After five years working in the service industry, Jenee Washington was ready for her next steps. Although she loved waitressing and interacting with customers, Jenee wanted a career where she could pursue her longstanding interest in technology, and enjoy long-term stability.
Jenee was drawn to coding once she saw how software is growing to impact every part of our society. When a Google search led Jenee to Wyncode’s partnership with the Knight Foundation, she knew she had to apply for their Future Leaders of Tech Scholarship. Ultimately, Jenee was the recipient of 1 out of 2 scholarships, which covered 100% of her tuition for Wyncode’s 10-week development bootcamp.
In an interview with SwitchUp, Jenee talks more about her journey from food service to Wyncode, how she tackled imposter syndrome, and her new role as a QA Analyst at Wix.com
You came to Wyncode with experience in food service and the nonprofit industry. Tell me about your background previous roles.
I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, that much is true! I always have to start with that song line. I was working in the service industry for five years. I loved it! Interacting with people and building my communication skills were pivotal in my decision to go to Wyncode. Of course, the party can’t last forever!
Working in the nonprofit sector is something that truly brings me peace. I work with Give Me Dignity, Inc., which is geared towards bringing awareness to CSA (Childhood Sex Abuse). It’s a matter that’s very personal to me and I find the work I do with this charity invaluable. My hope is that one day we can eradicate this terrible affliction from our society.
What got you started in coding, and why did you decide to pursue it as a career?
I decided to give coding a try when I realized the importance it holds in our ever-growing society. EVERYTHING around us is programmed, including our own brains. I also knew that I couldn’t be a cocktail waitress forever. I’ve always been interested in technology, but thought I was not “math-y” enough to seriously consider doing it. I tried teaching myself how to code but was often discouraged at the amount of information I came across. I knew I had to find a more structured approach to learning something that could inevitably help change my life.
How did you decide to attend Wyncode? What were your goals for the program?
I decided to attend Wyncode after I came across the Knight Foundation’s Future Leaders of Tech Scholarship in a Google search. I applied, and by the grace of the Universe, I was a recipient of 1 of 2 scholarships! My goals for the program were simple - use this platform to help create the change I was seeking in my life. I wanted to be a part of something more purposeful and relevant.
For you, what were the pros and cons of attending a bootcamp?
The pros of attending the bootcamp were that I was surrounded by individuals that wanted the same thing – change! We all came from various backgrounds and were there to learn how to code together. It was amazing. The instructors were undoubtedly the best. The overall culture of Wyncode is that of family. They want to see you succeed as much as anyone else that genuinely cares about you. The only con is that bootcamp doesn’t last forever ☺. Don’t get me wrong, Wyncode prepares you and teaches you how to learn for yourself – which is an applicable skill in any facet of life.
What was most helpful about the environment and teaching style at Wyncode?
The most helpful aspect of the environment and teaching styles at Wyncode is the fully immersive approach that is taken. From day one, you are treated as a programmer. Questions are always being asked, and the environment is free of judgement. They truly want to make sure you understand what is being taught. They also prepare you in how to deal with the psychological blocks that are associated with learning something new. Whatever we told ourselves we couldn’t do, we just simply added “yet” to the end of it.
Tell me about the job search process. How did Wyncode help you prepare?
The job search process helped me re-evaluate my own life goals. Wyncode’s Hiring Director, Miguel, is a god-send! We were participating in interviews before the bootcamp was even finished. They had informative resume workshop sessions and helped prepare us for the language of the dev-world. The process overall was difficult, as is anything that is new to you. The imposter’s syndrome was real (they warned us about this on the first day of class), but Wyncode’s guidance during this process ensured us that everything would be just fine, even if it took a little extra time.
Where are you working now? What is your day-to-day role like?
I’m currently working at Wix.com as a QA Analyst. I’ve been here for almost a year and a half already and I love every minute of it. In my day-to-day, I’m helping to identify and troubleshoot software bugs, train call center agents, and am a member of the Wix Code Gang. Here at Wix, we’re not too focused on the title (as we assume many), but are more focused on the quality of the product and support we provide to our users.
How did Wyncode prepare you for life in a tech career?
Wyncode helped build the necessary foundation to tackle tech head-on. The most important thing I got from Wyncode was “learning how to learn.” There are so many factors that one has to overcome before they’re even mentally available to conquer a new challenge. Confidence, determination and persistence were the core assets that got me through Wnycode. They are the same assets that I take with me into my new tech career. Since tech is always evolving, we have to be flexible and adaptive. My experience at Wyncode helped me understand that I’m capable of far more than I ever imagined.
What challenges did you overcome to get to where you are?
Working at Wix has been an incredible journey. I had interviewed for many developer roles for various companies. Being fresh out of bootcamp, the imposter’s syndrome was hitting me hard. I then interviewed at Wix. Even though this was initially a customer service role, I decided that I could leverage all my experiences in the service and tech industry to create a path for myself. I started as a general customer service agent in February of 2017. Currently, I’m a QA Analyst, on the Security team, on the Wix Code team, and have created an internal Code Club for Wix Employees. Even though I’ve just started, I feel that Wyncode has been instrumental in the belief I have in myself, as well as the proper tools to get to where I want to be.
What advice do you have for people who are interested in attending a bootcamp?
The best advice I have for anyone interested in attending bootcamps is “you get what you put in.” Literally. Being self-motivated and focused are what will make all the difference in one’s experience. If this is something you just want to try or learn more about, there are plenty of free resources and bootcamps that you can take advantage of. If you’re serious about taking a leap of faith and directing your life on a new, exciting path as a web/app developer, then bootcamps like Wyncode are definitely worth the investment. All the tools are here for success, you just have to be the one to actually use them.