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How This Alumna’s Dedication Made Her a Software Engineer

Owen Poindexter

 Tess Myers went from knowing virtually no code to being a professional software engineer in under a year. Photo credit: Jessica Keener Photography
Tess Myers went from knowing virtually no code to being a professional software engineer in under a year. Photo credit: Jessica Keener Photography

Tess Myers had minimal coding experience when she decided to give programming a try. A year later she was a professional software engineer at Rdio, which has since been acquired by Pandora. Now with over two years of experience under her belt, she is an example of what one can accomplish with steady determination.

Myers had a couple of career threads open to her when she decided to learn to code. Starting in high school, she worked in a metal shop during summers, repairing and conserving jewelry, religious items and other objects. She studied biology in undergrad and could have continued down the path of researching breast cancer. Neither of those possibilities compelled her to invest more time and money to further a career, and after mulling the possibility of software engineering for a while, she devoted herself to learning to program.

“I decided pretty definitely three years ago to learn code, and I never stopped,” Myers recalls. Starting from zero, she would walk into Hack Reactor for her first day five months later.

At Hack Reactor, she found that she was hardly the only one to have picked up coding recently. She estimates that, of her classmates, about half were new to code, a quarter had some experience, and a quarter had more--they were CS grads, or had been doing pet projects for years.”

After a few weeks at Hack Reactor, she felt like she was able to pull her weight with other members of her cohort, regardless of their experience.

“The first half [of the Hack Reactor course] is a firehose of information, then the last half you build at your own pace,” she explains. That’s a really useful way to learn stuff. First you pack a lot in, then you exercise what you learn.”

Myers talks to a lot of people that are considering making a similar commitment to learning to program, and she tends to give the same advice:

“Just do it. I won’t make a blanket statement that everyone should learn software, because not everyone will like it, but you find that out. If you want to pick up something new, just do it.”

Now at Pandora, Myers, as a result of the acquisition, has had several different roles in a short amount of time. She has worked as both a front-end and full-stack engineer, and recently picked up Java for a new role.

“It’s a great opportunity to really learn good onboarding practices, new technologies,” she notes.

Despite working in a different language from what she studied at her coding bootcamp, her Hack Reactor education is all the more pertinent today (Hack Reactor focuses on JavaScript, which is quite different from Java).

“Hack Reactor taught me how to learn. Of course they give you certain technical skills, but more than anything it gave me the foundation for how to learn the next thing. My Hack Reactor education is going to stay relevant until the internet blows up.”

Thinking about following in Myers’ footsteps? There’s no time like the present: apply to Hack Reactor.

Read more:

Alum’s Journey Shows How to Turn Grit Into a Coding Career

What Hack Reactor Students Gain Beyond Top Coding Skills

Rapper-Turned-Soldier Now a Software Engineer at Amazon Music