Techtonica’s apprentices are ready for liftoff!

Published in
9 min readJun 28, 2018


After five months of full-time training with Techtonica, our apprentices, who are all Bay Area women of color, are ready to be matched with hiring companies! Each apprentice has a unique story and has built an amazing full-stack JavaScript app, and all share a genuine passion to #BridgeTheTechGap. Read on to be inspired:

Ashley (she/her)

Bio: Before Techtonica, Ashley always had a love for computers and technology. She first interacted with code back with Myspace. She was fascinated and interested in how websites are built, but she’d never thought to see herself writing code before then. So she started teaching herself JavaScript. “Self-learning is three times as hard,” Ashley said of her early efforts to learn more on her own. While caregiving for her family in a time of need, Ashley continued online self study coursework with Udacity, Udemy, Hack Reactor, and Telegraph Academy. She used the determination and grit she developed as a mail carrier and a cosmetologist in the East Bay to propel herself further into her career in technology. It was this grit, determination, and dedication that made her an obvious choice as a Techtonica apprentice. With this new opportunity in front of her, Ashley is excited about becoming a well-rounded engineer who can give back and make a difference for the people she cares about.

Project name: Sub House

Project description: Sub House helps users find temporary local housing

APIs used: Web Scraping craigslist, Mapbox API

Hardest part of building your project: Using a map API to integrate my data

Favorite part of building your project: Seeing my vision become a reality

Ashley was placed at Huge.

Lian (she/her)

Bio: Before learning to code, Lian worked at various startups, always in operations and customer support roles. At her last customer support role at Square, she realized her extensive experience helping customers hands-on — listening, filtering and organizing their problems and needs, put her in an exceptional position to build features and tools to improve the product for the end user. It was around this time she committed herself to building a career as a software engineer. Lian’s cross-functional approach, motivation to empathize with users, and desire to exceed customer expectations set her apart as a Techtonica apprentice. She’s now been studying web development since January and is excited to begin her new career as a full-stack web developer.

Project name: Giftr

Project description: Giftr helps you find what to get someone when you just aren’t sure.

APIs used: Etsy, Auth0

Hardest part of building your project: Integrating different APIs together and learning correct file structure, learning there isn’t one right way to do something!

Favorite part of building your project: Seeing it all come together.

Lian was placed at Colark.

Michelle (she/her)

Bio: Prior to learning how to program, Michelle was a teacher for three years. Her interest in programming started before her teaching career when she would look at and edit MySpace code. She thought it was fun but never would have imagined that was a career path. Once she moved to teach in San Francisco and was given a class set of computers, she realized the impact that technology can have on learning and decided to pursue programming.

Project name: Free Up

Project description: Free Up is a space for people to post any children stuff that their kids outgrew and are willing to donate to other people who might not have the funding to purchase.

APIs used: Google Places, Auth0

Hardest part of building your project: Figuring out how to render images from the database to the frontend.

Favorite part of building your project: Seeing something that I imagined become a reality.

Michelle was placed at Mixpanel.

Stephanie (she/her)

Bio: Stephanie Cueto is a bilingual, first-generation Mexican American born and raised in Southern California, with a background in the nonprofit sector. During her adolescence, Stephanie loved to take things apart and put them back together — from her barbies and her sister’s iPod shuffle, to playing around with Myspace front-end web code — anything to see how things work and how to make them better. She’s always been called towards technology. Before college, she lacked mentorship from someone who was in the STEM field and didn’t know what the field of Computer Science was, but felt a deep appreciation. She got her degree in Latinx Studies, where she learned about the intersections of identity, culture, and history. When she was employed by a local charter school, she re-discovered her interest in front-end development while working on the school’s WordPress site. Stephanie is eager to combine her people knowledge and her technical knowledge to build software products that better serve people from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds.

Project name: Salient Alert

Project description: Salient Alert is an online community space for people to find out about and report ICE raids or checkpoints that are happening.

APIs used: MapBox

Hardest part of building your project: Being mindful of the community I am working with and making sure I make my project something safe to use.

Favorite part of building your project: Salient Alert has been something I had envisioned for a while. It is cool to see it come alive.

Stephanie was placed at Mixpanel.

TaLea (she/her)

Bio: Before learning to code, TaLea spent the majority of her time homeschooling her children and making music. She has been recording music for over a decade and sees coding as a new outlet she can use to be creative. After seeing her husband begin learning to code, she found the motivation to start learning as well and began taking courses on Codecademy in the Summer of 2017. Soon after, she found out about Techtonica, applied, and was accepted. She sees Techtonica as the start of a lifelong coding journey and is excited to see where the path is going to lead her next.

