Balancing Work/Life/Code | Collaboration Code Radio Episode 6

Balancing Work/Life/Code | Collaboration Code Radio Episode 6

Maintaining a work/life/coding balance is a struggle many developers with. It can be easy to forget to take care of yourself, friends and family while you are focused in your coding bootcamp or professional software developer job. However, it is tremendously important for your growth and sanity to keep all these factors in your life balanced. For this next episode of Collaboration Code Radio we sat down with two of our alumni, Jenny and Emma, who were in one of our first cohorts. During this episode we will touch on what life was like when we were the first coding bootcamp in San Diego at our North Park location, what it’s like to grown from Jr, to Mid, and Senior level developers, plus some of the cool things they are doing at Gap Intelligence, a market research firm based in San Diego.

Chelsea:  You’re listening to Collaboration Code Radio where we bring together the technology and coding community. I’m your host, Chelsea Kaufman, CEO and co-founder of LEARN Academy. I am really excited to have our two guests here today, two people that I’ve known for almost four years now or four years now, Emma and Jenny. They are both from our 2015 Charlie cohort where they came through to learn how to be software engineers, and now successfully been engineers for almost four years. Congratulations.

Jenny: Thank you.

Emma: We’re so excited to be chatting with you today.

Jenny: Absolutely.

Chelsea:  Thank you. Thank you again for being here and hanging out. I think that I am particularly excited to talk to the two of you because you were there when we first started, like when we were in this teeny tiny little room, in this little space with like scrappy staff and like running around doing everything we could to like make sure that the class was running well and you’re getting what you need it out of it. And I think that your dedication to the community and to LEARN over the last few years has been amazing, and so I want to thank you for that, and we’ll probably continue to thank you over the next hour as we talk. But yes, I’m really proud of both of you and what you’ve done and where you’ve gone. So thanks.

Jenny: Thanks, Chelsea.

Emma: Thank you.

Chelsea:  Great. So the exciting thing, you guys are both in the same class, you now both work for the same company which we’ll get into a little bit later. But you’re both software engineers at Gap Intelligence which is a market research firm based here in San Diego, location’s in Liberty Station which has lots of great things going on which we also will talk about maybe. So again, welcome, Jenny, Emma. Collaboration Code Radio.

So as we get started, how are things going? You’re working full time, you’re engineers every day, coding, doing what you dream to do or set out to dream to do.

Emma: Yeah, things are great. It’s really, really good to be a software engineer. I think I didn’t really understand what the career path looked like when I decided to go to code school. But I have to say that like going to LEARN and getting into software was like the best decision I ever made.

Chelsea:  Yeah, great.

Jenny: Things have been great for me too, especially now that I get to work with Emma which is a pretty new thing.

Emma: Yeah, it’s so nice.

Jenny: It’s awesome. And I can’t believe it’s been four years, it’s just flown by. Not to say it’s been easy. But I feel like I’ve landed in a really great company which was one of the aspirations for this whole career path. And I’m very grateful for that.

Chelsea:  Yeah, because you’ve been with Gap intelligence for two years now.

Jenny: In three months it’ll be two years.

Chelsea:  Oh, congratulations.

Jenny: Thank you.

Chelsea:  And Emma, you just started with them.

Emma: Yeah, I started just over a month ago.

Chelsea:  Great, cool, congratulations. And I’m excited to hear more about Gap Intelligence and what’s going on there also. But you guys, you were both in the same class back in 2015, and like I said that took place in our original location in North Park in this like weird one-way street, right? Where we would sometimes see cars driving down the street going the wrong way and we would try and stop them, but you can only do so much.

Emma: Ah, the good old days.

Jenny: Yes.

Chelsea:  The good old days. But I want to talk to you guys a little bit about like your experience there and it being really early on. I mean, things that LEARN have changed a lot in four years as they should, but I’m really interested in hearing about your experience in that space and then with an organization that was so new and small and scrappy.

Jenny: It didn’t feel new to me honestly. I mean, maybe we were the second cohort or the third.

Emma: The third, yeah.

Chelsea:  Third cohort.

Jenny: Maybe by the time we got there things had been really figured out and you probably remember it differently than we do, but we didn’t have anything to compare it to. And I remember that space very fondly. I’ve been to the new space and I can definitely see there’s been upgrades, but the old space was perfect for what we did and it was set up perfectly for pairing and collaboration and teamwork and there was a very homey comfortable space on the couches where we listened to Alan lecture and present our projects to the class.

I had a great experience there. Every time I think about it my heart warms up.

Emma: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s important to remember that four years ago boot camps in general were relatively new. The heyday of all of the schools opening was just kind of starting to begin. And in San Diego I remember when I interviewed there were two schools, there was LEARN which was starting its third cohort and the other school I interviewed would have been starting its first. And for me the decision came down to the tech stock which was Rails which is what I decided I wanted to be learning, but then also just honestly the integrity that you had when you interviewed me initially. I felt really, really good about the leadership at LEARN.

And throughout my whole experience I always felt supported and I always felt like the LEARN community was a place for me to continue to thrive and that I wasn’t going to be like released out to the world like with no support like I was from college. So like that really made me want to attend LEARN. And that’s been my experience ever since.

Chelsea:  That’s awesome. One thing I remember in particular with your class is, and I think still is obviously since you are now working together, is the camaraderie that came. It is still one of the classes that I think still connects with each other and is still a big part of each other’s lives. Can you talk about that experience?

Emma: Yeah, we were all really close. How many were in our class, 21 I think?

Jenny: 22.

Emma: Yeah.

Jenny: Are we last?

Chelsea:  Yeah, I think it was 22 in the end.

Emma: Yeah.

Jenny: Yeah. I mean, I always thought every class was like that so it’s interesting to hear … I mean, we certainly felt special. We had such …

Chelsea:  Every class is special.

Jenny: Okay, I’m sure.

Emma: But we really were.

Jenny: No, I … I mean, I don’t know so much about the other classes, but we had people from all walks of life. I mean, there was students right out of college, there was pretty dramatic career changes, some that were somewhat IT-related and then others where they were a farmer. It was we had so much to offer and so much to learn from each other, and I think boot camp and crowds tend to be more, I don’t know, sometimes more outgoing people and we definitely had an outgoing fun social group.

And we’ve done good at staying in touch. We used to have reunions a couple times a year. I think we’re doing one.

Emma: Yeah, we’ll have to reach out to everybody after this.

Jenny: Yes.

Emma: But I also think like there were a couple of people in particular in our class that made a point of being vulnerable. There was one guy in particular who was like, “A lot of this doesn’t make sense to me, so I’m just going to like put myself out there and ask a question.” And we were all really grateful to him for that because he wasn’t afraid of making a fool of himself, and like he wasn’t making a fool of himself by asking questions.

Chelsea:  Right.

