We all know that feeling – you know, when you are reaching for the doorknob to enter a room on the first day of a new endeavor, and your stomach suddenly drops, your heart rate increases, and your mind floods with thoughts about whether your superior is going to pick on you, whether your peers are going to take to you, or if you made the right decision in taking this route in the first place. The fear of the unknown is often what deters us from trying something new in the first place. But for those willing to push the boundaries of their comfort zone, the rewarding outcome of learning a new skill is well worth the first-day jitters.
You are here because you are considering pushing those boundaries. Maybe you need this skill to advance in your current field, or maybe you're hitting that plateau in your career where you finally acknowledge that the job you've settled into, isn't quite speaking to your soul in the way you expected it to (a feeling I know all too well). Each person's path to this point is unique, but what is most exciting is that we can emerge from our different corners of the world and come together, to learn something new and expand our minds while influencing each other in encouraging ways.
I went to school for Tourism Development and Management with a minor in Sociology and a certificate in Conventions Sales and Meeting Planning; I thought this was the perfect way to merge my love for travel and my natural care-taking ways into a career. Without boring you too much, I found that mixing my social life and career, lack of freedom and low-end pay were actually exactly not what I was looking for. I got into Tourism so I would be able to travel and in the end, it took this right away from me. I was stuck. After 7 years of unfulfilling work and a borderline lost soul, I sat down and reflected on my options. I wrote out what would make me happy, the type of lifestyle I wanted to lead, and what topics interested me. As we all do in these pivotal moments of self-reflection, I had a number of revelations and found that the common denominator in all of my proposed paths was technology. Enter: the career change.
After my self-assessment, it was time to do something about it. While working in event planning, I taught myself how to fix a computer, and from there began applying for roles in IT. I landed one with HP and became immersed in a world full of tech-connoisseurs and back-end masterminds. Albeit initially intimidating, it was this direct that aided in opening up a whole new web (pun intended) of positions I could obtain in the near future.
With momentum on my side, I made the decision to add "entrepreneur" to my growing list of trades, and started my own company. Not only did I hold the title of CEO, but also handled the marketing and sales, which required me to build a website. I am fascinated with creating something out of nothing, it was challenging and empowering all at the same time. I found myself listening to podcasts about start-ups and success, and there was an episode about coding boot camps that caught my attention. Because of the previous interest I took with the website development, I started to work on Code Academy to see if it was something I would be good at. After a couple hours of exploring this new world, I was hooked, and so it began. I applied to four schools and decided on LEARN in San Diego for a number of reasons. Some of the applications were concise and easy, others more lengthy and very difficult. LEARN intrigued me most because while it was less challenging than others, it wasn't about the difficulty of the problem that they were interested in; it was how I worked out the problem. They wanted to see how my brain worked. A very important quality to me is working with (and for) likeminded individuals, so the decision to move forward was very organic. Sometimes you just know!
The application to LEARN began by asking the applicant to answer a few short paragraphs to their online questionnaire, and from there you receive a follow up email with a coding challenge. Upon completion, a second email to set up an in-person interview to speak about the coding challenge is sent. Very straightforward, which initially made me a skeptic, not to mention the lack of information and feedback that came from good old Google. It's 2016 and there are no reviews? It made me worried that I was unable to find real feedback from alumni on online sources. It wasn't until I went to a Meet Up for a competitor boot camp in San Diego that I took LEARN seriously. One of the competitor's instructors' spoke highly of LEARN and advised me to look into them. The word of mouth from a competitor shocked me and pushed me to look a little further into the school. Thankfully, I was introduced to Chelsea, LEARN's CEO, and she put my concerns at bay.
LEARN focuses on a personalized user experience. Their curriculum will challenge you to your core while making you feel like you are under the monitor and care of a friend who is invested in your success. This program wants each participant to know that they are cared for from conception to beyond – they will get to know you in the initial meeting, they will exhibit patience and understanding while offering you an in-depth educational experience, and they will stand by your side and contribute to networking efforts in your post-graduate years. In short, they want you to succeed. They have an ebb and flow presence that makes you feel at ease knowing that they will push you but also adjust to how you learn the best. Not everyone studies the same, learns the same, or even eats at the same time during the day. They welcome creative freedom, and empower you with the necessary tools to live your life and learn in a way that works for you.
The intimate class size, willingness to acknowledge each student as an individual, and providing of a personalized curriculum is what sets this institution apart from the others. They do not want to suck you in and spit you out to the wolves after collecting your tuition; they instead want to be part of your pack. I am just getting my feet wet here, but I can already tell that I will be forever grateful to this place for helping me kick the corporate routine to the curb and experience greener pastures. I came here as me, and I will leave here a better version of myself.