beach.  It is a Ruby on Rails based operation with some JavaScript so I have to learn a new technology stack.  We also do e-commerce management for clients using Magento in addition to social media and SEO. I am learning to be a jack-of-all-trades.

How did SSF prepare you for your current job?

Again working at a fast pace with constant change was key during the boot camp and carried over into the internship. I am interning at a startup with skeletal staff and little hand holding so a lot of self-research is involved.  Also, I am collaborating with new people  (two other interns who recently graduated from LEARN Academy, a Rails operation).  In addition to technology I must adapt to working with new and diverse people instead of the same colleagues year after year.  As I mentioned before, SSF requested feedback during the cohort and at a startup company your input and ideas are often requested – a very different environment from my previous corporate job with fixed or structured roles and resistance to change.  SSF helped me to deprogram to be more flexible in the IT world, which is constantly changing.