Emma: But as an adult I think going back into school it’s a very challenging space to be in, it’s hard to be a learner as an adult, and it takes a lot of like humbling yourself to do this thing that’s really hard. And so I’ll always be grateful to him because he kind of showed us all like it’s okay to ask the hard questions and like slow the teacher down when things don’t make sense.

And he also really encouraged us to be social, like he was one of the driving factors in us going to happy hour after class and really getting to know each other like outside of the context of the classroom.

Chelsea:  Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting point. I think in general the education system grooms us that admitting that you don’t know something is a really bad thing and not something that you want to do. And I think that in software development in general that you have to be able to do that, and so it’s not just a valuable tool in the education system but also in the workplace to be able to say, “Hey, I don’t know how to do this.”

Emma: Yeah.

Chelsea:  And understand the different steps to figure out to get to a place of knowledge.

Emma: Absolutely.

Chelsea:  But that’s great to have that kind of environment where you’re able to be vulnerable I think is so important.

Jenny: It was good though. I mean, I think Alan, he was our instructor at the time, he made a point to not just feed us answers because that’s not going to happen. I mean, you should communicate and be honest and say that you don’t know in the workplace, but at the same time you have to be able to communicate the steps that you took and where you are and why exactly you’re stuck because you have to value and respect other engineers’ time.

And when we will get stuck in class Alan knew when he should push us to try further and he helped us become more independent, which I really think was even more than the like syntax of a language or the structure of a framework, just getting that confidence and understanding when to ask for help and how to ask for help is probably the more valuable piece I took away from LEARN.

Chelsea:  Yeah, learning how to ask good questions is really important. And I love how you break it down, just the steps of getting somewhere and being able to explain that part of it, that part of … I can’t remember who brought this up recently, but one of the reasons why LEARN is called to learn is because of this philosophy of just teaching people how to learn. If I can teach you how to learn programming, how to learn to code – then you’re going to be successful. The stack, the languages, the frameworks, the API’s are going to continue to change, but if we can teach you how to get there, how to ask those questions then that’s key.

Jenny: Yeah.

Emma: Well, yeah, and like you kind of mentioned, like software is a field where you have to constantly be learning, like we’re not using the same conventions that we were using four years ago, things evolve that quickly especially if you’re doing JavaScript.

Chelsea:  Which we’ve now shifted and it’s now a big part of our curriculum.

Emma: Yeah, right, the curriculum is completely different even than what we did when we were in school.

Jenny: Which was smart.

Emma: Yeah.

Chelsea:  Although I do want to say we do still have some [unclear 11:01] lectures in there just because they’re close to our heart. That’s great.

Is there anything in particular within the program that you still use today, that is still a part of what you’re doing now?

Jenny: Well, we … our tech stock is very similar to what we learned at LEARN.

Emma: Yeah.

Jenny: We work on over ten different systems and the majority of them are on Rails. Almost all of them use some form of JavaScript. We didn’t learn React like the current cohorts are, but we definitely use React and Redux. So in regards to actual languages and frameworks we’re using similar stuff, but we also had to learn a lot more than we … LEARN was just a starting point.

Chelsea:  Yep.

Jenny: And every day we have to learn something new.

Chelsea:  Yeah, you stepped into a career that’s lifelong learning.

Emma: Absolutely.

Jenny: Yeah, the state of discomfort is just a study state.

Chelsea:  Yes.

Emma: But I think kind of going back to what Jenny was saying earlier, learning how to kind of explain to someone to communicate the problem that you’re having to someone is a skill that I use every day, and that definitely started with my time at LEARN.

Chelsea:  That’s great. What would you say on the opposite side of that, like what were things that you struggled with in the class? Can you remember? I know it’s so long ago.

Emma: I mean, I remember JavaScript week like every day I went home like with a headache from like frowning at my screen all day. That particularly was hard, but I think a lot of that was just like the foundational of like learning like what are the different parts of a language, how do functions work, how do variables work, like what’s the difference between calling something like in a console versus like running a file, like running a script like by calling the file itself. That sort of thing.

Jenny: I think the sheer amount of information we had to take in on a daily basis was just intense. And then one thing I really liked about LEARN is I genuinely enjoy coding, like I look forward to my job every day, but one of the things that is not the most fun about being an engineer is that you can’t just take all the time in the world. There’s time constraints and you have to get things done in a timely fashion, so there’s realistic time pressure on us every single day. And at LEARN I feel like we got a lot of practice with that. It was a very Project Runway sort of feeling.

Emma: That’s right. I forgot about that, that was like, “Okay, you have until 3:00 then we’re demoing.”

Jenny: Yeah, it’s like quick lecture, quick discussion, and then off to our stations and pair with our partner and then we presented. And you wanted to present something that was visually stimulating and cool and exciting and …

Emma: And done.

Jenny: And done, above all else.

Emma: Yeah.

Chelsea:  That often didn’t happen.

Jenny: No, you’re right.

Chelsea:  Which is actually a good practice that like presenting things that aren’t done and being in that vulnerable state. It’s something that happens often, whether you enjoy it or not.

Jenny: And figuring out how to communicate that and get past that. I think that was … I think that’s a piece I didn’t realize until probably the last couple years how important that was that we have that experience.

Emma: Yeah, totally.

Chelsea:  I’m excited that you compared it to Project Runway. I’m going to think about that now.

Jenny: I love that show. Feel free to use that.

Chelsea:  So both of you are such big champions of LEARN and such a great support for the alumni that came after you that I think that you were integral in setting up the community that exists now, that we now have a group of almost 300 alumni.

Jenny: Wow.

Emma: Wow.

Chelsea:  That you were at the start of, that like we’ve created the space where people can come in and they can ask questions in Slack channels, they can be a part of something, and that you guys were there in the very beginning stages of that. And I think that you’ve always been so accommodating to like come back and talk to the students, answer questions on Slack. Jenny, you send us so many leads for internship companies and like different things happening, that like it’s been so wonderful to have that as a part of the community. Can you talk a little bit about the weight of that and the importance of being a part of something like that?

Emma: Well, I think whenever I come back to like an alumni panel or something like that I want to model what is expected of these young engineers coming out into our community. The tech scene in San Diego and in the entire country is growing, but this is our opportunity to show junior engineers what it means to be engaged in the community. So much goodness comes from like sharing resources and being willing to mentor someone and give someone the support that they need when they’re just starting out, whether that’s like technical assistance with something or just like the confidence to validate their journey and tell them that they can do it.

And we had some of that when we were going through, like we had alumni from the first two classes coming in. And we had a lot of other support, like community support, I know one of the places that I used to go a lot was SD Ruby which is our local Ruby meet-up. A lot of folks from that community are very supporting and also like very integral in the LEARN community.

