Last summer, Jennifer told us how she came to The Iron Yard and what it is like to make a career transition. We followed up with Jennifer to get a bit more of her story and to see what life has been like after graduation.
Jennifer Graves started down a traditional, four-year college degree route but soon life took her in a different direction.
“I started working and ended up liking the jobs that I was doing for the most part, and decided to just hold back on college for a little while and focus on the career that I was building at that time,” she said.
Jennifer worked as an administrative assistant at a doctor’s office and later moved into customer service with a national healthcare company. She was soon promoted to a management position, but that transition made her consider what she really wanted to do.
“I think once you start to step down a career path, I guess you learn what you do and don’t like about that career. I liked it enough to stay with it for a while, and I liked it enough to do well at it, but I didn’t like it enough to feel like it was a satisfying career to me.”
Jennifer had always loved computers and had done some IT troubleshooting while working at the doctor’s office but was unsure what opportunities in tech were available to her. She didn’t see many women working in software or technology. Jennifer did some research on coding schools, attended an Iron Yard crash course, spoke with the instructors in Dallas and decided to give it a shot. After twelve years in healthcare, she enrolled and began to learn to code.
“To me it was a risk. To me it was a big risk. To me it wasn’t what I was supposed to do if I wanted to switch careers. I should have gone to a four year college and gotten a bachelor’s in computer science and gone from there. The reality of the world is you don’t have time for that. Sometimes life and pressures just conspire to make you do things a certain way.”
Jennifer expected to put in long hours for the difficult classes. Throughout the twelve weeks Jennifer realized “that you’re not really learning what to code, you are learning how to code,” a skill that is crucial today in her post-graduate life.
In the final weeks of class, Jennifer worked with a tech recruiter in Dallas through the career support available to students as they prepare to work as developers.
“She had really excellent tips on how to organize our resume, how to talk to people, and what kind of social activities to engage in in order to kind of network with other developers and start-ups. I would not have found my job without her.”
Currently, Jennifer is translating a mobile app to Japanese, writing changes to the code to reflect a different culture. Her commute to work is around two hours, a drive she says is worth it.
“It’s pretty stimulating. I feel pretty embraced by the community. I feel pretty embraced by my team. I’m still really excited about what I’m doing and I hope that that doesn’t change. I kind of feel like this is what I should have been doing all along.”