What is LEARN like? Ask our community!
Emma Castor Alumni Jr. Software Engineer at Zeal
LEARN was absolutely instrumental in getting me to where I am today. Before I attended LEARN I was stuck in a marketing job with little opportunity for advancement and days full of busywork. Now, I am a junior engineer at the beginning of a (hopefully!) long and productive career. My employment outlook is significantly brighter: I have a better job that's more fun and engaging, pays better, is more stable, has more room for internal growth and advancement, and values my personal and professional growth. And should I ever choose to leave it, there are tons of great opportunities in the industry to move on to other organizations doing exciting work with an ever-evolving technology stack. Changing careers was a big and scary step, and it isn't easy, but LEARN has consistently supported and empowered me to make this change, and that support continues today, more than a year after I graduated from their program.
The coursework was fast-paced and at times overwhelming. 3 months just isn't enough time to learn it all, and you finish the program with a sense that there's a lot more work to do. However, the biggest value of this program is the process. You learn how to ask questions, and how to search for answers. I spent a lot of time feeling frustrated and like I didn't know what I was doing, but LEARN does a good job of normalizing that discomfort and teaching you to work it without getting discouraged (which is one of the toughest parts of trying to learn something so new and foreign as an adult!). The program uses project-based learning to get you practicing writing code from day 1, and consistent pair programming teaches you how to collaborate and has the added benefit that you're never alone with a problem. The instructors do a great job of balancing giving you the answer versus guiding you to find it on your own via research. LEARN also introduces its students to the agile process, which is widely used in the industry today, and this iterative approach means your project doesn't have to be perfect on the first pass.
After 3 months in the classroom, LEARN placed me in a one-month internship with a local startup. I got to push real code to their production application the first week! My particular internship did leave something to be desired, as the developer who was supposed to be managing me and two of my classmates wasn't very available, and we were assigned tasks and left to pretty much figure them out on our own. So the collaboration skills we'd learned in class and the support of the LEARN community proved to be vital to our success. Our instructors, classmates, and alumni were all just a chat message away, and we used our network a lot to get our work done. Even though I wasn't that well managed, I still learned a lot, and at the end of the internship our boss was impressed with how much we'd accomplished.
After graduation, I was nervous about getting a job, but Lisa, LEARN's outreach coordinator, was diligent about passing out job opportunities to recent alumni, and just about every interview I went on was thanks to her referral. While I was searching for a full-time job she even got me connected to someone who was looking for a part time independent contractor for web development work, so I was working (and practicing my new skills) while I was looking for work! I was hired on for a full time job about 2 1/2 months after finishing my internship.
I can't say enough good things about LEARN. It's honestly changed my life. I'm so, so glad that I attended and that I'm still involved in the ever-growing, ever-supportive LEARN community.