But I just see the opportunity to chat with students at LEARN and new alumni as showing them like, “Yeah, this is where you can get in a couple of years but also like this experience gets better for everybody the more involved you are.”

Chelsea:  That’s great. That makes my heart really happy.

Jenny: For me it’s a lot of expressing gratitude. I’m just so grateful to be where I am right now. It was something I wanted so badly and I made some big risks to come back to LEARN. I’m sure we’re going to talk about that a little bit more later, but I worked so very hard to be at Gap, where I am now, and to get to be an engineer every day. But I didn’t do that on my own, and I’m so grateful for every single person that supported me and helped me and taught me. And if I can give back and support anybody else in that way, I want to do it, because I know how good it feels to be where I am now and I want other people to experience that too.

Chelsea:  That’s great. I mean, we understand, we know that everyone that’s coming through the program that they are making big changes in their life, and that it is a really big decision to do that. And it’s so great to be able to point to other people that have made those same choices, because they can come and talk to me or Hillary or anyone on the team or anyone in the community and we can tell them that, “Hey, it’s going to be okay, you’re going to make it through, you’re going to work it out.” But hearing from alumni about your journey and what you struggled with and what you succeeded at I think is so valuable to their journey and only helps them to see.

And I love what you said, Emma, about that this is what it means to be a part of it, that it’s not just a matter of like, “Hey, I’m going to take this advice and then go do my thing,” but later I’m going to come back and do this for someone else and that attitude I think is what’s helped us create the community that we have today with more and more people that are willing and excited to come back and help the next group of people.

I think you started to talk about your background so we’ll jump there, because I think we get a lot of questions about what does a typical student look like, where do they come from, what other thing. There isn’t really a typical student, and I think that people come from a lot of different backgrounds and you talk about that when you talked about your class. But I do think that there are a handful of students that come from technically peripheral jobs. And I think that both of you kind of have that a little bit in your background, that like you were aware of the industry and where you could go and what you could do in it before you came to LEARN. So Jenny, you were in project management before you came for a little over 15 years. I’ll put that out. But you went to UCSD and got an advanced master certificate, and you were doing that for quite some time before you came in and made that shift. Can you talk a little bit about like what that decision was like or like what that journey was for you.

Jenny: Yes, honestly I’m a very risk-averse person which I think also made me a great project manager because I was very good at risk assessment, risk management. So I never thought I would do anything like this. I mean, I had a very stable successful career, but I worked managing IT projects and I absolutely loved it. I loved being an integral part of seeing new products get developed and working from ideation with customers to create custom solutions for them, all the way to shipping and managing the development team and just seeing how everything work from beginning to end. It was very fulfilling for me.

But I wanted to be the creator. I was very envious of the developers, and I wanted to learn everything that they knew. And so I had started taking courses online, probably for like a year just for fun. And I literally never intended anything by it. I just wanted to learn. And it was really fun and I had an interesting week where I talked to an employee of mine and I talked to my husband and they both like strongly encouraged me to do this. And just something clicked, and I did research and I found LEARN and I said, “Hmm, I’ll take this coding test and see how that goes.”

And before I knew it I was giving my company a month’s notice and going back to school. And I couldn’t believe it, like every step of the way I could not believe that I was doing this.

And it was a big risk. I mean, it’s very tough. I believe Emma said this earlier to go from being in a career so long and being the SME, being the person that people go to for help to being the person that knows nothing and needs help all the time. It’s tough on your ego. So I think that was a big growth for me too. And now I really know how that feels too, so I love helping other junior engineers grow and support them because I know how uncomfortable that is no matter where you come from. So I’m very glad that I did it.

Chelsea:  I like that you talked about that aspect of starting over. We were talking about that recently and just going through this process that a lot of our students have either some college or have gone through a college degree, and it starts actually in high school that you’re like working so hard, you’re working so hard and finally you’re at the top, you know you’re a senior, you know the most and then you go into the job market and you’re like, “Oh, I’m at the bottom.” And then you go to college and you start over and you’re a freshman and a sophomore and junior, senior, finally, “I’m graduating college. I’m at the top.” And then you go job hunting you’re like, “Oh, I’m at the bottom,” right?

And then a lot of people these days are making these like career changes a little … maybe later in life, maybe not really that late in life, but are doing it again, right? And almost forget that feeling of like, “Okay, I’m going to go through this course and keep growing and keep growing, and then I got to start over.” And I think that there’s … that it’s a little humbling to like feel like you’re at the top of everything and then maybe even going through the cohort you’re the top of your class and then you go in, you’re like, “And I’m a junior. Okay, I got to work my way up at this point.”

But I think that … I mean, it’s such a life cycle, right? It’s not a straight shot, right? We’re not just going to continue growing and growing and growing until we are no longer, right? But like admitting and understanding that process is really hard and important I think.

Jenny: Absolutely.

Chelsea:  And so forcing yourself to do it again.

Jenny: It was such a good experience. I feel like I grew as a person a lot from going through that and taking that risk. And learning to code changes you, like I feel like my brain changed, I think of things in a different way. I don’t know if you experienced that. But I think I do and process things differently all the time now. So I don’t regret it at all. I mean, maybe I have some days where I’m like, “Why did you do this to yourself?”

Emma and I were just talking about our favorite meme, developer meme, and it’s split up into two pieces, and one side is a guy of course saying, “I am a God.” And on the other side it’s like a dog and he’s in front of computer and he says, “I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.” And we were talking about how we basically oscillate between those two, but unfortunately we’re mostly on the dog side.

Chelsea:  I think that’s true. I mean, I think that it happens more often in life than people give it credit, right?

Emma: Yeah, definitely.

Chelsea:  Like we deal with that often at work, at home, like with friends, family, you deal with that kind of relationship with like, “I had a great day.” “Oh, gosh, I’m the worst.”

Emma: Yeah.

Jenny: You just got to hold onto the great day for longer.

Emma: Yeah, they always are a little bit more fleeting though than the I have no idea what I’m doing.

Chelsea:  Well, I think that’s like societal problem of like not taking more time to celebrate wins than we do …

Jenny: Absolutely.

Emma: Definitely.

Chelsea:  … like spending too much time on the losses or the failures.

Emma: Well, it’s just like when you’re coding you have like a brief success, you’re like, “Yes. Okay, on to the next problem.” So there’s always another problem to solve.

Chelsea:  Right. We talk about that a lot in the classroom of like taking the time to celebrate that. In fact, we try and encourage them to come into the admin office and like give us a high-five or a hug or something, because like we don’t ever get to see it and so we’re like …

Emma: Oh, I love that.

Chelsea:  … just come and give us a high-five when you do something you’re really excited about, because I don’t get to see that.

Jenny: Those moments, I mean, that’s what we live for. We had a big high-five this week I remember, we were so excited.

Emma: Yeah.

