Meet Carmen Leander, a Software Product Manager and certified Scrum Master who, in her words, is passionate about working with cross-functional teams to build awesome products.
Carmen is a graduate of Wyncode’s 4th cohort, and is known around here for making excellent use of Wyncode’s lifetime job support. Curious to know how? Read about her experience below!
What were you doing prior to the program?
Before attending Wyncode, I had experience working for start-ups and non-profits in a marketing capacity. I had always been interested in tech and taught myself how to build websites on the side - which helped me grow in my marketing roles.
What encouraged you to join Wyncode?
Although I could design a site, I was always curious about the back-end and how things really worked. I thought joining Wyncode would provide a solid understanding of this as well as an easy introduction to the local tech community.
When you were in the program, what was your experience diving into tech like? Is there anything you remember being extra hard or surprisingly easy?
Everything was hard! I say this with a smile because I love challenges and this was certainly a challenge! It was definitely a lot of sleepless nights finding solutions, many hours invested in getting things right and great rewards in the end.
How did you overcome obstacles or milestones?
By learning to power through things even if they are not perfect and asking for help when needed.
What are some tips and hacks you learned in the program?
I remember we had a short session on how to Google for solutions and reading documentation. Still helpful! Also have to mention all the tools we used - such as Calendly, Trello, etc. making teamwork much easier. We also had daily stand-ups which was my introduction to Agile/Scrum.
What was your favorite part of going through a bootcamp?
Community. You have the support of Wyncode, Jo and Juha, teachers, TAs, other students, alumni, industry introductions, meetups. All of this is not something an online tutorial offers and not to be taken for granted!
When did you complete the program?
What are you hopeful about and/or what are you looking forward to the most in your career?
After Wyncode, I transitioned from Junior Developer to Product right away. Wyncode prepared me for this role as it made it easier for me to communicate and understand the tech teams I work with.
I am now a Technical Product Manager and can say for the first time since 1999 (when I graduated college), I love what I do. I have finally found my career.
Where are you working now and what is your role? What is your day-to-day like?
I work at BabySparks, an early childhood development app that gives parents and caretakers a tool to help their children’s growth during those critical years. The app uses AI and machine learning to understand and recommend specific activities for each child.
I manage the consumer app but as is normal in every startup, I get to do a little bit of everything - which means my day to day as product manager is packed! I work with the tech, UX/UI, marketing, and customer service teams as well as the leadership team to make sure we are constantly delivering quality to our customers, catching and squashing bugs, improving screens and user flows, conducting experiments and user interviews, developing and releasing the right new features, that they are on schedule etc.
It’s an amazing app for parents and I seriously wish it had been available back when I was a new mom! So to all new parents out there, check it out! Let us know what you think 😉
How was the job search process for you fresh out of Wyncode? How did Wyncode help you prepare to find and secure a job opportunity?
Wyncode has been key to my success in finding a job twice.
First, during the bootcamp, we had Wynterviews, which were extremely useful and some companies even used them to scope out possible recruits. That is when I was introduced to Watsco Ventures, received an offer and accepted my first job in March 2015.
Later, my family moved abroad. Before coming back to Miami in August 2019, I started to speak with the team at Wyntalent to begin the job search. Knowing that I now had experience in Product Management, Scrum Master, and consumer apps and Swift, they were able to focus on helping me find opportunities in companies that were an exact fit for me. They introduced me to BabySparks and it was a perfect match.
You’re welcome to contact me here if you want to know more about my experience with Wyntalent!
Note from the author: Wynterviews are an interview practice we use at Wyncode where companies come to campus and interview several candidates back-to-back.
When you first attended Wyncode, did you expect that Wyncode/Wyntalent would be there to place you in future roles?
I didn’t expect it, but knew it would be a valuable resource/benefit of joining Wyncode.
How do you feel as a woman working in tech? Do you feel like there is an advantage or a disadvantage to being a woman in a technical role?
I’ve been extremely blessed to work in environments that are professional and fair. At Watsco the leadership was exceptional as it is at BabySparks. At BabySparks, in fact, 50% of our developers are women.
I cannot speak for the industry at large but I’ve been lucky (and probably careful to make sure) to join teams where this is not an issue. There is a lot of work to be done in the industry and we are hopefully making a difference.
I think Wyncode did a great job in addressing gender discrimination straight on. I remember our professor, Ed Toro, making it a point to go through the history of women in computing. We were 4 women in our cohort and I feel like this session, which was presented on the first or second day, intentionally set the tone for the rest of the time at the bootcamp.
What advice do you have for people (and especially other women) who are interested in attending a bootcamp?
My advice in general is if you want to, you can do it.
When I joined Wyncode I was more than 10 years out of college, I had a 3 year old son, and basically no coding (except a little HTML, CSS) experience.
If I did it, YOU can. It will be hard work, there will be sacrifices, but it will be worth it if you give it your all.
One last piece of advice on specifically joining a bootcamp like Wyncode…look for the support system. Any bootcamp can teach you a coding language. Truth is, once you learn one, it’s easier to learn the rest. Look for a bootcamp that provides experiences like Wynterviews, support systems like Wynwork and Wyntalent and take advantage of those opportunities.
To other women specifically my advice is: we need you. We need great examples of Women in Tech. This is a fun, rewarding career with so many opportunities for growth. Wyncode is the first step.