How Penn LPS Coding Boot Camp Turned a New Year’s Resolution Into a Real Career

When Shelby Reyes graduated from George Mason University in 2012 with a history degree, she moved to Philadelphia, hoping to put her education to work in museums.

Instead, she found herself doing odd jobs in retail, then landing an office manager role at a preschool. She had always loved teaching (she had a prior associate’s degree in education), but she needed more credentials to advance. After four happy years, she’d reached a natural plateau. So Shelby spoke with some friends, who suggested programming. 

“I was explaining my situation to them and feeling down about it,” Shelby said. “And they said, ‘You’re attentive to detail and you love solving problems. Have you ever considered programming?’”

Shelby hadn’t—but she started to. When she came upon Penn LPS Coding Boot Camp, she knew it was perfect.

A New Year’s resolution: doubling her salary

As 2018 came to a close, Shelby made a New Year’s resolution. In 2019, she would double her income. The Coding Boot Camp would be her springboard, she thought. Her instructor helped her dive right in.

“Our instructor was not only incredibly smart, but just very enthusiastic and really believed in all of us,” she recalled. “The instructional staff were a great resource in terms of being the push we needed to see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Taking a hobby for inspiration

As Shelby approached that light, her confidence grew. In fact, her final project was her favorite part of the program: it was the culmination of everything she had learned, with teammates she chose (incidentally, they all ended up becoming good friends). Best of all, she got to use a personal hobby as the subject matter.

The team created Beadli, a website that allows users to create beautiful designs by digitally fusing beads. And because the group already had a comfort level with collaboration, the project’s creativity reached heights they never expected.

So, about that New Year’s resolution…

Shelby reached her New Year’s resolution with flying colors. She recently began the onboarding process to be a web developer with Raytheon. And she owes it all to the boot camp.

In addition to the ever-important hard skills she learned like coding, career services and seminars were also invaluable.

“Every couple of weeks, they would review my resume and LinkedIn profile and give me feedback,” she said. “The seminars were great, too, because they really prepared you for what to expect when it came time to actually start interviewing. You weren’t completely thrown into the deep end.”

It turns out Shelby didn’t have to leave her dreams of teaching behind after all. Her boot camp instructor recommended she become a teaching assistant. She started in June.

A great job, a part-time role, a salary beyond what she imagined, and new friends: Shelby loves her new gains. “The experience exceeded my expectations,” she said. “You just focus on this for six months of your life, and you’re set for the rest of your life.”

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