Jenny: And it’s like you have to live for those moments because you may have a couple days where you don’t have one.

Emma: Yeah, I’m coming off of a few days of that.

Chelsea:  Well, you’re here recording a great podcast, having a good conversation.

Emma: Yes, exactly, we’re all smiles here.

Jenny: Yes, absolutely.

Chelsea:  And it won’t mean much to the listening audience, but it is Friday afternoon and a good way to end the week.

Jenny: Absolutely.

Emma: Definitely.

Chelsea:  Okay, so circling back. Emma, so you come from more of a marketing background and did a lot of work with Chapman University while you were in attendance there. What was your experience in the marketing industry and what kind of led you towards this career change?

Emma: Yeah, so I was earlier in my career. I did a lot of like student affairs work. I had a lot of different kinds of jobs when I was in college, but then I graduated, my degree is in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing and I was always really interested in communication and the way like brands communicate their messages to consumers. So I wanted to kind of stay in that space. But I was having a lot of trouble finding jobs that kind of fit that.

I found my college I didn’t really feel like prepared me for the job search that I ended up doing. And so I jumped around a lot. I ended up in an e-commerce company that sold jewelry supplies and I was a marketing content developer, so basically I wrote the copywriting for landing pages and I also coded the HTML for new landing pages for new like product collections and stuff. So I didn’t even have access to the style sheet, but I was like learning like, “Oh, you substitute like the Href and change out the link,” and that sort of thing.

Jenny: [Unclear/voice too low 28:06]

Emma: Yeah, exactly, it was pretty crafty. But it kind of showed me like, “Oh, these are like the foundational like building blocks of like HTML at least.” But I was not making a lot of money and not feeling like there was a lot of like opportunity for growth at that company. And I ended up deciding … I was living in LA at the time and I decided that I wanted to move back to San Diego which is like where I grew up. So I was like kind of starting to look for jobs down here, not having a lot of luck, and then I also I read a New York Times article about coding schools and how they were like a quick way to kind of jump into a new field. I mean, like quick.

But I was like I was thinking about going back to grad school. I applied for a Master’s in Social Work program. I actually got in. But weighing the pros and cons I’m like, “Okay, two years of grad school and like a lot of money or going back for an undergrad in computer science, like that’s a lot of time, a lot of money.” And I ended up saying, “Okay, well, you know what? Like this is four months out of the workforce, and if I do this and want to pivot to be in software, then that’s great, I learn new skills. And if not, these are still skills that are complementary to the other like business and marketing skills that I already have.” So I was like, “Either way this is a step forward for me, so I’m just going to do it.”

And thank God my parents were like, “Yeah, you can move back in with us, like we’re support you with this.” Like I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I hadn’t, but like I said earlier, like it was the best possible decision I could have made for my career.

Chelsea:  I agree.

Emma: But like the decision though went from like three weeks of like finding out what code schools were, and then like learning enough JavaScript to like do the coding test and interviewing and then like moving out of my apartment, quitting my job, and like moving back to San Diego, it was like three weeks.

Chelsea:  It was fast.

Emma: Yeah, but it was a good decision. It was like a fast decision that was also a long time coming I think.

Chelsea:  Yeah, I could see that. I mean, especially having like dabbled in it I guess, like having that experience with HTML beforehand gives you a little bit of … I don’t know.

Emma: I mean, I thought I knew what I was doing going in.

Chelsea:  Sure.

Emma: I think I definitely had no idea like what the life of a software engineer looks like, but I was lucky that I did have a lot of friends from college who majored in computer science and so I was like pinging people on Facebook saying like, “Hey, this school teaches this language and this school teaches this language, like which one should I learn?” And so they said, “Yeah, Rails is widely used and kind of the happening thing, so go with that one.” I’m like, “Okay, I’ll do that one.”

Chelsea:  That’s funny. I don’t think I realize that you were … that you grew up here in San Diego.

Emma: Yep.

Jenny: Both of us.

Chelsea:  You both. I do too. Get out, I don’t think I knew that. Maybe I did.

Jenny: It’s very rare. They’re never allowed in three … like three people together in one room.

Chelsea:  In one room.

Emma: I know.

Jenny: Yeah.

Chelsea:  They say it’s rare, although …

Emma: Yeah, but everybody who says that is not from here.

Chelsea:  Yeah, right. We do … I mean, there are a lot of transplant. I mean, that’s a weird word.

Jenny: Yeah.

Chelsea:  Okay, that was a divergence … I heard you say that and I was like, “I don’t think I knew that.” I told you there’s going to be things I was going to learn about you guys.

Jenny: Yeah.

Chelsea:  So you both decide to go through the course, you had a pretty awesome group of people there. And then afterwards I always really … you both have had very different job search trajectories, and so I want to talk a little bit about like what happened immediately after the program, moving into like the growth of where you are now, that we’re fortunate that you’ve been working for as software developers for some time now. So Emma, in your search you did a lot of like networking to try and find the right company, can you kind of talk about that process?

Emma: Yeah, definitely. So I was attending a lot of meet-ups. I was trying to leverage the contacts that I already had from people coming in to LEARN, like we had a lot of people come in and lecture or chat about us or chat about like doing internships with us, and so I followed up with a lot of those connections thinking like that’s a good like foot in the door.

Lisa Rosenthal who was the community manager at the time at LEARN was also a super instrumental in like all of my leads, like she would send me messages saying like, “Oh, so and so is hiring, like you should apply for this position.” So I put in applications in all of those.

But I also felt really strongly that it needed to be a good fit and it needed to be like … I knew I was a good learner, but I didn’t know very much, and so my first job out of code school I really felt strongly had to be somebody who was willing to invest in me and invest in my growth. So I ended up applying for an apprenticeship program with SEAL which is where I ended up working for about three and a half years. And so I was lucky enough to be hired as an apprentice where like my job was to learn for six months.

So I actually relocated to Southern Oregon where they are based for my training period. And then when I was finished with my training period I got the chance to move back down here and worked remotely for them ever since.

Jenny: Until I came along to move her away.

Chelsea:  No, I heard from like different sources that this was happening.

Emma: I know.

Chelsea:  All good things.

Jenny: Yes.

Chelsea:  So Jenny, after the program you went through the internship program and then was hired on through the company that you’d interned with, correct?

Jenny: Yes. I felt very lucky. I know that doesn’t happen very often. I mean, it did happen to other people.

Chelsea:  At least about 35 or 40%.

Jenny: Oh, that’s pretty good actually.

Chelsea:  Yeah. I mean, it varies … it depends on the pool of people I guess, but it varies per cohort. But we find that if the company is coming in looking to hire, that they 80% of the time find the person that they’re looking for, so it just kind of depends on the amount of companies that are looking to hire to come in.

Jenny: Yeah, whatever their needs are.

Chelsea:  Yeah.