Project name: Frisco Rap Scene

Project description: Online platform dedicated to providing exposure to local musicians

APIs used: Spotify and YouTube

Hardest part of building your project: Rendering data from server to client side using two ports!

Favorite part of building your project: Seeing an idea slowly but surely turn into a reality.

TaLea was placed at Ancestry.

Vivian (she/her)

Bio: Prior to Techtonica, Vivian was a Chemistry graduate from UC Davis. She chose Chemistry because it was a subject she was good at, but deep down, she knew she didn’t love it. She wanted so much to make a difference in the world and contribute to something meaningful, but with science, she never felt inspiration, nor belonging. The day that she came out as lesbian was the very same day she saw a Techtonica workshop flyer, and for those few hours, she got to be herself. She felt welcomed, encouraged to be bold, and challenged. Never had she ever had more focus and motivation to learn something, and to keep pushing herself beyond her boundaries; it was almost euphoric. That was the moment she decided to continue to learn how to code. Now as an apprentice of Techtonica, she is able to pursue a dream that is beyond what she could have ever envisioned for herself, and knows that her life is forever changed.

Project name: MapJourney

Project description: Whether it be road trips, domestic, international, or even staycations in your own city, let MapJourney help you map out and route any future travels with ease, seemingly taking away the frustration out of travel planning and allowing you to enjoy your vacations once again.

APIs used: Yelp, Google Maps, Google Geocode, Google Directions

Hardest part of building your project: Not getting too addicted. It’s hard because it’s something that you’re passionate about and that you created yourself. Also, CSS — just when I thought I knew it, I didn’t.

Favorite part of building your project: When you’ve been working on a bug for so long and you finally figure it out and you just stare at your screen in awe that your application is working. Then you don’t know whether to be happy or cry. But I think the best of all moments were when I realized that my application looked exactly like how I first drew it! How crazy is it to draw something and then be able to build it to life??? I’m still speechless.

Vivian was placed at Redfin.

Zaire (she/her)

Bio: San Francisco native Zaire is well-positioned to become an engineering unicorn by combining visual design with a passion for user experience and software development. Prior to Techtonica, Zaire worked at Apple Retail for over 5 years as a Visual Merchandiser, while studying UX Design and consulting for Code for San Francisco Civic Hack Nights. Zaire loves trying new things and wearing different hats, so when she found out about Techtonica she saw it as a perfect opportunity to learn the technical side of the product life-cycle. She’s eager to find a role and company that can encourage and utilize her passion for technology and design.

Project name: WorkoutTime

Project description: WorkoutTime helps you plan your next workout effortlessly. It imports your Google calendar data to calculate your free time, and suggests workout times based on your preferences, then you just click to add the suggested workouts that work for you.

APIs used: Google Calendar

Hardest part of building your project: Figuring out how to pass data to different components in React and writing modular code.

Favorite part of building your project: Learning to use the Google Calendar API, writing the calculations for my features, and learning how the frontend and backend work together.

Zaire was placed at Rally Health.

Zhenzhen (she/her)

Bio: As a first-generation college student, Zhenzhen earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, and a Master’s degree in Sociology in China. Then she came to the U.S. and obtained a Master’s degree in Anthropology.

Zhenzhen first learned programming using statistical analysis software called SAS when she was taking statistics courses at Purdue University. She really liked it, and was really good at it. She spent hours and hours on class projects in SAS without tiring. Instead, she felt fulfilled and excited. That’s when she decided to pursue a career in tech.

After moving to the Bay Area, she joined MotherCoders’ tech training program, focusing on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, GitHub, and website design in 2016. She designed a personal website for the final project and found herself enjoying coding even more. After MotherCoders, she took online courses in Python and SQL through Coursera and Codecademy, but she wanted to learned more. She was so grateful and excited that Techtonica provided her this six-month, full-stack software engineering program.

Project name: Viztory (Visual Housing Price)

Project description:

Visual Housing Price Index, built on Node, Express, MySQL, React, D3, Materialize.

  • Housing price change on state level from 1975 to 2017.
  • Housing price change on city level from 1975 to 2017.

APIs used: Auth0

Hardest part of building your project: Finding, cleaning, and understanding the data Integrating D3, React, and Express.

Favorite part of building your project: Data visualization.

Zhenzhen was placed at Pantheon.

Graduation is just around the corner and that first tech job is vital! To set our apprentices on the pathway to success, become a hiring partner or make a donation today.




Free tech training and job placement for local women and non-binary adults in need. Fiscally sponsored by Social Good Fund.