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All Success Stories

Student Profile

Jessica Kwok

Junior Ruby Developer at PayWith USA

Program Taken

Web Development

Program Type

Bootcamp

Key Skills Learned

  • Server-Side Programming
  • Web Servers
  • Databases
View Program Details
Jessica Kwok

Interview

Where are you currently working and what is it that you do there?

I currently work at PayWith USA as a Junior Ruby Developer. In my final weeks of BrainStation as a Teaching Assistant, the Career Service team connected me to PayWith USA. I didn't touch a single line of Ruby code during my time at BrainStation but PayWith still took a chance on me! Seems funny, right? The hiring process that I went through with PayWith reflected what I valued most in my bootcamp experience. My key takeaways from BrainStation went above the knowledge I gained for JavaScript and React. The bootcamp gave me an opportunity to show my future employers that I can learn a lot, and in a short period of time. More importantly, I learned to embrace the mixed bag of career paths on my resume and realized that there were soft skills I've picked up over the years that play well in a developer's role. I'm now a part of a team that builds payment and rewards solutions, and it excites me to know that there are pieces of code that I've written that are a part of users' daily lives.

What does your typical day-to-day look like?

Although my daily scrum starts at 9AM, I'm usually out of bed and online with my coffee by 8:30AM. I like to take the extra half hour just to review what I've done in the previous day and to go through any pending or approved pull requests. I typically only have 1 or 2 dedicated pair programming sessions with a Senior Developer on a weekly basis, so a lot of learning comes from exploring the code on my own and taking the initiative to ask clarifying questions on Slack. After a quick scrum meeting, I work on my assigned tickets and reach out to my team if I get stuck on anything. PayWith also has an onboarding program for junior developers that consists of a collection of challenges related to Ruby and Rails so I loop back to these challenges whenever I get the chance. Throughout the day, my team members will open pull requests and I'll take a few moments to review their code so that I can learn how things are implemented. My work day is actually quite flexible, with core hours from 10AM-4PM as long as we get our tasks done, but I find myself staying online until 5:30PM on most days just because I want to.

Can you tell us a bit about your education and career background?

What do you get when you cross a Bachelors of Kinesiology Degree with office administration, accounting and a mortgage broker's license? A super detail oriented, proven quick learner who was terrible at sales, with no technical skills or background required in the world of coding.

Fresh out of university, I worked my way up from Receptionist to Office Manager in the mortgage and finance industry. In all my past roles, I was always seen as the go-to person and have often held the responsibility of training new recruits. I was fortunate enough to have learned from and gained experience from several departments because I was eager to extend past my own responsibilities and extend help wherever it was needed.

Why did you choose to study at BrainStation?

I created a spreadsheet to track my research of the available web development bootcamps, and being on maternity leave meant that having the course available online was a priority for me. I chose BrainStation because they were already well versed in delivering content online (even before the pandemic) and every interaction I had with their Admissions team was excellent. I was also impressed with all the positive reviews about BrainStation and their vast and growing alumni network.

What motivated you to switch careers?

During my maternity leave, I was thinking ahead to my return-to-work plan. It was here where I realized that although my position in government administration was stable and provided me with many benefits, I did not feel fulfilled or accomplished at the end of the work day. At the same time, I was running my own calligraphy business to stay productive during maternity leave and thought it would be a great idea to develop my own website. I've always been intimidated by the thought of becoming a Developer but decided that it was the perfect time to start something new. I started learning how to code whenever my baby napped and realized that I did not want to leave the computer no matter how frustrated I was with a problem. This was how I knew that I’d found my new career goal.

How would you describe your learning experience at BrainStation?

My experience at BrainStation went way beyond what I had expected. Not only did I learn how to build a full-stack application within 10 weeks, I learned a lot about myself in the process. My confidence and passion for my career have gone up substantially since starting BrainStation and I'm able to leverage them to continue my growth. The Education team and Career Services team were so supportive and often worked overtime to answer questions and provide valuable advice. Beyond that, all the staff that I interacted with at BrainStation have been responsive and professional. It's cheesy to say that the Bootcamp was life-changing, but -- the bootcamp was truly life-changing.

My confidence and passion for my career have gone up substantially since starting BrainStation and I'm able to leverage them to continue my growth. The Education team and Career Services team were so supportive and often worked overtime to answer questions and provide valuable advice.

What was your highlight of the Web Development Bootcamp?

Although there were many ‘aha’ moments throughout the program, I felt that a real turning point in my experience was the week where we learned React. I remember thinking "What the heck is going on?" during the React lecture and feeling defeated at the thought of using that library. That same night, I started on my first React project and about an hour in, I clearly remember messaging a classmate "I love React!" This was definitely a highlight for me because as a Developer, there will always be new intimidating things to learn but it could be your new found love if you learn it successfully.

What was the most challenging part of your learning experience?

The most challenging part of my experience wasn't actually a requirement of the program. I made a goal for myself to keep extending out into areas that were new and uncomfortable. On top of completing my own assignments, I tried to answer questions that my classmates posted on Slack, set up coffee chats with students from the other programs, and actively make new connections on LinkedIn. I used to identify as a shy individual with not much to say, but now it's much easier for me to reach out to strangers on LinkedIn and introduce myself.

What would you say were the most valuable skills you learned?

Before I started at BrainStation, I would say that I hoped to learn the technical skills that I needed to transition into a Developer role. Although the technical skills I learned are valuable, I would say that learning how to learn was the most important skill I gained. We were forced to learn big concepts and to apply them in a project right away. With this method, we had to show our grit, adaptability and time management skills on top of demonstrating our understanding of code.

What advice would you give to professionals considering a BrainStation diploma program?

Invest yourself 100% into the program - because you get what you put in. It's easy to get caught up in the assignments, but make time to participate in the program in other ways. I had classmates who found success by asking deeper concept questions during class, helping out their peers, and forming study groups with each other. I forced myself to sign up for every single coffee chat and I met a whole host of really amazing people. The BrainStation Web Development Bootcamp aims to do more than just teach you the technical skills - take advantage of the career workshops and actually put their advice into practice.

SpellBee

Featured Project

SpellBee

SpellBee is a mobile spelling and vocabulary app made for kids and customizable by parents. Being a new mom in a world where technology is so ingrained in our lives, I wanted to develop a game that would allow kids to engage with technology in a fun and educational way. At the same time, I realize parents are having a more and more difficult time controlling online content that is exposed to their kids so I wanted to give lots of control to the parents and allow them to be able to create and edit their own vocabulary decks.

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