Jenny: It ended up being a great match. So I was very lucky. I finished my internship with Parallel Six in December, at the end of December, and then they didn’t hire me until February because of like the holidays and background tracks and it just seemed to take forever. So I’m a planner, and like I said risk-averse, and I also wanted the experience of interviewing, of doing technical interviews, because that’s a whole another skill set that’s good to practice and hone. And so I did my fair share of interviewing in that month.

And Rob was actually very helpful to me. I would reach out to him and say, “Have you heard of this company?” And then he almost … he knows somebody everywhere, he would almost always say, “Yes, I know this guy. I’ll put in a good word for you.” I mean, just that was one of the big draws with LEARN is just the sheer amount of community support you guys have. I mean, you guys just know so many people and are so … you have your hands in the pulse of the market here, so you immediately come out of LEARN and gain this network and it’s invaluable.

But, so that was great. So I got the experience of interviewing a lot. I learned a lot from those experiences. And I was able to accept the offer from Parallel Six knowing that it was still a good decision and it wasn’t my only option. So it was great. And I worked there for a few years.

And then my current company contacted me via LinkedIn, and …

Chelsea:  Was it cold?

Jenny: Yes. And we get a lot of contacts in LinkedIn, but they stuck out so much that I actually spent hours reading their blogs and looking on their website. I think the thing that really got me is that they said they were at Liberty Station which is five minutes from my house. I was like, “Wait, what?”

Emma: [Unclear/voice too low/cross talking 36:31]

Jenny: Yeah, I was like, “What, there’s Rails devs in my backyard?” But the company is incredible. I mean, they are so focused on culture and work-life balance. And it’s authentic; it’s not just something they say so they can win one of the best companies to work for. It’s real.

Chelsea:  Which they did.

Emma: Which they did.

Jenny: Right, yeah, we did. That’s great. But it’s 100% authentic, and I’ve never worked for a company like this. They encouraged us to do charity work; they gave us paid time at work to do charity work. I’m actually going to go volunteer at a prison next week.

Chelsea:  Oh, wow.

Jenny: Yeah, and during work hours. And they are … and the team is just wonderful, our (project?) team is incredible, it’s very diverse and we work really hard but nobody expects you to abandon your family and your friends and your lifestyle for work. And it’s just it’s exactly everything I had always wanted. So I plan on being there for a long time.

Emma: Well, I think it was really telling to when Jenny was telling me like, “Hey, they’re hiring and like let me tell you about the company I work for. People stay there for a really long time.” She’s talking about people who have like left the team after 10 years or 12 years, I’m just like, “Wow.” Like, if it’s hard to leave that sort of company and that sort of team, like that’s a place really where you want to be which made me feel really good about joining that team as well.

Chelsea:  Yeah, that’s great. Can you tell me just to go back a little bit for both of you, kind of talking about how your educational growth happened over the last few years moving from more of a junior to mid-level developer? What was that experience like? Even what would be your like definition of those two roles?

Jenny: I think everyone has different definitions of junior, mid and senior. And I’ve tried to not let other people’s definitions define me or affect me, because for me when I reach those different levels it’s going to be a feeling. I knew when I was reaching mid-level when I became more confident and independent, and I was able to focus more on the big picture of projects and how certain features or bug fixes affected things overall and in the long term. And I went from just being an implementer to designing and architecting how I was going to move forward and doing that on my own, presenting it to the team and moving along. And so I think independence is a big thing you learn.

And also being able to support and mentor less experienced devs I think is a great opportunity, because it strengthens your skills a lot. So I think a lot of people just focus on like the years of experience, but it’s really different for everybody. Everybody grows at different paces and so I think it’s a very individual decision.

Chelsea:  Yeah, that’s an interesting thing. I do think that a lot of times it is companies or hiring managers maybe that like need those years to mean something, right? The two years or three years or ten years or whatever it is, like means that you know certain things. But I think that you’re right, that it is such an individualized thing. And then it’s really on the company to kind of help you to understand what that means within that organization.

Jenny: Absolutely.

Chelsea:  Did you have the balance at either organization of like junior, mid, senior developers on your team? Was that like a helpful tool to use?

Jenny: Absolutely. I know companies have a hard time hiring juniors; nobody wants to take that time to invest in them.

Emma: Yeah, it’s true.

Jenny: But it’s so worth it. I mean, I think because I had a career for so long too I didn’t have to learn a lot of the newer skills as like someone just coming out of college. And I did need some support, but I was also able to be independent, and not take up too much of their time but the seniors in the mids that helped me grow, I mean, it definitely paid off for them because I was able to contribute to them in other ways based on my past and quickly get up to speed and take work off their plate. So I mean, that’s the ideal situation.

And I stayed there for a few years at my first position and gave back, so it’s not like I grew and was gone. So, and we had the two companies I’ve worked as a developer at, it was a great balance.

Chelsea:  That’s great. Emma, tell me a little bit about your educational journey for you. I know you especially went through slightly more structured apprenticeship program, that like helped you through becoming that junior and then growth beyond that.

Emma: Yeah, my first couple of months were pretty structured where I was doing a lot of like on-the-job learning and a lot of like shadowing and pairing in with like the more senior developers. I don’t know if I mentioned this, but the company I worked for was also a consultancy, so we were in kind of a unique position in that like our job was to like amplify a team, and either build a product for them or assist their own developers in building something, and also train and support their developers to be able to continue to maintain and develop this project like when we were no longer on the team.

So with that kind of being the context in the industry in which I was like learning and growing, it was challenging at times for me because I was the most junior person in the room by decades compared to some people. And I just like I always felt like there was like such a huge knowledge gap, but as I like … after I completed my apprenticeship and was like working just as a junior member on the team, kind of like what Jenny was saying, like I was like building, I was an implementer for a while. But as I grew an experience I was able to make more suggestions or be able to like catch things that maybe somebody else missed.

There was a period of time where I was actually the only consultant on a team, and so it was like mostly there was a short period of time where it’s like me and like the client and that was about it. I would meet with the client and work on some stuff, and when we had availability from another engineer we pull them in, like they’d help me work on stuff. But I was really anchoring that team, and that made me grow a lot. And I was on that project for a long time, the client ended up hiring a couple of other developers, and so I got to kind of like be a part of that team as it grew and as the priorities changed. But it was a great experience for me to kind of be the voice of my team for that client and be like, “Here’s what I would do, like here’s some advice, here’s some gotchas, here’s the work I’ve done so far.” It was a really great experience for me.

And I continued after moving off of that project, I think I continued to play a larger role in other projects that I was on afterwards. And that kind of signaled the shift for me I think into a more mid-level.

Chelsea:  That’s great. We’ve kind of talked about this a little bit before, but I want to talk a little bit about the work-life balance. That’s a very like catchy thing to say.

Emma: It’s very popular now.

