From Sales Associate to Software Developer in Six Months: How to Quickly Change Careers Straight Out of College
Before Gulden “Rose” Memis graduated from Temple University in 2017 with a degree in finance, she hadn’t pictured herself working as a sales associate for a marble and granite company in Pennsylvania. Yet that’s where she found herself—and it wasn’t enough.
“My job in sales just didn’t present any challenges,” said Rose. “There wasn’t any problem solving or anything to really push me. Even my finance internship during school had been disappointing.”
Just one year into her professional life, Rose knew she needed to make a change if she wanted to find a career where she could thrive. So, like many young professionals, Rose reached out to her network for advice.
Searching for a challenge
“I talked with a friend that had just transitioned from being an accountant to a coder through a coding boot camp in California,” said Rose. “Honestly, his career transition seemed really cool. He said I should give a coding boot camp a try. So I did.”
After seeing ads for the program online, Rose signed up for the 24-week Penn LPS Coding Boot Camp and set out on a new, and infinitely more rewarding and challenging, path.
Naturally, going from sales calls to coding classes was a major adjustment for Rose, but she quickly found her footing.
“Signing up for the boot camp was intimidating because I didn’t know any code going into the course,” she said. “It’s tough to get into it at first, but the teachers and TAs are great. They really ease you in. The whole course is set up to help you succeed.”
One crucial part of that success was the classroom setting, which allowed Rose to learn from other participants rather than trying to go it alone at home. She particularly enjoyed sharing the experience with other working professionals from a wide range of fields.
“It really helped knowing that all the other people in the class were in a similar situation,” said Rose. “I’m actually still in touch with some people from boot camp, even though we came from completely different professional backgrounds.”
Putting in the time
While her classmates were a crucial part of her boot camp experience, Rose credits one other skill for her ultimate success.
“Time management is big,” explained Rose. “Working full-time in my sales job while also making time to code and complete assignments, group projects, and even do some independent research every day was by far the biggest challenge for me.”
Boot camps are indeed intensive programs, expecting participants to put in hours of additional time and effort each week. While this is certainly a challenge, it’s also exactly what made the program so worthwhile for Rose.
“I actually liked the fact that this course was so hard, because it meant that much more when I finished it,” said Rose. “I went into this boot camp not knowing anything, and now I have a job in coding. I didn’t think that would happen a year ago. The whole experience has been pretty exciting.”
Starting her next challenge
After completing the program, Rose found the job search more than a little intimidating. That didn’t stop her, though—and within two months, she’d landed a job as a junior software developer at Data Intelligence, LLC.
“What’s cool about the job hunt is when you start hearing back from companies,” Rose said. “It’s easy to forget that they’re just as excited as you are to bring in someone with your skills. It takes a little while to get your foot in the door, but just try to relax because you’ll get there.”
Even after completing the rigorous boot camp, Rose isn’t done learning just yet. In fact, she’s eager to continue her coding education. After just one week of working in the field, she knows she’s finally found the career that’s right for her.
“I’d like to get my master’s in computer science, and hopefully by that time I’ll be on track for a senior developer role,” she said. “But I really like where I’m at right now. It’s a good fit.”
This combination of comfort in the present and excitement about the future is precisely what Rose was missing in her old sales and finance career.
“I’m a lot more optimistic about my developer career than I was about sales,” she said. “I can already see that the work I’m doing in my first week on the job is going to grow into something bigger. Yes, it’s difficult and challenging, but I can wrap my head around it and get it to work. I never felt that way about sales.”
Rose’s final piece of advice for anyone who’s on the fence about taking a boot camp is simple.
“Just do it,” she said. “I almost didn’t sign up for this course. Some of my friends even discouraged me from signing up because I didn’t have any coding experience. But I am so happy that I just went for it. If you want to, you can definitely do this.”