Sharmila came to Learn Academy after working for several years in operations and digital marketing. Her journey to a bootcamp began when she started to try her hand at customizing websites in Wix and Squarespace. After taking a few front-end development tutorials online, Sharmila found that she loved the analytical nature of coding and decided to pursue it as a career.

LEARN Academy's friendly and collaborative environment drew Sharmila to the program, and she loved that internships are a key piece of the curriculum. Today, Sharmila is loving her new role as a Junior Web Developer at Donately.

In an interview with SwitchUp, Sharmila talks about her experience at LEARN Academy and her advice for future bootcamp students. Check out the complete interview below:

SwitchUp: Tell me about your background. What was your professional experience before you joined LEARN Academy?

Sharmila: I worked as a production manager for a clothing company in Los Angeles for a few years. The company manufactured organic cotton yoga pants and other loungewear. I oversaw the design, manufacturing, and shipping processes. After that I moved to Encinitas and became the manager of a spa here.

SwitchUp: What made you decide to pursue Software Development?

Sharmila: I decided to pursue software development after building a few websites using Wix and Squarespace and not being able to customize them to my liking. I looked into how you would build a website from scratch and realized how interesting the process was so I took some online HTML, CSS, and Javascript tutorials. The logical and analytical nature of coding really appealed to me. I enjoy problem solving and being challenged so I decided to look for a program where I could learn more!

SwitchUp: How did you decide to attend LEARN Academy? What made it the right program for you?

Sharmila: I did quite a bit of research on coding bootcamps before I decided on LEARN. I knew that I wanted to join a program instead of studying on my own because it fits better with my learning style. I was drawn to LEARN because of the internship they offer at the end of the program. It's a great way to apply knowledge and gain real-world experience. After visiting LEARN and seeing first-hand how friendly and collaborative the students and staff are, I knew it was the right fit for me.

SwitchUp: Considering your goal was to switch careers, what were the pros and cons of attending a bootcamp?

Pros:

-Bootcamps are fast, which meant I would be qualified to join the workforce a lot more quickly than if I had chosen to do a different type of program. Once I decided to switch careers, I wanted that transition to happen as fast as possible.

-I am a quick learner and I knew that I would enjoy the fast pace of a bootcamp.

-The staff provided career guidance and coaching.

-Support from teachers and peers.

Cons:

-It was a risk to switch careers.

-I had hardly any programming experience.

SwitchUp: What was the environment like at LEARN Academy? Was there anything about the program that took you by surprise?

Sharmila: The environment at LEARN was very collaborative. Most of our time was spent pair programming with other members of the class. I was surprised by how much I learned through the pair programming process.

Working with others lets you experience different coding styles and problem solving approaches. Also, teaching and explaining code to others helped me to solidify my knowledge even more.

It was crazy how much I learned in such a short amount of time. It all came together during our group projects, where we created a full Rails app.

SwitchUp: Tell us about LEARN Academy's job support. How did the company help you land your current role?

Sharmila: LEARN has great job support! Bianca, the career counselor is super knowledgeable and willing to help however she can. She provided us with lots of insight on how to land a job and navigate through the interview process.

The most valuable aspect of what Learn provided was the internship. It provides on-the-job experience, which is great practice and shows you how to apply all the knowledge you have learned. I loved my internship and am now working for the company where I interned

SwitchUp: That's great to hear! Where are you working now? What is your day-to-day role like?

Sharmila: I am working as a web developer for Donately, a company that provides a platform through which non-profits and individuals can take donations. The team is small but efficient and it feels really good to be able to directly see the impact I'm making.

I pair program with another woman from my bootcamp. We work really well together and it is very helpful to be able to bounce ideas off of each other to solve problems. Lately, we have been working on the Donately dashboard, where users can log in and manage their donations. We have been adding features to make the dashboard easier for users to navigate. Our job involves working with Ruby, Javascript and Angular; the variety keeps things interesting!

SwitchUp: What challenges did you overcome to get to where you are?

Sharmila: It was pretty scary to leave my previous job to transition to a field that I knew very little about. I am so glad that I did make the transition because I absolutely love what I am doing.

SwitchUp: What are your goals and plans for the next 5 years?

Sharmila: I plan on learning as much as I can in the next 5 years. Software development is an ever evolving field and there is so much to explore!

I'd also like to be involved in the community and mentor other new software developers. As a young woman, software development was never presented to me as a possible career choice and I would like to do what I can to change that for other women.

SwitchUp: What advice do you have for people who are interested in attending a bootcamp?

Sharmila: Seek knowledge wherever you can! There are great online resources that allow anyone to jump right in and get started. Also, be proactive by attending meet ups and talking to people in the community. Before attending a bootcamp, make sure it's the right fit for you and most of all, be prepared to work hard and learn a lot!

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