How I started my career after coding bootcamp

My story is that I originally didn’t know what coding was until I got a call from my older brother one day. He told me I should learn to code and just sent me some links to places to learn how to code. I was 14 at the time, and when I started trying to learn it, I hated it. It was difficult and I just couldn’t wrap my head around the concepts. Two years after, I decided to try and take coding more seriously- I mean, what else did I have to lose, right? I started studying how to code in hopes of attending the coding bootcamp I wanted to go to. This particular coding bootcamp said that even people who didn’t know how to code could get in. I failed my first technical interview with them after studying for about a year, and decided I would start taking their prep courses.

Their prep courses were fast paced, and didn’t really explain a lot. They just had us do things in hopes we would understand. Most of my peers were computer science majors who hadn’t found a job yet and I was the only high schooler there who was taking this prep course right after school ended. I did this every other day. Then, the second technical interview came and I ended up failing this interview again. Something just felt off. The interview questions were things like make a program that checks the version number and checks to see if the version is updated or old.

I took two more of their prep courses and two more technical interviews. I failed their technical interview four times. At that point, I was just about ready to give up. I decided I would look for another coding bootcamp and see if they would accept me. One of the coding bootcamps I came across had told me I was too young and that I would probably struggle to get a job. They didn’t want to take me in because of my age. Another coding bootcamp had accepted me with welcoming arms. They gave me the prep course work, and had explained what the routine was. That ended up being the coding bootcamp I attended in September of 2017.

The coding bootcamp was hard. My first group project was the hardest thing I had ever experienced. I was placed in a group with three other classmates, of which all three of them were more front end developers. At the time, I had really enjoyed doing back-end development. I pulled the project together using Node and MongoDB, so we didn’t end up getting an awful grade on it. The things I learned at the coding bootcamp I went to though had taught me perseverance. It taught me that I actually did like coding and I liked the challenge. It taught me more about myself and I didn’t realize until then how determined I was to get into the field until that point in time.

Throughout my time at the coding bootcamp, I networked a lot. I volunteered at hackathons, and I went to Austin’s Startup Crawl where I made most of my LinkedIn connections at. I volunteered helping some startups and received a lot of advice from people. The two most common pieces of advice I heard though was “don’t try” and “don’t give up”.

After the coding bootcamp, I started working for my brother on an app that his business partner was creating. It was a commercial electricity app were were going to present to Emex Technologies. My deadline to complete the prototype was in February, and I had from the beginning of January to February 15th to work on it. I learned a lot about React Native, and luckily finished the deadline on time.

My next job after that was working with a company that was creating a music app where you could share songs with your friends. It was pretty cool, and I had worked there for about 4 months. I learned even more about how coding works and I learned a lot about Redux.

Which brings me to where I am now. I am now 19 years old, a freshman in college, and I’m currently working full time as a Software Consultant. How did I get this far? I took the advice I received from people I met and put myself out into the community. I didn’t try at my interviews, I just showed my true self. If I didn’t get it because they didn’t like my thought process or personality, I was accepting towards that. If they thought I was too young and didn’t have enough experience, I just accepted it and moved on. An important part of breaking into the tech field is also your portfolio. My original portfolio website was done really badly. I didn’t have a designer mindset and I knew that. I did the next best thing and worked with a UX Designer on my portfolio site, in exchange of giving her a review on LinkedIn of her work.

I didn’t give up throughout my time trying to get my career started. I pushed myself past my limits, and I kept going. I loved coding to the point that I was willing to work for free just to learn and I was driven to learn everything I could. Even now, I’m still learning every day something new having to do with code.

My advice to get the career you want is to be persistent. Be determined to improve and don’t listen to what anyone tells you because you can do it. Eventually, the right company will see all the hard work you’ve put into what you love to do, and they’ll hire you. You just have to believe, be yourself, and push yourself to the limit.

Natasha Robarge started learning web development at the age of 14. After completing high school, she went to General Assembly to learn more about coding. Natasha has been involved with volunteering for the 100 Days of Code organization, and has taught web development.  She’s taken on the challenge of learning as much as possible, and continues to do so through her college studies. She is currently a double major at Austin Community College, and works full-time throughout the day.

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