Designing a New Coding Career: Inside Emily Dorgan’s Boot Camp Experience

Just a few years ago, Emily Dorgan was teaching the basics of computer science while working some smaller jobs on the side. But when the pandemic took her job away almost overnight, she had to look for something new. However, applying with the resume and portfolio she had at the time wasn’t delivering the results she was looking for. She had to make a change.

“Most of my friends were working software development jobs they got out of college,” said Emily. “I figured: I think I can code, so I’ll go ahead and do this.”

Rather than spending lots of time and money pursuing a new degree to find her computer science footing, Emily wanted to enroll in a boot camp that could quickly and effectively prepare her for an exciting career switch. After doing some research, the answer was clear: she had to try her hand at the 12-week Berkeley Coding Boot Camp

Preparing to code better

To get a head start on the course material, Emily took some free online courses which leveraged the coding skills she already had. This came in handy for Emily, because keeping up with the accelerated pace of the full-time boot camp proved to be a challenge. With the fundamental programming skills she already had, she was able to spend considerable time and effort on areas that were new to her rather than revisiting the basics.

Even with her prior knowledge and experience helping her along, Emily found she still needed to make the boot camp her top priority in order to accomplish her goals. With strong time management and a dedication to her coursework, she earned successful grades on assignments and projects.

Developing an interesting game

For her final boot camp project, Emily wanted to go above and beyond. Her team decided to make a video game called Cat Ventures in React, an open-source JavaScript library meant for building user interfaces — not developing video games. 

Cat Ventures is a browser-based game where players recruit cats that can take turns engaging in combat. 

The design of Cat Ventures was simple on purpose, as the team had only five days to program in a language meant to do anything but build video games. In fact, the game design logic — like cat recruiting and combat mechanics — was not ready until very late in the project’s life cycle. 

Preparing to switch careers

Throughout her boot camp experience, Emily attended multiple resume preparation coaching sessions with the program’s Career Services team. In doing so, she came to a startling realization of why she wasn’t gaining much traction on the job market. 

“My resume was terrible,” said Emily. “It was poorly written because I didn’t know what I was doing and the online guidance I had been finding was really mediocre. This course highlighted how you need to structure your resume in order to get any sort of momentum going with recruiters, and quickly made me competitive in the job market.”

Emily also took advantage of her Career Coach’s time and expertise to get a firm grasp of how to kickstart her coding career. Her coach helped keep her accountable, and her interview preparation sessions taught her how to present herself well to make the strongest impression possible.

Graduating to something exciting

After graduating from the boot camp, Emily became a TA to help new students accomplish their own goals. At the same time, she started reaching out to different contacts through her professional network. In doing so, she connected with a representative from a company that was looking for developers skilled in React — the very same library Emily had used to develop the Cat Ventures game. It was the perfect opportunity.

“We went right into a technical interview, which I passed, and then I had another meeting to see how well I would fit with their company culture,” explained Emily. By leaning on the programming and career preparation skills she’d acquired as part of her boot camp experience, she landed a job as an associate cloud native app developer at Soliant Consulting

In her new role, Emily works as part of Soliant’s web development team, tackling client requests for new website designs with her engineering prowess. She develops the frontend of customer websites with React which affect the look and feel of the site’s design in addition to site backends with Node.js — both of which are skills she learned as part of her boot camp journey. 

Looking back, Emily notes how her boot camp experience prepared her to work more creatively and dynamically — which is vital to success in the agile website consulting world. “Learning the skills to come up with ideas was really important,” explained Emily. “The boot camp exposed me to a lot of different material, but the ultimate goal was teaching you how to learn anything.”

Today, Emily has a framework for learning new skills to stay competitive — all thanks to the boot camp. “I’m glad that I enrolled,” she said. “It was life-changing.”

If you’re looking to learn career-oriented tech skills, explore Berkeley Boot Camps for coding, data analytics, UX/UI, cybersecurity, digital marketing, fintech and tech project management.

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