Chelsea:  Yeah, but I’ve actually always really respected … the both of you have been so open about talking about that and balancing both like coming in and volunteering with us, but also like being a part of the community and doing things outside of LEARN that it is really easy for our students to burnout by the end of the course. And then also I think easy for developers to run into the burnout wall. Do you have … What kind of tips would you give somebody going through a course or developers in trying make like what do you do?

Jenny: I mean, for me work-life balance is very important, but it’s a challenge for myself sometimes even more than my employer, because I tend to hyper focus and have a hard time letting go of things, especially coding. It’s really hard to walk away at the end of the day not understanding something and not being done with something. I don’t know if you’ve experienced that, but sometimes I just have to like you yank myself away and like go home to my family.

So I think being very conscious and aware of that and knowing that if you don’t force yourself to take breaks, that you’re not going to be performing the next day. If you get enough rest and you take good care of yourself, your brain it’s going to be intact and it’s going to serve you well. And if not, you’re going to be useless to everyone, so you have to take care of yourself and make sure that you’re getting rest and give your mind a break.

I remember at LEARN, and this still happens now, but I will be so frustrated about something that just would not click, and then I would literally dream about it. Did you ever do that?

Emma: Yeah, I had some coding dreams for sure.

Jenny: Oh, my gosh. I would dream and I wake up in the morning and first thing I would be like, “Oh …” I mean, that happened so often. You just need rest.

Chelsea:  Yeah.

Jenny: So that’s really good. That’s one of the reasons I like Gap is they understand that, they encourage us to walk away from our desks, to change our space, go work at a coffee shop. They really understand the way people work and they support that, which is good.

Chelsea:  That’s great. What about you, Emma, what do you do to fight the burnout?

Emma: Well, I think a lot of it comes down to choosing the company culture that you work with and work in. I’ve been lucky that both of my industry jobs have now been with companies that are very protective of employee’s time off and care about the employee’s well-being because they recognize that the well-being of the individual also hugely impacts the well-being of the company.

I think something really important is to have other hobbies outside of coding. Maybe that’s also because like I don’t … Like coding isn’t everything to me, I had a lot of interests coming into code school, and like now even though I’m working like coding to me is just a job. And the more time you spend outside of it, the more you grow. But to a point, if you are stressing yourself out with like thinking that you need to be further ahead than you are then it’s awesome ultimately just going to hurt your mental health and your well-being overall.

So I think when I was in code school I would not code at home, I wouldn’t even look at my computer, I would just put it away, try and be off of social media to some extent at least, try to save the screen time for the workday. And I think I still do that to some extent. I’m a little bit more flexible with myself now, and now also that I’m further along in my career I can make more structured goals for myself I think than I used to be able to and actually like make my extracurricular learning more useful.

Jenny: Coding is really fun for me. I know for some people it’s a job, I think it’s still fun for Emma. But when it doesn’t feel fun I notice that I may possibly be getting burnt out, and I’m very conscious of that and I make sure I find a way to make it fun again. So usually that means like learning something new and taking like a fun course or just engaging myself in that way and reminding myself how much fun it is. Usually when it’s not fun it’s just because there’s a lot of time pressure to get things done. And luckily for us that’s not an everyday thing.

Emma: Yeah. Well, the other thing that I think is interesting is you can make it fun again by getting a quick win. If you can like find some way to like have a little success, like that can kind of stoke the fire again and reinvest yourself into the work. So before I’m really frustrated with like a really complex part of like the (epic?) that we’re working on, we might say, “Oh, are there any bug tickets that like we can go and fix real fast.” Like we can knock something out, still show some progress to our team, then that can kind of be a way to like rejuvenate us and still have done something positive.

Jenny: Yeah, and we do that sometimes, like we will be working on a ticket for a very long time maybe or longer … maybe it feels like a very long time, and we’ll give each other a break. So someone may be struggling and maybe we’ll pair together to figure it out or we’ll just completely let them move on to something else. It doesn’t mean that they weren’t good enough to do it, it’s just kind of one of those things where you can stare at something right in front of your face and you just don’t see it because you’re just too close to it. So I think stepping away and giving yourself a break is important.

Chelsea:  I love that idea of one giving yourself a break. Also going back to something you said, Emma, about feeling like you’re not doing enough or you’re not going … you’re not further enough in your career or in your day or in your codebase or whatever it is that’s not enough, and it’s something that recently that word has kind of changed its value for myself and just being enough is good. And I think that that is actually a hard lesson to learn. I don’t know if like just growing up it became this like enough was not enough, like it was never enough. And so just trying to change the way I look at that word and what I do in my career, at home.

And my work life has always been about boundaries, mostly because my work is at home and at everywhere. And so it was all about like defining that. But then it got to this place where I was constantly feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, we weren’t like going to enough meet-ups, we weren’t … like I wasn’t speaking enough, I wasn’t talking to enough people, I wasn’t … like it just balloons into a bigger thing, and so to me that word, redefining what it meant to me and that enough was good, that I was doing enough.

Emma: Yeah.

Chelsea:  And that that was okay, and I could just leave it at that.

Jenny: I really identify with that. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to grow very quickly because I wanted to catch up, I wanted to be in a similar role that I was in, I wanted a similar salary. And I thought, “I don’t have that much time.” I do unfortunately have a lot of time left to work. But it felt that way, and so like I needed to learn so many things so quickly and take so many classes, and I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to do a lot after work. And like Emma said, like now it can be more directed and more structured now that I really know what I need to learn and when. Because at first you’re just like, “I need to learn everything.” And you really do, but you can’t learn everything all at once, and if you try you’re not going to learn anything well. So I think maybe for me personally it took a little time for me to realize that and to try to focus.

But I really take to heart what you just said about being enough. I can work on that.

Chelsea:  Definitely. And I think, I mean, personally for me it was when we had Ruby that like all of a sudden I was like, “Oh, my priorities are … I don’t even know where they are now.” And that when you would … I don’t know, when you’re watching a little person grow, time and everything changes in a way you don’t just have never seen it change that way before.

Emma: Yeah.

Jenny: Yeah.

Chelsea:  And that your priorities at work and at home are so different, and you’re pulled in so many different directions that you’re like, “Okay, this is … it’s just enough. What I’m doing is good, it’s good for work, it’s good for home, it’s good for Ruby, it’s good.” Working on myself is the harder part because you tend to like, “Oh, I don’t need to do that. I’m going to take care of everyone else first.” But anyway, but for me it’s like I’ve just focused on that word for like trying to find that balance in my life of it can just be enough and that’s great.

Emma: Yeah, that’s a really good lesson to take to heart.

Chelsea:  I’m not good at it yet, but I recognize that that’s something I need to work on.

