Kristin Hortsch came into our program after finishing up her last year as a grade school teacher looking to get into a career she loved and didn’t completely burn her out. She dabbled in learning code on her own and was hooked. Soon after, she enrolled in our program and found her true calling for work. It definitely showed in our program as she did very well having her mind stretched while taking our course, and was able to quickly get a job at Walmart Labs shortly after graduating. We miss her energy and enthusiasm on campus, but enjoy seeing her at our monthly social hours with some of the others from her cohort who have formed lifelong friendships.
Read more about her journey to software engineer from her below:
1. What were you doing for work before attending Alchemy?
I was a first grade teacher! (Well also a kindergarten teacher my first year, and second grade my second year).
Comprehensive! That’s the word that first popped into my mind after reading about Alchemy’s fullstack JS program on their website. I googled coding bootcamps in Portland, and Alchemy’s program seemed far better suited to preparing a career switcher for a future in tech. To be honest, I didn’t even bother visiting the other code schools. After I went to Alchemy for an in-person visit and met with Megan, I was convinced that it was the right program for me. I left that in-person visit under the impression that this program and those who ran it actually cared about their students and their well-being far beyond just the dollar signs I’m sure other places would’ve seen just our heads.
As for why I chose to pivot into computer programming in the first place, I think it was the combination of a lot of factors. I was burned out after four years of teaching and needed a change in my life. My brother is a data scientist for Getty Images up in Seattle, and he put a lot of time into trying to convince me to find some way to switch into the tech industry in general. On a random snow day during my last year of teaching, I got onto Code Academy and started learning Python. I was hooked within the day...a deep seated love of logic and problem solving probably had something to do with that hah.
3. Had you considered other coding schools? What made you choose Alchemy over the others if so?
Whoops, my bad, answered that one above already.
4. When did you graduate and can you expand upon your job search a bit? How long did you actually work on landing a job?
I graduated the first week of April! I got offered my job during my first week of freedom after bootcamp ended. My company wanted me for an on-site interview the day after bootcamp finished, but I convinced them to let me do it after a week-long break so I could get a sec to breathe haha. I also wanted to actually prepare for the on-site interview. However, I started the interview process at Walmart Labs during our final project week.
Um job search. Didn’t really do any job searching tbh. Got connected with the Walmart Labs crew at a WIT Happy Hour event (my friend convinced me to go since he knew some of his coworkers from Walmart Labs would be there) and my whole interview process got started from that. My Nike interviews were spawned from reaching out to a recruiter I met at a Nike Tech Talk. Shannon from career services was right...networking events aren't my cup of tea but it pays to go to them hah.
5. What is your new position?
Software Engineer II. I’m technically fullstack, but Walmart Labs doesn't put that piece in job titles. Making the cash monies is super nice, and because I just came out of a bootcamp, my boss is SUPER good about taking the time to break things down and explain them to me.
6. Can you tell me about the types of technologies and languages you are using in your new role and did Alchemy prepare you well to learn/use them?
Walmart uses a similar stack to the one we used at Alchemy. I'm backend, so I primarily write in NodeJS (although Hapi is the framework they use since they created it and open sourced). Some of the backend code bases are written in Java though. And front end uses React! Some of their tests are written in Jest (along with Mocha)-- Ryan did an excellent job teaching us, but there's no way you can learn everything in that amount of time (duh). What Ryan did was give us a SOLID foundation that we can build off of! Not gonna lie, sometimes it's overwhelming when you step back and think about how much you _don't_ know, but I still think Alchemy did an incredible job of preparing us for the tech world in just six short months!
7. Why are you excited about it, and how is it going to impact your life?
I love coding! It's never-ending problems to solve and new technologies to learn! Um it definitely has had a huge impact on my life. Like COMPLETE life pivot from my prior career. Case in point...I'm not on summer vacay right now lololol. Kinda sucks, but it's super nice to come home from work and not have to dive right back into work stuff hah. Lowkey, it's also kinda nice to have money! Cheers to having a career that I'm passionate about AND pays super well.
8. What will you miss most about being at Alchemy every day?
My cohort mates and Ryan! We had such a good crew by the very end of our program, love them all dearly ️ And Ryan was and is probably the best teacher I’ve ever had in my life, in any context. He had this insane ability to explain things in a way that always made sense, no matter how complicated the topic was.
9. If there’s anything you would tell someone considering an education to be a software developer, what would it be?
Make sure you try out coding before you sign your life away to a program like this. You’ll save yourself a lot of money and heartache if you realize you’re not actually interested in coding before you even start the program. I was lucky to have a whole summer off before my program started, so I wholeheartedly dove into coding before the program started to make sure it was something I legitimately wanted to do in life.
10. Was career services helpful for you after graduation?
YES, extremely! Shannon in career services gave me some GREAT advice while I was in contact and interviewing with both Nike and Walmart Labs. Her pep talks are legendary...great for boosting your self confidence when going into any job interview situation.
There’s some space left in our Winter program, and the Spring is filling up too. Contact us today!