My Application to the Ada Developers Academy
This is the (long) story of why and how I applied to the Ada Developers Academy. This is my story of how I went from the success of being a leader in environmental education and interpretation to becoming a developer that hopes to inspire and help many other women and non-binary gender people enter STEM careers, and live their lives according to their passions.
In February of 2015, I was jobless and had no prospects for a job. I had left a park ranger job in Los Angeles to move back to Phoenix to be with family.
It was during this time that I decided to reinvent myself. Though in hindsight it wasn’t really much reinvention and more of a celebration of other skills I had barely ever thought about. I had been so devoted to becoming a park ranger since a very early age that I didn’t think about much else. With a masters in Environmental Education, and experience as an environmental educator and park ranger in Alaska and California it seemed like I was on the road to being an environmental educator for life.
It wasn’t until this moment of stillness did I ever question, “What am I going to do?” It was only then that a family member suggested that I be retrospective and ask myself, “What do you like doing?”
“Well, I like doing research. I like learning about new technologies. I am consistently the ‘go-to girl’ where I work. I like seeing things come together and making things work…”
My friend’s response, “It sounds like you should do something with programming.”
And that’s when I found Hour of Code; I was hooked. I started downloading apps like Lightbot and codeSpark Academy & The Foos, and frequenting sites like codecademy, CodeSchool (which is now part of Pluralsight), and freeCodeCamp. I just couldn’t get enough.
Of course, I hadn’t heard of them, but now that I knew about them I was hooked on those as well. I went to almost every Phoenix tech meet-up I saw. It didn’t matter if I understood the talks or workshops. I figured that it was a great way to network and anything I didn’t understand I could write in my journal and google later.
As the Chapter Leader, I helped organize and teach a number of the classes that I had taken when I was learning. I had a few different companies host, but I really favored hosting meetups at a local web development company, meltmedia. It was there that I had a really good rapport with the director of technology and anyone that helped set-up.
After a while, I was starting to feel fairly comfortable with my HTML and CSS skills. I decided to at meltmedia’s director of technology if the company ever has internships. To my great surprise, he not only said “yes”, but also asked if I was looking for anything specific. I was really just looking for a foot in the door, so I explained that I was starting to feel good about my skills and really wanted a place I could hone those skills and learn more. A few days later he contacted me to come in for an interview. I was to be interviewed to see if I would be a good fit as an intern on the HTML E-mail team. I was elated! During the interview, I was honest about what I knew and what I was looking to learn. They seemed to appreciate that, and a few days later I was asked when I could start. “I can start tomorrow if you’d like!!”
During my time at meltmedia, I got great exposure to the web development world. I even got a few opportunities to do things outside of HTML E-mail development. These were projects which I found fascinating. I got to make scripts for HTML E-mail development, and I got to code a CTA (call to action) on a website for another dev team. I just couldn’t get enough. It was at that point that I learned I was going to outgrow my position at melt. They just didn’t have enough resources to help me get to the level I want to be at. I knew it was time for me to start looking for the next step. I wasn’t sure if that looked like another job or a boot-camp, so I explored.
At one point I was offered a position at a startup that was doing some cool things with HTML E-mail, but that didn’t feel like the right path to go down. I knew I needed to jumpstart my software development career by possibly going to a boot-camp. I had applied for a scholarship at a new boot-camp offered by the University of Phoenix but didn’t get it. I looked at doing Code Fellows, or Flatiron, or General Assembly, but they didn’t really meet what I was looking for (I had read the fine print). I interviewed for a job at Thinkful to try to get paid to coordinate events and learn at the same time but didn’t get the job. Then I found Grace Hopper Fullstack Academy and Ada Developers Academy(ADA). Out of the two, ADA sounded like a better fit for me.
When I found ADA, admissions for Cohort 8 were happening and I could have applied, but there was a lot was already happening in my life. Since admissions open every 6 months, and I decided to wait 6 months to apply.
When applications opened for Cohort 9 opened, I was ready.
Step 1 was to write about how I got interested in tech and why the program would benefit me. I was also to find answers to questions in a huge CVS (Excel worksheet) and explain how I got to those answers. It was a lot of fun! Sure I stressed about it a bit, but overall I played it off as an experiment to see how far I could get in the application process.
While waiting for a response from ADA, I followed directions provided by ADA to keep coding and learning about writing a program myself.
When I made it to the next step, I was so excited! Step 2 was to write a program for the terminal. The prompt was to write a trip account tracking program that would take in receipts from all the people on a trip and split the entire trip cost equally amongst all the trip participants at the end. I had such a good time making it that I still think about that project today, over a year later.
After an interview to explain my thoughts on my code and how I could improve it, I had another interview to talk about why I thought ADA would be a good program for me and why I would be successful in a program such as ADA. Following those interviews, it was just a waiting game to see if I was accepted into the program.
On November 8th, 2017, I got an email…
It is our great pleasure to congratulate you on your acceptance to Ada’s 9th cohort! Class will be starting Monday, February 5, 2018.
I was accepted! By November 16th I accepted the offer and began to make plans with my loved ones to move to Seattle. What an exciting adventure was ahead of me?!