Before Kristen discovered programming, she was an elementary school teacher, and then a stay at home parent. When she’s AFK, she loves reading (If something has to do with magic or outer space, she’s probably read it or wants to read it), puzzles, games and travel. Her idea of a great party involves tabletop games, wine, and puns so cringe worthy that even your dad would groan. Kristen was able to take some time from her busy schedule to share more about her experience as a student, offer her advice for new students, and explain how the skills she learned at Rithm School will be used in her new position as a Software Engineer at Maven Technologies.
What got you interested in coding and deciding to pursue a career as a Software Engineer?
I've always loved languages and puzzles. Discovering that I could do both in the form of writing code was like discovering an entirely new universe for me. It's a super fun combination of problem solving, creatively building things, and writing. I was also very drawn to the culture of question asking, rewarding curiosity, and constant learning.
Tell us about the environment and curriculum at Rithm School. What made it the right fit for you?
As a former educator, pedagogy matters a lot to me. From the first meet up I attended, I knew the instructors at Rithm were intentional with their curriculum choices and instructional methods, and that they truly cared about teaching. I really want to learn in an environment that cared about deep learning and understanding. With so many resources for coding online, I wanted to make sure I picked a code school that taught me actual software engineering and would set me up for a successful career. Small cohorts and the chance to work on production code during company projects sealed the deal for me.
Do you have a favorite learning memory from your time here?
Every day! Pairing on small sprints, lunchtime conversations and card games, drinking absurd amounts of coffee, trolling our instructors, and leaving easter eggs in our company project were all so much fun. My absolute favorite moments were when something seemed so hard, and then my colleagues and I were able to pair and problem solve and build it anyway.
You got to work on a big company project while at Rithm. Tell us about the project and your role.
I worked on a React Native app for Groupmuse. Every week I paired with someone new and tackled a different aspect of the app that needed to be built or fixed. This was an awesome time for me as it was the first time I truly started to see myself as an engineer.
Tell me about the process of briefly being unemployed while job searching, and how that process went.
I considered my unemployment/job seeking time as an extension of code school. I kept my schedule fairly consistent and pushed at nearly the same rate of learning I was doing during at Rithm. I also connected as much as possible with my Rithm colleagues. I tried very hard to consider rejections as data points. Every day I tried to solve some algorithms and build a little (or a lot) on a project.
What company are you working at now, and what do you do there?
I'm a full stack software engineer at Maven Technologies. I work on every piece of the stack, but most recently I've been building a lot of backend stuff with Ruby on Rails that dynamically generate things for our users. One of the next things I'll get to do is convert some of our front end elements to React components. I'm also hoping to get time to learn some Swift! Every day I'm learning more and more and it's every bit as fun as I hoped it would be.
What advice do you have for people who are interested in attending a bootcamp?
Stop looking and apply to Rithm!
Ok, ok… seriously though. Go to any open houses, info nights, or meet ups the bootcamp hosts. Meet the people who will be teaching you and ask as many questions as you can. Make sure you're realistic with yourself about the work it will take and the length of time you'll be job hunting afterwards. Reach out to alumni and ask them questions about their experiences. Many schools have prep courses you can take too, so check those out if you're not sure if you're ready to do the whole thing yet.