Jenny: Yeah, it’s all about balance, trying to get it all in-sync, and it’s not always going to … especially when it comes to kiddos, it’s not always going to …

Chelsea:  I know.

Jenny: … be the balance that you need it to be, but we could all do better.

Chelsea:  Yeah. I mean, that’s life, you can always do better. We’re never enough. Oh, man.

Jenny: Oh, we just went full circle.

Chelsea:  Dang it.

Jenny: We’ll do some therapy later.

Chelsea:  Yeah, we got to practice that one. But what I am excited about is that you’re both in an organization now that sounds like they really take care of you and your lives, and both your personal life and your professional life also in the growth there, that the culture seems to be something that really supports you as an individual.

Emma: Definitely.

Jenny: Absolutely. Gap is huge on goal setting too, so not only is work/life balance important, but professional development is very important. We have what we call a dev day at least once a month. Emma hasn’t experienced one yet.

Emma: It’s coming up next month hopefully.

Jenny: But it’s a great day. I mean, it’s a great day to rejuvenate from burnout if you’re dealing with that. It’s a great day to learn something new, like I spent a lot of my dev days working on React and Redux because I wanted to really hone those skills. But other devs will take a Swift course like every … for like three-month study or whatever they need to do. So it’s kind of like a professional development day, but it also could be a fun Project Runway type day because we do a demo at the end of the day and present to the whole company, and there’s beverages and it’s kind of a jovial type of feel.

So it really depends on how you’re feeling that day and how you want to take it. But the fact that the company makes time for us to do that and encourages us to do that is great, it’s very valuable. They’re very smart though. I mean, they know that happy, healthy, educated employees are dedicated and loyal and take ownership of projects. And it works.

Chelsea:  It does.

Emma: I think it’s a really cool opportunity to allow like the team to kind of explore their creativity and like build some fun things. I mean, I think the goal-setting application that like the entire company now uses came out of a dev day project. So it’s like it’s a goal tracker where everybody can like kind of log in, set goals, set like list ideas of like things they might want to turn into goals, create milestones for that goal, make it so that the CEO of the company can also see the goals and like give a high-five when you like complete something. It’s really cool.

Chelsea:  Is it like a goal for personal goals or like project goals?

Emma: Both.

Jenny: You can use it for both.

Chelsea:  Oh, cool.

Jenny: So like say you have a goal to learn Swift, our application that Emma was talking about it’s called High-Five, and you create a goal and your manager can see it or you can keep it completely private, and then you’ll create the milestones and mark them off as you go. Or you can have a goal to work out three times a week for the next six weeks, so they encourage both.

Chelsea:  Cool.

Jenny: And we have one-on-ones on a weekly basis, meetings with our manager, and we discuss our goals and keep each other accountable. And it’s great.

Chelsea:  That’s awesome.

Jenny: It is.

Chelsea:  I’m excited about that.

Jenny: Yeah, we’ll talk to you, we can show you.

Chelsea:  We’ve been doing a lot of that, but I don’t have a system to like track it, but that’s very exciting to me.

Emma: Maybe you need a dev day to build one.

Jenny: Yes.

Chelsea:  Oh, gosh, we have lots of dev days I feel like.

Jenny: Oh, you’re life is a dev day.

Chelsea:  We do a lot of learning.

Jenny: Yeah, constant. Well, being an entrepreneur it’s like every day.

Chelsea:  Yeah, constantly learning. So that kind of goes into this a little bit, but can you guys tell me a little bit about like what does your typical day look like.

Jenny: I come in, I smile because Emma’s there. Well, we have a couple different teams, so our teams we kind of set our scrum schedule and we have a team in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and they aren’t just an outsourced team, they are employees and they’re part of our company. We talk to them and see them every day. So Emma and I are on a team right now, and we meet with our Tashkent team members once a day, either 8:00AM San Diego time or 8:00AM their time. So we change every other week and we all work together to pick the schedule to make it work best for everybody.

But it’s great, it’s like we really get to know them and we hand things off to each other so we get 24-hour work which is great especially on bug tickets or any maintenance type work, but we learn a lot from them and they learn a lot from us and it’s been a good experience. How has that been for you?

Emma: Yeah, it’s been really interesting; it’s been an interesting adjustment to like working. It’s interesting as well, I don’t think I’ve been a part of a team that has had so many different applications like responsible for different areas of business logic. So right now we’re on the support team which deals with more bug fixes and like kind of coming back and like revisiting and like polishing up things that like maybe are broken or could be working a little bit more optimally, whereas the other team is more of the feature team that’s pushing the major initiative, the major business initiative, for the period of time forward. So they’re doing like feature development work and we are everything else.

Jenny: Keeping the lights on.

Emma: Yeah, exactly, our motto is keep the lights on. So it’s been really cool to learn those systems. And I haven’t touched all of them yet, but being on the support team for the duration of my time with Gap has allowed me to kind of learn the system by fixing things that are broken, which has been an awesome experience. And it’s been an awesome experience as well to have a counterpart in Tashkent who like pushes forward the work that I wasn’t able to complete in a day, and also like gives me ideas at the end of his day will say, “Okay, well, here’s what I did, so I think next steps are this, this and this.” And I’ll be like, “Okay, that’s a great idea, let me try that and see how it goes.”

Chelsea:  That’s interesting.

Jenny: I know it’s … when I left Parallel Six to come there I was like, “Handoffs? Wait, what?” And I couldn’t imagine how it would work, and it works great.

Chelsea:  That makes me think of a few different things. But I know that so recently I was watching an episode of ER, randomly, and so that’s kind of what they do, it’s like at the end of the day …

Emma: The end of the shift, yeah.

Chelsea:  … whatever like go through the patients that are there and then hand it off to the next doctor to like take it. What an interesting model? I don’t think I’ve heard of that before. Mostly I’m thinking I need to tell Rob about this so that he does not get server alerts in the middle of the night anymore. That would be really cool.

Jenny: That’s great because we have 24-hour support, and it really hones your communication skills. The guys speak great English, but they’re still … there’s still … it’s still a second language for them which can be challenging. But we all have to communicate very well to make sure we set our counterpart up for success.

Chelsea:  And so it’s like you have a shadow, like you are assigned to a specific person or to a team?

Jenny: No.

Emma: No, it just kind of ends up being like typically there will be like two different people working on like one long-lived ticket.

Chelsea:  Got it.

Emma: So I had a story that I worked on for about a week or a week and a half, and the same person was picking it up and so we kind of ended up being like handing the same thing back and forth. But then we move on to a different ticket, like it might be somebody else who picks up where I left off.

Chelsea:  Got it. I bet there would be some benefit too working with the same person a few times over to like help with that communication.

Emma: Yeah, totally.

Chelsea:  Because there’s … I mean, yes, English is a tricky language and so getting the nuances of that and understanding when you are using one of those nuances to communicate something, that’s … Yeah, I can imagine.

