After 10 years as a CNA, Noah Puckett hit a ceiling in their healthcare career and wanted a new career that offered a higher salary, better benefits, and more flexibility. To expedite the career change, Noah enrolled at Alchemy Code Lab and was grateful for the community support, career coaching, and structured learning. Noah became a bootcamp TA and is now a Software Engineer at New Relic, and shares their insights into how to make the most of the Alchemy Code Lab bootcamp experience, tested job search strategies, and how their CNA skills inform their tech career.
What inspired you to pivot from healthcare to software engineering?
I was a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for 10 years, starting in nursing homes and spending the last four years in hospitals and other acute care settings. CNA is an in-person role and a very physical job. I loved direct patient care — being able to save someone's life and then hang out with them later is pretty impactful — but I wasn't getting paid enough for the work I was putting in. When I started the job at age 18, being a CNA was a great career because it was the 2008 Recession and no one was hiring and it was a great entry-level, affordable route. To become a CNA, I paid $1K for a short program that had me hired and working within the field in 30 days. But after a decade of that, I realized I couldn't save for retirement, and I didn’t make enough to have my own apartment without roommates. At my highest earnings, working as a CNA paid just under $30K/year.
Meanwhile my friends and roommates were getting into tech and making lots of money, and I was envious of their work-life balance. My experience trying to get even one single day off in a place I'd worked for three years was tumultuous. I realized my career as a CNA was not sustainable anymore.
Why did you ultimately choose Alchemy Code Lab?
I enrolled at Alchemy Code Lab entirely because of word-of-mouth. My roommate, her best friend, and at least one other person I knew all graduated from Alchemy Code Lab and made great transitions into full-time, tech work. I know bootcamps make promises about what they offer, but I was so unfamiliar with tech that none of that was translating to me. I was more interested in hearing the real life accounts of people who had gone through a career change and whom I could empathize with, relate to, and help me visualize my own career change.
Did you teach yourself how to code before enrolling in the bootcamp?
One of my roommates went through Alchemy Code Lab bootcamp and I asked her about how to get started. I grew up on the internet, but hadn't done coding, so she directed me to some self-study and online tutorials. I took a year to get organized and try to self-study, but I learned about as much in that year as I learned in three weeks at Alchemy! This is to say that Alchemy Code Lab is fast-paced, but it is also proof that I could only get so far doing self-study without the deadlines and accountability that a bootcamp would provide.