Babe in Bootcamp

June 2019

Kelly in elementary school computer class

The first memory I have of using a computer was playing Wolfenstein3D with my dad for MS/DOS. I didn't understand quite how the magic pictures moved but I remember being fascinated by the ability to make the screen change just by clicking a mouse.

My name is Kelly. I'm a current member of the Careers in Code bootcamp. This is a brief history of how I got there.

I'm a child of the '90s, so I grew up while computers were becoming increasingly part of everyday life. My parents bought a Gateway 2000 desktop as a present to the whole family on one memorable Christmas. I used it to type up homework and look up fan fiction while my parents were in the other room. (Sorry, Mom!)

Other notable computer moments from my childhood include using a WebTV in our dining room and the movie The Matrix coming out when I was 12. I imagined becoming a hacker someday, so to prepare, I spent a period of time unironically wearing a long black knit duster.

(If you're unfamiliar with WebTV, it was a device you could hook up to your television to turn it into a computer monitor. It came with a separate keyboard. Truly, the wave of the future.)

In high school, I was an AV Club kid who read the morning announcements on camera all four years. I thought that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, so when I graduated, I chose to pursue a major in Broadcasting-Mass Communications.

It was my junior year when I realized I didn't want to work in a television studio. It made more sense to finish out my degree than start over at that point. I took a bunch of communications courses and graduated with a BA. Directly out of school, I got hired to answer phones for an insurance company and update policies using a GUI for an internal database. I found an apartment, moved out from home, and commenced navigating adulthood as best I could.

Turns out I left the insurance gig to work for a nonprofit specializing in offering community support for people with disabilities. While I was working there, I got hired at a rural WIC clinic. My favorite parts of that job were entering client information into databases and creating/updating the Facebook page for the clinic. That was my first experience working with social media in a professional capacity. I was given free reign and found the project to be quite successful.

From there, I decided to take a big city job. I worked for a big telecom company offering customer service via online chat. The constant pressure of sales and stream of abuse from customers went to my head so I chose to leave.

After a period of time restoring my mental health, I realized what all my previous work had in common: using a computer to create and update information. I'd started dating my current partner by this point. He's self-taught and works professionally as a developer. He encouraged me to look into web development as a career.

I started trying to teach myself. One fateful night, my partner came home from a local tech meetup and said he'd heard of this program called Careers in Code. It seemed like a really good fit for me. I knew I wanted the structure of a small class and a built-in network of people willing to help newbies get on their feet.

I sent in my application and hoped for the best. While I waited, I devoured the pre-course material suggested via Codecademy. The little voice in the back of my mind started to change from "Can you really do this?" to "You can really do this!".

After a phone interview and a technical take-home test, I found out on a cold February morning that I'd made the class list! I was thrilled. I told my loved ones. I may have cried. It felt like I had been granted a fresh start in a career path that works for me.

I went to the first class meeting and was immediately excited for the program. We're a bit over halfway through the course now and I feel like I've already come so far in my coding journey. I can't wait to see where our class goes from here!

I have a photo of me in an elementary school computer lab sitting on a stool and typing away. When times get hard, I pull out that photo and remember how far I've come. This is for her then and me now and all of my other selves in between.

Topics Covered

  1. About Me
  2. Careers in Code
  3. '90s Computers