Jenny: Yeah, we have some funny moments. Our boss actually just went to Tashkent for a week, Katie, and she had an amazing time. But it was funny the things that they asked her, certain things that we say and we never knew that they didn’t know what we meant. So you have to try to be clear in your communication.

Chelsea:  Yeah, totally. Well, one of the reasons why I wanted to talk to the two of you is early on when we started LEARN, trying to create an environment that was kind of cyclical and that get to a point where we have alumni that graduate they’re then eventually like answering questions in Slack, right? And that keeps going, right? Alumni are then answering the questions that when we first started was mostly Rob and Matt’s like trying to fill out all the questions. And then eventually it got to the point where I remember the day, the first time we had an alumni come back and like answer a question was like, “We did it. It’s working.”

But what then grew from that is that we then have students come back and become internship partners, right? That they are then mentoring like the next step which Gap Intelligence may be taking on interns at some point in the future. But then I love hearing the stories where you guys are now like hiring each other and being a part of that story. Can you tell me a little bit? You don’t have to tell me all the dirty secrets.

Jenny: Well, I remember leaving our class and thinking, “I hope I get to work with some of these people.” I mean, they’re great. And you learn to communicate in a way that people that don’t go through boot camp don’t really learn because we paired all day. So we had … we were forced to be able to explain exactly what we were thinking and what we were doing, and it had to be verbal and it had to be yelled out. And so being able to work with someone that knows how to do that with you is great.

But Emma in particular, the minute I found out we were hiring I was like, “I’m going to get her.”

Emma: You did it.

Jenny: I knew that she loved Zeal, but I thought she’s been there long enough, Adam can’t be too mad at me at this point, I’m taking her away. And so I asked her to come to lunch with me and I just told her everything, like … I mean, which is not something you usually get about a job, like I literally told her everything and she had the opportunity asked me all these questions. Because I knew it was going to be a big step if she decided to take it. It’s hard to leave somewhere you’re happy and doing well.

So one of the things that I appreciated about Emma back then and now, I mean, it’s just it’s even better, is the way we work through things together. She’s very good at verbalizing and explaining where she is and with a problem. And it’s been so nice working with you again already. So worked well for me.

Emma: Yeah. I was very happy to have some insight like going into the interview and like feel like I had a good sense. And really Jenny being able to communicate like the goods and the bads of working for this company for so long at this point made me …

Jenny: Nothing bad.

Emma: … made me feel better having like really an honest opinion. And also like knowing something, like going in so like when I actually did interview a lot of the things were somewhat familiar to me. And really I just was so excited to like be working with a friend. And also I’d been a remote for three years, so I was getting kind of lonely working in my house with my dog all the time. So it was like it was time for a change, and so this has been a really great opportunity for me to be coming in.

And it’s a very different style of coding, because a lot of what we’re working on is acquiring data and then manipulating that data. [Unclear 01:06:37] is something that’s really interesting, but it’s actually not something I’ve worked a lot with. And we do some crawling up sites to get information off of websites, and that ends up being like come different from any sort of like Rails application I’ve ever worked on. So it’s been really interesting so far and already I’m a month in and I’ve learned a ton.

Chelsea:  That’s awesome. I think that’s so … one it’s really fortunate to have that experience going into an interview, and I think it’s more common these days that you can … we talked to our students about if you know somebody at a company to reach out to them. And this is kind of one of the things that can happen from that is that you can get the inside scoop, you can learn more about whether it is a really good fit for you or not. And I think you’re fortunate to have that.

Jenny: Yeah, whenever I went to speak as an alumni to one of the current cohorts I always told them, “Make friends, make connections. You will hire each other.” And I finally got to do that, and I was like so excited. But it’s true, I mean, other people in our cohort have worked together.

Emma: Yeah, well, and actually you even also worked with a LEARN alumni at your last job.

Jenny: That’s right, I worked with Tommy.

Emma: He wasn’t from our cohort.

Jenny: He was the second one, he was the one right before us.

Chelsea:  That’s great. For some reason I had in my head that you guys were in the same cohort, but Tommy was right before you.

Emma: I thought he was after us actually.

Jenny: He was right before us.

Chelsea:  Yeah, he was in the second class.

Jenny: Yeah. So I need to check to see how he’s doing these days. But yeah, that was great actually to work with Tommy too.

Chelsea:  Yeah, I think that that is definitely one of the benefits of going to a boot camp whether it’s LEARN or another boot camp, is that you are coming into this community. And the more involved you can get not just with your own cohort but with the other alumni there, that they all know what you went through.

Jenny: Absolutely.

Chelsea:  And can empathize with that. And I think you can use those resources and you should use those resources. Awesome, well, just as we kind of wrap up, is there anything, any like piece of advice or anything that you would give to a current student or a potential student or an alumni?

Emma: Just do it. It’s worth it, just do it.

Jenny: I would agree. I mean, I definitely don’t regret it. And I know that not everybody ends up in the same spot where Emma and I are now, but, I mean, we, in our cohort, we have people that are like UX, UI designers at Intuit. I mean, it’s like everyone’s path is going to be different, but the skills that you learn at LEARN are invaluable and will set you up for success in any career I think that you choose.

Chelsea:  Yeah, I think what’s interesting to me is that we’ve had so many people that have gone through our course and actually ended up in the careers that you left, right? That we’ve had a handful of students that discovered project management, that like, “I’m really good at this,” and are now like really succeeding in that part of their career trajectory. And same with marketing.

Emma: Yeah.

Chelsea:  That like a lot of students are like, “Oh, I’m a more valuable marketer because I have this skill, and now I can take these other things.” And so it really does open you up to a whole world of different career paths.

Emma: Yeah. Well, we always talk about like how you learn like how to code like at LEARN, but you also learn process, you also learn communication, you also learn leadership and management of teams, you learn delegation and division of labor, and all of those things are essential in any role in a tech industry. And like every industry is a tech industry now. These skills are invaluable everywhere.

Chelsea:  Right. It always surprises me when a student comes back and like gets a job in an industry that I was like, “They haven’t dev team, like I didn’t even think about that.” But of course they have a dev team. Like, Rob’s been doing a lot of projects with library systems and so he’s been doing a lot of work in the university libraries that have a whole dev team. That’s something I never thought of about, but of course they do, like that’s a lot of data that you have to manage.

Jenny: Absolutely.

Chelsea:  But it is, it’s just growing, that there’s going to be more and more opportunities out there. So great. Well, thank you guys so much for hanging out with me on Friday. And now we can go into the weekend after a great conversation. I’m very grateful that … we never got to like pick the people that came into our classes, but we are really grateful to have had you as a part of this community and as part of our little family, and I’m really, really thankful for that.

Emma: Well, we appreciate you too. Thank you so much for this opportunity and for having us today.

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