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From Retail to RetailMeNot: How Misha Hoo’s Hustle Helped Her Become a Software Engineer.

Exam grades were important to Misha throughout elementary and middle school -- an obsession:

“I was a pretty die hard student. I don’t really know why. I don’t think my parents were very strict on grades. I got straight A’s up until high school.”

From high school to community college, then to the University of Santa Barbara, her pursuit to pick a career kept her busy, but got her nowhere closer to settling on a direction.

“At UCSB, I initially went in for a business economics degree because that was the more practical thing. I didn’t like it at all. Everyone in my class wanted to be CEOs. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
 Misha Hoo

Misha Hoo

By this point, she was sick of being in school so she left shy of graduating to go into retail for Lucky Brand Jeans, where she moved up fairly quickly and managed a flagship store. But, feeling a void in her work/life balance, she moved into the service industry, bartending and serving. From California, she moved to Austin, Texas for a change of scenery. The next stop: a graphic design degree from The Art Institute of Austin:

“I thought it would be a good marriage of creativity and problem solving.” But after working for a small design firm in Austin for a few years, she became burned out yet again.”

A friend of hers who went to MakerSquare, an Austin-based coding bootcamp eventually acquired by Hack Reactor, held down a good position as a Software Engineer. His situation got her thinking about a change in her career. The more she hung around him and his circle of friends in that industry, the more she realized learning to code was within her reach and that she had what it takes to be as successful as them.

Misha had done a little HTML and CSS in college but never pursued coding or had interest to:

“I never saw myself as someone that would be an engineer or in coding. The more I hung out with this person, the more I thought ‘I could totally do this’. I was meeting a lot of the people at his company, and his coding friends. I realized they were not much different than me.”

Misha decided to pursue an education with Hack Reactor.

“There were probably 5-6 coding bootcamps in Austin at the time. I researched a lot. I knew people that had gone to area coding bootcamps, and I knew I wanted to go to the best. When I found out MakerSquare was being acquired by Hack Reactor. I knew I wanted to go to it.”

She spent 7 months learning through online JavaScript courses to properly prepare for the technical interview, a step to be accepted into the program.

“I did it at a pace I was comfortable with. She also finished Hack Reactor’s free Basic Prep Program. I was terrified of doing the Technical Interview. So I spent a good amount of time doing that. I realized I did enjoy doing JS, this isn’t bad, I kind of like solving these puzzles.”

She was elated to discover she was accepted the first time she applied. Elation was quickly followed by terror:

“It was the craziest rollercoaster ever. I was terrified I was not smart enough to do it. I knew I was smart and had faith in that. I had no prior experience like a lot of people that went into the bootcamp had. Some of them had Computer Science degrees or partial CS degrees. I just came in completely green.”
“Even with one of the best cohorts -- everyone was super nice -- but even so, I still went through a lot of trouble in that first half of the program bc it was hard. I was having to fly through this curriculum and sometimes it didn’t even really make sense to me. But I think in a lot of ways, that’s kind of how coding is. You get exposed to it and then you don’t know what you’re doing and as time goes on you have faith in the process and you start to understand it. And I finally had these ‘a-ha’ moments where you just get it.”
 Linden Kueck, Austin Campus Lead (left), and Misha Hoo (right)

Linden Kueck, Austin Campus Lead (left), and Misha Hoo (right)

After graduating, Misha spent 3 months working at Hack Reactor as an HIR, or “Hacker In Residence”. HIRs lead some breakout study sessions, conduct applicant interviews, networking, perform outreach, connect with potential applicants and write about their experience in the program. She was able to utilize this time to absorb the information she was taught, and the paycheck was helpful.

Her networking skills ultimately helped her land a job at RetailMeNot. Misha recalls the connection:

“One of the previous HIRs I worked with had a friend who works at RetailMeNot. I ended up going to a board game night with them and, after a week or so, that’s when Evan who’s on my team now, said “hey, I heard you’re looking for a job.”
 RetailMeNot's Genie

RetailMeNot's Genie

As Associate Software Engineer at RetailMeNot, she is on a team that oversees the new invention called Genie, a browser extension that applies coupons and offers directly into their e-commerce shopping cart. Genie came out of its beta testing in late 2017.

Misha describes her current role:

“I’ve been doing primarily front end stuff. But I’m getting new tickets that introduce me to different parts of the code base everyday. It’s a brand new extension. It’s newer technology. It’s just awesome. I’m super happy.”

Gravitating towards front end at Hack Reactor, she focuses somewhat exclusively on React, Node, and Mongo. The experience, specifically, with React, helps her in her work role:  

“I’m working with Vue at RetailMeNot which is in a lot of ways similar to React. It was like a smooth transition.”

Misha’s lifestyle is much different than it was even 2 years ago. She’s on a completely different time schedule than her former coworkers in the service industry. She’s in front of a computer now. She used to walk all day in restaurants. So she’s making sure she’s being good to her body:

“No more sleeping until noon or going to bed at 3 in the morning. I’m in bed at 10.”

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