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Alumni Stories: A Veteran Becomes a Full Stack Engineer

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LEARN Academy is fortunate to have a significant amount of our community comprised of veterans. We are honored to be part of the many service members transitioning from the military and support them as they return to the civilian workforce. Although there are many support systems available, we know it can still be stressful and vulnerable for many. We recently spoke with a Navy veteran, music producer and software engineer at Full Stack Nicky Dunlapwho kindly offered to share her experience with the world.

Tell us about you! What did you do before LEARN, and what was the catalyst that led you down this path?

Before LEARN, I was a Hospital Corpsman/Dental Assistant in the Navy. I worked in the sterilization department. I’m also a freelance music producer, so building things from scratch has always been my niche.
I knew my time in the army was coming to an end, so I finally decided to pursue something that would allow me the freedom to express myself. I enjoy solving problems and creating from scratch! So what better field to go into than web development!

What did you expect coming to the weekend show, and what surprised you about the experience?

My expectations from Jamstart were only to learn more about the program and get a glimpse of what to expect on a day-to-day basis if accepted into the program.
I had a very enjoyable experience. The staff was amazing, warm and informative. I did not feel that I was being “sold” the opportunity to participate in the group. Everyone was polite, and overall it was a delightful experience.

What was your biggest – it could be specific to coding or more abstract!

My biggest takeaway from Jamstart was realizing that it’s okay not to know everything. Coding is hard. The attention to detail is PARAMOUNT. Learning to code is just like learning a new language. Understanding, processing and applying the things we were taught takes time. The team did a great job of reassuring participants that it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed.

How has your journey been since Jumpstart?

Since Jumpstart, I had the pleasure of being accepted into the Bravo 2023 team. It was amazing. The instructors are very supportive and understanding. The entire LEARN team was very warm and welcoming to everyone in my group.

How did LEARN stand out for you among all the programs available?

After researching for many months, I discovered LEARN. This program stands out to me because of its internship program. This experience prepares a person for the real life experience of a web developer. An added bonus is that they provide you with a laptop for class. It makes it easier for everyone to be on the same page.

Quite often, in other startup journeys, you are taught all the skills of a web developer; However, once you land a job, you may not be able to maneuver and apply the skills you learned in a training environment.

You identify as part of a marginalized group; How did that affect your experience attending bootcamp and launching a career in an industry that historically hasn’t been so welcoming to diverse groups of people?

Being a black LGBTQ woman in tech makes me a triple minority. Joining this program allowed me to realize that others would look up to me, and that would encourage them to just do it. Seeing others who look like me in spaces where we have not been present before is the greatest reward.

Any advice for people considering taking the leap and taking the program?

My advice to anyone considering joining the program is to do it. Do your research and reach out to those who are in the program/have completed the program. Take the leap and land firmly by joining the LEARN team. They won’t let you fall. Alone, this is what sets them apart from any program.

Any advice for people who have signed up and are about to start the program?

My advice to anyone starting the program is you can do it. Take it easy and give yourself grace. Understand the importance of taking a break before you feel overwhelmed. Understand that coding is hard, and it’s perfectly fine to admit it; However, you have completed the first step of becoming a web developer. That alone speaks volumes!

Is there anything else you want to share with us?

The staff at LEARN is literally amazing. From Jumpstart, I felt like I was on Zoom with the family. Everyone was so welcoming, kind and informative. I would suggest this program to anyone interested in becoming a web developer.

Jumpstart is an integrated component of our full-time program application process for good reason. Joining us for two and a half days gives you a real understanding of the joys and demands of learning to code. Our regular teaching staff and current students from the full-time program teach the weekend program specifically so that you get an authentic, first-hand experience. Then you can decide if our program is right for you! Sign up for Jumpstart today, and start planning your next big moves, whether you’re interested in joining the growing tech scene in Denver, or you’re looking to join that famous tech employer at The Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, NC!

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