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Career changers: Finding fulfillment in software engineering

Hack Reactor

Woman at computer taking an online coding bootcamp

Making a career change can be a daunting thing to imagine, let alone pursue – perhaps especially for those seeking to make the switch from a non-technical field into a technical one without any related experience. 

For those interested in software engineering specifically, our bootcamps offer ways to bridge that gap. Over the years, we’ve had students from a wide variety of professional and educational backgrounds pursue this challenging, exciting career. Of our 7,000+ graduates, many have come from fields like education, consulting, entertainment, journalism, retail, hospitality, and more. 

Below, we share a collection of their stories, demonstrating the range of possibilities. You’ll read about Grace, who studied commercial photography and owned her own business for nearly a decade before enrolling in the bootcamp; and Aharon and Zach, who worked as high-end bartenders in NYC before making the switch; and Stephanye, who had what she describes as “odd jobs” before she pursued software engineering.

As you read, you’ll learn how and why each graduate decided to make the career change, how they’ve been able to utilize aspects of their former studies or professional experience in their new careers (no matter how unrelated it may seem), and what they’re up to now.

Grace Lindelian, Software Engineer at HOVER 
  • Former professional photographer. Read her story.

    “Photography is both a technical and creative skill, and I think software engineering also requires both skills. Being able to read documentation and learn how to use technical tools quickly is a huge part of being successful in an engineering role."

Stephanye Blakely, Full Stack Engineer at DentalHQ
  • Formerly did self-described “odd jobs." Read her story.

    “The biggest and most important thing that I got out of the program was confidence in my own skills. I'd spent…years teaching myself little bits and pieces of programming, but I never considered myself to be good at it. It was only through this experience that I realized not only can I do this for a living, but the experience I had in the class is actually going to contribute to that.” 

Aharon Kolatch, Full Stack Developer at IBM
Zach Luther, Software Engineer at DigitalOcean
  • Former high-end bartenders. Read their stories.

    Aharon: “I really hadn't thought about leaving hospitality or leaving the beverage industry, because I honestly loved it and still love it. I just happen to love coding as much as I do, too, and it has much better longevity.”

    Zach: “I made a lot of friends and good connections from having access to the alumni Slack channel. Both of my post-bootcamp jobs have come through alumni, so having access to the online network has been really awesome.” 


Ryan Perry, Co-Founder of Pyroscope 
  • Studied real estate. Read his story.

    “After seeing the exploding popularity of open source projects and having worked as a software engineer, product manager, and data engineer it just made sense to build a company in the space that I and my co-founder were most familiar with.”

Kim Luu, Software Engineer at Intellivision Entertainment
Doruk Gurleyan, Software Engineer at Divvy
  • Both formerly worked in hospitality. Read Kim's story; read Doruk's story.

    Kim: “There is problem-solving in both fields. In hospitality, I was dealing with smaller, human problems, and now, I’m using a computer to solve bigger ones. With technology, I feel like I can do more. I can save people more time and bring more people together.”

    Doruk: I felt like I gained the superpower to build whatever I want. The most important thing I got out of the program is being able to find my way and figuring out how to get the job done."

Joe Buono, Frontend Engineering at Amazon Web Services  
  • Former professional musician. Read his story.

    “It's very easy just to jam and play music, but it's a lot more difficult to find the things that are most challenging to you and to sit with those things and to focus on them for many, many hours every day, consistently. I think the ability to do that is what translates to learning programming, and honestly, any complex skill-set.”

Brian Price, Software Engineer at Topsheet
  • Former writer. Read his story.

    “The amount of knowledge I learned during the bootcamp was astronomical. Compared to a college course where you're spending several hours a week in class, this immersive experience felt equivalent to a few years worth of that.” 

Eddie Keller, Sr. Software Engineer at Snap
  • Studied broadcast journalism. Read his story.

    “The higher you go on this software engineering ladder, the less heads-down in the code you tend to be, and you’re more involved with other people and other aspects of the business. So it's surprising, but my former study has definitely come in handy, even though it seems on the surface that they might not be related at all.”

Jason Wesson, Software Engineer at Code for America
  • Former math teacher. Read his story.

    "Prior to software engineering, I was a middle school science teacher...One year, I decided to host a coding club for my students, and that was my first introduction to programming. I had no idea what I was doing, and thankfully my students were able to quickly pick up the language. After resigning from teaching, I kept looking back on the time I spent pairing up with students to learn how to code, and so I decided to become a software engineer." 

These are just a selection of our graduates’ wide-ranging stories. Not only do we love to have students from diverse backgrounds enroll in our programs, but our employer partners appreciate it, too. The broader the experiences, the broader the perspectives and skillsets in the classroom and in the workplace. And that’s a positive thing for everyone.

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To learn more about how you can switch careers to software engineering, read about our bootcamp offerings here.